Thoughts on SOPA

Today's the big blackout protest day for SOPA, the anti-piracy bill currently wending its way through Congress.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike SOPA.  But as a software developer, I have mixed feelings about the bill, and I have to admit I'm a little annoyed by all the knee-jerk opposition to it. 

Granted, it's a poorly written bill. I don't want to see it passed in its current form. But it does try to address a real problem, and the thing that bugs me is that opposition to the bill never proposes any kind of alternative solution.

As with the whole ratings issue, ultimately the solution should come from the private sector. But the private sector has been achingly silent on the issue.

Here's an example of the kind of thing I'd like to see:

Youtube self-regulates copyright infringement through content search and advertising revenue. It also provides copyright holders a means to flag infringing content for review. Yet if you do a simple Google search for one of my games, you get any number of hits on the first page or two that take you directly to pirate sites where users can (for Android apps) just click a link and download the game for free. I suspect many users who do so don't even know they're pirating the game. And yet Google provides no means for me to flag a link for review. I can, however, flag content as "inappropriate" -- why is that? Boobs bad but pirated software OK?

Maybe it isn't a perfect solution, but it's an example of the kind of thing I'd like to see companies like Google talking about, instead of just putting a stupid black bar over their logo.

So to all o' youse who are applauding the blackout today: Why not take advantage of the browsing downtime and spend a little brain power thinking up real solutions? If you want a vibrant independent game developer community, you need to be concerned not only about free speech, but also about the ability of said independent developers to turn a profit.