By Bob Lefsetz

“Just consume, don’t produce, don’t share.”

The content industries don’t want a distinction between what’s legal and illegal, that bit them in the ass already, with the Home Recording Act of 1992, wherein it was declared legal to make your own mixtapes, even share them. That horrified them. So they changed their game, they decided to go after the sharing itself.

That’s what SOPA and PIPA are all about.

And the way they’re going to achieve their goal is to put the burden of policing upon Google and Yahoo and the other portals/search engines that provide links. If the cost of policing is high enough, they’ll just outlaw the practice. Entirely.

There’s a great analogy at the beginning of this clip. A story about a bakery in Brooklyn that allowed customers to bring in their kids’ drawings so they could be imprinted upon cakes. Only one problem, kids like to draw cartoon characters, the ones they see in movies and on television. And this is copyright infringement. So what did the bakery do? Instead of having someone make a judgment as to the legality of each drawing, they outlawed the practice entirely. Now you can still get an image on your cake, but it has to be one of the authorized ones the bakery provides.

But maybe your kid drew a fish because he likes fish and he’s never even seen “Finding Nemo”. He can’t get his fish on a cake because the bakery is afraid of infringement, they’re not even gonna make that judgment. Google is gonna outlaw links to all sharing because it’s just too damn expensive to figure out what’s legal and what’s illegal. So you’ll just consume pre-approved content, manufactured by the usual suspect music and movie companies. You can’t create your own because it might infringe and Google doesn’t want to make the wrong decision and it takes too much money to make a decision, so you can create your music, but it won’t be findable, the search engine can’t take that risk.

And if you think the above is blown out of proportion, you don’t understand how the content companies think.

They want control. The Internet is their worst nightmare. It allows anybody to create. And under the rubric of preventing you from mixing up your content with theirs, they want to outlaw sharing completely, they don’t want you making music and movies, they just want you to buy theirs. This is the concept of scarcity that made them so much dough, this is the past they’re trying to jet us all back into by crippling the Internet. As Clay Shirky says in this video, they want to “raise the cost of copyright compliance to the point where people simply get out of the business of offering it as a capability to amateurs.”

They think we’re dumb. They’ve got no idea the Internet is all about smart. They want us to believe in the nincompoops on “The Jersey Shore”, not some egghead with degrees who’s actually thought about all this and isn’t in it for the short term money and fame.

TED talks are a burgeoning resource. The brand stands for intelligent insight. Take the time out to watch this presentation, you’ll get it, you’ll be horrified, you’ll send it to all your friends.

P.S. You might be unable to do this under SOPA. For fear that you might be sharing copyrighted material, your ability to share at all could be crippled, because it would cost too much for the linking service to determine whether it’s legal to share the content or not.

P.P.S. Read this story: This is what they want, guilty until proven innocent.

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