SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, has been prominent in certain parts of the news of late. Introduced in the USA House Of Representatives back in October, it attempts to curb the actions of internet pirates by, it seems, curbing the actions of pretty much everyone. Or that's what its critics would have you believe.
It would ban online adertising on sites deemed to be piracy distributors, get their listings deleted from search engines, even remove their DNS listings from servers so that users would be unable to visit the sites in question. And streaming copyright material could be punished by five years in jail.
Critics say that this bill would ban proxy servers that hide internet identities and global position – the same systems that allows the Arab Spring uprisings to happen. And that this will set a precedent for further internet censorship, both in the US and abroad.
By making internet services responsible for copyright violations, rather than individual abuses, the likes of YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, eBay, Etsy and more may not be able to stay in business – while actual pirates would find a way around it.
A number of businesses have declared their support to the bill – sometimes to their detriment. GoDaddy walked back their support for this specific bill, after Wikipedia threatened to remove all their domain names from GoDaddy's registration service.
Well, now it's time for the internet to turn on Marvel. Who, along with their parent company Disney, have come out in support of this bill. They are the only specific comic book publisher to have done so, although they are joined by comic-publishing book publishers like Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins, Penguin and Random House, and by DC Entertainment's parent company Time Warner.
I have outlined to a number of publishers an effective way in which comic book piracy could be curtailed in a matter of months. To date, only Dark Horse seemed interested, but the only significant action I've seen is against specific blogs posting links to download sites, and then usually only by Marvel. Said sites usually pop up again under a different name and the whole cycle repeats.
SOPA seems to be the use of a rather large sledgehammer to crunch what, at least in comic books, is a very small gnat that could actually be settled with one small squirt of insect spray. If someone was just willing to use it…