In a collaborative world, SOPA is doomed


How do I abhor SOPA? Let me count the ways.

If you haven't been paying attention (and if you have a web site, you need to start paying attention), SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act. It sounds innocent enough: SOPA aims to "expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods."

So far, so good. Stop online piracy? I'm on board. Creators should get paid for what they've created.

But let's not break the Internet in the process.

SOPA could do just that. It looks like the poster child for unintended consequences.

Against all odds, there's some common sense seeping from the White House on this one, so that's promising. Even so, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned.

I'm not going to dive into the fine print here --'s Eric Schurenberg and's Declan McCullagh do a better job of that than I ever could. Please -- please -- read their excellent and frightening summaries for the big (as in Big Brother) picture.

So yes, if you value your current online experience, there's a lot at stake here.

As bad as all of that is, though, there's something that bugs me even more, and here it is:

The folks behind SOPA seem hopelessly lost in a changing and complex world. They're bent on doing things as they've always been done, unaware that the rules have changed. They're the United States  Postal Service of the Internet, and they're destined for extinction.

Why? Because they're all about command and control. "Do it this way," they're saying, "or we'll legislate and litigate you into submission."

Here's the thing, though: You can't command and control anything these days. The crowd won't let you.

Business has changed radically over the past decade. Leadership is no longer about hierarchy; it's about collaboration. Learning is no longer about classrooms; it's about leveraging our networks and following the right people. Strategy is no longer about planning. You can't plan for constant change -- and constant change is what we have. Today's strategy is about recognizing the weak signals of disruptive change and being nimble enough to take advantage of those changes.

The line of reasoning behind SOPA, though, seems to be this: Why bother changing when you can just legislate to maintain the status quo?

Business today is about everything except the status quo.

That's why SOPA is doomed. Even if it becomes law, it won't survive. It can't survive. It's a relic from a long-lost world.

And if that doesn't convince you, check out these related resources:


Bill Sheridan