Recording Industry, Internet Leaders Must Find Common Ground
I'm a writer, and the work that appears in eWEEK and other places is my intellectual property. Every so often I find that someone has taken something I've written, repackaged it without permission and is selling it without paying me. This is piracy just as much as downloading a movie or some music without permission or payment. When I find this, I pass the word along to the lawyers at eWEEK and let them handle it. But for things I write that don't appear in eWEEK, such as scanned copies of my last book, there are no clear solutions.What I don't have and what the recording companies don't have is some reasonably straightforward means to take action against people who steal intellectual property. This could mean a law enforcement agency that is charged with fighting piracy (don't believe those FBI warnings you see on movies-that agency is far too busy fighting terrorists to take much time with stolen intellectual property unless you happen to be stealing IP on a grand scale). So there really does need to be a solution, but dismantling the Internet isn't the way to do it.But maybe by working together, the Internet community and the companies interested in fighting piracy can develop a way to fight piracy effectively without the draconian measures in the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws. For example, tampering with DNS is not only stupid, but the proposed means of doing it would prevent DNSSEC from working, and we need DNSSEC a lot worse than we need to have the recording industry become even richer. It could also open a lot of doors to other fraudulent activity as users search for ways to avoid crippled DNS servers or bogus search results. The U.S. and global economies depend on a fully functioning Internet. Letting the recording industry tear down a key part of the economy because of its fear of technology should be a non-starter. But perhaps the search engine providers, ISPs and other critical Internet providers can find a way to keep tabs on illegal activities without interfering with legitimate use. Perhaps an intellectual property treaty that really takes the Internet into account needs to be proposed as a way to get a handle on international piracy. What we really need is the active participation of the leaders of the Internet community to propose workable solutions that recognize the legitimate rights of intellectual property owners, while also ensuring that the Internet itself doesn't get compromised. SOPA and PIPA aren't the answer, but neither is going dark for a day. The answer is in finding common ground and building a solution there.