Another SOPA rant. Also, sod off Newt Gingrich

I’ve been talking more about SOPA at work. Politics doesn’t usually belong there, but every time someone mentions the election primaries the ONLY thing I can think about is that damned piece of legislation trying to subdue a technology it can’t control. It got me thinking about some past lives I’ve lead.

Back when I was becoming a competent, nerdy teenager (around 2001), rampant file sharing was afoot. I was on the bandwagon for a long time, using the usual apps like KaZaa and Napster. I’d download a J-Pop album here, a Star Wars Episode II clip there, and I was happy. I was a rebel, knowing full well the danger. Clearly, I was a silly teen with no forethought to my future if caught. Through high school I slowly grew out of that phase, but college was right around the corner and I was about to have zero cash. “To Torrent or not to Torrent” was a question I leveled at myself quite often. One day I visited a friend at their dorm and noticed her computer had a red glow on the wall. I asked what the hell it was, and sure enough it was Netflix – a company barely anyone heard about but served up some seriously convenient entertainment. Hundreds of movies at my beck and call – with no need to wait for a file to finish downloading to watch my shows. I was hooked.

I found that Netflix (and subsequently Hulu, among others) provided me the right access which bested the pirate life I had before it.

This was a fantastic point that Nelay from The Verge made on TWiT just a few weeks ago. When print media was the primary way for content producers to get their work out to consumers, it was fairly easy to investigate illegitimate copy production: you confiscate the copying machine and you’re done. Business saved! Today, everyone has a copying machine. The keyboard command Control-D (or Command-D for you Macfolk) and all the steps in file sharing that follow. Business lost!

Not really.

The challenge that poses itself to content producers today is not copy-protection, it’s access! This is why Netflix comes to mind as a prime example of this realization. When I ask myself the last time I popped in a DVD was, I can’t remember. When was the last time I bought I CD? Never; I’ve got iTunes. I consume nearly all of my entertainment online through Netflix and other streaming services, and it is good.

That’s my story for the day, children.

Also, to Mr. Newt Gingrich: STOP EMAILING ME. I DID NOT GIVE YOU MY EMAIL ADDRESS.

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