Sunday, January 22, 2012

SOPA, Internet regulation, and the economics of piracy

When Wikipedia went dark earlier this week, it grabbed the attention of many people who don't spend much time worrying about piracy or copyright issues. But in conversations about the problems with SOPA, I noticed outright skepticism from some folks about the worries raised by opponents of the legislation.

Fortunately, the opposition appears to have forced legislators to shelve their bills. But the claim that Internet piracy is threatening the economy continues to have legs - despite a lack of credible evidence to support it.

This article, by Julian Barnes, from, looks at some of the claims made by those supporting the bill and challenges many of their assumptions, such as the financial harm copyright holders are suffering.
. . . I remain a bit amazed that it's become an indisputable premise in Washington that there's an enormous piracy problem, that it's having a devastating impact on US content industries, and that some kind of aggressive new legislation is needed tout suite to stanch the bleeding. Despite the fact that the Government Accountability Office recently concluded that it is "difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy as a whole," our legislative class has somehow determined that—among all the dire challenges now facing the United States—this is an urgent priority. Obviously, there's quite a lot of copyrighted material circulating on the Internet without authorization, and other things equal, one would like to see less of it. But does the best available evidence show that this is inflicting such catastrophic economic harm—that it is depressing so much output, and destroying so many jobs—that Congress has no option but to Do Something immediately? Bearing the GAO's warning in mind, the data we do have doesn't remotely seem to justify the DEFCON One rhetoric that now appears to be obligatory on the Hill.

SOPA, Internet regulation, and the economics of piracy

(Via Boing Boing.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Is it just me or is time passing quicker?

Dt com"Was that two years ago or 20 years ago?"

That's what my cousin asked me when I was raising an anecdote of some kind that had happened to "just a couple of years ago."

When I thought about it, I realized that in fact, the event was a lot closer to 20 years ago than two.

I'm sure it's a function of getting older. After all, the scope of our memories has grown a lot, and what used to take up a big chunk of our life (like a school year, for example) now passes by in the blink of an eye.

I've come to think of my brain as a vessel that can only hold so much memory. And my long-term memory is pushing my short-term memory right out. That's a good an explanation as anything else I can come up with for why I can remember what happened to me during my trip to Europe in 1978, but I struggle to remember why I walked into the kitchen just now.

All of the above is a long-winded way to admit that while its been a long, long time since this blog was updated, I hadn't actually noticed.

Today, I'm attending WordCamp Victoria 2012 and it's been fun to listen to lots of people talk about why Wordpress is important to them and along the way, there's been a lot of talk about blogging.

Ironically, The Daily Upload is not a WordPress blog. It's on Blogger, where I started it almost eight years ago.

But I've been doing a lot of work with WordPress over the last year or two and I like it a lot. In fact, I've got a new version of in the works. And that's a good thing, because I first built that site almost 12 years ago - and a lot of the copy there dates from then. Well overdue for an overhaul.

I started building websites years ago, long before we had content management systems like WordPress, or Drupal, or others. I learned HTML and I still build, maintain and work on old-fashioned "static" sites, like this one or this one. But now I've switched to WordPress builds, like this.

OK…I think I've purged enough for today. It feels good to put a post together, and now that I've told you about the new website that's coming, it's time to stop procrastinating and get it done.

Thanks for listening.