I’m not a big site, but already I’ve seen what overzealous lawyers can do to a site. When I posted my review of a major release last year, I did my usual thing and posted a long review and some YouTube videos of my gameplay.
The next day I came back to the site and found that my YouTube account, which had hundreds of videos and thousands of followers, was in the process of being taken down due to “copyright infringement”. I was flabbergasted. Here I was giving positive free publicity to this company, but they wanted to shut me down. And of course, my silly little videos of Stii-Wii shaking his booty didn’t infringe on anyone’s copyright nor prevent anyone from buying the game–to the contrary, I know for a fact that hundreds if not thousands of people ended up buying it because of me.
I wrote in desperation to the legal department at the company who was trying to shut me down. No response. I wrote to their Marketing department. No response. I wrote to the publisher. No response. The clock was ticking and soon the years of time and literally sweat I put into my YouTube Channel would be gone.
Thankfully, I knew enough to file a counterclaim, and knew all about fair use and copyright law. But that’s just because I’m a computer geek. Most bloggers would have given in.
Don’t get me wrong–I understand the reasons behind SOPA and PIPA. The United States hardly produces anything anymore…tragically we don’t manufacture TVs or electronics or pharmaceuticals or practically anything. The only thing we still produce is entertainment like movies and video games, and yes, thieves are stealing them and getting rich by selling them for pennies on the dollar or giving them away for free and benefitting from online advertising. So in a sense, one of the last vestiges of our gross national product is under assault by thieves and counterfeiters from China to Eastern Europe.
I have indeed been the victim of copyright infringement myself. A few years ago, I found an offshore site that copied all the hard work I’d done on my site (as little and inconsequential as it is) and serving it up as its own. So yes, I see the rationale behind these laws. But the way they’re implemented is flawed. It would essentially deputize sites like Google and GoDaddy to become arms of the FBI. Any lawyer anywhere can take down any site just by complaining about it; you are guilty until proven innocent. This threatens every site from YouTube and Wikipedia to his one. Read more about it here.
The US Congress and presumably the President who would end up signing this bill Have good intentions but are under a delusion that this bill will solve more problems than it creates in its present form. I always marvel at our politicians who triumphantly sign bills that are supposed to help we consumers and never realizing that the bill only ends up making lawyers rich, giving bureaucrats busywork to do, and empowering lobbyists in all industries to continue buying off their favorite politicians, left and right…and not even solving the original problem it was supposed to.
I agree…there oughtta be a law. But just not this one.