You’ve probably seen the blacked out Google logo, the WordPress.com blackout and please don’t try to look up anything on Wikipedia today! You may have heard of SOPA/PIPA, but if you’re not an attorney or super nerd, how do you decipher the legalese, and what does it mean to you? I am not an attorney and while I may be a nerd with swag, I’m not a super nerd, so I was as confused as others. Most people simply scan issues and if they feel that it does not concern them they quickly move on. While at first glance SOPA seems as if it only affects the big guys like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube…..look a little closer. I’m always about enlightenment, so please don’t take my word for it. You can click on this link (SOPA) and view the bill for your self.
The goal of SOPA is to stop piracy on the internet by FOREIGN websites that are not under US jurisdiction/and also those that are, the way they are going about it is a little extreme. We have all downloaded a leaked copy of an upcoming CD or even a movie or two. The goal of SOPA is to regulate this copyrighted material. This is where it becomes a little ambiguous, that enforcement can trickle down to bloggers and those who post content like myself. The internet, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube has created a wroldwide info-share that rivals any news outlet. When the recent Italian Cruise ship crashed, I had articles, reports and pictures many hours prior to local news outlets reports on the tragedy. For argument sake, say that the site I received info from had one photo or portion of content that was deemed copyrighted.
Under the rules of SOPA, the Attorney General can:
1.) Require the internet service provider to block access to the site within 5 days.
2.) Search engines will be required to remove all mentions of the site from it’s indexes.
3.) Ad providers will be required to stop ad service to the site.
4.) Payment providers will be required to stop payment to the site operator.
That international news source would be blocked from me. I know you’re thinking that sounds extreme, and you’re thinking it really doesn’t affect you, but let’s look a little deeper. Any site that has a comment box that allows it’s users to post comments, media or links can be in violation of this. Say if you posted a parody of your favorite song to Youtube. That song is copyrighted, so you would be in violation. Even if you were not intending to profit from the posting of the video.
The main thing with SOPA is, we all are infringing on copyrights, we all post news articles, photos, songs and videos to our Facebook, Twitter and Youtube accounts. But this knowledge share is what makes up the digital community. I am a blogger and Social Media Strategist, while I do create my own content, there are times that I spool the internet for interesting stories and articles to post. As an independent marketer under SOPA, I could pay the exorbitant fee to monitor my website to ensure that all of the content that I or my followers post is not infringing on any copyrights, or risk being pursued by the Attorney General. It’s a digital “Witch Hunt” in my opinion. Think of how stripped down the internet would be when everyone is scared to post content that may be deemed in violoation of SOPA?
I understand the feelings of groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) who are looking out for their interests in regards to piracy. But the issue isn’t right vs. wrong, left vs. right or good vs. evil, it’s a simple issue of new vs. old. Piracy is wrong but in an attempt to end piracy, SOPA allows a blanket restriction of the new forms of news, idea and thought sharing. No longer is news simply confined to national viewing audiences, as we saw with the revolution in Libya. The internet and Social Media has leveled the playing field when it comes to the distribution of the news. The public can decide what is newsworthy, versus ingesting what ever news story is fed to them. We can form our own opinions, arguments and feelings based on the uncut, uncensored truth. And isn’t that what America is all about? Let’s not stop free speech on the way to stopping piracy!
Juan De Cruz, Jr.
The Social Media Juander