SOPA, Innovation and Potential Global ImpactAcross many social networks and many blogs, you may have noticed a lot of discussion of SOPA. There is a clear explanation on CNNMoney but, in a nutshell,  SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill going through the US Congress that is supposed to eliminate copy infringement and penalize offenders. There are plenty of people out there with rogue web sites who steal innovative and creative products. These rogue websites are located outside of the US but they This threatens not only the competitive edge of the companies who has intellectual property and products stolen. According to a letter to the editor of the New York Times, the US Chamber of Commerce, it “threatens 19 million jobs.”

No one is advocating for online piracy

What is at stake is that the bill is poorly written in its current form. Fortunately this week, support has eroded and perhaps the sponsors of the bill will take the opportunity to improve the language so it actually targets these rogue websites. Artists, musicians, film makers, entrepreneurs and other content creators should have their copyrighted material protected. No question. It just comes back to how the bill is written and can it do what is intended?

Could innovation be stifled?

There have been discussions about how to regulate the Internet. As you know, there is everything on the ‘Net. But one of the things that makes the Internet so attractive is its openness. Now we have so many ways to communicate, collaborate and share with one another new ideas for business. We’re redefining how we interact on a personal and professional level. And this is changing how business is conducted. Not only are companies and partnerships formed but what is truly intriguing is the capacity to the varied ways people can connect to create and produce intellectual property.

Since there are provisions in the bill to shut down sites that are alleged to have violated a copyright. This means that sites would be blocked by ISP’s, be removed from search engines and be denied the ability to collect payment from online payment services (ex. Paypal). It is unclear how a site could defend itself from false accusations. So if a site aggregates information or users interact with one another, there could be an allegation of an infringement or intellectual property or the ability to enable an IP infringement. Result: the site just disappears.

What could happen globally?

It seems to me that a number of small and mid-sized businesses will not only cease to exist. Cloud computing, social media sites and many other advantages that the Internet provides an avenue for these smaller companies to compete, attract and serve their non-US customers with lower costs and easy access.

Non-US businesses may find that there are just too many obstacles to doing business in the US. SOPA could have a chilling effect as there may be fears that it is a form of censorship and potential legal issues.

Want to add your thoughts on how SOPA could positively or negatively affect how business is created and conducted?

Join us on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, on Friday, January 20th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. We want to hear what you have to say.

Certainly it’s clear that I have some grave concerns about SOPA in its current form so my bias is negative. The US House and Senate have to create a bill that will be cognizant of what is really going on online, what laws currently provide adequate protections, the types of products and companies that are created and how this could adversely affect how business is conducted. Still online piracy is a problem.

What would you suggest?

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