Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man. ~Emily Dickinson
I would like to tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was an author who wrote a novel. This novel took two years to create, many dollars spent polishing their work, sleep lost worrying about their story, and hundreds of hours taken from their families and friends. This creative endeavor came at a high price.
The author persevered and finished. Hooray, a novel is born. Now what?
Now they spend months, maybe years, sending it out to agents and editors. More money, more worry, more time away from their “life”. Perhaps it works and they score an agent/ editor. Perhaps they decide to publish it themselves. Whichever road they take will require more of everything including ulcer potential. (And they say writing isn’t glamorous!)
One way or another, the book is published and available for sale. Their hard work will now pay off.
Unfortunately, instead of being a fictional piece of writing, this is more like a documentary. Music, photography, art, scientific discovery, books (and the list goes on) have all been stolen from their creators. I believe this not only hurts the creator, it hurts the economy and damages the driving force of what makes most countries thrive. Nations are built and maintained by the innovators, the creators of the next new thing to make our lives better- whether it is a new source of entertainment, a breakthrough in medicine or a streamlining of a business.
“Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet Inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws.” Rep. Goodlatte
There are two Acts before our governing bodies that are designed to help protect the theft of intellectual property. SOPA and PIPA (Stop Online Piracy Act and Pro-IP Act/ Protect IP Act) Both are designed to do more than the current “safe harbor” system that is in place. If a creator finds that a web site is offering their material without their permission, they must submit a notice telling them to take down the material and then the site is given a certain amount of time to take it down. SOPA would override the “safe harbor” system and “allow a judge to immediately block access to sites that are found guilty of hosting copyrighted material.”
SOPA is a bill that expands law enforcers and copyright holders ability to fight online piracy. Actions, through this, could include barring advertising networks and payment companies, like Pay Pal, from doing business with the site in question. They can also require Internet service providers to block access to these sites.( At the moment, the most we can hope for is that a web site in another country will positively respond to our request to take down our books. Law suits would be completely futile.)
As with any other major change, it is difficult. Vehement, passionate arguments can be made for both sides. Companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Twitter, FaceBook, Zynga, Mozilla, eBay, and LinkedIn posted an open letter to the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives outlining their arguments stating that SOPA would stifle creativity and innovation on the internet that has created many jobs. It also said that it would be a threat to our cyber-security. (Not sure I understand that one.) Yahoo has also reportedly dropped its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over their support of this bill.
Naysayers state that it will threaten online freedom of speech, threaten users uploading content, have a negative impact on websites that host user content, it’s a general threat to web-related businesses, it’s a threat to internal networks, and threatens open source software. They agree that something has to be done about this piracy but think that the wording is too vague and is open to misuse.
So who’s right? I don’t know. I can only share what I think- I believe the spirit of SOPA is something that is desperately needed. Right now, the creator has to hunt down rogue sites, craft a letter and hope for the best. I know of an author who took it a step further and also contacted all the advertisers and host of the web site stating she would make it public knowledge that they supported online piracy by placing their businesses on said site. It seemed to work for her. So now we not only have to try and write books, juggle our private lives, and learn how to be marketers, we have to be internet sleuths and strategic blackmailers.
The spirit is right, but what about the wording. So much of it is in “legalease”, it’s difficult for a lay person like me to tell. I don’t want a community like they have in China where everything is censored or blocked. Would SOPA allow that to happen? Well, when they figure it out and put it in plain English- I’ll let you know.
If you are interested in this issue, this is a nice place to start.