Could your blog be shut down if you posted a picture your child drew of his favorite cartoon character?
If the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA)
are passed, yes: you could be considered a copyright violator and subsequently shut down — no warning, no due process, no explanation — all because your kid does a great artistic interpretation of Mickey Mouse, and you wanted to brag about it to your readers.
For your site to see the light of day once again, it would be up to you to prove that your content doesn't violate copyright laws. There's no telling how much that could cost. Talk about burden of proof.
Yes, internet piracy is bad. Yes, artists deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. But at the expense of others who simply want to share stuff?
If you don't know much about SOPA and PIPA or why many Internet sites chose to black out in protest, watch this video
. It's a presentation given by NYU Professor Clay Shirky, during which he discusses how this legislation, in its current form, does more than just prevent foreign websites like Pirate Bay from allowing users to download movies for free. Whether they mean to or not, SOPA and PIPA, if passed by Congress, would open the floodgates for attacks on the freedoms of anyone with Internet access to create and share content.
In this age, where social media reign and sharing is integrated into just about everything we do online, you can see how that might be a bit problematic. Especially for small businesses that rely upon online social sharing to help them stay afloat.
Further, the cost to police such minute copyright details on sites with millions of users — in posts, comments, etc. — could be too much for even the largest Internet companies to bear.
What are your thoughts on the SOPA and PIPA legislation? What are your questions? Do you agree with the blackouts many websites staged January 18?