Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOFA... I mean, SOPA


I don't like pirates (except perhaps for the person above). I'm sure everyone who writes and distributes screenplays, songs and books agree. Pirates steal gold coins and jewels, and throw them around indiscriminately. They download artists' work and distribute them free (or for money) to a greedy or cheap public. I get it. They're bad.

But I wonder if this SOPA thing is the right way to combat this plague. From what I can understand, they want to exercise the right to shut down any website or server that posts copyrighted material, whether by accident or design. I don't pretend to be an expert (on anything), but I get the sense that there are opposing views about this situation.

What if we, as writers, wanted to research on the Internet for our books? What if Wikipedia was completely shut down because someone found material that didn't have the proper permission to post a snippet of a song, or a quote from a piece of literature? What if Tumblr was completely erased because some kid decided to post some fan art? What if my website went dark (not that anybody looks at it) because a server somewhere in Lithuania inadvertently hosted a pirate site? What if Champagne Books got sued because a small detail was overlooked while editing a book and they can't afford to have a team of lawyers to deal with such things?

One writer compared the bill to eradicating a disease with a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel.

I'm sure many readers, authors and publishers know more about the implications of this bill than I do. I'm still new at this, of course. What are your opinions? Is this a tempest in a teapot (that is public domain, right?)?

What if The Writers Vineyard got nuked because I put a picture of Jack Sparrow at the top of this post? (Don't worry -- it's only me in a Halloween costume and I hold all the rights to the picture. But the mascara might have been Johnny Depp's)

Sandra Cormier is the author of Bad Ice, a hockey romantic suspense published by Champagne Books. 

14 comments:

TKToppin said...

So many 'what ifs' indeed! While I'm all the way here in Barbados, the 'what if' reach can spread globally and affect the entire world. The internet has made the world a much smaller, much connected place to live in. One stone thrown in the middle of the pond, can send ripples all over the place. I really hope they use a scalpel...a micro-scalpel, in fact.
Great post!
TK Toppin

Linda Kage said...

I don't think it's such a good idea for this SOPA thing either. Internet is world wide anyway; how would they control what T over there in Barbados does on TWV if she misbehaved? And what would they consider misbehavior? It's all very worrisome.

TKToppin said...

Hey...I don't misbehave...that much. ;)

January Bain said...

Good post, this is worrisome. I'm in on the need for careful, thoughtful review of this. Things like this usually only hurt the innocent.

KMTolan said...

SOPA and it's evil twin PIPA both needed a long walk off a short pier.

Not just pirate websites, but ANY site containing a link to one.

Wow - and is it needed? Hardly. The US just brought down a major offender today - Megauploads.com without the help of added draconian laws.

Sandra Cormier said...

I heard there was some voting today? Fewer are now for SOPA and at least 60 against. I hope the tide keeps turning.

AstonWest said...

A good post...and honestly, from what I'd heard, it wouldn't have mattered whether it was you in the costume or not...if someone made a complaint, your site would get taken down and you'd have to prove that you weren't in violation of any copyright (or trademark?) laws. Guilty until proven innocent...

And TK, we all know you're the ringleader for all the misbehavior that goes on in our circles... ;-)

Sandra Cormier said...

The New York Times had a great article today, laying out the issue in layman's terms. Even now, I understand the debate more.

Sandra Cormier said...

And Todd, wouldn't it be a hoot if Congress decided nobody could wear Halloween costumes unless they were licensed?

Rita Bay said...

Love the pic and it made a good point. Our Sizzlers blog went black. Our lawyer who posted on Wednesday just had to speak out and we supported her. All of our writing is our own but we occasionally use pics. I would NEVER use a copyrighted pic but what if it happened by accident? Would we be shut down without recourse? Besides, I'm paranoid about giving the government too much power. Could the law be misused? Hope not. Rita Bay

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Like everything else the pendullum swings out of control. A gamma knife's worth of legal caution would be a nice change from heavy-handed government control.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for posting that, Sandra, as I don't know much about it. We might need some kind of tracking but how awful if websites and blogs just disappeared without knowing why, or being able to fix things.

Sandra Cormier said...

With the voluntary blackouts of Wiki and others, it seems the average Joe who knew nothing about the issue is suddenly aware. Here's hoping the Internet, in all its anonymity, can self-govern.

Linda Rettstatt said...

From what I've read, SOPA is like bringing a machine gun to a boxing match. It's overkill. And maybe a lazy way of addressing the issues of piracy--just shut everything down and that'll solve the problem instead of dealing with the pirate sites individually.