SOPA, PIPA and Piracy-Another Point of View

Thank you, denizens of the internet, for showing Congress that they don't know what the hell they're doing when legislating the internet. What do you want to bet that most of our representatives 'have people' to use the internet for them and aren't savvy to the inner workings? No bet? Darn.

The news yesterday focused on the movie industry's complaints that their product is being pirated and they're losing their rightful earnings. That may be true, but what also is true is that they can place a lot of encoding on their products to prevent it, but they don't want to spend a buck to prevent this from happening.

Meanwhile, the people who really need the piracy protections are the ones who cannot afford the lobbying dollars in Washington: the recording artists and the small labels that represent them.

Honestly, the independent movie maker has an uphill battle and won't have the theft issues that the major production companies have. On the other hand, the recording industry is not all Clive Davis, Tommy Mottola, Ahmet Ertegun and their peers. Rather, it's full of small labels and independent musicians who are self-producing and promoting their work.

You may think that burning an illegal copy of Lady Gaga won't hurt her much, and in a sense, you're right. She's probably earning fifty cents from that copy of Born This Way you bought from iTunes, WalMart or the retailer of your choice. It's not even enough to buy a cup of coffee, right? Not a big deal.

Now, consider the lesser known musician, someone like Monte Rosa (I purchased three of his discs off CD Baby in December), or Eric Lindell on the MC Records label. Their fan base is a tiny fraction of Lady Gaga's, but they are no less passionate about the music these men produce. (Monte's a fine latin fusion artist and Eric, as well as all the MC Records artists, plays some mighty fine blues music.)

These are musicians who are likely working a day job, because they don't make millions in music purchases. They gig in small, intimate settings, traveling by their own vehicles, because, well, they self-produce or are signed to a smaller label. MC Records is owned by a gentleman who wants to share his passion for the blues with others-his bank account isn't getting full from this venture, but he's happy to be providing a way to get quality music to the public.

So, this is the thing: there's a nugget of SOPA and PIPA that is relevant, that of clamping down on the illegal copying of music and movies on the internet. Unfortunately, the legislators have no clue what they're doing, leaving holes you can drive a truck through when you try to interpret intent.

These small musicians can use some protections, more so than the movie industry that has the resources to develop anti-piracy measures within their products-but don't.

Consider that independent musician and record label when thinking about piracy. They are the ones hurt the most by theft, yet their voice is drowned out by Hollywood.


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