Like many Americans, I took some time out today to contact my Senators and Representative about SOPA and PIPA. I also shared my letter with a friend of mine, who requested I diary it, so I am.
As a bit of background, I run two small online games, either of which could be shut down by SOPA/PIPA without any warning or recourse. They even provide for freezing my accounts with online banking services, making sure that I don't have access to funds to defend myself in court.
I live in Ohio, so Sherrod Brown cosponsoring this bill already had me rattled. But when I went to my Representative's page, I saw this:
Small business owners are being bogged down by burdensome regulations from Washington that prevent job creation and hinder economic growth.
This inspired my letter below the fold.
"Small business owners are being bogged down by burdensome regulations from Washington that prevent job creation and hinder economic growth."
As a small business owner, I'd like to bring a burdensome regulation to your attention. If enacted, it would certainly make me think twice about bringing on new workers or reinvesting profits into my business.
I am, of course, talking about SOPA. This regulation would allow my business to be shut down if one of my users links to content the MPAA or other copyright holders finds objectionable. It would allow the sites I advertise on to shut down if their users do the same. It would allow many of the sites that provide my infrastructure to do the same, going through users' content with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there is no violation.
And we know what that kind of overregulation does. It either gets handed down to me in increased costs, probably drowning out the thin margins we show now, or simply results in companies I need to do my business shutting their doors.
Now, I understand the value of Intellectual Property. My company is built on one Intellectual Property and has grown by expanding into another. Developing Intellectual Property is quite literally what I do.
But does that mean if someone links to a unauthorized copy of that property from Twitter that I should be allowed to shut down Twitter? No, of course not, that's ridiculous, but it's also what the regulation in SOPA allows.
And are we going to put this regulation in place, then just trust everyone to play nice? When we've already seen children and grandmothers sued by the same groups for copyright infringement?
Instead we'll see that chilling effect, as every link has to be gone over or censored. Many sites, mine included, will just have to cut their ties to the rest of the Internet.
Which is to say: destroy the entire point of the Internet.
So we're going to break up the Internet, wipe out some small businesses, drive up prices on others, and increase everyone's uncertainty? For what? Because the MPAA can't hack it in the free market and need the government to hold their hand.
Thank you, Representative. I hope that you'll stand up for me and the other small business owners here in Columbus by opposing this egregious example of over-regulation.