SOPA & PIPA Could Not Only Cripple The Internet, But It Could Cripple The World Economy Too
SOPA & PIPA Could Not Only Cripple The Internet, But It Could Cripple The World Economy Too
Written Wednesday, January 18, 2012 By Dan Webb
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Quick! Some of the internet’s biggest websites like Wikipedia are supporting the anti-SOPA movement today by “blacking out” their services for one day only to show their disgust at the proposed US legislation. Let’s jump on the bandwagon and write something about it… That’s how it works, right?

"Wikipedia is leading the blackout anti-SOPA movement today."

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its companion bill, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), plan to stifle the internet as we know it and set the world back tens of years. That’s obviously not its intention – its intention is to protect the intellectual properties of others – but the poorly drafted bill, that seems like its been penned by someone who’s never used the internet before and is taking backhanders from the music and film industries, is going to do just that.

SOPA grants copyright holders and the US government the ability to seek out court orders against online properties – US-based, “US-directed” (which is essentially most Western sites) and foreign websites – who are associated with copyright infringement and the like. If found guilty of said infringement, websites could be blocked by ISPs and be de-indexed from search engines like Google. Hell, they can even be prevented from making use of such online services like PayPal, which could be fundamental to their wellbeing. Not only does this draconian proposal set to change the internet as we know it, but it’s going to send catastrophic ripples throughout the world in the same way that throwing a meteorite the size of Texas into the Atlantic Ocean would. It’s like staring down the barrel of a gun with an adolescent infant hovering his finger over the trigger.

The legislation is a lot more sinister than that though if you dig deeper. Beneath the surface you’ll realise that it actually grants the US Attorney General the power to seize websites that infringe – either partially or possibly – someone else’s copyright without due process (website owners won’t be given their chance to defend themselves), it grants the courts the power to block payments for advertising if the site is found guilty of copyright infringement, it makes websites liable for their users’ communications and can even result in jail time or fines for those that post derivatives of copyrighted material – no more guitar covers on YouTube then. Hell, using other people’s catchphrases, even jovially or sarcastically, could land you up shit creek without a paddle… or come to think of it, without a boat. League of Legends creators, Riot Games and their lawyers even go as far as to point out that someone singing a song during a live-stream would put the whole site at risk for copyright infringement. This would almost certainly censor the internet and as we’ve already seen companies suing over the most minor infractions, it’s a slippery slope to be treading.

"Wired censored its text as a sign of support for the protest."

What does this mean for us as an industry though? Well, considering that the livelihood for media outlets like ourselves rely on covering other people’s IPs in an independent capacity, it could have wide-reaching implications. You can’t help but think that it’d compromise the integrity of every media outlet out there – “If you don’t support our products, we’ll hold you liable for copyright infringement and get you closed down,” or something to that effect. Cynical, yes, but welcome to the twenty-first century when you hear rumours and whisperings of ad money being pulled due to bad reviews like in the case of former Gamespot Editorial Director, Jeff Gerstmann. When you factor in such things like walkthrough videos, e-Sports leagues, live-streams and all other forms of user-created content, the impact such a piece of legislation could have across the internet - especially in the gaming industry - is rather disconcerting. Sure, it might be a piece of legislation that’s aimed specifically at the United States, meaning that sites like ourselves could potentially only get blocked in the US, but for a site whose audience is 45% American, its implications would be far more severe. We’d certainly class as “US-directed” and be held accountable to such a diabolical piece of legislation too. Why the US government thinks they can police the internet is beyond me, but that’s a different story for a different day. 

I know what you’re thinking though, “Cripple the world economy? That’s a little farfetched, right?” It’s easy to think that, but when you factor in who’s at risk, it’s not really that much of hyperbolic statement. Think of it this way, if search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing; video platforms like YouTube, UStream, and Viddler; and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter; are all at risk, that’s a considerable amount of redundancies that would follow if anything would happen to them – Google alone employs over 30,000 people worldwide and if they were forced to scale back, a considerable amount of jobs would surely follow. If you think of that in lost tax dollars and the rise in people “signing on” alone, that’s going to make the financial situation a lot worse globally.

SOPA and PIPA’s most alarming impact could come in its ability to stifle creativity and ruin innovation. Would sites like ourselves, Wikipedia and YouTube be able to come to fruition if SOPA and PIPA were passed when we were starting up? The sad truth is, no. Would independent stores be able to flourish in an environment that is so stringently policed? Again, the answer is, no. That’s not because those outlets, stores or publications have negligently disrespected the copyrights of others, of course not, but because SOPA and PIPA intend to be so strict that even forums and the like – where it’s impossible to moderate everything in a timely fashion – can be used as an excuse for punishment, even when the content is being posted by others. If that doesn’t open a doorway to corporate sabotage, I don’t know what will. Start-ups and smaller independent companies will become the bitches of every billionaire conglomerate out there. It’s a piece of legislation that will have a horrifying effect on freedom of speech on the internet. It’s a piece of legislation that intends to censor the internet. It’s a piece of legislation that will cover the floor of the internet with eggshells. 

" decided to go "white" instead as an interesting take."

The most baffling thing to come out of all of this though is that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), who’ve been lobbying for freedom of speech in the games industry and the rights of video game developers for many years now, are actually supporting it. Yes, this is the same ESA that actually runs E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo). And when I say support it, I mean, they’ve thrown $190,000 behind their pro-SOPA & PIPA lobbying. That’s $190,000 of its members’ money, which was handed over willy-nilly without its members’ consent or their support, pretty much undoing the last ten-years of hard work its done and splintering its membership in the process. They’ve annoyed their membership and the industry so much so that former World of Warcraft team lead, Mark Kern, who is now a CEO at Red 5 Studios, set up the League For Gamers to lobby against the ESA and fight against SOPA and PIPA. Check out their site and their petition here for more information. It does make you beg the question though, if the industry is so against it, who’s pulling the strings at the ESA now if it’s not its members?

The truth is though, that the intentions of SOPA and PIPA are noble at their core, but their intended implementations are careless, negligent, without foresight and as draconian as they come. Instead of cracking down on those who continue to infringe the copyrights of others, they’re punishing the many for the acts of the few. We encourage the US government to tackle piracy, but not by ruining free speech, stifling creativity and censoring the internet in the process. Sure, the bill might be on hold after it was deemed “flawless legislation” and sure, it might be so draconian that anyone with half a brain would see that its far-reaching implications would set us back an incredible amount of years – even the Whitehouse are against it in its current state – but it’s still important to make your voice heard while you still can. We as a network are fully against SOPA and PIPA, and we urge you to make your voices heard in the most mature fashion possible, but as always, the power is with you and not us. It’s merely our job to cover video games and the culture that surrounds them. 

For more information, check out the ECA’s website, the anti-SOPA website and the American Censorship website on how you can do your thing to help out. If this piece of legislation does by some miracle make it through to be a part of our lives, we can kiss the internet as we know it goodbye and we can watch the world spiral further into economic recession, which is not as fun as it sounds.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 2531
Comment #1 by Kahalachan
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 @ 02:34:43 PM
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Sony's being smart withdrawing. Not cause of Anonymous. Who cares about them? As greedy as the greediest game companies get, they're smart enough to realize this kind of facism hurts their business in the long run.

Forum Posts: 8285
Comment #2 by Dark_Phantom_89
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 05:05:17 AM
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Here here. A fantastic article there Webb and a brilliant evaluation of the whole fiasco. I just can't believe the sheer lack of common sense amongst the people who proposed this bill. Yes it's intentions are good as you said, but they're pretty naive to think that it won't have a catastrophic effect on the Internet.

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #3 by JackLeCube
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 08:45:02 AM
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SOPA will have the last laugh. I hear they've got something big planned for 21/12/12

Forum Posts: 178
Comment #4 by The D Zone
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 11:32:00 AM
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Good article.


Forum Posts: 16493
Comment #5 by olsen77
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 12:17:05 PM
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Great read Webb. It will be interesting to see how the new OPEN act is different from SOPA and PIPA. I haven't read the new bill, but at least it's fairly easy to find and readers can comment on specific sections.

Forum Posts: 29080
Comment #6 by mjc0961
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 12:47:30 PM
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Thumbs up to Maddox for having the best black-out:

Forum Posts: 1736
Comment #7 by BeardedBushMan
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 04:21:29 PM
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Draconian, draconian, draconian, draconian.

Forum Posts: 2995
Comment #8 by TigerLust
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 04:39:29 PM
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Thanks for that link mjc!

Shame I will have to boycott both Sony and Apple, but I'll take a product from a company that fights this BS any day. Google and Microsoft, you will have my $$$ when I buy my next computer, smartphone, and gaming console.

Forum Posts: 2995
Comment #9 by TigerLust
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 04:54:38 PM
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I take that back, M$ was for it too. Guess I'll have to buy a Nintendo :(

Forum Posts: 4297
Comment #10 by alec613
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 05:20:24 PM
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I guess this is what they mean by doomsday

Forum Posts: 1089
Comment #11 by Doomsdayman
Friday, January 20, 2012 @ 06:13:23 AM
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If Sopa is past then it will lead to an Entertainment crach.

Forum Posts: 2014
Comment #12 by Jimbo76
Friday, January 20, 2012 @ 06:19:10 AM
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Fuck you SOPA.

Forum Posts: 40
Comment #13 by Zokan1593
Friday, January 20, 2012 @ 11:41:52 AM
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Fuck off SOPA!!

Forum Posts: 16493
Comment #14 by olsen77
Friday, January 20, 2012 @ 02:12:58 PM
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Looks like SOPA has been shelved. Rep. Lamar Smith pulled his sponsorship of the bill.

Forum Posts: 817
Comment #15 by Killforce
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 01:02:50 AM
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What does this have to do with video games?

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #16 by kamijordan
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 05:55:06 AM
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that's stupid! if they want to do this just finish with the internet.

Forum Posts: 127
Comment #17 by TuttiCicero
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 09:30:52 AM
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I think this bill is to get their foot in the door and then they'll be passing bill after bill in order to slowly control the internet, region by region and in due time, tell us that we're lucky they're even letting us use it.

The proposed use for this bill being to somehow stop piracy is a hoax to mask what they're really trying to do here. How will policing the internet and limiting it's use stop people from pirating?

If anything, this bill will simply provoke those who never used to pirate products to do so because they are now being pushed around. Those who would always pirate, will simply take it up a notch, things on both sides will escalate to no end and we as honest consumers will become innocent by-standers in the cross fire.

Forum Posts: 1640
Comment #18 by Crealkllr
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 04:46:10 PM
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Each site i read this topic on, the more scared i am.

Honestly the things i do online border on this, and although i dont intentionally use other peoples catch phrases, or other things, i dont see how i could use the internet with out.

I think if i have to, i would go without internet. That saddens me because this article is right when it says "set the world back tens of years". I would be back in the stone ages, too afraid of crossing the line and getting in trouble.

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #19 by TheUndertaker85
Sunday, January 22, 2012 @ 05:00:11 PM
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Ah, the idiocy of the average person anymore.

Has anyone here actually read the full PIPA or SOPA bill? I really doubt it.

This whole "Anti-SOPA/Anit-PIPA" movement crap is nothing more than fear mongering on behalf of the pirates of the world who believe they have the right to steal others' work.

Plus where's logic from anybody? If SOPA or PIPA passes how in the great blue hell could it cripple the world economy? I might not be a genious but if pirates can't pirate anymore, what are they going to do to get their own content? That's right. BUY IT. The world economy would be exactly the same as it is now if not better. Pirates either won't buy content(Which I'd bank on over 9/10ths of them don't right now anyway) meaning the economy wouldn't fluctuate or they start actually paying for their content. If they're paying for their content and money is going into the economy, how in the fuck would it get crippled more?

Fear mongering at its finest.

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #20 by TheUndertaker85
Sunday, January 22, 2012 @ 05:01:29 PM
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Btw, I also love to point out that Wikipedia shutting down is actually kind of ironic. Talk about "free information" for the internet then shut down your site in protest. There's a lot of "free information" coming from a site that's not sending out information, right? -.-

Forum Posts: 23
Comment #21 by CrzGam3r
Monday, January 23, 2012 @ 03:59:33 PM
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SOPA? are you guys talking about soup :D

But for real, I don't want to go back to the "stone age" where there no internet. We used the internet everyday. Google, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace (who ever still using it lol), Wiki, multiple gaming site and so on. These sites are non-piracy sites but they are still going to be shut down (some might not be shut down) just for having a product up without permission which i find it really stupid. They only want one thing is to control us, so much for freedom when they are attack not the criminals but also innocents at the same. I never trusted the government and never will

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #22 by xChener
Monday, January 23, 2012 @ 05:18:17 PM
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SOPA is a violation on my human rights!

Forum Posts: 11755
Comment #23 by Vuule
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 @ 07:07:40 AM
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It seems no one understands #3's joke. Or was it just that bad?

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #24 by MrDDiB
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 06:41:11 AM
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I have an idea that the movie industry could incorporate that will lower piracy.


Seriously, these days all they do is make remakes or throw out some stupid movie with a shitty plot & then they wonder why people would rather not pay $20, and would rather download the movie instead.

Forum Posts: 237
Comment #25 by HellSpawn137
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 10:43:22 AM
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OMG! Metal Gear Solid 2 is coming true! SOPA is Arsenal Gear.

Just kidding, but really, we cannot go back to the 'Stone Age' just because on a poorly-done legislature. It's a violation of the Bill of Rights

BTW, #3 very funny joke

Forum Posts: 782
Comment #26 by Mostik
Wednesday, February 01, 2012 @ 02:04:33 PM
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Good article, it's a pretty scary law let's hope they see sense! Good on Sony for pulling out :)

Forum Posts: 108
Comment #27 by tmay328
Monday, February 06, 2012 @ 07:31:53 PM
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What a dreadful piece of legislation... When did the government gain the power to vote more authority to itself? I seem to remember something called the Tenth Amendment, but it appears no one in Congress is familiar with it.

Forum Posts: 157
Comment #28 by ElfenSky
Monday, February 20, 2012 @ 02:30:36 PM
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@19 You, my friend, are a naive idiot :) If you want, I'll even take time to explain why...

Forum Posts: 157
Comment #29 by ElfenSky
Monday, February 20, 2012 @ 02:34:12 PM
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@23 lol, I also didn't get it until I read your comment and took my time to go back to the 3rd and reread and think about it lol....

@3 great joke :)

Forum Posts: 145
Comment #30 by falconkeeper99
Sunday, April 01, 2012 @ 05:10:20 PM
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@ #19: Look again... Most people seem to agree that society needs to find a way to stop piracy. Even Mr. Webb stated that the intentions behind the proposed bill are a good thing. However, the implementation is awful here. The Attorney General having the right to block a web-site while they "review" it for copyright infringement is backwards. The web-site should be allowed to run like normal while it is being reviewed, and IF found guilty of copyright infringement, should then be blocked/banned.

I think the issue here is more about how they are going about fixing the problem, and not about whether or not what they are doing needs to be done. I whole-heartedly support stopping piracy, just not like this...

While it may not be a popular view, can someone explain to me how downloading a movie/music/game/etc that you did not pay for is any different than walking into a store and walking out with a piece of merchandise that you didn't pay for?

Forum Posts: 257
Comment #31 by xHumanoidTyphoon
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 @ 11:24:08 AM
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If your declaring a war SOPA so be it, Know whose your enemy first!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #32 by fatpreacherman
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 @ 06:08:58 PM
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