On stopping SOPA and going Dutch

Posted by David Gomez

US government officials like to brag about how proud they are to live in the freest country on earth. But most don’t think freedom extends to the Internet, and that’s why it’s time to consider some of the ideas being debated in Dutch Parliament.  

Downloading music and movies on the Internet is popular all over the world. Some argue that it’s an economic problem which has to be stopped by any means necessary, while others feel the solutions to the problem are worse than the effects the downloading has on an economy.
    
In the US the public has been presented with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Most politicians in the US seem to think that the only way to stop people from downloading entertainment for free is to give near total control over the Internet to the government and large corporations who hold copyrights. The big media and entertainment lobbyists want to continue to have control over distribution on the Internet because without it their business model will be more or less dead.
    
Sure, this may be bad for the large corporations who basically only exist to be middlemen, but it’s actually a good thing for the talented artists that big media and entertainment like to leech off of. Basically, the system we have now distorts the price of entertainment and software by allowing copyright holders to have so much control over things. It gives them a somewhat legitimate reason to charge so much for entertainment when it is purchased through legal channels.
    
With the system of free and easy downloading it is possible for entertainers to still get paid, it’s just that those who control the industry will eventually be rendered economically useless and there won’t be any reason to pay them the big bucks.

Think about it: why pay the middleman anymore when you can have a more direct relationship with an entertainer or a software developer? There may not be as much money to go around anymore, but the money that does go around can go directly to the people who do the work that makes us happy.
    
Not everything about downloading is bad. Yes, the way it’s presented to people in the US makes it seem that way, but like I said, there are actually some good things that could come from a system where downloading is the norm. Most politicians in the US don’t seem to get this yet, that’s why they should be paying attention to way downloading is handled in some European countries.
    
With the holiday break the news tends to fall through the cracks, and one story that is worth mentioning is how the Dutch Parliament recently said that downloading movies and music will stay legal. They made this decision for the obvious reason that government controls over downloading would amount to censorship, but also for economic reasons.

According a recent article cited by TorrentFreak: "The parliament suggests that the entertainment industry should focus more on offering authorized alternatives. At the moment, it is practically impossible to download high quality copies of recent movies and TV-shows via legal channels in the Netherlands."
    
That pretty much sums up how a lot of people feel about the downloading issue. They want better alternatives that make full use of available technology all without allowing government to legitimize censorship by using a bogus economic argument.
    
This isn’t the final say on downloading in the Dutch Parliament, but it does show that when people aren’t completely bought and paid for, they can have rational discussions that mirror the will of the people. US politicians should pay attention to the way the Dutch Parliament is handling the downloading issue. Their methods are a lot better for a country that wants to be free.