Over the last week, after SOPA and PIPA were put on life support, we’ve noticed an incredibly tone deaf response from the supporters of these bills, lashing out at the wrong parties and trying to figure out where to place the blame. The usual target has been “the tech industry,” by which they usually mean “Google.” That’s why the MPAA’s Chris Dodd wants to sit down with “tech companies” at the White House to discuss this. It’s why the head of the movie theaters’ lobbying group, NATO, brushes this whole thing off as Google”flexing” its muscles. As we’ve said all along, that not only misses the point, and is totally tone deaf to what happened, but it pretty much guarantees the wrong response from supporters of the bill.
Larry Downes has a great piece over at Forbes making this point and tracing back who really “stopped” SOPA and PIPA (full disclaimer: Downes gives me unnecessarily nice billing in the piece, providing too much credit for my early coverage of the bills). The key point that he makes is that this wasn’t about “tech companies” or “Google” rising up — but about internet users. And until the bills’ supporters understand this, they’re going to make the same mistakes over and over again:
The sponsors of SOPA and PIPA don’t even know who stopped them cold. But supporters of the proposed laws are retrenching anyway, preparing to launch a new assault on an enemy it hasn’t identified.
Given both their arrogance and ignorance, it goes without saying that the content industries are unlikely to avoid similar catastrophes in the future, let alone find a way to work collaboratively with a political force they don’t know—or believe–exists.
…This is the message that many people are trying to get out there, and which keeps getting dismissed. Perhaps an even stronger point was made by the many, many people “in Hollywood” who came out against the bill as well. Take a look at what the Future of Music Coalition had to say on the matter, highlighting that anyone who thinks this is “Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley” is missing the point in a big bad way.
Unfortunately, some folks seem to be missing that point entirely, and are clinging to the idea that the SOPA/PIPA kerfluffle was simply Big Content vs. Silicon Valley.
We beg to differ.
Among the millions of people who voiced concerns about the scope and application of these bills were many copyright owners. We’re talking tens of thousands of arts and culture reps and even individual artists like MGMT, Trent Reznor, Amanda Palmer, Jason Mraz, Zoe Keating and more. What does this tell us? That a lot of folks with skin in the game are uncomfortable with Washington trade groups like the MPAA and RIAA claiming to represent their interests.
This isn’t about “Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley.” This is about “the internet” vs. the old way that things were done (artificial scarcity, backrooms and gatekeepers). Misunderstanding that key point will lead to the same mistakes again and again. Understanding this presents a clear path forward.”