Originally posted on January 18, 2012 by Ali Brown
Have you tried visiting Wikipedia.org today? The site has shut down to join a massive 24 hour web blackout to protest two very controversial anti-piracy bills making their way through U.S. Congress: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Here’s why we, as online entrepreneurs, should care about this current debate…
SOPA and PIPA are “sister bills” created with similar, and reasonable enough, intentions—they both make an attempt to protect copyright holders (i.e., television networks, music labels, film studios, lobbying organizations, etc.) and stop online piracy. But, these bills are raising huge concerns because of what they might do to innovation and entrepreneurship.
In a nutshell, if SOPA/PIPA are passed, the U.S. government and copyright holders can sue any website associated with infringing intellectual property. For you and me, this means if someone posts a YouTube song, a lyric, or a book quote, an image to our blog, WE could be sued or shut down. Not only that, our payment processing partner might be legally required to stop doing business with us as well.
It’s obvious why companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google are adamantly opposed to these bills, but as online entrepreneurs ourselves, we are in the SAME BOAT. How can we prevent our community from posting anything they want on our site? What would happen to our concept of information sharing, and of course, free speech? The inspiring quotes, or educational videos that today spark lively discussions within our online community, could tomorrow take our businesses down for good.
If you ask me, Hillary Clinton captured the problem best in her response to SOPA/PIPA: “When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled, and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us,” Clinton stated. “There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet. There’s just the Internet.”
This week, SOPA was shelved (though many believe it’s not gone for good). But the Senate vote for PIPA will take place next TUESDAY, January 24, 2012.
Love and success,
P.S. Remember, this isn’t about whether you are for or against online piracy—this is about demanding a more well-thought out system that doesn’t put innovation and entrepreneurship at risk! To learn more and to join the web movement, go to Stop American Censorship.