What is SOPA? Bring in the nerds!

I was reading Jessamyn West’s insightful wrap-up of the SOPA strike, which contained several excellent links, a few of which I’ll re-share here.

Jon Stewart, on SOPA’s likely effect, and on Congress’ lack of understanding of the internet: “‘Bring in the nerds’…Really? Nerds? You know I think actually the word you’re looking for is experts” at 4:21-4:45. (Also funny: at 6:50-7:00, when “Imagine” starts to play, “Wait, no no no no no no, even as a joke we don’t have John Lennon copyright money!”)

West also linked to ProPublica, which offers a tool to look up your current members of Congress’ stance on SOPA/PIPA. Here also is a graphic showing the difference between Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 (it went from 80 supporters and 31 opponents to 65 supporters and 101 opponents).

Lastly, here’s a slightly older (Jan. 6) article from Publishers Weekly, arguing that libraries are in fact the best counter to piracy. Author Peter Brantley cites Tim O’Reilly’s 2002 essay, “Piracy is Progressive Taxation,” wherein O’Reilly says that the incentive for piracy (of e-books, in this case) is “dramatically reduced” when demand is satisfied in as many places and as many ways as possible.

I don’t have a statistic for what percentage of people pirate books, movies, music, or other content as opposed to obtaining it legally, whether by purchasing it, borrowing it from the library, or licensing it through various services, but I think that many people would prefer to obtain their content legally, and are even willing to pay for it, as comedian Louis CK proved recently with his “Live at the Beacon Theater” production, which he sold for $5 online. The takeaway: when buying or borrowing is easier than pirating, people are likely to borrow or buy.

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