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Why ANN Is Against SOPA/PIPA

by Christopher Macdonald,

I'm certain you may be tired of this today, but there's one thing that absolutely terrifies me about SOPA/PIPA.

You see, back on Thanksgiving weekend 2010, The US Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department shutdown a number of websites for criminal copyright violations. According to reports, ICE shut these websites down based entirely on “evidence” provided to them by the MPAA.

One of the sites shutdown was a hip-hop blog called Dajaz1.com. Dajaz1.com was like ANN in many ways. It was a leading source of information, interviews, content previews, etc... within its industry (hip-hop music), it worked closely with the companies and artists to cover and promote their products, and it was operated by a group of “professional fans.”

Dajaz1.com and its supporters (including industry insiders) contend that none of the content on the site was unauthorized – all of it was provided to them by rights holders and/or their agents. Dajaz1.com and their lawyers tried to get information out of ICE for a year, but they were continually stonewalled. They never learned what it was that actually got them shut down. For over a year they had no idea what copyright they allegedly infringed.

Then, a little over a year after the domain was seized, ICE gave it back. No explanation, nothing, just “we're not going to pursue this anymore.” The whole scary Dajaz1.com story can be read here.

One of my worst nightmares (the one that doesn't involve big bird) is a scenario where a Japanese studio gives ANN a trailer and asks us to promote it on our site. If a major American movie company were to later license that property, it might then be considered by the MPAA to be a property they must protect. I can imagine some ignorant clerk in a cubicle at some MPAA affiliated office deciding that ANN's use of the trailer was “unauthorized” and adding our domain to the next list he sends to ICE.

SOPA makes it even easier for things like this to happen without any due process or opportunity for accused to defend themselves.

Worse yet, SOPA doesn't even work. As I'm sure you've heard by now, the measures in SOPA will not be effective in stopping piracy.

This is why ANN is against SOPA and PIPA. I apologize for any inconvenience the black bars may have caused you, but I felt this issue was important enough to merit a slight inconvenience now in order to avoid much more disastrous results in the future.

For more information: Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff) on SOPA

To participate: sopastrike.com/

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