Last week, President Obama may have nixed the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, but it undoubtedly is not the last we will see of the bill. Created initially to stop large pirating websites such as from copyright infringement, SOPA was aimed to save the mainstream entertainment industry from a continuous loss of profits. However, SOPA’s fine print has left user-generated websites such as, and in danger as well as our first amendment rights. The internet is a platform of creativity and SOPA would immensely impact that. With an upcoming election, be sure that the SOPA fight is not over.

The term “copyright” has been thrown around loosely in this debate, gaining substantial concern in growing industries such as e-commerce and online market retailing. As businesses that run purely on the internet and involve substantial consumer interaction, the risk of infringing copyrights is high even if the business isn’t the one to post the content. User-generated content like reviews, comments and other types of posts that are now encouraged, will likely turn sour.

Only the Big Fish Survive

As a part of the government controlled internet proposition, sites could be terminated without any investigation making it very easy for larger companies to eliminate their competitors one at a time. Since online retailers link to an extensive amount of content within the site and outside, problems are bound to arise rapidly. If “undesirable” content is posted or linked to a site as a review or comment, Big Brother will have the ability to take down the site. said:

“…the bill would require online companies to almost impossibly police their own users while simultaneously taking responsibility for their potentially offensive actions.” (By the way, this kind of reference would also be inhibited)

In some cases, small market retailers might not be directly affected. However, if a client is flagged and shut down for pirated material, retailers would lose that business. It begins as a trickle effect until only select companies survive.

Search Engine Negativity

SEO is a well-versed commonality in the online retail world. In the similar fashion of product shelf placement, a business would, of course, like their product to appear first. In order to lead consumers to a particular product, sometimes copyrighted words or phrases are used. However, one false link to unwarranted content or copyrighted keyword could trigger a shutdown. This SEO strategy would no longer be accepted. Inevitably, the entire concept of search engine optimization would be dead.

No Comeback Kids

Once a site is flagged, the recovery process would not be an easy task for small businesses. Search engines will be prohibited to include sites that were eradicated, Google Adwords would have to stop advertisements and Internet Service Providers (ISP) would be required to block access to the site. Offenders of the SOPA laws would also be unable to work with Pay Pal or other online payment plans making it impossible to work directly with consumers. The website itself would remain intact, but the possibility of someone finding it and risking their own online moniker is slim.

Additionally market retailers, along with everyone else, can say goodbye to social media as a source of marketing because those websites, too, would inevitably be shut down. For smaller businesses, these platforms are essential for branding a name. Fliers, billboards or ads are a costly expense and are commonly overlooked.

For right now, we are safe from SOPA and its equally evil twin PIPA, or Protect Intellectual Property Act. Bills like these will not only steal our freedoms, but require several steps backwards in most technology-based industries. Just keep a keen ear and an open mind as these bills will continually be resurfacing.

As always, we welcome your input and look forward to the conversation; click here to leave a comment. For an overview of the purpose of this blog take a look at the initial post here.

This article was written by:
Kim Manning, Sage Tree Content Editor

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1 comment to SOPA

  • The internet is a global frontier where anything goes and copyrighting music, text and visual art is now akin to copyrighting air. The SOPA legislation would have created online monopolies and potentially inhibited eCommerce, not to mention, this particular legislation would have been categorically unenforceable. And workarounds such as freenet have already positioned themselves to profit from new e-regulations.

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