Maybe you have no idea what PIPA and SOPA are. That’s the first sign that something is very wrong, because these bills are being pushed through the House and the Senate without a word via the mainstream media. Why is that? The only people who benefit from these bills are big media giants who own the news networks. They don’t want the American Public to see what is happening until it is done.
I know that this setup sounds like a big line of liberal conspiracy theory, but listen closely. Two bills are in review right now that may change the internet forever. This change will not be for the better and it may destroy millions of American jobs. Supporters of these bills don’t care, because they don’t use the internet or even understand it. They understand that their lobbyists want it. They understand that their campaign fund comes from passing one or both of these dangerous, vague pieces of legislation.
If you are completely unaware of what these bills are, here is the quick and dirty of it. PIPA (Often called Protect IP) and SOPA are bills that would allow censorship of the internet. They intend to block foreign piracy sites, but the definitions in the legislation and the means with which they plan to do this would do nothing to stop illegal piracy and actually harm many legitimate, currently legal sites. Read the cited details here.
Why is this bad for authors?
Ah, I thought you’d never ask. If you took the time to read the article linked (and please do. I promise that 2/3 of the scroll bar is made up of comments and only 1/3 is the length of the article) you would already start to imagine how this could be bad. I’m going to outline a couple key reasons, though clearly the destruction of the internet would be bad, in general.
From PC Mag.
Corporations have a history of tying up small-business in unaffordable lawsuits, despite knowing they are wrong.
Ever hear the true tale behind A Flash of Genius? It’s a common story. Large companies have money to pay for lawyers, even if they don’t have a case. Legal proceedings take months or years. Small companies cannot afford to keep up with a legal battle, even if they are right. It’s the death of small businesses, to enter into a legal head-to-head with a corporation. Imagine what would happen if a big company decided that your book was a threat? Could you fight them?
Intellectual property rights lead to very tricky copyright battles.
Here’s the thing I’ve heard Mur Lafferty say many times: ideas are cheap. You cannot copyright ideas. You can trademark characters, but two books about a boy who finds out he’s an alien both have the legal right to exist. The problem is (as mentioned in the point above), you don’t have to be in the legal right to be crushed under a debilitating lawsuit. Not only can your site and your content be blocked by this law, but your funding can be blocked as well. If you sold 10,000 copies of that book you wrote about the alien boy, and then lost to a major publisher who saw your work as competition, all of your funding could be cut. Further, they could block advertising money you might receive from banner ads on your blog or views on your sponsored Youtube channel. You would be completely crippled.
Content delivery channels are all at risk.
Indie authors rely strongly on sites that rely on user-generated content. Under Protect IP, any site that even allows the possibility of copyright infringement could be targeted for take down. Let me list some of these sites for you: Blogger, Tumblr, Smashwords, Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter… are you scared yet? How about this: PubIt!, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Createspace. Now you see how bad this could be.
Of course this bill does have something in it to say that sites that thoroughly police their content would be OK, but how much time would it take to read every single novel uploaded to Kindle Direct to check for copyrighted material before allowing it to be sold? The waiting period would be months long. But let’s not kid ourselves by being so optimistic. In reality, waiting times are a non-issue because Amazon wouldn’t find it worth the investment to pay employees an hourly wage to read every novel uploaded to Kindle Direct. Would you risk paying a guy at least $45 to read a book you may never make 70¢ off of? How about a million books at that rate? Would Createspace or PubIt! take that risk?
It would be the death of independent publishing. Wouldn’t The Big 5 love that!
Are you fired up?
Head over here and use their automated forms to contact your representatives. Make it clear that anyone who votes for Protect IP does not have your vote next November.