Home > 2012 > What Is SOPA And How Could It Affect You

What Is SOPA And How Could It Affect You

Google protesting SOPA

If you’ve visited Google this morning you may have seen their blacked out logo, the above photo is a screenshot of the homepage. You might have also heard that Wikipedia has gone “black” for the next 24 hours. Just do a search for anything on Wikipedia and you’ll see what they’ve done.

So what’s all the hullabaloo?

These websites are protesting legislation that is currently being considered in the U.S. Congress called SOPA and PIPA. SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act and it’s sister legislation PIPA or Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act are being introduced by Congress to combat piracy online. Seems like a pretty noble cause right? Well, a closer look at the legislation might give you pause.

These pieces of legislation provide for the ability for the U.S. Department of Justice to file an injunction to shut down any website who is posting OR linking to intellectual property that is under copyright. The provisions in the law allow for the shutting down of search sites that link to these materials, streaming audio and video sites that stream IP that is held under copyright and even require certain Internet Service Providers to block these sites all together.

How does all of this affect you and your business?

It might not right away, but if all of the provisions in this law pass it could have a tremendous impact on your daily use of the Internet for marketing your business.

Let’s say a popular site that you syndicate your listings to is found to have images that are held under a copyright. The Dept. of Justice and/or the copyright holder could file an injunction against that site to have it shut down, effectively ending your ability to reach thousands of potential clients. It wouldn’t matter if you had violated the copyright or not, all that would matter is that your listings were on a site that may have done so.

What if you’ve posted a virtual tour to YouTube. The same thing could happen. The Department of Justice could shut down YouTube and all your hard work would be invisible to potential clients.

Maybe you’ve done a tremendous amount of Search Engine Optimization for your website and you’re ranking really high in the Google search results. Then one day it is found that there is a link from Google to a file sharing site that is facilitating piracy. Google could get shut down.

Maybe these are extreme scenarios, but truth be told, the way the legislation is written today, these types of things can and probably would happen. To familiarize yourself with SOPA and PIPA click here.

What is your take on these pieces of legislation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted in Internet Marketing | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments


  1. Leah Boyd
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Understandable or not, this kind of censorship potential is just too huge to risk. Some of that potential isn’t even knowable at this point. Sorry but the offended will just have to find another way such as toggles on all of their intellectual property.

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Leah, I completely agree. Censorship is not the best way to handle this problem.

  2. Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Sometimes government gets in the way of progress and takes things to the extreme. If this law passes I feel we all will be in for a rude awakening. An innocent infringement may cause a lot of grief. I’ve seen it happen with email marketing, when a company blasted spam, everyone using the email marketing company was shut down. It was difficult getting the problem resolved.

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Ermelinda I appreciate your comment. E-mail marketing is a great example of how some people abusing the system effects the system for all.

  3. Scott Holmes
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info – We need to keep the internet FREE from government intervention!

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Scott thanks for your comments. It does seem that this action could greatly impact businesses of all kinds.

  4. Maria
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Coongratulations for taking a stand.
    It is sad that we have such a lame congress.

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Maria, hahaha. Trying to avoid politics, just thought this topic was an important one for our members to know about!!

  5. Dave
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Greetings__1)Would the server/website “accused” site go back online once they removed the identified copyright material? 2)What does SOPA imply/address/ about protection of copyright and tolerence of infringement of copyright. 3)Is this good for the owner of the copyright? 4)Or bad for the exploiter of the copyright? I don’t know yet. It will be interesting to follow and speak to our elected representatives about.

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      @Dave, not sure I know the answers to all of your questions, but I’ll try and if anyone else has better insight, I would encourage them to jump in. 1.) I believe this would be up to the discretion of the court. 2.) SOPA is being used to enforce the current copyright protections, it does not address any new rules in that regard. 3.) There are arguments to be made on both sides. For instance, in the case of music, most artists don’t make a lot of money off of the sale of their music anymore they make it from merchandising and touring, so if someone pirates their music, falls in love with them and then buys a ticket to see them live, maybe it doesn’t hurt the copyright owner. On the other hand, they are losing out on some money. 4.) This is bad for the exploiter of the copyright no doubt, but it could also have an averse affect on the Internet as a whole.

      Thanks for your comment.

  6. salvatore
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Why is everyone so against the government actually trying to PROTECT the interests of people/organizatons that created or invented something. If I took the time to make a piece of music or reinvent the wheel, I wouldnt want everyone else making money on my ideas. Do you think google or youtube or facebook are non-profit companies. They make billions stealing other peoples creativity!! Which option is the lesser of two evils? I’ll go with SOPA and take the risk that some website I dont even know might get shut down and I have to sell my houses the old fashioned way!!

    • Adam
      Posted January 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      @Salvatore, thanks for your comments. I think the general point is that while sites like Google and YouTube do include pirated materials, to shut these sites down because of the actions of a few would harm the majority of the population that uses them for legitimate purposes.

  7. Posted January 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I did not realize the i;mpact this could have on my personal business. That kind of stuff can shut us all down just because one XXX person does something wrong! What can we do to stop this legislation?

  8. salvatore
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see you are keeping an open mind on a business forum. Maybe you shoud present both sides in the same light instead of just presenting your juvenile ideas. Or maybe if you had the responsibility of owning a company, you might be able to see past your errors. The government is not going to shut down Google for the first offense, but they SHOULD have some power to make sure these websites are policing themselves and protecting copyrighted material. That’s all that this is…

    • Adam
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Fair enough @Salvatore. I respect your difference of opinion on the matter.

  9. Jen
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Adam, Thank you very much for informing us Realtors about this situation and the potential threat to our business. Once the government assumes certain cencorship responsibilities, it could be a very slippery slope, into the government shutting down anything they don’t want the American public to know about. They already have too much control over the general media (such as the news stations). Let’s not let them take control of the internet also. If we give an inch, they take a mile!

    • Adam
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      @Jen glad you found the information useful. It’s an interesting piece of legislation for sure and one that should be carefully scrutinized.

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