In a statement posted on CNET.com, Brigner says that his time at the MPAA — which, more than any other advocacy group, was responsible for SOPA and Protect IP — led him to realize that new laws to block allegedly piratical Web sites simply won’t work.
“Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did,” Brigner writes. “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.”
Over the course of the last year, my personal mission was to open dialogue between the technology community and the content companies so that mutual solutions could be reached. This, of course, proved quite difficult, as we all saw play out in sometimes dramatic fashion. But it never stopped me from trying behind the scenes to find that common ground. I believe one of the videos Declan (the CNET author) linked to shows Internet pioneer Steve Crocker and I shaking hands, resolving to work together to find something that works for both of us. That handshake and pledge was done in the spirit with which I tried to approach my work every day – even if this spirit didn’t exactly come through in the selected snippets attributed to me (and correctly so) in the article.
While it is not appropriate for me to further discuss details of my previous role, there’s one additional thing I would like to clarify. Flattered as I may be that people assume I was in a position of authority to set policy, that wasn’t the case. My primary role was to work with the community, and I was not part of the executive management committee.
So, here’s my belief in black and white: I firmly believe that we should not be legislating technological mandates to protect copyright – including SOPA and Protect IP. That is what the Internet Society believes, and, frankly, that is a prime reason I chose to join the organization. Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did. 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.
To be certain, copyright violations are a real problem, and on that I think we can all agree. (At least I think we can all agree?) But I’ve become convinced that the only way forward is through voluntary agreements between content and technology communities to deal with those violations. Any attempt at legislating them that hinders free speech or closes the Internet in any way is a mistake that is hard to reverse. It took a process to get me to this thinking, but the important thing is that I’m here, and it’s my own.
It pains me to think that my past associations could damage the Internet Society’s reputation, so I am extremely grateful to Lynn St. Amour, Walda Roseman and others who recognized my ability to bridge the dialogue with the technology community. I truly look forward to working within that community now, and with everyone involved, to ensure the freedom and openness of the Internet for all.