MPAA’s former tech officer now argues against SOPA, PIPA


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[This post has been updated. See note below. ]

The MPAA’s former chief technology policy officer is speaking out against anti-piracy bills that were a top priority for his former employer. Paul Brigner, who resigned from his job last month as senior vice president for the MPAA, said he has changed his tune on the much-maligned Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protection Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

‘I firmly believe that we should not be legislating technological mandates to protect copyright -- including SOPA and Protect IP,’’ Brigner said in a statement posted on CNET.


The bills, which were intended to crack down on foreign websites trafficking in pirated goods, sparked a massive online protest from Wikipedia, Google and other tech giants, which argued that the bills would lead to censorship online and force some websites out of business. The protest effectively derailed the bills, dealing a blow to the MPAA, which had lobbied heavily in favor of the measures.

But Brigner told CNET that his year-long experience at the MPAA caused him to change his views on the anti-piracy bills, concluding that they would not work.

‘Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I’m not ashamed to admit that it certainly did,’ Brigner posted on the technology website. ‘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.’

A spokesman for the MPAA, which lobbies on behalf of the major Hollywood studios, declined to comment on Brigner’s statement.

The MPAA’s Chief Executive Chris Dodd, the former senator from Connecticut, has not abandoned the issue entirely. He has had conversations with representatives of the tech industry about ways to fight online piracy, such as working with internet service providers to send out alerts to consumers to deter online copyright infringement. It’s unlikely any new bills would introduced until after the presidential election.

[For the record: an earlier version of this post incorrectly quoted a statement attributed to Brigner. The post has been updated.]



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-- Richard Verrier