How SOPA/PIPA Would Affect Small Businesses on the Internet

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Last week, the SOPA/PITA Acts were bound for approval in the United States.  In the largest online protest in history on January 18th, 2012 many huge websites (i.e. Google, Wikipedia, WordPress.org, etc.) went black and the end result was that these Bills were shelved indefinitely.  But, that doesn’t mean they are gone….

What is SOPA?

Establishes a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against the alleged infringer and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. In some cases, action could be taken to block sites without first allowing the alleged infringer to defend themselves in court.

The link to read more is here:  http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s968/show

What is PIPA?

PIPA, if passed, will give U.S. corporations and the government the right to seek affirmative legal action with any website that they see as enabling copyright infringement whether of U.S. origin or not.

The link to read more is here:     http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/how-sopa-pipa-can-affect-you/

These bills were initially created to prevent piracy of content like videos, music and software on the internet that robs the entertainment and computer  industry of their royalties but since the criteria for these bills was unfocused and unclear, they “could” be used to pull a website like Google or Wikipedia or WordPress.org off the internet for copywright infringement for their content like articles, blog posts, videos, audios and so on….

What does this mean for Small Business?

Most small businesses nowadays know that if they don’t have an internet presence they are definitely going to lose a huge amount of business.  Why?  Because with the age of computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones about 80% of the population research online to find products and services that they are looking to buy.  The days of the old Yellow Pages for research is almost gone.  Most people never think to use that old method of finding businesses.  And if they research online and a company doesn’t have a website, they will never know about it or worse still, if they want to research a specific company before they buy and a website is not there, they move on to businesses that are on the internet for the information they seek.

Small businesses who have a website have to create their own content, and although some take illegal shortcuts by copy and paste from similar sites offering similar products and services, most take the time and money to create their own individual message to their website visitors.  But what if the content they create is similar to some other website.  It is inevitable.  There are only so many ways you can describe or illustrate your products and services.  SOPA/PIPA if passed, can pull your website off the internet and you have no recourse to recover from a loss like that.

And what about Social Media?

Among the thought leaders, Content Marketing is going to be huge in 2012.  Everyone can find anything “information” on the internet and individuals automatically do their research there.   With the prominence of Social Media and content sharing sites, people in my industry – Inbound Marketers, Internet Marketers, Social Media Marketers, Video Marketing Specialists, Article Marketers, Blog Marketers – we all urge our business clients to create lots of fresh content and to proactively share the content of the people we are connected to.   Is this copywright infringement?  With the SOPA/PIPA Bills, with it’s “fuzzy” definitions we, as small business owners, could be misconstrued as stealing content.

That is why huge sites like Google, Wikipedia and WordPress.org took a stand.

And, Go Daddy, one of the biggest webhosts and domain sellers, changed their minds about supporting these bills when they lost more than 10,000 customers in a week!

I agree that these Bills may eventually pass, but before they do, the “powers that be” must be educated on how the internet works, how Social Media and all the other online marketing strategies work, and then edit and modify these Bills to much more defined guidelines.

How do you feel about SOPA/PIPA?

If you want to keep abreast on developments on these bills, you can find updates here:  http://sopastrike.com/

OR, in Canada:

http://openmedia.ca/SOPA

 

 

 

 

 

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