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Thursday, January 19, 2012


As you may have heard, the United States government has been throwing around the idea of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and (Protect Intellectual Property Act). On the surface it looks like a great idea. I'm all for stopping online piracy and protecting intellectual property. Frankly, I make my living out of my photography and I would love to have my intellectual property from being stolen by those who would try to make money off my efforts. However the problem is that this doesn't protect anybody except for those who have the money and can throw their weight around.

If you were to post up a cityscape for example that were to have a brand-name shoe company billboard in the background, yet were recognized to have done so you would be violating copyright and subject to IP shutdown and an exhorbitant fine. You could be playing a copyrighted song in the background of an instructional video by accident because you didn't remember to shut off the stereo. Little innocent things like this that you don't take notice. Not only that, the law makes you responsible for the copyrighted content that users may put up on your comments page or, let's say, Facebook Wall.

If we take the law to the utter ridiculous, I suppose that Walt Disney could sue all of us wildlife photographers who shoot mallard ducks for copyright infringement because a duck is synonymous with Donald Duck. That might not happen because the logic is so ridiculous that such a case would get thrown out of court (just as when the United States Navy SEALs had to defend their Seal Team 6 logo against Walt Disney who had registered a trademark). After all, nobody messes with Seal Team 6, not even a conglomerate as large as Disney.

Let's have a crackdown on copyright violaters, but not at the expense of those who innocently have violated copyright unknowingly. At this point, until there are some very marked changes in the wording of the legislation, I do not support SOPA/PIPA at all.

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