It won't be possible to get through today without hearing about the legistlation bills known as SOPA and PIPA being discussed which are attemps to squelch internet websites that use fruadulent or illegal means to infringe on copyrighted materials.
Opponents include Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, Roblox, Reddit, the Wikimedia Foundation, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch.
The reason for the opposition is clear. The above paragraph was 'borrowed' from Wikepedia (also enforcing a blackout today) and does the above mention warrent that the entire site this article is posted on now fall into the 'infringement' category and require law enforcement to close it down? Of course not.
The main issue that sounds viable with SOPA and PIPA when it comes to rogue (torrent) style sites, or scam sites (which are often foreign), as these proposed bills are supported by all the major media and content creators including the Motion Pictures Association of America, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, and others in this vein, is that SOPA proposes to block any infringing DNS (or a websites record that we websurfers use to access said website), to protect copyrighted material. In the arguments you will find on the SOPA updates page, the video game, film, and music industry have lost millions if not billions of dollars due to illegal sharing of copyrighted materials, one industry showing a loss of 70,000 jobs alone from this problem.
A good example would be listening to music tracks on YouTube. Or even watching portions of movies and video game content on YouTube. The fact that anyone can post them and watch them does hurt the bottom line after huge investments to create a product has already been spent. Many frequently do this instead of purchasing the rights to a particular work, and these artists and companies are hurting more than one might think. Sharing video game content or motion picture content illegally via 'share' sites are also culprits of a demise in our already suffering economy.
The PIPA which is a short acronym for a very long bill proposed to enforce (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act ), also known as Senate Bill 968 or S. 968, has a specific goal of providing more tools to copyright owners to curb the access of websites infringing or supplying counterfeit goods", especially those registered outside the U.S.
The problem or rather the debate with both of the first two bills is that they are potentially hazardous to enforce when it comes to how we as a people view the vast information available on the internet, and they additionally have the potential to impede on our freedom of speech. Other than the huge number of opposing website companies, President Obama has also proclaimed that he will not support any bill that hinders our constitutional rights. Alternatively, Google, Facebook, and the protestors of SOPA and PIPA are in full support of The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act) which is a drafted bill proposed as an alternative to SOPA and PIPA. The text of the bill is available for public comment at keepthewebopen.com
Whichever bill is enforced, it is important to note that these kinds of rules have already been created for a handfull of countries including China which has succeeded in creating a specific 'internet' design for its country with their 'Great Firewall of China', which blocks DNS and IP's based on what they see fit for their population.
As an independant video game publisher myself having had my video games pirated and then sold overseas it is important to note that it's not just 'the big guys' that hurt from these forms of illegal activity. If something can be done, please remember that copyrighted material is a very important lifeblood to our country financially as well as for the spirit of our American lifestyle and talking to your state representative right now is as important as ever to keep our rights to the internet safe as well as secure.
For a list of video game companies already fighting back check out the latest news posted here at GameBeat
Please contact your state rep and report your opinions based on all of the above.Use the following form below with your zip code to get to your state's representative via the online form and speak your mind immediately (as of 10:30am EST Jan 18th we are winning, but we need everyone we can to ensure victory to preserve our rights!)