To SOPA or not to SOPA… how does it impact me?

First of all, let’s look at the purpose of SOPA and consider what it’s intended goal is:

Taken from one of my favorite sites, Wikipedia, ironically one that would be blocked if SOPA was enforced, here’s a definition of what it is:

 Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) “The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a law (bill) of the United States proposed in 2011 to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to the sites. The bill would criminalize the streaming of such content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.”

User-content websites such as YouTube would be greatly affected.  Concerns have been expressed that they and many other similar sites would be shut down if the bill became law.  Entire domains could be blocked if something was posted in a single photo, video, blog, article, etc.  Taken to extreme, practically any website on the Internet would be infringing due to their content.

Let’s use the 6 websites with the most Internet traffic in the world and consider how SOPA may be enforced against them:

  • Google

Almost every search result includes copyrighted materials which are not owned by Google: image search results, video searches, news searches, shopping searches.  Google has the most to lose as a result of this SOPA enforcement.

  • Facebook

Almost every photo and video includes copyrighted materials which are not owned by Facebook or its users.

  • YouTube

The majority of videos posted on YouTube contain copyright infringements.  In fact, even just recording a video of yourself with a bottle of Heinz ketchup in front of you is an infringement without prior written consent by Heinz themselves.

  • Yahoo

Same issues that are identified above regarding Google.

  • Baidu

Baidu, the most popular website in China, serving 4.02 billion search queries a month.  It will also suffer the same fate that Google and Yahoo will as cited above.

  • Wikipedia

Wikipedia, who participated in an anti-SOPA blackout demonstration for 24 hours in mid-January , is considered the single most powerful research tool for many individuals in the world.  Furthermore because it’s maintained by all of its users it is considered one of the least biased sources of information available today.  Because it contains a lot of text, photos and videos; many of which is similar to previously created works (physical encyclopedias, etc.), you can count on this site being blocked by SOPA.

If you look at the top 50 websites in the world, I’m not even convinced you could find one single site that would not theoretically be infringing on a copyright in one way or another… this poses a tremendous issue.  What is SOPA going to do?  Block every site in existence?  Obviously this doesn’t make sense, nor will it work.  Do you think the economy is rocky right now?  Just wait until you see what happens if this were to be enforced!  Entire businesses would cease to exist over night and hundreds of thousands of individuals would become unemployed.  In fact, odds are that a revolution would be started, one that would be accompanied with violent protests than would make recent protests look like meditation meet up.

Of course, we all know what would really happen.  SOPA would be used as a tool, subjectively being enforced on some sites while blatantly ignoring infringements of others, but aren’t severely impacting the revenues of the rich.  Energies would be focused on any website that is perceived to be costing the elite billionaires of the world even more additional revenues.

Now, let me make this clear, I’m not opposed to anyone enforcing their legal obligations.  I purchase all of my music via iTunes, subscribe to Netflix for TV shows and movies, purchase a $60/month cable package just so that my son can watch one channel (Teletoon Retro) and buy the majority of my books on and  I don’t believe in infringing on copyrights, I want the hard working individuals and companies to be compensated for their efforts so that they can come out with even more fabulous entertainment for me to enjoy.  But what I have a problem with is the reality that SOPA is being created to fulfill an agenda, an agenda of a few elite super rich individuals in the world so that they can essentially dictate and restrict the Americans’ freedom, at their expense via taxes nonetheless.  This is unethical, no matter what justifications are behind it, do we still live in a democratic society or has it now become a dictatorship?

Oh and a few more things to think about…

  • Who ultimately decides whether a site is blocked or not?
  • What if a site is wrongfully blocked? How will they be compensated for their lost revenue?  Will they essentially be out of pocket all lost revenue, plus court costs, plus lost time?

In the nation that we live in, an individual is considered innocent until proven guilty.  Are we now considering reversing that?  You can sit on the sidelines and watch this train wreck happen and waste millions of dollars of taxpayers monies simply to accomplish one goal, make the rich even richer, or you can speak up and fight… even just voicing your opinion helps because otherwise you’re guilty until proven innocent.

Time to choose…

Brent Mondoux
CEO, N-VisionIT Interactive

Ottawa web design

One comment on “To SOPA or not to SOPA… how does it impact me?

  1. Great summation of the issue. It is an amazing flip of how we deal with the creation of ideas, publications and artworks.

    For me, the people stand above all. It is what the government of America and Canada (this is essentially our issue too) claim to protect ;). However, copyright laws exists for a reason and creators should be protected and rewarded for the use of their work.

    Clearly, the internet has introduced a new environment and, at this point, new requirements for the people. We do not want our freedom’s constricted by corporations. The past way, is now the past and must adapt to the present. We all know and witnessed what happened to TV and the manner in which content was controlled and delivered – people will not stand for that again.

    The services offered by those imposing this bill are hilarious. Almost everyone I know would gladly pay an appropriate fee for media. In fact, the biggest streaming sites themselves claim they will take themselves down once the multimedia industry stops trying to control the distribution of media so much. I don’t get TV because the packages are outrageous and mini monopolized ways to suck out as much money as they can while flooding me with content I’ll 95% of the time never use. Internet trumps Television Networking…it’s like comparing freedom to slavery.

    They just don’t want to understand or accept the new system and technology imo. Too much to indicate this is the case. The fact that independent works have risen probably like 10000% since 2000 should be a big enough hint that this is what needs to be supported. The fact that independent works are often reaching quality that is way beyond those powered by market control is when it was finalized that everything is going to change.

    This bill is just a bargaining tool to ‘meet in the middle’ and get what they want. Google will comply with a less ‘harsh’ iteration (they’ve already stated so publicly and shown so in the past) and so will everyone that has been put into fear mode of the visions this bill created. Some revision will likely go through…and it will be good enough for now. I can accept it, because in the end, independent works are going to reach beyond levels we always wanted in the first place.

    Computer Programming has saved the world.

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