|The SOPA Issue|
Nicolai M. Josuttis, February 17th, 2012
During the past weeks there was a lot of discussion between authors who signed the open letter to Pearson including me and people from Pearson, such as Paul Boger, Vice-President and Publisher, Pearson Technology Group, and Simon Juden, Pearson's Head of Public Policy, caused by my stop on the work 2nd edition of The C++ Standard Library due to Pearson's support for SOPA.
Beside private statements, with their permission I am allowed to say now that they feel that better tools than the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are needed. They say that they never supported every single part of SOPA and indeed did not oppose when the DNS provisions were amended out.
To quote a letter, Simon Juden wrote to the authors on January 26, 2012:
"To be clear: We have absolutely no interest in limiting the use of the Internet or the free flow of information and we don't support elements of any proposed legislation that would do so."
During the following discussion, he also said:
"There were certainly elements of the original SOPA bill that we were not comfortable with: When, for example, language around DNS was amended out we did not oppose it. Pearson hosts an amount of UGC ['user generated content'] today and is likely to host more in the future, so we would never support measures that would make UGC sites like Facebook unworkable."
"The SOPA language is now effectively dead, and the challenge now is to work constructively to move the debate forward. It's not clear just now what form the ensuing debate will take, but going forward, Pearson wants to help defining something that coheres with the ethos of the Internet."
For this, they have explicitly raised the interest in the authors as technical experts because SOPA had a lack of expert engineering input.
There also was the following claim:
"Either way, I entirely understand why you felt we were going in the wrong direction before - the nuances of our position weren't public, because of the way we work on these issues - and I hope that our offer to involve you in developing our position going forward goes some way to meeting your concerns."which has the background that according to Pearson for them to contribute to a better bill they first have to support it. This shall bring them in a better position to place constructive criticism and changes. Yes, this statement requires some trust, because it might also be used to calm us authors down , but I am willing to provide this trust expecting that both we get more feedback about the ongoing process and Pearson in future earlier states their limits in support.
All of this gives me enough confidence that Pearson understood the concerns the other authors and me had with the current trial to protect our intellectual property and is willing to work with us for a better solutions that fits both our interests as authors and publishers as well as the interest of democratic processes and technical solutions that ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease.
For this reason, I will continue with my work on the book, hoping that we still can hold the publishing date in April 2012, which we announced at the beginning of 2012.
The 2nd edition of The C++ Standard Library is almost done and should get published in April 2012. However, the publishing of this book might get cancelled due to the support of SOPA by my publisher.
You never heard about SOPA? Well, you should. It's an U.S act to protect copyrights and fight against piracy, which I as an author naturally welcome. However, as it happens so often these times, people and companies are trying to solve the whole problem of copyright violations by getting control of everything. As a result, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) are on their way to become U.S. law. This law, however, would violate fundamental rules of democracy and the Internet. In fact, SOPA plans to let the U.S. government to control the domain name resolution with the following implications:
Read at Wikipedia, DigitalTrends, EngineAdvocacy, VentureBeat, and other resources for more.
The concrete problem I have is that my publishing company, Pearson Education, supports this act. Or in other words, my publisher has no problem to attack fundamental democratic rights and Internet rules to protect its interests. Now, you might argue that these are also my interests. However in the past years of Guantanamo, the Iraq war, and the financial crisis, I learned that it can't be a democratic reaction to compromise democracy when you are not satisfied with its outcome. This brings us (not only the U.S. but other countries, such as Germany where I am living) to the same level as autocratic countries.
So, in essence, I can't support that Person will use the income of my money to fight against democracy. For this reason, I will stop my work on the 2nd edition of The C++ Standard Library until Pearson stops their support for this act. As this edition is expected to become a bestseller, this might cost me thousands of bucks. However I am old enough to know that there are more important things than money. According to Time for Outrage: Indignez-vous! by Stephane Hessel it's time to shout out loud that I am fed up with all these guys that mean that they again and again can give up fundamental human rights and culture because they think they are right. I like many of these guys and often they are right, but the end does not justify the means.
Fortunately, I am not alone. Read this open letter by Martin Fowler and others to the vice president of Pearson for feedback by many other authors.