Stop Online Piracy! ...Or Not;
Creatives Vs. Internet Giants
January 3, 2012
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor
Note: On January 9, 2012, the author and trainer Bettye Zoller present the webinar, 2012 Voice Over Stategies, an idea-filled session from VoiceOverXtra - live with Q&A, and everyone gets a full recording and complete set of the slides. Details here.
Heard of SOPA?
That’s an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill being proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Senate version is called the Protect IP Act.
Don’t leave me yet! I KNOW this is dry stuff, but it's important to you.
BIG FIGHT, BIG DOLLARS
Congress is supposed to have both these bills under consideration this month, but already vehement supporters on both sides are polarizing for a fight, and huge dollars are on the line. More on that in a minute.
First, why you should care:
Let me try to paraphrase the stand-off in what I hope is easily-understood language.
ALL THOSE IN FAVOR ...
The genesis of SOPA is preventing billions of bleed-off dollars going to copycat pirates in foreign countries who steal and copy original creative works from content creators in the U.S.
Support in both houses of Congress is surprisingly broad, and even more surprising, the SOPA bill was authored by a Texas Republican - Hollywood’s newest darling.
SOPA’s supporters are the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the previously mentioned RIAA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, publishers, media companies (CBS, ABC), Major League Baseball, Random House, Viacom, BMI, National Football League, Time Warner, Comcast, Disney and more.
In short, all those guys getting pirated.
.... AND ALL THOSE OPPOSED
The opposition believes SOPA poses: "…a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity…”
That statement was delivered to members of Congress in a position held by a consortium of mostly Internet companies including Google, Facebook, eBay, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn.
Yahoo was so mad about it, they withdrew their official membership from the Chamber of Commerce.
GOT MY ATTENTION
SOPA first hit my radar in a late-December email about GoDaddy’s early support for SOPA.
GoDaddy is one of the top domain-name registrars, and makes tons of money on website hosting and other Internet service (a huge private-equity firm bought GoDaddy in 2011).
A grass-roots effort that began on social media site Reddit proposed to thousands of individuals in the email to withdraw all hosting and domain registration accounts as a reprisal for GoDaddy’s suppport of SOPA, and even included detailed instructions for how to switch that domain control to another provider.
The ploy worked. Within days, GoDaddy reversed its stance of support for SOPA.
Other content providers like video game producers Sony and Nintendo have also defected.
'INTERNET DEALTH PENALTY'
How would SOPA work?
From an excellent article on this debate written by Declan McCullagh found on CNET News:
"…It allows the U.S. Attorney General to seek a court order against the targeted offshore Web site that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It’s kind of an Internet death penalty…”
THE VICTIMS ...
According to opponents, SOPA would actually kill:
Opponents are not so against the idea of squelching piracY - but ARE against what they consider to be ill-conceived, badly-written, and grossly over-reaching verbiage in the bill.
Giant internet companies like Google and Facebook are so incensed, they’re considering a global "strike” to rally support.
If they do, you’d see a one-day giant poster on your screen asking for your support in fighting the bill INSTEAD OF your usual Yahoo mail, a Google Search Page, or your Facebook Friends.
AFFECTS VOICE ACTORS?
As a voice actor, where do you fit in?
Like most cultural clashes where entrenched political solutions are backed by powerful lobbies, and are opposed by equally-powerful industry strongholds, your position is a personal one.
As a voice actor, you may be very supportive of any initiative that protects our unique creative content from piracy. After all, our bread-and-butter clients are on the side of support for SOPA - the networks, radio stations, TV stations and ad agencies who need our services for their programming.
Then again, as a voice actor, you may also appreciate all the innovation, technology and freedom we enjoy in our new-found marketplace of the Internet.
America invented and has taken perhaps the last global technological lead it can legitimately claim in the advances of the online world and its periphery.
YOUR VOTE DOES COUNT
You may not feel strongly either way, or if you do, political apathy may have gripped you long ago. And you feel your vote doesn’t count.
But remember how close Bush/Gore was?
Your vote DOES count, and I hope this article helps you sort out your feelings one way or the other.
Now is the time for you to tell your Congress members and Senators about it.
TO LEARN MORE ...
For more about SOPA, check out:
Dave Courvoisier ("pronounced just like the fine cognac, only no relation”) is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He's become the voice over industry's social media and tech guru, and writes Voice Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.
TV bio: KLAS-TV bio link
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success