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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The SOPA Zombie Returns

Should we as photographers be worried about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) rev. 2013?

In short, yes.

This proposed legislation seeks to make video streaming illegal (in other words shutting down sites like YouTube, Facebook Video and other content streaming providers because a few people persist in putting copyrighted materials such as movies up online). This provides an environment where the independent moviemaker cannot get his movie out unless it is represented by one of the big movie-houses in Hollywood. Consider that a monopolizing and exiling of independent movie-making to the fringes. As we photographers venture into the video process due to the video-features on our cameras, we need to keep this in mind. This means that we will not have sites to get our work out. You won’t be able to put up “how-to” videos on photography to help other photographers out. You won’t have the ability to put slideshows of your work out on a video stream so people can see who you are. Why? Because the options will no longer be there due to being forced to shut down thanks to this legislation.

Take the time to read the proposed legislation and it’s far reaching consequences will scare you: Copyright Green Paper Submission

As photographers, we need to worry about SOPA 2013 due to its effects on our industry. There are unscrupulous photographers out there who subsist on making claims that they can’t meet. What’s to stop one of those leech photographers from making a claim to IP shutdown a legitimate photographer stating that the legit photog has swiped one of their photos or complain that a photo of theirs is too similar to one that “leech” took. Considering that one of the ramifications of this is the total shutdown of one’s site until this matter is cleared up or face heavy fines as well as a potential jail sentence, this may put the pro photographer out of business. SOPA just makes it easier for these so-called leeches to take advantage of the shutdown IP section of the Protect IP Act which no doubt will be shovelled in there as well. The average time that it takes for such a copyright violation matter to wind its way through the courts could take up to an year. Does anyone want that kind of hassle and a shut-down of all business related marketing for a full year?

• In essence, consumers have become competing publishers and distributors of copyrighted content. This ability makes enforcement difficult because of the sheer number of potential defendants, and has led some to question the proportionality of traditional enforcement tools when applied to individuals.

And just where do they get off on telling me that I can’t distribute my own photography unless I do it through “traditional” methods such as putting it in a gallery?

From what it appears, it seems that the only interests this “green paper” is protecting is big business like Disney, Paramount and other movie production houses or photo-agents like Reuters, Getty and Corbis. As a photographer, I’m not impressed. I don’t think big business should be dictating how a small business runs or how we small business owners distribute our own work.

One proposed method for addressing websites dedicated to piracy, and the one that has generated the most controversy recently, is directing ISPs to block the public’s access to them. Restricting U.S. access to foreign-based websites dedicated to piracy could serve to reduce infringing traffic. As discussed above, while under current law injunctions requiring ISPs to block foreign websites are theoretically available, they have not been sought by right holders for a number of reasons.

And again, this is where it gets sticky. Anyone can accuse someone of a copyright violation and get the site taken down; without first verifying that the EXIF data on the photograph is legitimate. So if I have a beef with someone on an online forum and I really want to be an asshole; I can turn around and take a photo that is similar to his and proclaim that he copyright infringed me, in the process, shutting his entire website down and thus eliminating competition.

As a creative, I respect the copyrights of those who create and that includes big movie houses which make movies and recording artists who write their own songs. However I do bristle when it comes to the two trying to speak on my behalf as a visual arts creative in still imagery. Most of the points that they have made cover song-recordings and movies. They have no insight into what governs still imagery as an industry and have lobbied on big movie-houses and recording artists benefit with no inkling of what goes on in photography or photography sales. As a result I do not support this legislation, nor will I ever support this legislation as it currently stands. With the removal of places such as YouTube, we visual creatives such as photographers lose our main connection with others to place our “how-to” photography videos, and “updates” on what we are currently doing. It takes away our interaction with our clients and essentially makes us a faceless corporation. People like Jared Polin – site Fro Knows Photo, built up a burgeoning business on how to videos online. There are people who are disabled, who instead of going on the government dole have opted to go into photography and have built up a business, thanks to networking and online presence. These people are the ones affected by this SOPA 2013. Creative arts shouldn’t be a genre for the rich corporations only and that is what they are making this into.

It’s time again to fight for our rights. We did it in 2012, we’ll do it again.

Secret Look At SOPA from BossOfPoundInIt's insightful video.

So, WHO is asking for SOPA to be passed? The very idiots who distributed the software to DO IT! Yep, it's a conspiracy..."

My video on SOPA and it's ramifications to photographers.

If this goes through we're all going to suffer the loss of our being able to market our own creations outside of our local areas.

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