The MPAA Attacks Ars Technica

As is standard protocol, the MPAA has adopted a reactionary stance toward an otherwise harmless entity on the Internet. Rather than directing its lawsuit-laced focus at a "rogue website," this time Howard Gantman has penned an article, entitled "Standing Against Those Who Trumpet the Economic Value of Theft," denouncing Ars Technica's coverage of copyright-related material. To appreciate the full extent of the ignorance on display, you need only read the following sentence:

The bottom line: SOPA, and related bipartisan legislation in the Senate, the PROTECT-IP Act, will help American businesses and American workers by making it more difficult for operators of rogue websites, often based overseas, to steal American intellectual property.

In response, Nate Anderson writes:

The thing is, we’re really on the MPAA’s side; they just don’t realize it. We’re both content creators who support copyright and want to see creators get paid for their efforts. But copyright maximalism is the wrong way forward. Like an addict who can’t help himself, though, major copyright holders are so used to stanching their piratical worries with just one more hit on that sweet, sweet bottle of 120-proof distilled Essence of Enforcement that they can’t stop the impulse any longer; it has become reflex. Those who ask them to have a calming cup of tea instead go on the “enemies list.”

“Good copyright policy” doesn’t necessarily mean “stronger copyright policy.” Thinking that it does has caused a long litany of problems over the last century as copyright holders have sought to throttle the photocopier, the VCR, digital audio tape, MP3 players, and the DVR. Indeed, the industry’s record on this score is downright shocking. But most of the people who backed those devices — like Mr. Rogers did with the VCR—weren’t out to screw creative professionals. Neither are we. But sometimes, you need to stage an intervention, and you need to do so for the good of the addict… and the health of the community around him.

The problem with the MPAA, as Anderson writes, is that its default emotional level is blistering anger. As such, their treatment of delicate copyright matters tends to sway toward blinded "maximalism," rather than offering reasonable insight.

Of course copyright protection is a good thing, but SOPA and PIPA are most certainly not the correct resolution. Rather than dealing with the source of the problem, SOPA and PIPA present extensive measures capable of crippling the Internet in its entirety. Stemming piracy, while important, does not warrant such rash, reactionary behavior. Sadly, Gantman's post on the MPAA Blog, if anything, serves to highlight the poorly reasoned foundation upon which such bills have been written.