Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA)!

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SOPA/PIPA are terrible acts for a numerous reasons. I object to these laws for the following reasons:

  1. Creation of a means for government/corporate censorship by controlling DNS and search engine listings.
  2. Prevention of potential security improvements to the structure of the Internet (DNSSEC).
  3. Possibility of a fractured Internent. How the Internet "looks" may differ from country to country
  4. It doesn't even stop piracy! You can still link by IP address or establish rogue name registries.

I believe at the heart of this issue is that you cannot effectively eliminate copyright infringement through technological means. Computers excel at copying information. In fact, that's what makes them useful. Even content creation is an act of copying from the computer's point of view.

To completely prevent "illegal" copying, one would have to prevent general purpose computation. Only by controlling every action of a computer, could one prevent it from performing illegal actions. I think Cory Doctorow wrote an excellent article on this topic: Lockdown. While this may sound unrealistic and far-fetched, consider the iPhone/Apple App Store and video game consoles (Xbox 360/PS3). In both examples, only software that has been approved of by a single source is allowed to run on these devices. It's not hard to imagine this scenario extended to include desktop/laptop computers. However, even this extreme level of lockdown is not enough to prevent piracy. Just ask video game companies.

Piracy is a social and economical problem, not a technological one. I'd be extremely skeptical of any technological solution to piracy, as I believe that it is impossible to create one that does not seriously limit the functionality and capability of a computational device.