As the Internet dances around like a bunch of little Ewoks having taken down a forest walker AT-AT, it’s probably not the time defend SOPA. But that’s what digital archivist Alex Berman is attempting to do, in his very well thought out piece about how SOPA is a good idea with bad execution and (obviously even worse PR.)
Information management is tricky business. As a content manager, I am constantly made aware of the fact that the materials I am handling are under copyright. And yet in the digital space it’s so easy for users to either ignore or remain ignorant of copyright laws and regulations. Of course this begs that question as to whether or not copyright laws are a good fit for the internet, but that’s for a different discussion. Just because you’ve got a great database, solid information gathering tools, and a rocking taxonomy, and maybe even ontology does not mean you can be complacent. If anything, this whole hoopla over SOPA proves that any institution or individual that not only accesses the internet, but also uploads, creates, edits, or in any way touches content must remain vigilant.
There are no black and white situations. SOPA seems like a poor idea, but that isn’t true. SOPA is a poorly EXECUTED, but great idea. Therefore the lesson that should be absorbed is not to judge an idea by its presentation. Rather we should, as information professionals, read between the lines. If the presentation is bad, why? How can it be improved, etc. Rather than advocating wholesale opposition to proposed legislation like SOPA we should be thinking about how can we improve it? Certainly it’s a laudable goal, it just needs a LOT of improvement.
Speaking as an author and musician, the digital age has mostly been a nightmare. Your hopes of earning an income have been dashed by the fact that nobody can figure out how to monetize this stuff aside from a hopelessly outdated model of advertising.
The Internet is unfortunately not designed for security. SOPA and PIPA have tried to make up for this failing with straight ahead, wretched, top-down autocracy. Obviously, that won’t do. But I think the idea is in the right direction, no matter how assholish the entire film and music industry has acted over the past several decades when any innovation comes to the fore. Because at the end of the day, the world is a better place when people can make a living as creative souls.