By now, you’ve heard about SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) or it’s counter part PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). These bills attempt to give content creators the ability to stop copyright infringement both inside and outside the US. If the law were to pass, it would give content creators the ability to shut down websites that somehow link to websites that containt copyright infringement.
The popular example is, if someone posted a comment on EntrepreLife that linked to a website illegally using copyrighted content (say a picture or a video) and the copyright holder didn’t like it, they could shut down my site over a single comment. No due process, no defense. Guilty until proven innocent.
This video explains what the law is and how it can really mess over websites. If you’re still confused about the bill, watch the video and then keep reading.
If you can’t can’t see the video in your reader, click here
Who Wants This?
As Seth Godin said in his great SOPA article,
the only people who are in favor of SOPA and PIPA are people who are paid to be in favor of it. And creators (authors like me and Clay Shirky and Scott Adams) aren’t. While the folks at the “Copyright Alliance” pretend to be looking out for the interests of independent filmmakers and authors, the fact is that the only paying members of their lobbying group seem to be big corporations, corporations that aren’t worried about creators, they’re worried about profits. Given a choice between a great film and a profitable one, they’d pick the profitable one every time.
The people pushing SOPA aren’t authors, independent film makers, or musician; the people pushing SOPA are film distributors, record labels, and publishing houses. The internet has become too big to legislate properly and instead of wasting their time with due process (like they did with Napster and YouTube), they’re pushing this guilty until proven innocent idea.
This effects everyone. The internet is a place to create, share, reshape, and redevelop the things we love. YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and even EntrepreLife are places where creativity thrives and anyone can compete.
I’ve had the pleasure of talking with dozens of individuals who have made significant livings with a simple website, a few ideas, and a bit of hard work. All using technology and freedom that SOPA would destroy.
The problem with SOPA is that it doesn’t understand that the world is changing. Hollywood, the MPAA, and other publishing industries are being killed by the internet — not because of copyright, but because they now compete with every human being with an internet connection.
When you can go to YouTube, Newgrounds and others content sites to be entertained, their profits start shrinking and their bottom line is threatened. Instead of changing with the times, they’re looking for ways to end competition and keep the old ways.
But the old ways are gone forever. Content distribution is changing.
What You Can Do
If you live in America, call your representative. Let them know you’re against SOPA/PIPA and that you will be paying attention to how they vote.
Second, look into the OPEN ACT at KeepTheWebOpen. I don’t know a lot about this bill, but it puts the focus on foreign site that infringe instead of American sites that link to them. It also protects sites like mine (supposedly). As I find out more about it, I’ll let you know.
Third, sign petitions. Most petitions are pretty useless, but Politicians still take notice of them when enough signatures start piling up. Make sure you’re signing a petition you agree with on a reputable site — otherwise you’ll just be giving your information to strangers.
For more info on the history of SOPA and what it would do to the internet, check out this TED talk: