Paul Tassi has an article up at Forbes, where he explains how the blog he runs for a living, Unreality
, which covers movies/tv/video games, would be at risk of being shut down under SOPA
. Even though his site has nothing to do with infringement, he's still quite reasonably worried:
My site likes to find the best media-related content on the internet. We post photos, artwork and embed YouTube videos that involve things about our favorite movies, shows and games. I always give credit where it’s due, but on occasion, a photographer or artist cannot be located. Under SOPA, should they find their content on my site, they would legally have the right to petition my advertisers to stop paying me, or report me to the government. The same goes for YouTube videos I might feature. Though the content is not mine, as I haven’t uploaded it to the web myself, I am indeed linking to it, and with this new law, I would be subject to the same sort of harsh penalties should the content within be something copyrighted like footage from a game or movie. I am willingly linking to “infringing” content, and under SOPA, can be branded a “rogue site” because of that. Such a classification could cause me to lose everything.
It's not clear if Tassi is in the US. If he is, then he's actually (partially) exaggerating, because as of Monday, SOPA no longer applies to US sites. But that's not good news. Because if he's a US site, then he's already subject to bogus seizures
by the government, by which his web site could totally disappear for over a year
with no due process whatsoever. Actually, no matter where he is physically, his site -- as a dot com -- is already subject to that kind of censorship. Even without SOPA. All someone has to do is convince a somewhat clueless Immigrations & Customs Enforcement official that his site has lots of infringing content on it -- even if it does not.
I don’t understand the entertainment companies’ end game here. They’ve gone beyond obtuse to straight up maniacal. Do they think if they manage to shut down every bit of copyright infringement on the internet, that sales are going to suddenly skyrocket? Do they think people have some secret horde of cash that they’ve just been waiting to blow on DVDs and CDs, but haven’t because of The Pirate Bay’s existence? If my site can’t link to gameplay videos or movie clips, are my readers going to run out and buy them to see what they’re missing? If they land Unreality on a rogue evil pirate site list, who benefits? I’m suddenly homeless, without any cash to go the movies.
It's a good question. The "end game" is all about control. The legacy entertainment industry built their business models entirely on the basis of the idea that they, not consumers, controlled the market. Everything they're doing is seeking to regain that lost control. As Tassi notes, none of that will actually make people buy more. But that's never what this was about.