Some of you may have seen the chatter in our shoutbox about a USA bill called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and its neighbor the Protect IP Act (PIPA). I've been debating whether or not to post about it. After all, we are an international site and try not to get into regional politics. Unfortunately, if SOPA/PIPA are passed, the ramifications would be far reaching for this web site and could potentially shut us down (we are hosted in the USA). Let me explain.
The intent of SOPA is to stop online piracy and that's a good thing. I would love it if the gold sellers that copy AionSource articles and then repost them with kinah links were taken down for good. You'd think that game companies would be solidly behind this effort due to all the game piracy out there too, but they're not. The list of game companies against SOPA and PIPA continues to grow and includes such companies as Riot, Zynga, Epic Games, and Activision. Riot has a very nice letter from their CEO and founder explaining why the bill is bad for game companies and sites such as us. It's primarily because the bills are written in such a way that they threaten any website that features user generated content. So a copyright holder can file a claim that AionSource is hosting an unauthorized song in the background of somebody's PvP video. Under the new bill, ad networks, payment providers, and internet service providers are now potentially liable for their user's infringement. These services can then be compelled to remove support for the site with the single infringement - which would take AionSource completely down. Just imagine what that means for sites like You Tube, where people commonly put up songs of their children singing copyrighted materials or Google where people can search for infringing materials.
As Riot has legal counsel and I don't, I'm mostly quoting what they say below about the effects on gamers. I removed the words League of Legends as what they're saying applies to all online games. According to the Riot letter, SOPA:
- Kills streaming. If any single streamer plays copyrighted music (or alt tabs into a movie or other owned content) on their stream, there is a significant risk of the entire streaming service being taken down. In some cases, it could even result in criminal penalties for the streamer.
- Threatens independent content creation. Services we all use to create and share content, such as YouTube, Reddit, DeviantArt, streaming websites such as Own3d and Twitch, and more would be at risk of shutting down or greatly restricting the scope of legitimate content allowed on their sites.
- Attacks community. Aspects of our service such as the forums and potentially even in-game chat, could be taken down or have their features reduced based on user behavior.
- Other harmful effects. SOPA/PIPA undermine established intellectual property legislation like the DMCA, raise serious constitutional free speech issues, and could even compromise the basic security infrastructure of the internet.
If you are a voting US citizen, please consider contacting your congressman about SOPA. It will be coming up again on January the 24th and could pass in the House of Representatives. The EFF actually gives you the phone numbers for your reps and even allows you to send a letter to them :
If you are somebody that is unsure of the ramifications of the bill for how the internet is run, please be aware that a group of 83 internet engineers, including many who helped found internet protocols have written an open letter to Congress opposing the bill. They are worried about the technical issues with implementing the censorship required by SOPA and how it will effect the connectivity of the Internet.
A group of over 100 law professors have also written an open letter to Congress against SOPA, stating that it is in apparent conflict with the US Constitution in terms of suppressing speech without notice and a proper hearing.
Please feel free to check out the Wikipedia article on SOPA for more information.
I know that I've read a lot about it all and I hope that the bill doesn't pass. I like our little community here and don't want to see it torn apart. So... down with SOPA and PIPA!