I just received an email from Demand Progress, a progressive web site, proclaiming, “Wow. We just won.” The reference, of course, was to Wednesday’s Internet blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA. Indeed, it does appear we’ve won a battle, as both bills appear to be dead – for the time being.
Winning a battle is not the same thing as winning a war. The losing side in any war always wins at least a battle or two. A war isn’t won until the other side raises a white flag and agrees to terms of surrender. So far, all we’ve won is one battle.
The other side, the record companies and Hollywood studios, have so far won many battles in this war. They were fighting this war even before there was an Internet and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Did you ever own a Digital Audio Tape recorder, the technology that was going to replace cassettes? Most likely not. Why? Because the record companies convinced Congress that the technology would be disruptive to their business model and convinced them to regulate dubbing functions, making the devices nothing but very expensive high tech paperweights.
Our enemies won’t quit. They’ll be back, pushing Congress to believe we don’t need due process or the First Amendment. In the eyes of the record companies and movie studios, competition is a crime. These are the type of capitalists who only believe in “free enterprise” so long as they own it and no one else can get a piece.
This war is not yet won. Far from it. We must remain vigilant.