This morning I received a DMCA notice for an unlicensed image someone posted on their user page. It's not a huge deal; I removed the image. It reminded me however that I've been meaning to make a post about SOPA, something you've probably heard about by now.
SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act. It essentially creates an internet blacklist in the US, where offending sites are no longer accessible by domain name.
Lobbyists from the entertainment industry claim SOPA is intended to block foreign sites that specialize in illegal music and movie downloads, or counterfeit goods. It makes the whole thing sound pretty harmless but in my 16 years of running Newgrounds, I've learned that companies will use whatever means available to strong-arm us. This article explains the process for how companies will use SOPA to circumvent the traditional DMCA process. If your website has even one piece of infringing material (such as an unlicensed picture on a user page), this material could be used as an excuse to:
1) Block your domain name, essentially shutting off your site to the US.
2) Block your advertisers and payment processors.
3) Block your search engine listings.
All of this could happen without having to prove anything in court.
In the past we've seen companies send shutdown notices directly to our bandwidth provider, attempting to take NG off-line rather than talk to us about their issue. I believe this may have been because I hadn't registered an official DMCA agent for Newgrounds; you actually need to pay a fee and register an agent to be protected. With SOPA, however, unscrupulous companies will try to shut down entire businesses over complaints that could be resolved with a simple DMCA notice. They'll do it because they are total shitheads who don't give a fuck.
Not to mention this is GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP OF THE INTERNET. It undermines the security of the Internet and gives comfort to totalitarian regimes already doing the same thing. NG has been blocked in China before and IT SUCKS!
Of course I better not criticize the US government now that NDAA has passed, or I might get indefinitely detained without trial. THANKS, FUCKERS!
I'll wrap this up with some links to websites that are actively engaging people to help STOP SOPA:
Stop American Censorship - Submit letters to Congress, petition the State Department, etc.
Stop Censorship - Fill out this form to have your name potentially read during a fillibuster.
Save the Internet! - A big ongoing petition.
Despite our opposition to SOPA, we strongly believe that you don't have any reason to post unlicensed material on NG in the first place. There's a whole Audio Portal full of musicians who would love to have their music featured, as well as an Art Portal full of artists who make amazing transitions into games and movies. Why promote the wares of a massive consolidated industry when you can support individuals working alongside you on NG?