Recently, we sat down with Brian Rowe and Marcus Barnes-Cannon to discuss Protect IP and what it actually means to not only our community, but anyone that uses the Internet.
Brian Rowe (http://twitter.com/#!/sarterus) is a professor and long-time contributor to nonprofits supporting IP. Currently, he is working with the National Justice Project while teaching at Seattle University School of Law and the University of Washington.
Marcus Barnes-Cannon is a third-year law student at the Seattle University School of Law with a focus on intellectual property. He recently spoke at Gnomedex as part of the Seattle Interactive Conference on the matter of Protect IP and its impact on both commercial and non-commercial users.
The Protect IP Act is a set of legislation that would dramatically change the way the government and copyright holders handle potentially infringing sites. If the DoJ or the copyright holder deems a site in violation, they would have the authority to go directly to various search engines, domain registrars, and social networking sites to have the site pretty much blocked from anyone being able to access it. This, of course, prior to any trial or due process that one might imagine needing to come before such a drastic action takes place.
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a counter legislation currently being proposed in the House which takes a different (yet equally drastic) approach to combating piracy. By granting the copyright holders the ability to cut off the funding of these sites by directly contacting their advertisers and financial institutions, the RIAA or MPAA would essentially have the power to put you out of business if they deem your site in violation of copyright.
With either legislative proposal, the media conglomerates, RIAA, and MPAA would essentially have the power to shut businesses down without due process. Imagine having the fate of your site determined by the same legal bodies that have prosecuted children and put their families out of house and home because they installed a program like Kazaa on their parent's system without knowing the implications. If this is the type of drastic legal action they would take to a kid, imagine how quickly this same body would respond to a site that may be equally infringing, whether they know it or not.