One of the most famous observations about online discussions is Godwin’s Law:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
When it comes to copyright policy, a related law seems to hold:
As a copyright policy discussion grows longer, the probability of pornography being invoked approaches one.
What’s really interesting is the corollary:
When the topic of a copyright policy discussion switches to pornography, each side suddenly adopts the other side’s arguments.
For example, Hollywood argues that filesharing will lead to a shortage of movies, because nobody will make movies they can’t sell. But when the topic switches to pornographic movies, suddenly they start arguing that filesharing increases the creation and availability of content.
Similarly, some P2P vendors who say they can’t possibly filter or block copyrighted content, suddenly decide, when the topic switches to porn, that they can provide effective blocking. See, for example, a recent letter from the Distributed Computing Industry Association (a group of mostly P2P companies) to the Senate:
It is a fact that no industry – including the entertainment industry that cynically hatched the strategy of wrongly equating P2P with risks to children – has been more responsive than ours to concerns about the exposure of young people to inappropriate material. For example, by simply using the password-protected family filter included at no charge with leading P2P software programs, a parent can ensure that NO pornographic images or videos will be returned in response to any searches, including those of known child-pornography keywords.
The assertion that “NO pornographic images or videos will be returned in response to any searches”, can’t possibly be true. Content-based porn filtering will do just as poorly on content received via P2P as it does on content received via the web. These filters will be just as leaky as everybody else’s, and of course they’ll only operate for users who choose to turn them on.
I guess porn really does turn your brain to mush.