Stopping digital piracy has become a full-time obsession for most major entertainment companies; but the Stop Online Piracy Act now wending its way through Congress is probably not the way to do it — a far too broad law that would give lawmakers powers to stop just about any activity they don’t like via cutting off funding to the site and other zero tolerance measures. Although aimed at hard-to-stop foreign websites that recognize no copyright laws, opponents say the bill goes way too far in allowing copyright holders to choke off stuff they don’t want with an arsenal of tools.
Understandably, webizens are reacting with alarm to the bill — which as of today was stalled in committee waiting for Congress to finish eating holiday treats back at home. The opposition has drawn unlikely allies. Conservative and liberal bloggers have united, saying the bill could shut down political free speech. Gamers fear it will stop everything from posting screenshots of Knights of the Old Republic to walkthrough videos.
Opposition is summed up comics/David Rees-style at this Get Your Censor on website.
So where do Marvel and DC stand on all this? Well, Time Warner and Marvel Enterprises are both listed as companies that support the bill on a widely available list.
The list includes most major entertainment companies, including Universal, the UFC, Harper Collins and the Graphic Artists Guild, to name just a few.
While you understand IP companies wanting to protect their IP and their creators’ IP, digging in a little makes it clear SOPA goes way too far. And some companies are beginning to remove their support. Incredibly, GoDaddy, the company that markets itself on cheesecake and whose owner recently killed an elephant, was nonetheless sufficiently shamed by blowback on their support for SOPA to end it — but maybe too late as a boycott of the company is still underway
Users just before Christmas marked December 29 (today) as the moment customers should abandon GoDaddy to protest the company’s support of SOPA, but that hasn’t stopped several from jumping the gun: An estimated 37,000 customers abandoned the service by December 24, and the latest figures put the latest figure at over 70,000 (GoDaddy is the world’s largest ICANN-accredited registrar, with over 40 million domain names in 2010).
Whatever you think of piracy, SOPA isn’t the way to stop it — it’s too broad and overreaching. China enacted an “anti-piracy law” known as the Golden Shelf Project which is now used as a complete firewall by the Chinese Government to block things like YouTube, Google Plus and just about anything that is fun about the Internet.
So what to do? Write to your congressman and write to Marvel and DC. It should be noted that Marvel is listed along with other Disney subsidiary companies, such as ESPN and Disney Worldwide Publishing, so it’s more of a joint effort than an internal Marvel decision. Better yet — vote with your dollar. As the GoDaddy story shows, it’s really the only thing corporations listen to.
Gizmodo has a complete list of contacts for companies supporting SOPA, if you want to go the indignant letter route. While you have free speech, it’s a good thing to use it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.