SOPA, and content thieves: They both suck

Ian Lurie

Watching the argument over online piracy unfold in the US is like watching chimpanzees drive a car. They fight over direction but they don’t give a crap if they take the rest of us off a goddamned cliff with them.

Here’s my problem with both sides in this Greek tragedy:

SOPA = stupid

If it passes, SOPA will be a total failure:

  1. It’s written by a Republican congressman who, as near as I can tell, doesn’t own a computer. The guy violates copyright law on his own web site. Dude. Did you even know you had a web site?
  2. It’s being pushed by big companies who don’t get it. This isn’t going to help you guys. You need to rethink your strategies, retool your businesses and get serious. We’re not going back to the days of Sony Walkmen. Deal.
  3. If I’m a pirate, and SOPA passes, I just start turning and burning domains, giving away content until they get shut down. And of course ICANN Godaddy will be more than happy to sell me all those domains.
  4. If it passes I’m personally going to set up at least 1000 sites with photos of Lamar Smith’s head attached to an LOL cat saying “I’m a horse’s ass! Buy Diet Coke!” Just to keep things interesting.
  5. If I’m an individual who already thinks ‘music should be free’ then I’m clearly suffering from some kind of dementia. So I’ll ignore SOPA anyway.

Which brings me to the part where I piss everyone off.

Content shouldn’t be free

There, I said it.

Everyone seems to think they have a right to free music, free movies, free books, whatever. Well, you don’t.

Someone worked to create that stuff. They deserve to be paid. I used to think this was a price thing: That if record companies and movie studios and publishers sold their content more cheaply, everyone would adjust. But I was wrong. I know that now because people bitch when companies like Spotify restrict their free streaming service in an attempt to get people to pay for the better premium subscription.

The premium subscription costs $9/month. If you listen to 20 songs in a month, you paid $.45 a song. That’s a fraction of the cost of a CD. You’re going to steal music to avoid paying $.45 for a song?

Stealing is stealing. If you take content from someone (including a blogger like me) without permission, you’re not stickin’ it to the man. You’re not fighting repression. You’re not making a political statement. You’re a thief.

If you’re a geek like me, I know exactly what you’re going to say:

“I want the artists to get paid. It’s the big greedy music/movie/media companies I don’t like.”

Funny, because SOPA supporters will say:

“I want individuals to get their content. It’s the big greedy pirates I don’t like.”


Make a real statement

Go oppose SOPA. It’s a terrible piece of legislation. If Thomas Jefferson saw it, he’d slap the authors in the face and send them back to law school.

Then, make a real statement. Support companies like Spotify, and Hulu (yes, I know who owns Hulu), and indie ebook sellers. Those guys are the only ones who are really working to fix this. Make them super-successful and watch what happens.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. As an individual that creates content, I agree that you make very good points. Re: supporting Hulu— If Hulu decides to change their Plus otion to *completely* ad free, I’ll happily re-join their service.

    1. Spot on, here. Either charge for your service or have it be ad supported – make up your mind. Making me watch ads *during* a service that I’m paying for is insulting.
      I’d gladly pay more to have an uninterrupted viewing experience. At least make a top tier that costs more and has zero ads if the $10 a month isn’t enough.

  2. I had this same conversation with my 13 year old son in the car this morning, and even he gets it.
    We’ve already been there too, right?
    The world did not end with the invention of recordable media like cassette tapes and VCR’s.
    Unique, original content will continue to be created, and should be celebrated and compensated.
    But obviously, people are legitimately going to spread the word – that’s in the copyright owner’s own interest.
    But, thieves should be detected and punished.
    I don’t know what the definitive solution is, but this legislation doesn’t seem to go any further than stating these obvious truths.

  3. Spot on Ian. Instead going and cryin’ about this to the government, record companies, movie studios, and the other behemoths should be focusing on innovating their business models to fit into the modern world.

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