You may have noticed that our logo is censored with a link pointing to American Censorship. There is an interesting story about it.
What is happening is the US government at the behest of a number of media companies such as the RIAA, MPAA and the ESA are working to pass some of the worst copyright legislation in US history. These two bills are titled “Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House and “Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate. What these bills hope to accomplish is a reduction in movie, music, game and software piracy as well as reduce counterfeit goods from entering the US.
They hope to achieve these goals by giving sweeping power to the US Attorney General and copyright holders the ability to prevent ad providers, credit card processing firms and DNS providers from working with websites that are “dedicated to infringing activities”. These bills would also make it illegal to stream or upload any video or song that is covered by copyright that you do not have rights to.
Sadly, these bills will be used to censor a lot more than copyright infringement. Under these bills, sites like YouTube, Twitter, Flicker, Facebook and any other site that allows users to upload content will be liable if anyone uploads copyrighted materials without permission. That means that if someone uploads a video to YouTube that infringes a copyright, movie studios would be able to have all of YouTubes services cut off and whole swaths of legal content will be censored as a result.
That isn’t even the worst of it. Currently under the DMCA, copyright holders can only ask for certain content to be removed. If the site owner removes said content they maintain what is called “safe harbor” protections. This prevents the site owner from being sued for copyright infringement for something a user of the site did. This is a good thing for sites like YouTube because safe harbors have allowed it to continue to operate and be a vessel of free speech for millions of people.
Under SOPA, all that goes away. Now, it doesn’t matter what the site owner does, they will have no safe harbor to protect them. If only one person uploads a copyrighted song or video, the whole site is gone even if the rest of the millions of videos are perfectly legal.
Additionally, SOPA and PROTECT-IP have no punishment for false accusations. A copyright holder can have a site removed and if it turns out to be a completely legal site, there is no punishment for the false takedown. Nothing happens to that copyright holder. That is beyond bad. There should be some kind of punishment such as a fine of $150,000 per false takedown. But no. They can get away with it.
One last thing I would like to share is that under these laws there is also no court involved. Copyright holders can just fire off letters at will to ISPs, DNS providers, Credit card companies and ad companies and those companies have to follow the law or they can be prosecuted for copyright infringement that had ZERO to do with them. This is absurd on a major level. These companies are completely neutral in all this but they run the risk of being prosecuted themselves if they don’t comply. Not with a court order, but with a letter from some random person or company. If a court were involved, these copyright holders would have to prove that the site is actually infringing before anything could happen, but the content industries don’t want to have to get a court order. They feel it is too much work.
In the end, these laws are not about stopping piracy. These laws are about unloading the burden of policing the content of copyright holders like those under the RIAA, MPAA and ESA onto third parties that have absolutely no power to control what users of the internet do. They don’t want to have to do the work themselves.
These bills need to stop now before they can be voted into law. Using the link provided at the beginning of this post and that can be found by clicking the black bar over our logo, you can contact your Senators and Congressman and tell them not to vote for this legislation. Tell them that you like our internet as it is.
You can find more information about these bills at the following location:
The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas
Congress considers anti-piracy bills that could cripple Internet industries