Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SOPA, Google and Politics

Today Google's Eric Schmidt described the Stop Online Piracy Act as "Censorship" and "Draconian".

Google is taking another political stance, much the way it did on China last year. And once again tech bloggers are calling for other tech companies to follow Google's example. I for one did not expect Google to stand completely alone against China last year, so I'm curious to see if any other tech companies will back them on this move.

Google receives most of their revenue online, so they have little to gain by the passing of the bill.
Since Microsoft still sells a lot of traditional software, they stand to benefit from powerful anti piracy laws, regardless of the political ramifications (censorship and greater potential abuses of power).

If SOPA does pass, I don't doubt that a new technology will pop up to cater to alienated software pirates, so I personally see it as a temporary solution with potential side-effects, but there's no doubt that it would be a disruptive force in the world of illegal software.

There are several fascinating angles to look at SOPA and Google's tough political stance from, what do you find most interesting?


  1. It's not just Google. Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, AOL, eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo, Zynga and many other are taking up the cause, as well (http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/16/google-facebook-twitter-and-others-speak-out-against-the-stop/).

    Industry professionals not even associated with these companies are taking up the cause as well:
    - Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures in NYC (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/10/protecting-the-safe-harbors-of-the-dmca-and-protecting-jobs.html)
    - James Allworth of HBS (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/e-parasite_threatens_internet.html)

    The general concensus is that this will stifle innovation by making it harder for new entrants into any digital industry through increasing legal and other costs to maintain compliance. For more information go to eff.org or https://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8173&Zip=02134 .

  2. Great links, Akshay, thanks!

    It's pretty interesting that the list of companies opposing the bill would all stand to lose more from it than they would gain. (i.e. They are all internet companies!) Personally, I see them taking their political stances from a defensive standpoint, not from a fairness standpoint.

    A few quick Google searches found little mention of SOPA by software companies. I found no mention of SOPA by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle or SAP; certainly if you've found anything on these, post the links!

    This makes logical sense, but it just goes to show that support and opposition of SOPA are falling along profit lines; not along "fairness" lines. Google's not standing up for the little guy - they're standing up to their own interests and their bottom line. As much as I agree with the opposition, this observation makes the rhetoric just that - rhetoric.