Is SOPA Bad
for Your Small Business
was introduced in the House by Representative Lamar Smith
(TX) on 18 January 2011, in the House Judiciary Committee.
It was co-sponsored by 31 Representatives, 8 of whom who
later withdrew their co-sponsorship in January 2012.
The Stop Online
Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in the house and
Protect IP Act (PIPA) was initiated in the Senate. The
aim of these acts was to stop original content from being
illegally duplicated and shared over the Internet without
the consent of the owner. It was particularly aimed at
overseas companies with business links in the U.S.
Companies found in violation (especially repeated offenders)
could be punished with 1-20 years in prison and received up
to $20,000,000 in fines.
The Act targets Service Providers, Search Engines
and Advertisers for enforcement. It requires
these entities to enforce court orders to shut down offshore
sites that are using their services within 5 days of
receiving such orders.
seen major sites such as Wikipedia, and Google
joined with many
other sites to launch a protest against this bill. So, why
the uproar? Even though this law was aimed at overseas
companies the real targeted was any company or individual
that engages in the illegal copyright of original content.
When you consider what could be covered under this umbrella
it is easy to see how it could negatively impact the
Internet and businesses big and small.
Consider sites like Youtube and Facebook where people upload
and share music videos that they’ve created using someone
else’s lyrics. This would be considered illegal and a
target of the act. Legitimate businesses that use a
company’s information to offer commentary on the company
could be targeted as well. Companies receiving the
criticism they don’t considered to be favorable can use SOPA
to go after their critics.
Let’s say you have a party at your place and you made a
video of it and shared it on the web. One of the members in
attendance who got picked up on the video complains that you
didn’t get her permission to show the video, and invokes
SOPA. Now you’re in trouble with the law.
Like many good laws
that started with good intentions and aimed at a particular
segment, SOPA could be used to do more harm than good. In
the long run it is the little guys, who is least aware of
the law and can least afford to defend against it, who will
suffer the most.
The good news is that
this bill appears to be stopped by the very people who
brought it to life. On 20 January 2012 the House and Senate
delayed action on the bill.