Switching Sides: Former MPAA Heavyweight Paul Brigner

Cory Doctorow, who you may know best as the gentleman behind the wonderful Boing Boing web site, has a brand new column in The Guardian examining why a former defender of SOPA would suddenly decide to switch sides.

In March the Internet Society appointed former MPAA chief technology officer Paul Brigner as its new North American regional director. According to Doctorow, his inbox was flooded with emails from readers who were concerned that Brigner had infiltrated the organization that champions an open and free Internet as a "mole." The Internet Society is also responsible for the .ORG registry through its Public Interest Registry subsidiary.

Brigner spent a year at the MPAA, and during his time there he defended the organization, along with bills it thought were a good idea like SOPA. His defense of that bill in particular made him a household name (read: villain) amongst open internet advocates. Prior to that he worked for Verizon where he advocated against net neutrality rules, making his position on Internet policy even more villainous in some people's eyes.

So what does Doctorow make of this strange switch from rights holder defender to open internet advocate? Well he tracked him down and asked him why his views have changed so dramatically. He told him the following:

"My views have evolved over the last year as I engaged with leading technologists on DNSSEC," said Brigner. "Through those discussions, I came to believe that legislating technological approaches to fight copyright violations threatens the architecture of the internet. However, I do think that voluntary measures could be developed and implemented to help address the issue."

"I will most definitely advocate on Internet Society's behalf in favor of all issues listed, and I share the organization's views on all of those topics," he added. "I would not have joined the organization otherwise, and I look forward to advocating on its behalf."

Brigner added that his past statements on various issues were sincere at the time, but that his views on a myriad of issues has changed since then.

"There are certainly a number of statements attributed to me that demonstrate my past thoughts on DNS and other issues," he said. "I would not have stated them if I didn't believe them. But the true nature of my work was focused on trying to build bridges with the technology community and the content community and find solutions to our common problems. As I became more ingrained in the debate, I became more educated on the realities of these issues, and the reality is that a mandated technical solution just isn't a viable option for the future of the internet. When presented with the facts over time, it was clear I had to adjust my thinking."

Walda Roseman, chief operating officer of ISOC, also gave Brigner a vote of confidence.

"The Internet Society has known Paul for many, many years, and you may not know that he was also a founding member of our DC chapter," she said. "So he's no stranger to us. We've always found him to act with the utmost integrity and principled character. Even when on the other side of the debate, he was always considered one of the good guys, constantly reaching across the aisle to find common ground. Now, as you would expect in a case like this, we certainly took a close examination at his past views, talked with many associates and vetted every angle. And I am thoroughly convinced, as are my Internet Society colleagues, that Paul is steadfast in his belief in its position on SOPA, net neutrality and the importance of keeping the internet open and free."

It's hard to deny that Brigner sounds like one of the "good guys" now – it's just hard for some to accept that fact after all the thing he has said in the past.

Source: Boing Boing

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