What SOPA Means To Online Video Production

Gold Coast Marketing   Gold Coast Video Production   Gold Coast business video production services 

Unless you were trapped down a hole all last week you probably heard the word “SOPA” being bandied around and may have wondered what it means – or was it just a mis-spelling of the word “soap”?It is actually an acronym that may have profound implications for the web and, in particular, online video production.SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act” and is a bill currently being debated in the US congress.

Below we look at what the bill proposes, its possible implications for online video and recent developments.SOPA and PIPASOPA and its close cousin PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), essentially aim to limit online piracy and theft of intellectual property (IP) by removing people’s ability to find it – through search engines for example.In short, supporters of the bills see them as necessary to protect IP online; opponents believe the measures go too far and will effectively lead to a censored web; that would be a frightening proposition for most of us, who are used to hearing the censored web in the likes of China and Iran roundly criticised by our fearless leaders!

The notable supporters of the bills include Hollywood movie producers and other big content producers, who were the main lobbyists behind getting the bills in motion.Notable opponents include the founders of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo and Reddit – who consider the measures giving the government too much power to censor the web.If They Passed….If these acts passed, the existing law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) would essentially be made obsolete and pass the power to the government and even content providers to penalise sites that produce or link to content that they deem to be in breach of copyright or infringing IP.

Court orders could be obtained, before any proof is presented or cases heard, to cut off money to the alleged pirate site which would effectively bring it down; PayPal and credit card processing mechanisms through the banks would not be allowed to function and financial ruin would surely follow for the site– again, on the say-so of the complaining party.Possible Implications for Online Video Both SOPA and PIPA would impose legal restrictions on our ability to search freely for content that is available and many people see this as a dangerous step to clamping down on the freedom of the net to share content.Especially in this time of social media where content is increasingly shared across multiple sites at the press of a key, the move disturbs many of the leading web personalities and businesses.

People involved with online video production should take note – whether you are an online video production company like Video Labs or have a YouTube channel for your business, SOPA will probably affect you.You see, your site can get shut down not only if you yourself allegedly infringe copyright, but even if you LINK to content that allegedly infringes copyright.

By the time you prove that you haven’t infringed anything it could be 6 or 12 months down the track and you have had no income for that time – effectively you have been put out of business on a “guilty till proven innocent” charge.As it stands, the potential is for a site like YouTube or Facebook to be shut down because of one video that is claimed to infringe IP.Obviously that would be ridiculous and, in truth, would never happen, but it’s making many people very nervous to give up any rights that infringe upon freedom of the Internet; many people see it as a slippery slope.The big companies would likely be fine because they have the financial muscle to fight court orders and get their house in order; it’s likely the smaller guys and start ups that will suffer.

Recent DevelopmentsI think it’s fair to say that the opponents grabbed more of the limelight last week when they protested the bill and greatly raised public consciousness of the matter.Wikipedia and Reddit went “dark” on January 18th for a whole day, showing a black page in opposition to the moves; Google posted a link to a resource that informs people about SOPA;

 Vimeo also ran messages about the bills.Following these protests, votes on the bills were postponed because legislators withdrew their support.SummaryThere are not many of the countless people who make a living on the Internet that will enjoy seeing the passages of SOPA or PIPA.Although it is being debated in the US, it does affects Australian businesses and the rest of the net; this was brought home by the recent arrest of 4 leaders of the MegaUpload site (in New Zealand) and the closure of the site by the U.S. government as part of an alleged $175 million copyright infringement.

The broad language of the act makes its intentions and its implications unclear and makes it open to abuse, so this makes a lot of people very nervous – as you should be if you are involved with online video, because you may be in the cross-hairs of the IP Infringement teams.There are other ways to fight the problem of piracy – as Hulu has shown with their model of allowing people to legally catch up with their favourite TV shows online.This is an unfair, short-sighted, “sledgehammer” method and is overkill.
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