Posted by Justin Rondeau | Posted in News, Social Media | Posted on Jan 18, 2012
In Protest to SOPA, Many Websites are ‘Blacking Out’ their Content
SOPA or the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ has gained a lot of needed exposure in the past month. This bill is an attempt to provide tools for law enforcement and copyright holders to protect intellectual property rights. There is nothing wrong with protecting intellectual property, but SOPA will cause too much collateral damage.
“But Justin, we don’t pirate anything! We are law abiding citizens who own all the rights to our music, movies, ebooks, etc…”
Though this may be the case, SOPA would take back all the progress made by social media for both communities and businesses. SOPA and the lesser but just as dangerous bill PIPA, would allow for sites to be taken down for sharing content that holds a copyright.
Social media bookmarking sites like delicious and content aggregates like Reddit would be in a lot of danger. Users on these sites often link people to other websites or post different user generated content. A lot of the images that are shared do hold a copyright, for instance one popular meme on Reddit is the use of Sean Bean’s character Boromir from Lord of the Rings. Users will post this picture with text on it in conjunction with a witty subject line. Generally users add text that is a variation of ‘One does not just walk into Mordor’ such as ‘One does not just Stop SOPA’ or ‘One does not just rock into Mordor‘.
Yes, the image of Sean Bean is not free to use, but users are mixing their labor with these images and adding anew intellectual spin to them. Sure this meme example is a little on the soft side, but let’s take this a little further.
People are constantly sharing content that holds copyrights online, and hosts of these websites would then be held accountable for the posting of this content. This completely undermines the concept of social media and is a huge step backward.
I completely understand that people’s intellectual property needs to be protected, but both culture and industry are becoming increasingly digital and legislation like this could hurt a small business that is trying to connect with its fans on Social Media.
As I have pointed out before in surveys by Constant Contact, small businesses regard social media as one of the best alternatives for inexpensive marketing efforts. By limiting what can be shared, or in a worst case scenario one of the major networks collapses, what will happen to the companies who are making a huge effort on social media? It is well known that social media is inexpensive, but requires a lot of effort. The business may not lose a whole chunk of change, but all that effort would be wasted in an attempt to haphazardly protect intellectual property.
For the next 12 hours, Reddit will be down and they have a lot of information on their website about SOPA. I would recommend taking some time to read this information. Other sites that are pointing out the issues with SOPA include Google & Wikipedia.
What are your thoughts on SOPA?
- SOPA Strike: 12 Hour Internet Blackout on Jan. 18th To Call Attention to US Bill That Threatens Open Internet (bethkanter.org)
- SOPA’s Creator Aims To Resuscitate Bill After Protest Blackout (forbes.com)
- SOPA And PIPA May Cripple The Web Video Ecosystem, Unless We Fight It (reelseo.com)
- Internet Blackout: SOPA, Reddit, and Networked (Political) Publics (henryjenkins.org)