(Updated Dec. 18th, 2011)
Do you enjoy fan art, game graphics, screenshots, game mods, sprite edits, tribute videos, game walkthroughs and anything of that nature? If so, time may be running out for you to do so. There are two bills currently being discussed in the US House Judiciary Committee that claim to be about fighting internet piracy, but many experts say that companies would gain the power to block US citizens from visiting sites they claim to be offenders of copyright law.
Who are these companies? You can find a list of them on the page called, “Who Wants To Break The Internet?” Viacom, one of the companies in the list, tried to sue YouTube for allowing videos from Viacom’s channels (like MTV) to be placed on the site, even though Viacom possibly uploaded some of those videos themselves. Yeah, Viacom lost. Universal, also on the list, had a celebrity endorsement-laced MegaUpload support video yanked off YouTube for featuring an unauthorized artist… who isn’t even in the video. A news show talked about that video, so Universal had the news show’s video yanked, too. Hell, these music companies have ordered the removal of videos posted by their own artists (and not just in the U.S.). For those who haven’t been irritated enough, here’s a story about how media companies somehow have the power to kill off public domain videos.
How would the U.S. government handle things? ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security) shut down five websites on the claim that they were counterfeits and bootleggers. As reported by TechDirt and the New York Times, one site was Dajaz.com, a site that provided downloads to songs purposefully leaked by the record companies for promotional purposes.
The abuse I’ve mentioned is what they can do without SOPA or Protect IP, so imagine what they’ll get away with if this bill passes. They already have the Chappellian “Shoot first, sprinkle crack on the corpse later” method down to a science when it comes to using the DMCA and site-specific kill switches. The fact that I’ll have to shut down this site if the bill passes isn’t the main reason I’m bothered by this. Many of us have turned to the internet because we don’t like what most media companies are pushing in our direction. Creative people and independent reporters are using it to avoid dealing with the same shady companies that have been spending money to push these bills and own the news channels which won’t tell you the same stories I’ve linked to here. Piracy may be hurting them, but their biggest problem is how the internet is giving us options. No, it’s not a c-o-n-spiracy as much as it’s the kind of typical corporate dick-move you’ll see happen when groups think a form of technology, like VCR’s, will threaten their money flow. They’re paying a lot of money to screw up the internet in the hopes that you’ll run into their open, greedy arms after they close off every other option you have now.
More about the topic:
Mozilla: Protect the Internet
BoingBoing: stories about SOPA
GameRanx – How SOPA Affects Gamers: SOPA Will Pass Unless You Help
Kotaku – The Stop Online Piracy Act and You: A Primer
Next Web Insider: 29 Tech Companies who back SOPA through a front group