The Agenda

Joe Karaganis on Why the U.S. Right Should Embrace Pirate Politics

Joe Karaganis of the American Assembly, editor and lead author of the fascinating Media Piracy in Emerging Economies report, has written a post on how Mitt Romney might have capitalized on anti-SOPA sentiment on the political right to offer a broader critique of U.S. intellectual property policy and how it constrains economic growth and freedom:

Broadly speaking, Republicans show very slightly more enthusiasm for enforcement than Democrats and very slightly more concern for privacy–with only ISP blocking of pirate sites generating any significant divergence.  Again, this is an issue that tracks with age: younger adults are somewhat more tolerant of blocking via services that they can opt out of, and less tolerant of blocking that occurs via major points of access to the Internet in general.

But on the whole, partisan differences are minor.  We’d argue that IP policy is stillpre-partisan in the US, in the sense that the breakdown of unanimity has not yet been channeled into oppositional stances organized around the two parties. This absence of a partisan politics of the net is often seen as a plus–a virtuous neutrality for those in the netroots–but it also means that the major parties don’t take it seriously enough yet to dispute.

Tensions within the parties on these issues will certainly rise, but by how much?  The pressure points for Democrats seem clear, with cultural affinities with (and financial dependence on) the major content industries on the one side, and the divergent attitudes of their young (and, we shall see, minority) base on the other. For Republicans, there is a tempting politics of youth and modernity here, pushing uphill against a rhetoric of property, law and order, and a wider set of demands by big business that have traditionally commanded support. 

I’m hoping to get Joe to write on these issues at greater length. For now, I recommend reading his post. 

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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