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MPAA Tech Policy Chief Quits, Comes Out Attacking SOPA/PIPA

Posted by: , 14:18 AEST, Tue April 10, 2012

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A former senior vice president at the MPAA has come out attacking the lobbying group's support for SOPA/PIPA, saying the controversial bills aren't "mutually compatible" with the Internet
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The MPAA has just gained a new "foe" in its fight to keep SOPA and PIPA alive - their own former senior vice president!

Paul Brigner, who quit his post last month at the MPAA, posted a statement on CNET explaining why he no longer agrees with the lobbying group's firm support for SOPA (and PIPA).

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and its senate version, PIPA (Protect IP Act), were Hollywood's (and the recording industry's) latest attempt at creating a technological solution to the web piracy problem, having contributed to both the creation and the lobbying of both acts. The "solution" would see the US government granted enormous powers to shut down websites merely suspected of offering pirated content, and would also grant content holders powers to disrupt the financial lifeline of these websites, without involving the courts. The MPAA and the record industry's copyright lobby, the RIAA, say the bill is narrowly aimed at foreign "rogue" websites, but critics have said the impact of such measures would be widespread, and the tampering with the Internet's naming system would harm efforts to make the Internet more secure.

Both SOPA and PIPA were dropped from scheduled votes in the House and the Senate due to huge public opposition, and opposition from tech leaders such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia, the latter blocked out their entire website for a day of protest, one that thousands of other websites took part (disclosure: Digital Digest also took part in the protest).

And now it turns out that even at the MPAA, not everyone was sure that SOPA and PIPA were the solutions that the industry needed. Brigner was one of those who felt this one, and his voice carries weight because he was their chief technology policy officer. 

"I firmly believe that we should not be legislating technological mandates to protect copyright -- including SOPA and Protect IP," Brigner wrote.

More interestingly, Brigner wasn't always against SOPA/PIPA, having initially supported the controversial plan. But the more Brigner examined the details of SOPA/PIPA, and the impact it will have on the Internet, the more convinced he was of the fact that the plan would simply not work. "Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did. The more I became educated on the realities of these issues, the more I came to the realization that a mandated technical solution just isn't mutually compatible with the health of the Internet," Brigner added.

The change of heart was so strong that after leaving the MPAA, Brigner has joined the anti-SOPA Internet Society as their director of the North American Regional Bureau. The Internet Society publicly came out to condemn SOPA/PIPA back in December, citing security and censorship issues.

And in his new role, Brigner hopes he can work hard to ensure SOPA/PIPA, and legislation like it, will never become law, and ended his statement with the promise to "ensure the freedom and openness of the Internet for all."


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