We Stopped #SOPA (For Now), But Here’s How It Would Have Killed Your Business

23 January 2012 Entrepreneurship

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There’s a lot of news surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA in the last couple of months. It’s aim was to expand the ability to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property. It’s measures, however were extreme.

The vote for the bill would be have been today but has been postponed due to the widespread online protests from hundreds of thousands of sites including Wikipedia, and Google. While the postponing of the bill is a victory, it’s only temporary as another bill, ACTA is on the way. Entrepreneurs need to know what the affects of such a bill would do to businesses.

Online businesses would no doubt be affected but how exactly? We hear from six different entrepreneurs on how exactly it would have affected their industry.

1. The End Of Independent Publishing

Specifically, SOPA will harm any site or business that relies on user created content. Secondary liability becomes a felony with SOPA, meaning that people can be held legally liable for felony charges if someone else commits copyright infringement using their tools. Further, sites that even LINK to copyrighted content could be blocked under SOPA. This means that sites that rely on user-created content would have to hand-check every piece of content they post.

What does this mean for Independent Publishing? Sites like Smashwords, Createspace, Kindle Direct, Pub!It, and Lulu perform a great service for Indie Publishers. They allow for distribution of their material without the need to stock a warehouse full of books that might not sell.

Under SOPA regulations, these sites would have to hand-check the content of every book that they print or digitally distribute for instances of copyright infringement. Even if we lived in a fantasy world where it was possible to know about every copyright under the sun, it would be impossible to hand-check the millions of submissions to these sites.

Wait times for print on demand and digital distribution would be excessively long and the salary to pay employees to read millions of books (many which may never make so much as ten dollars) would not be worth the profits.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Amy Strickland, Chief Web Officer

Matter Deep Publishing, www.matterdeeppublishing.com

2. Making It Significantly Harder To Start Business

MyCorporation is an online business document filing services company, which essentially means small business owners use our expertise and knowledge to help expedite the processes of incorporation, trademarking, and anything else they need to do in order to create a state-recognized company.

Because of this, we are inextricably tied to the creation of small businesses. Anything that makes creating a small business simpler is a major boon to us; people are often afraid of taking that first step in creating their business, so if making the plunge becomes overly difficult, fewer and fewer people will look at that route as viable

SOPA threatens our business, and the wider world of small businesses, because it does just that – it can create a legal maze that most potential entrepreneurs simply don’t want to deal with.

High-tech and internet based entrepreneurship has been one of the largest benefactors to the American economy in recent years partly because the barriers to entry are so low and various strong advertising networks exist, ready to provide an alternative revenue source if the product or service doesn’t sell as well as hoped.

SOPA, if passed, could slap an injunction on anyone working with an advertising network thought to be in violation! Small business owners will have to keep a lawyer on retainer just in case they accidentally run afoul of a law created with little understanding of how advertising networks, search engines, and online hosting even works.

I completely understand the desire to stop piracy, but the SOPA is a poorly thought out act that would not only be bad for our industry, but would be bad for all internet-based companies by threatening a vital source of income and forcing small business owners to contend with yet another pointless and confusing piece of legislation.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation

MyCorporation www.mycorporation.com

3. Disruption For Any Business Selling Custom Products

SOPA has the potential to greatly affect any industry or company that sells solely custom products. Potential customers are reluctant to purchase a custom product without first seeing examples of products done in the past for previous customers. For example, our company, which offers mainly custom embroidered patches, currently has a website with galleries of patches being displayed.

Under SOPA, in order to remove any potential for a penalty, we would have to contact each individual customer for each patch image, asking for permission to display it. This would literally consume weeks of time–time we cannot afford to spend on such an endeavor. And since we are an Internet-based business, if our Website shut down, so would our business.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Marisa Brayman,

Stadri Emblems www.stadriemblems.com

4. Not Even Artists Support SOPA

As an internationally recognized artist & designer you would think that I would support SOPA. However, this law, like gun laws will do little to stop the crooks and will only give the government more power to interfere into our lives and businesses.

While I never like having my art and designs pirated, I dislike government suppression even more. I cam from a home in which several languages were spoken because our family had been run out of several countries due to religious and political oppression. Once you give the government one inch of your rights, they eventually take the whole mile.

Specifically how SOPA will affect the art and design industry?

The problem is that the law is so vague, complicated and stacked in favor of large media production companies that it really is hard to say.

What most artists and designers with whom I have discussed this issue fear is that some government bureaucrat will decide that purple is property of Microsoft or Disney and any one else who uses purple will be banned/ from doing business on the internet. While some download piracy is cut, dried and obvious–when you give government the power to shut down sites pretty much on their whims, one has to ask if the party in power will in effect punish members of the opposition–or shut down the sites of the competitors of major donors to their side.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Pablo Solomon, Artist & Designer

musee-solomon www.pablosolomon.com

5. Affects The News Industry

Bikerumor.com regularly publishes spy shots, leaked images and advanced news on bicycles, components and technology. Being a blog-based media outlet, we also regularly reference, quote and link to news and stories from larger publishers. In the first case, any major manufacturer could claim that the leaked images were copyrighted material. In the second, a competitive publisher could claim we inappropriately used copyrighted material. Under SOPA/PIPA, both cases would give them to right to block our site and revenue. Virtually every “news” website, from the Wall Street Journal to Wired to Engadget all the way down to us, participates in these actions so the effect would be chilling across the entire web.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Tyler Benedict, Founder / Editor

BikeRumor.com www.bikerumor.com

6. Would Stop Social Media In Its Tracks

The potential side effects of SOPA would take away freedom to connect with the public via social networks. You see, SpaceCraft is a boutique
hospitality design firm that uses Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. to engage with our audience and promote projects.

All of our social networks are interlinked and because one would have to verify every source in order to post any type of content, I mean who has time for that? Major #Fail as they say. Social media sharing can become too difficult, especially retrieving permission to post when dealing with multiple clients thus generated content would become blocked and unsearchable. Inability to connect with the public on a daily basis would slow down the progress of our business.

Thanks for the insight provided by:


Anastasiya Kuzmina, Head of Marketing

Spacecraft Group www.spacecraftgroup.com

So what now? Stay connected with what’s happening:

#ACTA, @StopActaNow, @ffii, @EDRi_org, @laquadrature

Created By:

Chief Community Officer at TeenBusinessForum. I believe that successful and ethical entrepreneurs make the world a better place. To make that a reality, I help empower teen entrepreneurs that will be the next generation of business leaders.


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