Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA Thoughts

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and it's handmaiden The Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) have been widely discussed and denounced.  Others have discused the details better then I could. The main point is it makes it easy for a company to get a court order to disrupt or shutdown an offending site. The accused would have only five days to appeal before sanctions are invoked.Theoretically these provisions would only be used against sites hosting copyrighted material without authorization. The problem here is that the definition of intellectual property is a bit vague.

Remeber Lotus makers of the 1-2-3 spreadsheet? They were notorious for suing rivals for infringing on the 'look and feel' of their software. More recently Apple and Amazon have brought a number of similar lawsuits. Now instead of going to the trouble of filling a lawsuit and the attendant messy trial just get a nice court order and in five days your rival is out of business.  The burden of proof is shifted to your target, they have to prove their not guilty. It's a nice way to strangle a rival in their radle so to say.

It's a nice way for the big guys to stay big. Now what was that nonsense about a free market?

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