Compound Eye

Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography

SOPA - yeah, not a good idea


Those of you who read my blogs may know I am a staunch supporter of intellectual property rights. A great many creative works exist because intellectual property laws allow people to spend time creating when they'd otherwise work non-creative jobs to pay the rent.

The internet has, on balance, been a marketing boon for content creators, especially for small artists who previously could only access buyers through layers of intermediaries. But easy distribution has a down side. Parasites flourish in environments where content is copied so freely. International piracy is an especially tricky problem for content creators in developed countries, and some of the larger content owners have crafted this thing called SOPA in an attempt to fight back. In essence, SOPA allows content creators to shut down U.S. access to foreign sites that distribute pirated material. What do I, as a supporter of copyright, think of SOPA?

It's horrid. I won't mince words. If enacted, SOPA will initiate a cascade of unintended effects that will, I am not exaggerating, shut down the internet. Whatever economic benefit is gained from protecting intellectual property will be swamped out by the much larger losses to commerce and communication.

While I personally am bothered that scores of Russian pest control companies are advertising their services with pirated photographs of mine, for which I receive not even an acknowledgement, that is not so serious a problem for my entirely web-based business than what would happen if the net itself slowed and staggered under the weight of infringement accusations.

Piracy is a problem, sure. But not one so severe as to merit nuking the infrastructure underlying modern commerce.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article