As the Stop Internet Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act have inched their way into the headlines, a number of people — even some who make their living on this here Internet — have shrugged and said things like, “I don’t download any pirated movies, so why should this bother me?” So we spoke to Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google, who gave his feelings on why we should all be concerned.
Among the problems, explains Cutts — speaking as someone who understands the Internet and not as a representative of Google — is that the proposed bills would make it harder for online start-ups to, well… start up.
“[Start-ups] will need more lawyers, plus they’ll be more likely to self-censor,” he explains to Consumerist. “Venture capitalists will be less likely to invest in many start-ups.”
Cutts points to the “countless examples of misguided or mistaken takedowns” that have already happened in the years since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act kicked in, “that hit completely unrelated targets as collateral damage.”
He gives the example of the ordeal that MetaFilter had to go through to prove that a five-year-old song on the site was not actually an unreleased, leaked Michael Jackson song, in spite of what Sony’s moronic web-scouring bots said.
“The Internet is one of the most vibrant, equalizing inventions of the last century,” says Cutts. “People are spending more and more time online learning new things or connecting with friends. SOPA and PIPA risk putting a chilling effect on the entire internet, and that’s exactly the opposite of what we need right now.”
Thus, he says, it’s critical that Americans tell their Congresspersons and Senators that these pieces of legislation are misguided.
“Even though I’m sure members of Congress are acting with the best intentions, SOPA and PIPA are incredibly flawed bills and should not be passed,” says Cutts.