If you have been on the Internet today (which of course you have) you may have noticed a few of your favorite websites not working. Wikipedia, Craigslist and Reddit are just a few sites that have shut down today in protest of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
SOPA, designed to crack down on the rampant copyright infringement on the web, was introduced in October 2011. In its current wording, SOPA stringently bans any type of copyright infringement to the extreme that some have been comparing the bill to “communist China internet”. Any grey area of the bill puts the power in the government’s hand by default. As a programmer at Mashable eloquently put it: “If ever a bill was spaghetti, this is it. If a programmer on my team wrote code as convoluted as this bill, I would fire him on the spot.”
Since October, SOPA seems to have garnered little interest amongst the PR industry, which frankly, is shocking. It wasn’t until Wikipedia announced it would join the likes of Reddit and Craigslist to protest that I started to see uproar of concern within my professional networks. It’s about time, and for good reason – if SOPA viagra to pass as currently written, that will mean some major changes to the public relations field.
If passed, the effects these acts will have on the PR industry are astronomical. The bill, which can be read in its entirety here, is 17 pages long printed. I recommend you read it if you can stand the legal jargon, but if not, here are some main points that are sure to affect the public relations industry.
- Sharing – perhaps the most detrimental aspect of SOPA is that it will prevent sharing content on the web. That means sites like YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and even Facebook are threatened. A big chunk of PR and social media is getting people to share content and hoping for a snowball effect. Take away sharing and you take away the ability of easily and inexpensively reaching a large audience.
- Generating income- If a site found in violation of SOPA or PIPA, advertisers will be required to pull their ads. Google searches will be altered and that could compromise the time and money spent optimizing searches. Non-profits that use PayPal or similar money transferring services when seeking donations could be required to shut down.
- International domains – Agencies with international clients are safe, right? Wrong. Even though SOPA claims to only have control over domestic IP addresses, IP addresses are not national organizations. In fact, the American Registry for Internet Names (ARIN) covers 20 nearby countries. Any sites in violation registered with ARIN are at risk of being shut down.
The good news is, earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the House will not vote on the highly controversial SOPA. However, this does not mean SOPA has been killed as it could be resurrected at any time. And while SOPA may be momentarily shelved, its equally as evil twin PIPA is picking up where SOPA left off.
So, today while browsing the Web, take note of what articles you are reading, videos you are watching or pictures you are admiring. Chances are the original creator of that content is not the owner of site, nor the composer of the music in the video, nor the photographer of that picture.
If you feel strongly about stopping SOPA and PIPA, please let Congress know by visiting https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/