You might notice many of your favorite websites look different today. Wikipedia is down. WordPress is dark. TechCrunch has adjusted it’s homepage logo to look even weirder than usual. So what’s the big deal?
Right now in Washington D.C., Congress is considering two bills that would censor the web and impose burdensome regulations on American businesses. Over here on the European version of TechCrunch we think that’s a fantastic thing. Utterly fantastic. No, really.
The PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House PIPA & SOPA will indeed censor the web. For you guys in the US!
Over here in Europe, we’ll be happily file sharing till the cows come home, with all you Yanks hungry for pirated content being forced to download or stream all the latest movies via other means in order to get around your dumb-ass lawmakers. Meanwhile your emergent businesses trying to actually solve the piracy problem will wither and die. Goodbye Netflix, hello vinyl records – I hear they are the latest thing.
Admittedly these SOPA/PIPA powers are on the wish list of oppressive regimes throughout the world – and please don’t tell Russia or Belarus about them. They’ve been hankering for an excuse to shut down their Internet Tubes for years and a great nation like Uncle Sam doing it would be just the green light they’ve been looking for. Sigh. (Here in Europe we prefer to slightly forget about those guys. And please don’t ask us if Russian are Europeans – we’ve done our best to avoid that subject for 60 years and we ain’t about to start now.)
Meanwhile, although SOPA and PIPA also eliminate due process and provide incentives for American companies to shut down, block access to and stop servicing U.S. and foreign websites that copyright and trademark owners allege are illegal – here in Europe we are excited by this.
Well, it means two things. We can start developing an internet outside of North America. Yay!
Goodbye to that large, single, English speaking market who’s teats we have sucked on for so long. Hello to a world of “EurAsia” and Ingsoc” (wow, Orwell was right!?) where we can ply our wares, with you US guys sitting in blissful ignorance, having to watch re-runs of Giligan’s Island because EVERYTHING ELSE IS ILLEGAL.
Yeah sure, our European startups need to make you THINK they are some hip outfit built by the members of a part-time slacker rock band in SOMA, when behind the scenes spotty teenagers in Bucharest are pulling all-nighters (hey Seesmic! how’s it hanging?) — but I guess we’ll find other, less restrictive markets to ply. Like Brazil. China. You get the drift.
Ok, Ok, so you control .com domains and something weird would happen with ICANN. Hell, we’d figured something out… We rather like the sound of .tr domains from Turkey anyway. Doc.tr could be a new health startup – see, it just WORKS.
And here’s a message for corporate Amercia: Try suing us from Sweden! Hell, the Internet’s a human right here buddy…
But the main reason we’re super excited about SOPA, is that your best and brightest entrepreneurs and developers – realising that your version of the Internet is now a sort of steam engine driven version controlled by Congress and unaccountable Corporations (steampunk!) – will now move to Europe to create their next global (“minus USA”, LOL!) Internet company.
The NASDAQ will move to London and it’ll be IPOs all round for us Euros! And our coffee was always so much better anyway…
So, good luck America. Suddenly Escape From New York is looking more like a fly on the wall documentary, with the rest of the world on the other side of your SOPA wall…