Here’s why SOPA wrecks the internet and threatens many of the websites we use most:
They call it the Stop Online Piracy Act, but it’s actually the Stop Online Publishing Act. It’s too broad and too flawed, and it actually does very little to stop the most blatant and widespread form of internet piracy (see the video for why).
Here’s why SOPA (in Congress) and PIPA (same idea, but in Senate) destroys the internet.
- It blocks any site which could POTENTIALLY be used for copyright violations. Not has been used. POTENTIALLY used. So all user-generated content sites will be threatened by SOPA. ALL.
- Internet providers will no longer be protected by “safe harbor” laws. Before, users, not webhosts, were liable for their own copyright violations. Under SOPA, the website, the domain, and the internet host will all be liable for everything their users post. If a copyright violation is found anywhere on their sites — on YouTube, on Facebook, on Blogger, on Squidoo, on Tumblr, on Wikipedia — the internet provider will be liable for copyright violation. They could be prosecuted for felony. (Before SOPA/PIPA, the fault was the copyright violator’s, not the host site or internet provider).
- It gives internet providers immunity from prosecution if they proactively remove any content that might be a violation. So webhosts and sites are motivated to remove anything, quickly, WITHOUT due process, WITHOUT any legal expertise on whether it’s Fair Use or an actual violation, to protect themselves. This means that corporations can make false copyright violation claims to censor anything they don’t like. Think it won’t happen? It’s already happening:
- Before SOPA has even passed, one of its chief lobbyist sponsors, Universal Media Group, sent a takedown notice to YouTube to take down a video that criticized them. Universal Media Group claimed the video violated their copyright. This was untrue. The video simply criticized them. YouTube capitulated to the takedown notice. So SOPA will let corporations or governments remove content they don’t like, because webhosts would rather be safe than liable for their users’ content.
- SOPA covers not only copyright content, but links. Your email provider and any service you use will be required to filter any links you share and make sure they don’t point to any pages with copyright violations. Think those filters will work 100% of the time? And if some of the links on a page you post point to pages with copyright violations, you’re liable.
- Liability means you’ll be considered a felon, will go to prison for five years and have to pay a fine. Yes, you, who posted a video of your five-year-old dancing and singing a song from the Little Mermaid on your Facebook profile.
Think this video and I are being alarmists? Think again. Here’s an open letter by 83 of the engineers who helped invent and build the internet begging Congress not to wreck the web with SOPA.
This New York Times editorial discusses how SOPA institutes internet censorship on a scale comparable to China’s.
Journalists are also deeply concerned about news sites being taken down by SOPA censorship.
WRITE TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. WRITE TO YOUR SENATORS. SOPA = The Stop Online Publishing Act, and it will NOT do much to stop piracy.
Congress will be voting on SOPA any day now. Right now, they’re only hearing from Wal-Mart, Disney, and other big corporations. Remember, under SOPA, the internet provider has to shut down the entire domain if copyrighted content is posted on it. Can you think of any sites that might be impacted by that? (Hint: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and of course Squidoo and Hubpages.) Any user-generated content site will be at risk.
I don’t normally write to my reps: I’m shamefully apathetic. But I’ve written them on this. Scarily enough, during the SOPA hearings, one rep after another used “I’m not a nerd” (translation: I don’t understand how the web works) as an excuse before passing judgment on SOPA. They are deferring to Hollywood’s high-paid lobbyists to tell them how this law works, and said lobbyists are obviously not mentioning the fact that SOPA violates due process.
We HAVE to tell Congress! Use little bitty words like “kills jobs” “stifles innovation” and “no burden of proof” that even they can understand! Use all your copywriting skills to get through to them!