The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is so far-reaching, and so wildly inappropriate, that it is actually becoming part of the conversation of people outside of copyright law circles. This is quite the achievement. I'm very much against both it and its sibling, The Protect Intellectual Property (PIPA) Act.
What hit me today, though, is not that the RIAA, MPAA, and anyone else who supports this is borderline-evil, it is that if these acts go through, and the various organizations who want to stop file-sharing actually succeed, it would destroy their business.
I listen to tons of music. Almost all of it is on TheSixtyOne.com. All of that music is free, much of it is free to download, and still more of it is Creative Commons. I have not listened to music from a major artist in years, excepting when I cleaned out an old hard drive and had to delete music that I no longer wanted.
Likewise, most of the good songs from any given major album are released as singles, and are thus available on YouTube. So if I really want to, I can listen to them, there. The only reason why I, and while I know that my social circle is not exactly representative, most of my friends even know about most major releases is because we can get the songs for free online. If we couldn't, we not only wouldn't want them, we wouldn't even know they existed.
This aspect of the argument is, I think, ignored because of the belligerent and confrontational nature of the debate. The various media companies are wrong. Basic economics proves them wrong. But those same economic arguments mean that if the media companies somehow succeed -I don't think that they will, but hypothetically speaking- they will quite literally be the harbingers of their own destruction.
The basic economic mechanisms by which the music industry is growing today would be circumvented, thus propelling the music being made at the fringes of the industry, indie music and self-produced bands, directly into the lime light. Truly, the success of the MPAA and RIAA would be the greatest boon in history to smaller groups trying to get heard, since they would no longer have to fight with the big boys for market space.
I don't think that this will happen, of course, since both PIPA and SOPA are catastrophes of legal garbage. Still, it's funny to think that if they did manage to get through, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the very industry that is so desperately trying to pass them.