The bill goes too far.
My mother is very by-the-book. For years my father called her “Moral Marian” because she wouldn’t cross the road without a walk signal even if there was no traffic in site. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Even though I’m constantly disappointed when Netflix and iTunes don’t have all the titles I want to watch, I never turn to torrent sites to access them illegally.
“A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.”
Under SOPA, a site could literally be shut down after a single copyright claim without a trial.
This directly affects my industry: the web TV industry.
Since 2005 I have created and produced a number of web series that relied heavily on fair use. This exception to copyright allowed me and my partner Rudy Jahchan to create parodies on our sci-fi comedy show Galacticast and display comic artwork in our comic book review show A Comicbook Orange. Even though we were extremely careful to follow the guidelines of fair use law, we still lived in fear that a big studio would sue us for using their characters, music, images, or video footage. Thankfully this never happened, but if it had we did have the law on our side. If SOPA goes through, web videos that feature any sort of copyrighted material under fair use laws may not be so lucky.
Another very serious problem the web TV industry could face is copyright infringement claims from corporations. As a producer I have often licensed music, images and art directly from musicians, photographers and artists. In fact, the background for the A Comicbook Orange web site is made up of copyrighted illustrations that are used with permission from the artists directly, but (under SOPA) if a big company like Marvel or DC were to claim they infringe on their copyright our entire site could be shut down without our ability to protest and prove our innocence.
Think this doesn’t sound possible? Read this article about how Universal Media Group removed an episode of TWiT show Tech News Today from YouTube for reporting on a recent Universal copyright controversy. Hell, UMG and other music and media companies have been removing and blocking videos from YouTube for YEARS… why would we give them the keys to do this throughout the entire internet?
We all need to take action.
Call your congressperson and let them know that you do not support this bill. Feel free to add that if they do, you will not support them in the next election. Go here to find your local representative.
In addition, let the corporations and organizations behind this bill know that you expect them to retract their support or you will publicly boycott their products and services. For your reference, here is a list of companies that have come out in support of SOPA. Personally, I’m disappointed in the Screen Actors Guild, especially since they should be representing the interests of the web TV community and if they have conflicting interests between the studios and independents, they should simply retract their support and stay neutral.
Be sure to give a pat on the back to all of those who have come out to oppose the bill. Aside from all the forward-thinking internet companies, I’m truly grateful to the Writers Guild of America, West for speaking out about its’ opposition.
And lastly, be sure to vote for representatives in the future who understand current technology because… it’s no longer OK to not know how the internet works.