The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is currently proposed in the U.S. Congress. If passed, it would allow court orders against Internet domains (entire websites), both foreign and domestic, that were found to be allowing illegal trade in copyrighted material.
The Economist describes SOPA’s provisions:
The bill aims to cut off Americans’ access to foreign pirate websites by squeezing intermediaries. Rights-holders, such as Hollywood film studios, will be able to request that a credit-card firm or advertising network stop doing business with a foreign site; or ask a search engine to take down links to the site; or ask an internet-service provider to block the site’s domain name, making it harder to reach. The intermediary then has just five days to comply or rebut the complaint; after that the rights-holder can go to court.
I am afraid that this bill, if made law, would cause Etsy, where I sell my crafts (with no copyrighted materials in them, except my own) to be shut down.
If you live in the U.S., contact your senators and representative and let them know that they should vote against SOPA. In the House, the bill is HR 3261. In the Senate, the bill is S.968.
This is a copy of what I wrote my representative:
I am writing to you to tell you to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, HR 3261). There are many concerns with this bill, including its effect on the usability of the Internet, but I want to tell you about how it will affect me.
I own a small business, Lizbeth’s Garden. I make and sell handmade beaded tassels and other crafts. All my creations are my own invention and do not involve copyrighted materials. I sell my creations through Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade goods. Etsy is the main outlet for my items. If Etsy were to shut down for any reason, I would lose over half my revenue.
Unfortunately, some people, through ignorance or malice, sell copyrighted material on Etsy. Right now, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides for the copyright owners to notify Etsy and have the materials removed and/or the offending shop closed down. The rest of Etsy and the law-abiding shop owners continue to function normally.
The provisions in SOPA for an entire domain to be shut down for copyright violations frightens me. Am I to lose half my revenue because of a few bad apples whom I do not even know?
Vote against SOPA, HR 3261.
Feel free to use my letter as a template for writing your own Congress-people. Be sure not to copy it exactly. Make sure you have the correct bill number for whom you are writing, and replace the info about my business with your own concerns.