Question of the Week RESULTS: More Nuance Than SOPA

By a narrow margin, peHUB readers favor more carefully crafted antipiracy laws rather than leaving copyright holders without legal protection from online pirates.

In our Question of the Week, voters called for a more nuanced approach to protecting moviemakers and music producers, rather than simply stopping the law known as the Stop Online Piracy Act. But it was close, 36 to 34 in our tally.

Most of the rest said they don’t care, as long as they get the content they want. Very few gave sympathy to Hollywood in this dustup, compared to Silicon Valley.

Given that a large chunk of the peHub audience are Silicon Valley type entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, I was only surprised that no more of you agreed with the proposition that restrictions would stifle the Internet. Certainly some in the VC community participated in Wednesday’s anti-SOPA protest. But as a content producer myself who depends on copyright to protect my livelihood, I am gratified that so many of you agreed that we need some kind of protections. Thank you.

And events of the last few days also demonstrated that existing law can be effective. The United States moved this week against a pirate site known as Megaupload.com, taking down its servers and arresting four company executives in New Zealand in an investigation dating from 2010.

On the other hand, as I was reminded as the SOPA debate progressed this week, the government also apparently has wide, even arbitrary, latitude to act, with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies moving over the Thanksgiving holiday to shut down a number of Web sites dedicated to hip-hop music. Really? Homeland Security? I don’t know what kind of terrorist threat hip-hop represents, but I am concerned about the apparent absence of due process on display here.

So the week proved useful as an exercise in citizen action, and I hope it leads to a more thoughtful discussion of the competing interests at issue here. But realistically, now that Wikipedia is back online, I expect we’re all going to forget about it again.

Steve Bills is a senior editor at Buyouts Magazine. Any opinions expressed here are entirely his own. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Bills. Follow Buyouts tweets @Buyouts. For information on how to subscribe, contact Greg Winterton at greg.winterton@thomsonreuters.com.