By Matt Hannaford, Relationship Manager
SOPA and PIPA were pieces of legislation that had gained much momentum before running into the wall that is social media and the Internet. Looking to help stop online piracy, the bills sounded great in theory. However, in practice these bills would have taken things a bit too far. To the point that a video like THIS wouldn’t even be able to be published on YouTube.
As social media manager and wedding/corporate event DJ, SOPA/PIPA would have had a major impact on my life and business. Personally, I found these bills to have a few good intentions. Stopping illegal piracy of music and other content is a worthy goal and those who, with malice, violate the law should be prosecuted. However, the bill went well beyond that.
To get a better idea of how other professionals felt about SOPA and PIPA, I reached out to several people. Here are their reactions:
Mike Schaffer, Director of Social Media at iostudio in Washington, DC:
The online protest was amazing, in that it was a silent withholding of information. One of the major tenants of the Internet is sharing of ideas and content. Perhaps more can be done to protect trademarks and copyrights, but criminalizing it does not seem to be the will of the people.
John Webster, Owner of Technology-Driven Marketing:
Being a content and software creator, I am absolutely against infringing on my Intellectual Property. However, I believe the current legislation is over reaching and will eventually give the government the ability to shut down websites it does not agree with.
A college professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity:
I am thoroughly confused by the whole issue, as all of the conflicting information doesn’t add up.
Ken Mueller, Owner of Inkling Media:
Well, I guess for me, and from my perspective, because I work heavily in the social and blogging realms, I'm concerned about the impact this would have on the entire social graph. Whether you are using social platforms as an individual or a business, the whole thing is built firmly on a culture of sharing. If something like SOPA were to go into effect it could create a culture of non-sharing and non-collaboration, because of fear. And, if you minimize sharing and the collaborative nature of the net, you are destroying the social aspect of the web.
When I spoke with a fellow DJ about SOPA/PIPA, we both came to a realization. In this YouTube video, which I mentioned in the opening, the Flo Rida’s chart-topping hit “Good Feeling,” was playing. Did I take money out of his pocket by publishing that song on YouTube? Possibly, but it’s doubtful that the 54 views it has presently is going to affect his bottom line. But, by linking to that video, I have the potential to bring an entirely new audience to his music. John Donovan’s performance is not to rip off Flo Rida.
However, there is a difference between the video I posted (fairly good quality video with decent audio) and posting a video such as THIS. Someone took a high quality version of the song, wrote lyrics over it and has now made it extremely simple for others to pirate the audio and use it for themselves.
SOPA/PIPA need to be re-written to stop the piracy of the second video, while leaving the first video out of the conversation.
How do you feel about SOPA/PIPA?
As the owner of intellectual property, I feel fighting online piracy is important. I think we all agree on this.
Targeted legislation cutting off funding is most effective way to shut down sites using unlicensed material.
The essence of social media, and the web as we know it, is the free exchange of ideas. With Bills such as SOPA and PIPA this exchange will be compromised.
Although SOPA and PIPA may not pass any time soon, there is another International Treaty we should be following: The Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA). At the moment it is a confusing mess. The Treaty links counterfeiting and piracy as if they were one and the same. Even the signatories can't agree on how it is to work.
President Obama has signed off on the Treaty, but without the consent of Congress, this may not be legal.
Interesting about the ACTA. I was unaware of this. I will have to keep an eye on it as the situation develops.
While I certainly understand and can appreciate intellectual property being regulated and kept from piracy and unauthorized use, there are many cases in which the use would be helpful to the IP owner. I truly hope that the intent of the user is made a part of any law that is passed.