SOPA, The Cancer that will kill the Aniblogosphere… in America.

In the past few years, there are notable and controversial legislations that deemed as the apocalypse of Anime Industry and its fandom. Just last year, I have shared my thoughts on Tokyo passing a very controversial ordinance called “Bill 156” also known as the Nonexistent Youth Bill, which aims to restrict sexual content. Up to this day, the industries’ impact of the bill is still questionable, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. (Image Source)

 If you haven’t noticed through American Censorship Day, the House had a hearing yesterday on an extremely controversial bill supported by Hollywood and corporate executives that will change the Internet forever. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, also known as E-Parasites Act) aims to take down sites that serve copyrighted content that is outside of the US. In reality, it intends to censor the Internet and take down many innocent websites, social networking sites, search engines, etc. This bill inevitably caused a lot of outrage from normal people, various technology companies (Google, Facebook, Mozilla and eBay), the Electric Frontier Foundation and various human right groups.

So, what is the Stop Online Piracy Act? It’s a piece of legislation drafted by the House of Representatives, which aims to give government power to shut down any infringing website. They can block sites on a DNS (Domain Name Server) level, making it impossible to visit the site just like the Great Firewall in China. Websites can become blocked just from one infringing link or material on the page. On the other hand, website owners can get impacted with funds being cut off until they shut down and the possibility of imprisonment up to 5 years. To add salt to the wound, this act will effectively kill Fair Use rights, DMCA safe harbors along with putting restrictions on alternative DNS, VPNs, proxies, SSH, and TOR privacy that can bypass the blacklist. Seems scary? That is only the beginning.

How about the bill’s impact on Anime? Although I am against streaming for other mentioned reasons, people can still watch their favorite shows considering that majority of the shows are now being legally streamed and obtainable on physical media. However, it mostly hurts few of the titles that will possibly never get licensed or simulated. As a result, subbing these shows will become a substantial risk that fewer groups will do it. Also, sites like Anime Suki (including Anime Suki Forums) and torrent index sites like Tokyotoshokan will also get blocked under this law. However, I’m more concerned about the impact to the Aniblogohpere and the community as this will have a huge impact on what I do.

As for the effect on the Aniblogosphere and its community, this is where things can get ugly. Considering that what we write is based on derivative content along with the use of screenshots from shows, this gets very dubious. Normally, using copyrighted material in reviews, parodies, etc. are protected under Fair Use. If this act were to pass, we would have to ask permission from the companies to use their content or get shut down and possibly go to jail. This not only affects blogging, but social networking sites and anime communities we depend on to communicate with others. Sites like Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Tumblr, MyAnimeList and Anime Planet could get censored or shut down because of the difficulties to regulate user generated content. Not only that, podcasts, music reviews and “let’s plays” will also become banned content. Therefore, it can effectively exterminate the entire Anime Fandom from the Internet.

Overall, Stop Online Piracy Act is an extremely dangerous bill that won’t stop piracy, but end freedom of expression. Let’s face it, piracy is here to stay and there’s nothing we can do to stop it completely. However, companies can limit the impact by adjusting their business models so that people can get motivated and use the legal alternative. Even so, I feel that it’s not the government’s job to protect a company’s outdated business model. Therefore, the bill needs to be scrapped for the sake of preserving the greatness of the Internet.

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9 Comments… read them. Comments for this entry are closed.

  1. kevo says:

    Yeah, it definitely scary reading about legislation like this. The current state of affairs can be attributed to a combination of internet technology, human nature, greed, and the archaic state US Copyright law. I would be very surprised if the bill managed to pass with so much bad media pointed at it. Even then, I expect an Obama veto. He has been very adamant about protecting the internet from censorship, net neutrality or otherwise.

    If all else fails, I believe this bill is unconstitutional, as do several law experts. The government unilaterally taking a down a site violates the concept of adversary proceeding, among others…

    • chikorita157 says:

      Considering that the Republican Controlled house wanted to repeal Net Neutrality, which failed in the Senate, SOPA is probably the thing to undermine the whole thing. Aside from that, I’m quite frustrated of how everything is going, especially with Congress. They keep fighting and don’t really get anything done. What baffles me more is that the Republican House wants to create jobs, but ironically, SOPA basically kills internet and technology jobs, so I don’t know exactly what they trying to get. Not only that, people are simply fed up with corporate and lobbyist taking control of the government as demonstrated with the Occupy protests, and this bill is not made any better because its full of Hollywood lobbyists and such.

      Still, I have yet to hear anything from Obama about this bill since he supports a free internet. On the other hand, Biden did spoke out against it saying that it will do a lot more harm than good. But still, blocking the opposition of the bill and the lack of transparency in the hearings infuriated me the most.

  2. BeldenOtaku says:

    Agreed, piracy may be a problem, but restricting, as a whole, the availability of media on the internet isn’t the solution. User-generated content, in most situations, I consider to promote the original work itself. My blogging, while sometimes critical, is usually a promotional for the show being reviewed, I’m always writing (unless otherwise stated) with the goal of getting a reader to watch the show.
    To me, this seems like another case of over-emotional film tycoons upset at the thought of a few people getting their hard work for free…and then some technophobic congressmen and women getting behind it because “piracy” sounds scary, even if they don’t really know what that means or how little it should matter.
    Even if I D.D. all of the shows I watch, I’m still gonna shell out cash for things like merchandise and manga, so, in the end, they’re still making money off of me.

    • chikorita157 says:

      The main problem is that the politicians and the corporate lobbyists don’t know how the internet works. Every country is going to have different internets and therefore, it’s extremely not if, impossible to regulate the whole thing. Aside from that, there are many web personalities that uses derivative content to make a review, lets play or parodies such as the Angry Video Game Nerd. User generated content is what drives sales and companies should realize that. If this law were to pass, I feel that not only the internet will become a boring place, but it will also harm academia as well. So pretty much, everyone loses out and it’s a sad reality.

      • BeldenOtaku says:

        Agreed, it’s mutually beneficial for everyone to allow user-generated content. (Though there’s a fine line between homage and plagiarism, learn it, live it, deal with it)
        The main opponents of this currently thriving system are the short-sighted and ignorant heads of media companies and their pocket politicians who can’t look beyond immediate bottom lines to see it’s better in the long run to allow fans to create new content of their own. A media limited to its copyright owners is a media limited by the minds of a mere handful of people, while a media open to user-deriviations is a media that is set to never die and to continue generating interest and revenue for the savvy owners who aren’t too full of themselves to realize outsourcing content to fans is a great way to keep interest booming and content moving.

  3. Joojoobees says:

    I agree with your concern about SOPA, and I think you are right to point to lobbyists from Hollywood as the cause for this legislation. Regarding aniblogging, I think what we do is effectively market development for the IP owners. It is free advertising similar to a review of a movie or play in a newspaper, but you are right, the fools who put this legislation together don’t understand this, and haven’t considered the harm that they will do if they enact it.

    • chikorita157 says:

      I think they don’t really understand the concept of word of mouth and user generated content mostly because the movie and music industries (RIAA and MPAA in general) are so engrossed into fighting piracy over changing their business models. Stuff like Digital Rights Management and lawsuits over file sharers isn’t the way to motivate people towards the legal alternative. Still, I think there needs to be copyright reform since no work should ever have one over 20 years… but censoring the internet is not the right way to do that, nor it should ever be the government’s job.

  4. Yumeka says:

    I don’t understand politics very well but I did hear about American Censorship Day and signed the online petition (don’t know if it helped). It’s been a couple of days since this post so has anything changed in regards to SOPA? When will we know whether the bill will pass or not? I agree with everything you and other commenters have said. This almost sounds like fascism to me and that’s very scary. I of course really hope it doesn’t pass, but if it does, I hope it ends up not as powerful and it seems.

    • chikorita157 says:

      The bill haven’t been introduced yet as they had a hearing about it two days ago, but it’s still alive and opposition towards it is growing. Still, this leaves a lot of concern since this version combines the Protect-IP and Anti-Streaming Bills (S796) to something nastier, which will make it alot worse than the Firewall of China. Nevertheless, I hope congress wakes up and listen to the people by scrapping this bill all together since its harmful to everything…

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