However, my opposition (read: point of view) took shape after reading a set of articles; both of which involved author and publisher Tim O'Reilly. The first one was an interview with O'Reilly, done by GigaOM's Colleen Taylor, where Tim explains his stance on SOPA. With his experience in publishing and technology, I was intrigued by the points he made. For example, Tim talks about how piracy isn't the real issue:
"The way I see it, there’s a lack of need for any legislation at all. As a publisher, I have a very deep experience here, and the fact is that piracy is not a significant problem. Yes, there are people who are pirating my books, there are people who are sharing links to places where they can be downloaded. But the vast majority of customers are willing to pay if the product is widely available and the price is fair. If you have a relationship with your customers, and they know you’re doing the right thing, they will support you."
With this, I made a connection to my experience with my Amazon Kindle and the books I purchased for it. I was quite pleased to find Douglas Adams books, Last Chance to See and The Deeper Meaning of Liff, available for the device. This was because they were mentioned in Don't Panic (Neil Gaiman's biography of Douglas) and were also listed in The Salmon of Doubt (a collection of Douglas's works and his points of view), but were unavailable in my local bookstores. Overall, the concept of availability and fair price* in the web market is important to me since I can find books from authors like Douglas Adams and others that I would be unable to find otherwise.
The other piece comes straight from Tim O'Reilly himself, where he also talks about the history of piracy, in terms of content, and why SOPA/PIPA are bad for the content industry business. He explains:
"Policies designed to protect industry players who are unwilling or unable to address unmet market needs are always bad policies. They retard the growth of new business models, and prop up inefficient companies. But in the end, they don't even help the companies they try to protect. Because those companies are trying to preserve old business models and pricing power rather than trying to reach new customers, they ultimately cede the market not to pirates but to legitimate players who have more fully embraced the new opportunity. We've already seen this story play out in the success of Apple and Amazon."
Both articles lead me to develop my opposition to SOPA and PIPA not just further, but on a personal level. As mentioned time and time again, I am a writer and someday, I would like to share my stories to a wider audience. I understand that there are writers who write for a living and may be more concerned than I am if their content is not paid for. However, I would rather not go down that route and concentrate on getting towards my goal of being a teacher, with writing on the side. With recent experience, I find it worse to have somebody take a work in progress and convert it to something else out of my control. If someday I finish a series of short stories, a novel, or something writing-related, and have it self-published through a service like Lulu, likely under a Creative Commons License, I would not be too worried about people sharing my work without paying for it. The reason for this is simple: Those works are finished! I can then go on knowing that people are sharing the work because they enjoyed reading it; anything else they do with it is out of my hands.
While the same situation can still exist where one reader takes the finished product and recreates something else from it, I would still worry less. This would depend on what type of Creative Commons License is used, and other factors as well. Still, if I finished the work, then that's the biggest achievement and the reward won't focus on profit as it will on satisfaction of a job well done. The market and how we share is changing due to the internet and developing technologies and, as O'Reilly mentions, markets need to adjust to the web in order to curb the piracy issue (on content) down. Also, the concept of content creation, in both culture and journalism for example, now applies to us: the Joe Schmo's of society. This is where the argument becomes complex on a massive scale**, but the same point remains: Things are changing with advancing web and other technologies.
*This point can be argued due to some publishers as pointed out by Dan Gillmor.
**I find that websites, such as Dan Gillmor's Mediactive (also a book), and following people like Cory Doctorow, Jeff Jarvis, Dan Gillmor (as mentioned), and others help to simplify the concept.