A serious journal entry from Jessica U. Ingmann? Sure. Why not.
----------Crossposted from this journal entry
So, the SOPA bill is looming over our heads and scaring a majority of us in varying degrees of frenzy. As you said, this may have been the goal all along
; to scare people into submission to stop breaking copyright laws. However, did congress and Hollywood really
think this through? For a long time, I've been thinking about this bill and what it entails. The more I think about it, the less I like it.
The bill, for those who aren't aware, basically states that unless you own the copyright -- or have forked over the dough for
and have proof of
legal usage of the copyright -- to whatever you're doing, the copyright holder has the right to sue you for up to I think it was) $5,000.00 or jail you for up to 10 years, depending on the severity of the crime. I forget how many strikes you're allowed before the government steps in and takes legal action, but it's some ascetically pleasing number like five or something to be sure.
You might be wondering why this bill even came into existence. I'll tell you why! I could say that the bill came into existence because people were
in fact breaking copyright laws and that would be true enough. YouTube
is a good example of this. But really? The bill most likely came into being because copyright holders and benefactors take their copyright laws too damn seriously
Now, I am in no way saying anything like "Step off, I'm not using your content for commercial purposes!" That's irrelevant! If a copyright holder wants you to stop using something of theirs, they have every right in the world to ask you to remove it. But part of the problem is that most companies aren't that polite. Or rather, their legal teams aren't that polite. Most companies won't send you a simple "Please remove X from Y, signed the copyright holders of X". Most companies would rather sue you
all because you decided to dub your own voice over an old episode of SpongeBob SquarePants
. But they sort of have to
be this strict. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that most people would probably ignore a polite take-down notice, claiming "fair use" for something despite the copyright holder not wanting them to use the material for any purpose, even re-posting. People have
ignored notices, in fact, generally opening up new accounts on other sites for the same purposes. That in mind, sites like YouTube
are actually helping
people, regardless of what people think. Why? Because, instead of letting people get sued for millions of dollars over a simple slip-up that they weren't even aware
was a slip-up, or as per the aforementioned case, in the likely event people just don't give a damn, they close the account and basically bury the evidence. Sometimes it's "just in case", but other times, there's a genuine threat of legal action looming over someone's head.
So, knowing that, the SOPA bill seems to be an extension of the whole "You can't use that material because we own it" rule. And all because several bad eggs ruined it for the rest of us. But does Hollywood really have to go as far as they are? I'm sure someone said this already, but the bill basically states that you can be fined or jailed not just
for posting up the latest Justin Beiber music video, not just
for posting a video that uses the latest Blink 182 song as ambient background music, but for even singing a little chunk of a copyrighted song
on a whim or possibly even posting the lyrics there-of! You also won't be allowed to do things like video game longplays on YouTube
anymore. You might not even be able to use copyrighted words or phrases in your usernames or the sort without getting in trouble. On the bright side, that does mean no more users like "Lllegolasss" or "SamusAran123" out there. But still, seems a little silly, doesn't it? I'm also not entirely sure if this all extends to the offline realm as well but assuming it does
, this means that cover bands will cease to exist. No more public performances of "Still Waiting" by that up-and-coming rock band. Heck, no more video game cover bands like the Minibosses or the NESkimos either! Depending on the severity of the law, you may no longer even be able to hum
Karma Chameleon or the Super Mario Bros.
theme walking on the street
, lest that cop on the corner bring you down to the station.
By the way! This law doesn't just cover the original content. This law covers all copyrighted intellectual property
. What does that mean to you, the average art site-goer? I'll explain.
Depending on how absolutely over-the-top copyright holders decide to go, you could get in trouble for drawing a sketch of your favorite fan character
! That's right. If the copyright holders decide to go after a site like this for hosting fan art of their intellectual property, you
could end up getting in trouble directly
. Would this mean the end of Fur Affinity
? I'll go ahead and say "no" on this one. But it does
possibly mean that all those pictures of Krystal and Fox getting it on that you love so much will be removed. It also means that all those lovely renders and drawings of Tigress Koh has done will be removed and/or his account banned for it! I myself
could even be banned because my video game sprites mimic the style of Mega Man 7
! This of course also means that sites dedicated solely
to fan works, such as Fanart Central
and VG Music
, will no longer exist!
Oh, but it keeps getting worse and worse. Even your TV shows aren't safe from this particular bill. Remember that one episode of that one show that had Ms. Pac-Man
playing on a screen in a cleverly-disguised arcade game as a background object? You won't be seeing things like that
again in any future shows. Nor will you see things like Harry Potter
posters in kids' rooms or Coca-Cola soda cans strewn about. Not unless a show wants to pay a company
to give them
free advertising, anyway.
Now, I should mention something. This bill is not retroactive. What this means is that you cannot be sued or jailed
for having already
posted your remix of "Humoresque of a Little Dog" somewhere or you drew the guys from Double Dragon
beating the snot out of the guys from Final Fight
. However. If I understand the law correctly, the companies can still go over your head and have the place hosting your content forcefully remove your pride and joy. I foresee a number of YouTube
accounts closing because of this.
I should also mention that, as of right now, a majority of this law only covers things originating from the United States
. If you're some guy in France who's hosting a dub of Powerpuff Girls Z
on a site that's hosted in Iraq somewhere, you're perfectly safe. For now
. But if you're a British guy with a site in Italy that hosts Powerpuff Girls
fan content? Prepare for a knock on your door from the international copyright law people.
Some of the things I've said may be exaggerations of the truth. Some of the things I've said may be ill-informed. Some of the things I've said may even be outright wrong
! Some of these things I've said may be pure paranoia talking and a completely bastardization of what the law really
says... but given the direction our legal system is going, would it really surprise anyone if most of what I said applies?