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Stop SOPA

Cyber Sprocket Labs is joining the hundreds of sites that are protesting SOPA and PIPA.

SOPA and PIPA are new legislative acts that are being proposed in the US Senate and Congress that are supposed to “protect American businesses against piracy”.    While stopping piracy is a good thing, legislative acts like these are the WRONG WAY to do this.   These acts have a number of significant flaws which prevent them from being effective against the majority of people involved in piracy.   They DO, however, provide a direct instrument for the largest media & entertainment conglomerates to shut down anyone they see as a threat.

Let me restate that point as it is a very important one:
SOPA and PIPA provide an instrument for media & entertainment companies to shut down ANYONE they deem a threat.

While the basic intent of the legislation started out as a good thing, or at least it was being cast in that light by the special interest groups behind it, the reality is that if these acts are passed they will destroy any and all innovation in the media and entertainment market.   Here is one scenario of how these acts would work if they make it through the legislative process.

The SOPA/PIPA Future

I am starting a new high tech media & entertainment company.   Let’s call it Musiplicity.   This new company provides a innovative new way to engage and entertain consumers while they are at their favorite bar, restaurant, or retail store.   It is a great idea and a lot of people are very interested in moving the project forward.   The project gets funded & starts generating a lot of buzz in the industry.

Then Sony Entertainment finds out about it.   They happen to have a new initiative that also provides business-to-business music & entertainment services.  They deem Musiplicity a threat.   They submit a complaint of POSSIBLE copyright infringement on the CONTENT provided by Musiplicity.    Even though Musiplicity has all the proper licensing agreements in place it takes months to prove that the 11-million songs in the system are all covered.   In the meantime SOPA and PIPA have shut down the website, the music servers, the PAYMENT PROCESSORS, the HOSTING COMPANY, the DNS PROVIDERS.  Anyone and everyone that supports Musiplicity simply because Sony Entertainment filed a complaint that “these new little guys might be doing something wrong”.

Litigate Your Competition Out Of Business

This is EXACTLY how the current legislation is written.   Any company that owns copyrighted material can claim breach of copyright and have any other company shut down for an indefinite period of time.   While larger companies like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia will have deep enough pockets to prove they made the best effort possible to keep copyright materials off their sites, anyone much smaller than that will be literally sued out of business.

This is how the big boys play.   They don’t play fair. They play to win & this new legislation gives them exactly the leverage they need to execute an all-out litiguous attack on anyone they deem potential competition.

They did it to one of my prior startup companies and essentially burned through our entire cash reserves by litigating us out of business even though we were 100% legitimate selling legal US goods to US consumers.   Our playing by the rules did not stop these companies from playing dirty & killing a company that they felt was a threat.   Now they are laying the legal groundwork to do this on a much larger scale with little-to-no ramifications for filing false claims.

We should do everything possible NOW, before SOPA and PIPA get written into law, to prevent the creation of yet another tool that is designed to do nothing more than kill anyone that the “big guys” deem a threat.   In the meantime, the piracy will continue and these bills will do nothing to stop it.   It is a problem that cannot be addressed via legislation.    If legislation worked to stop piracy then DMCA would have stopped the issue many years ago.

Learn More

You can learn more about SOPA/PIPA and the people involved at these locations:

If you live in the State of South Carolina, write to Senator Lindsey Graham and let him know what you think about SOPA, PIPA, and his co-sponsorship of PIPA.  If you disagree with his policies you’ll have the opportunity to vote him out of office in 2014.   You can also tweet your thoughts to him at @GrahamBlog on Twitter.

 

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  1. lcleveland
    January 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM #

    Today the US Government took down Megaupload, an online file sharing service. Whether or not that move was justified is yet to be determined. What is interesting in all of this is the prior history of large media companies trying to harm the company in the past, in particular Universal Music Group’s (UMG) shut down of “The Mega Song” in December 2011. This is a prime example of large corporations flexing their legal muscle to hamper anyone they deem a threat. In this case “The Mega Song” was content owned by Megaupload recorded and performed by artists that also have contracts with UMG. However UMG had no rights to the music, yet they managed to get it pulled from YouTube. Learn more about that story and Megaupload in general here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaupload