Hollywood, the MPAA and other avidly pro-copyright groups are facing serious push-back over the so-called "Protect IP Act," a bill which seeks to prevent unauthorized downloading and streaming of content by cutting off access to offending websites.
In recent weeks, 90 law professors have written to Congress, claiming that the bill is unconstitutional, 50 venture capitalists from big high-tech firms wrote a letter to protest the measure -- which is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate -- and just a few days ago, a report called "Fair Use in the U.S. Economy" offers economic proof that industries with looser restrictions on copyright are more likely to flourish than those with more severe limits.
"Increased regulation through stricter, more intrusive copyright laws may conceivably promote certain types of creative activity, but it will also likely deter significant technology innovation, at a time when technology innovators are leading the effort to add new, high-paying jobs to our struggling economy," according to the report.
The study was sponsored by the tech trade group CCIA (Computer and Communications Industry Association), which clearly has a vested interest in defeating the bill.
But a growing chorus of web activists, Internet company execs and computer engineers have joined the CCIA in lashing out at the "Protect IP Act," which was, I hate to admit, pushed forward by Vermont Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy (contact his office here).
In a statement, Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director for Public Knowledge, a digital rights group, said the Act "threatens the security and global functioning of the Internet, and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits while doing little if anything to curb the issues of international source of illegal downloads the bill seeks to address."
While artists and filmmakers clearly have a personal economic interest in maintaining copyright laws to protect their own work, there are also benefits for creators to keep our cultural content and the Internet as a distribution platform less policed. What do you think: Is piracy good or bad for you? I know plenty of filmmakers who are pissed off that their material is being watched on torrent sites for free, but then again, others believe that the work gets disseminated further, which increases eyeballs. fans and followers.
What turned me on to the latest currents in the copyright debate was an email from some filmmakers with a film relevant to the subject, "CITIZEN 3.0: copyright, creativity and contemporary culture." Check out the trailer below: