Content Marketing, , Marketing Automation

PIPA/SOPA: How Free Content Might Kill Us

Many companies are blacking out their sites in an effort to fight the Protect IP (PIPA)/SOPA Act that’s under review here in the United States. Rather than climbing onboard the wagon and shutting down my site, I thought it would be more constructive to share my reaction with you.

We have over 2,500 blog posts that promote technology that assists agencies and marketers throughout the world. We’ve never charged for any of our content, nor would we. When we are pitched, we often take the time to review the product or story – and we post the information at no cost. We’ve had incredible notes from companies that said that we were the only blog that took notice and it led to significant exposure and growth for their tools.

We’re on a first name basis with many in the technology and public relations industries because we’re eager to help. While other blogs like to rip apart a company or technology, you’ll find that our posts are overwhelmingly supportive. We want you to succeed. We want you to succeed with solutions. We want to find those solutions.

Other companies are supporting us through sponsorships. Zoomerang (now SurveyMonkey) was our first official sponsor, a free online poll software that has significantly enhanced our writing and interactivity with our readers. Delivra is an email marketing company who provides content and research for email marketers. Right On Interactive is a leading automation marketing solution who is helping us understand customer lifetime marketing.

With our sponsors and advertisers, we’ve been able to host a marketing podcast, are developing a great email newsletter, we’ve begun developing videos and we continue to enhance the experience of our site. We even have a mobile application right around the corner! Webinars are on our short list as well. All of that is free to you – our readers. While we don’t profit from the blog directly, the funds are invested to help you. Of course, we benefit by having a premiere blog… but hopefully you do, too.

This might change.

Today, we had a meeting with our local representatives in Indiana to discuss our concerns with the Protect IP act and SOPA. While the leaders were responsive, they didn’t say whether or not our representative was supporting the bill. Here’s some additional information – but please read my notes below with my concerns.

As far as our representatives are concerned, the DNS blocking has been overstated and requires a third party to determine whether or not to actually block the site. The verbiage leans in the direction that the only sites that could get blocked are foreign sites. I’m not an attorney, so I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

What can happen instantaneously, without due process, is that a site that is deemed as supporting copyright infringement could be removed from search engines as well as all means of advertising revenue blocked. This could happen without notice and without the ability for a site to defend itself. Our search engine visits and our revenue are the lifeblood that allow this blog to continue expanding. In other words, if a corporation heavy on legal savvy who wishes to go to war with the content we share… our blog could be strangled to death with no recourse.

I was reassured on the phone that this was highly unlikely, that we’d be able to get representation and fight the issue. Here’s the problem… that takes time and money that I don’t have as a small business. So, rather than fight, it would be best for me to fold the site and go back and work for a big company. That’s frightening.

Washington is a city full of attorneys. They often don’t remember that those of us without the legal resources don’t get to defend ourselves adequately. This, in my opinion, is what the Protect IP and SOPA Acts have been written to do. They are a tool of a dying industry… a last gasp to try to prevent the inevitable. The analogy I provided was a storekeeper who refused to put locks on their door. Since they can’t figure out how to protect themselves, they’re now asking the government to guard it for them.

I’m not writing this simply from a single viewpoint of a blogger. We provide content as well with the expectation that our copyright be respected. At times it hasn’t been and I’ve taken action. I’ve been able to block sites, report them to advertising systems, and have other companies – like stock photo companies – with deeper pockets go after them. That means little ol’ Doug has been able to thwart infringement and fight it without the need of the government to get involved. Of course, this isn’t about my intellectual property though – it’s about the movie and record industry deteriorating profits.

It’s tragic. And it’s unfortunate that our political leaders are actually thinking about doing this. Even more tragic is that a democratic leader, Chris Dodd, is now the leader of this force that will crush the very core feature of the Internet – the ability to share information freely. This is a bill that will further empower those with deep pockets… and remove the opportunity from the powerless. It will impact every user on the Internet, including you.

Please take the time to read the fine details and understand how it will impact you, your content, and your business. You need not be American, the Internet doesn’t have borders we can put forces on… and those outside the United States are at greater risk than we are. Read more at Stop American Censorship.

4 Comments

  1. 1

    Doug,

    Your remark that “Rather than fight, it would be best for me to fold the site and go back and work for a big company. That’s frightening.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head there.

    Maybe I’m a bit biased as a small business owner too, but everything I see from politicians across the board is encouraging us to take a job as a cog in the greater system.  There’s little encouragement for Americans to get back to our entrepreneurial roots & the “American Dream” has been turned into some sort of “entitlement” package.  Big business gets bailouts while small business often can’t get a loan nowadays.

    All of that to say, the SOPA & PIPA Acts seem right in line with that. I certainly hope both get fully shot down, but knowing the lawyers in Washington, this won’t be the last we hear of these sort of Acts.

    Press on brother, and keep do what you’re doing.

    Brian

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     Brian’s comment hints at something that has been happening in our
    country for much of the last 150 years, that being the efforts of large
    entities like the government, to control the lives of the relatively
    defenseless. Our government has created social programs that essentially
    take away any sense of personal responsibility and inner-motivation
    from individuals causing them to be so dependent on the system that fear
    of discomfort or injury keeps them from leaving (our 79-week long
    unemployment insurance program is a perfect example).  Our government is
    slowly but surely taking strides to extinguish entrepreneurship by
    taking the away the rewards it may hold for individuals (through taxes,
    regulations, socialism, and more) and by refusing to recognize that it’s
    one of just a few things that allowed America to grow into a world
    power from it’s inception to well into the 20th century.

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