Porn industry has strong feelings on both sides of debate between content protection and free speech

However much Cary Sherman and Patrick Leahy protest otherwise, the vague and shifting provisions of SOPA and PIPA scream “censorship” to millions of Internet users around the world. And when it comes to censorship, no business has a larger combination of fear and finance than the pornography (aka “adult entertainment”) industry. At the same time, no content developer has a more serious concern about “piracy”. And so it’s instructive to read an article by Rick Louis in XBIZ Newswire (“Adult entertainment industry news for the media”) reporting the results of a survey on the question: “Should governments have the power/ability to stop content piracy? (e.g. SOPA/Protect IP)”. Although the question didn’t mention censorship, this was clearly in the minds of the respondents, who said “No” slightly more often than “Yes” (45.6% to 44.4% with 10% undecided). As explained by Louis:

Decades of struggle against censorship and punitive regulation have instilled in most adult entertainment professionals a reflexive mistrust of the government as watchdog. People in the adult industry may thus be especially prone to viewing any new empowerment of government to regulate the Internet as a slippery slope.

Which is not to say that this industry takes content protection lightly. Attorney Marc J. Randazza stresses:

Intellectual property creators have a right to the fruits of their labors. Those who steal that from them should be stopped and made to pay.”

Agreeing with the importance of copyright protection, attorney Greg Piccionelli provides a lesson in civics:

“The rights at issue, copyrights, are property rights provided by our government. For those property rights to have meaning, they must be protected and enforceable under the law. If the boundary to someone’s land is not enforceable, the notion of a boundary to demarcate a person’s property simply becomes meaningless, as does the concept of private property.”

But Piccionelli then goes on to talk about limitations on government power:

“This country is based on the extremely important and fundamental idea that the same government that grants copyrights must be a limited government. This is why we have a Constitution that sets forth what our government can and cannot do. The most important of the ‘can’t dos’ are the prohibitions in the 1st Amendment which protect us from governmental control over speech and other expression.”

As to SOPA, PIPA, and the process that created them, Piccionelli minces no (emphasis added) words:

“Appropriate antipiracy legislation is desperately needed. But SOPA and PIPA are not examples of a workable balance that sufficiently protects freedom of expression. To our federal legislators I say, get off your lazy asses and go back and do it right or get out of the way and let some thinking people who are not brain-dead special interest whores do the hard work that must be done to protect both property rights and our free speech rights.”

We may or may not agree with his characterization of Congress (aside to Dave Barry: “Brain Dead Special Interest Whores” would be a great name for a rock band), but his bottom-line conclusion will resonate with many:

“If a workable balance cannot be struck, count me in on the side of freedom.”

Me, too.

/Steve/

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