Feb. 27, 2012 at 5:17 PM ET
Last month, during a discussion of the ill-fated Stop Online Piracy Act, at least a half dozen congressmen referred to those who understand the global system of computer networks connected by the standard Internet protocol suite as "nerds." So it makes sense that "nerds" would attempt where our tech-ignorant representatives failed: Write their own version of an Internet regulation bill. And that's what Reddit did.
The link sharing site, which played a major role in helping to defeat SOPA last month, proposes ithe Free Internet Act (FIA), a crowdsourced alternative to the government proposals many found restrictive to both creativity and free speech. The first draft of FIA, originally launched by members of the /r/fia subreddit (forum), is available on Google Docs.
Yeah, good luck with that.
Designed to "promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation" on the Internet, FIA is big on Internet freedom, while offering little for the entertainment industry to embrace. People in the bad place will enjoy tall glasses of frosty H20 before the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America – two of D.C.'s most powerful and well-funded lobbies – allow FIA anywhere near our nation's capital.
Here are a few points with which the MPAA, the RIAA will certainly take issue:
These and other issues are covered in the FIA seem reasonable – so reasonable that it makes one's head hurt to realize why it's so hard to come up with a decent bill.
Some top players in the entertainment industry spin the January Internet protests that lead to SOPA's death as a corporate marketing coup. "Their version of the story is that a small group of powerful Internet players, including Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, ganged up on lawmakers by bending the will of impressionable Internet users with scare tactics," notes Ad Age's Simon Dumenco.
Yet it was individual Reddit members who, working together, really provided the steam to the Stop SOPA protest, with Silicon Valley bigs joining later. While the current version of FIA would be untenable to the entertainment business (and a few other interested parties), as an academic exercise, it does offer the education that congressional nerd-bashers seemed to be asking for last January.
Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet — at least until the Stop Online Piracy Act becomes a law, making snark a libelous felony. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.