SOPA/PIPA and due process …

Modern civilization believes in due process that is the person who is accused has the right to a defense before being punished as a guilty party. Copyright law is filled with grey lines; Sopa punishes web site owners who are now required to be judge and jury on if user submitted content is a copyright violation, and he may be punished even if a federal judge would agrees with him in court.

The majority of copyright issues are not as black and white as “he or she copied a song and made a music video and posted it on you tube.” Clearly a case of copyright violation, but if the video is not a music video but music was playing on a nearby radio then we start to get into the grey. One question that a court would look at under current law is does the newly created material, the video, cause the older created material harm? A music video playing the song could take sales away from the official music video, mp3, or CD. A few seconds of a song, in the background audio, of a video of a dog barking at the mail, does not cause the song to lose sales … in fact it could cause more people to get the whole song because they like it.

Under current law if somebody harms the value of a copyrighted product by copying it they pay a fee. In other words they become purchasers even if nobody else would of purchased the original product. A judge hears both parties side to determine if a copyright violation has taken place.

Under Sopa papers are filed by the copyright holder or enforcer, MPAA, to take down the site and to block it. These are fast tracked through the legal system with merely a judge approval the same as he would approve of a search warrant, but the results are that in all cases where the website owner is making money on his site – his income is shut off, even if he did not know because a user posted a humorous image of a super hero that could be mistaken as a Disney character.

Sopa/Pipa go to an extreme that will cause harm to jobs and innovation on the web. It is not a measured response. It is like beating a child with a stick because he was late, even when the facts say he did not know what time it was because the clock had stopped and he could not of determined what time it was.


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