People act as if the problem with SOPA/PIPA is in the execution. They seem to think “yeah piracy is bad and should be stopped, but we shouldn’t break the Internet in the process.” This strongly implies that some magical third bill exists, some more civilized solution that could end piracy while not breaking the Internet.
I doubt such a solution exists. Piracy is just copying. Copying is just moving bits from one place to another. It’s such a fundamental activity of using computers and digital technology that to limit copying, you pretty much have to compromise the liberty of the system as we know it. Even then it’s likely people will still find a way around anti-piracy controls. We are rapidly approaching a world where everyone has a cheap computer in their pocket that can hold all the world’s music and movies many times over.
Along these lines, here are two recent and relevant links:
“Digital filesharing doesn’t need the internet. This is the case at least in Western Africa and other parts of the developing world, where computers aren’t yet consumer goods for most and, even if they were, web access isn’t exactly New York City. Lovers of music still get it done, however, sharing files between knockoff cell phones via bluetooth connections and accumulating song collections in memory cards and bitrates that would probably make most in our lossless world laugh.”
“Another system, Namecoin, could be used to circumvent internet censorship. Launched last year, it uses modified Bitcoin software to provide decentralised domain names for websites. This allows owners of “.bit” domains to get around DNS restrictions such as those proposed in the US Stop Online Piracy Act, which if passed into law would see copyright-infringing sites struck from the DNS record.”