Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act

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There is legislation currently being debated in the US Congress — the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives — that would grant copyright owners (Hollywood, the record labels, etc) unprecedented power to shut down or block websites that host even a single piece of copyright-infringing content. This means that if, say, someone found a single instance of copyright infringement on Kickstarter, all of Kickstarter — every project — could be taken down until it's removed. As you can imagine, this would be disastrous for everyone involved, and it would punish an entire community for the bad behavior (or honest mistake) of one person.

Should it pass, SOPA would pose a real danger to sites like Kickstarter, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube under the justification of preventing copyrighted content from being illegally shared. The truth of the matter is that copyrighted content is already policed by a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That law requires websites to take down infringing content once they’re notified of it. It’s a common-sense approach that has guided the web for the last decade.

Copyright holders are not satisfied with those rules in the face of massive industry change. Instead they, along with many in Congress, are pursuing a bill that threatens the very fabric of the web and the communities that have risen from it. It’s a short-sighted and dangerous approach, and today, November 16th, we’re joining others in encouraging everyone to contact their representatives to let them know that we’re opposed to these bills. You can take action through American Censorship Day or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or you can find out how to contact your Congressman here or Senator here.

To be clear, we are not supporting piracy or platforms that exist to host infringing content. However we cannot remain silent while the legal foundations behind our rights to creative expression on the net are threatened. We hope you agree, and that you’ll join the movement to stop this bill. Thank you.


      we need our freedom and that is what its all about to be free and have choice,,

    2. Missing avatar

      PJ STENTZ on

      IF you're reading this online , you really should take just a few moments to share with everyone you can ! NO ONE LOOKS OUT FOR WE THE PEOPLE except EFF ! The Corps want to steal what we have , and raise raise raise rates too . hmmm .. where have I heard this before .. oh yeah *FREE* cable tv with no ads , remember ???

    3. Leonardo Ramirez on

      Wholeheartedly agree!

    4. Missing avatar

      Stephen E. Morton on

      We need to find out who initiated all these bills and write them directly with our concerns. Writing a congress person who has no clue will only lead it to be tossed into the trashcan. DO what that lady did with Bank of America and start an online petition AND go right to the source of the bills!

    5. Missing avatar

      Matt Hurst on

      He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine

      In the process of sending a letter now. @Matt Hurst

    6. Keith Olson on

      Hmmm... 'Occupy Washington'?

    7. Joel Bergvall on

      I'm sorry, but this is completely misinforming and factually inaccurate. To say that this bill will in any way limit any freedom of speech or freedom of expression, as so many commentators on this topic claim, is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. "American Cencorship Day?" You have got to be kidding?!

      The bill will give lawmakers the right to shut down website only when they DO NOT COMPLY. To say that this threatens Kickstarter, Tumbls, Twitter and YouTube is wrong. It would only be a threat to these sites if they refuse to take reasonable steps towards removing stolen material once prompted.

      As the law stands now the victims of content theft are powerless to do anything to the thieves other than ask them cicely to stop. If they refuse, and keep selling your goods at the proverbial street corner, too bad for you.

      There a sites online that make millions of dollars selling advertising on sites made up entirely of copyrighted material. This is direct theft, it is illegal and the law needs to catch up with the times and give us the right to stop them. THAT is in the best interest of freedom and democracy.

      Entertainment is the largest export industry in the US, if we allow thieves to steal that from under us the entire entertainment industry will collapse. If your favorite filmmaker can't pay rent, he won't make any more films. If a band can't sell albums they will stop making music. Why should we stand by and let that happen?

      These bills are important for millions of industry workers, and they need to pass. Please do not spread misinformation, check your facts.

    8. Missing avatar

      Savannah Taube on

      Lamar Smith(R-TX) and 12 intial co-sponsors got the ball rolling on this one. Funny how quickly this happened after the video was put on YouTube of the judge beating his daughter. Hmmmm..... Funny the senator pushing this bill to be passed BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR is also from Texas. Wish we could get bills in and pushed like this for the economy, jobs, etc. No just another law limiting information on the internet.

    9. Missing avatar

      Ellen on

      I am disappointed that a site so fundamental to launching indie films would come out in opposition to this legislation. Really, have you checked out what is happening online lately and WHO profits from it. Today's piracy isn't about "sharing" or distribution, it's about theft for profit. Take away the profit motive and you will provide content creators with a level playing field to offer their content to consumers/audiences.

      Filmmakers and other indie artists are working hard to adapt to changing times and utilizing ways to distribute their work efficiently online. However, no matter the meme about new business models, the fact is we are up against an online business model predicated on the desire to make money. It's not surprising really. Just like legit business, the black market operators have moved online. I don't imagine many folks who oppose this law protest when warehouses full of counterfeit products are raided, yet somehow it's not OK to shut-down similar operations online. There is much mis-information circulating around this law and while everyone's entitled to come to their own conclusions about whether it's a good idea or not, I would suggest really looking into the matter before jumping on the bandwagon against it.

      Like it or not, the fact is that today's piracy is facilitated and largely driven by the cyber-lockers. While there are some sites whose business model is predicated on legal content, the vast majority of cyber-locker sites survive and thrive through piracy. Take a look at,,,,, list appears infinite and grows longer by the day.

      Cyber-lockers have supplanted P2P torrent sites as the go-to destination for both pirates and those looking for "free" content. Now, with one click of a mouse, consumers can download or stream their favorite movie. Same goes for music, e-books, software, etc. End-users don't have to figure how how torrents work and how to put the various pieces of a file together....cyber-lockers make it as easy as iTunes to obtain content. For content creators it's a nightmare as it's hard to compete with FREE.

      Why the rapid growth? Well, it's a very profitable business based on what is, essentially, a pirate pyramid scheme. The cyber-locker sites offer "affiliates" cash-rewards for uploading content (not vetted for ownership btw). Rewards are paid out based on how many times said content is downloaded, the more times it's download, the more money the "affiliate" earns. In this way the cyber-lockers recruit armies of end-users who believe they can get rich, or at least make a few bucks, by uploading as much attractive (ie. illegal content) as possible and spread the download links far and wide.

      Online forums act as the middle-men in this equation, offering an organized an easy to use catalogue of download links for movies, music, software, e-books, etc. The forums earn revenue by teaming up with the cyber-locker sites and sending new "affiliates" there way. Like a virus, the desirable links are copied and spread to additional forum sites.

      At the top of the pyramid is the cyber-locker site itself which earns its profits (quite massive by all accounts) through advertising (you know the ubiquitous AdSense type pop-up ads populate every site) and by enticing users to become "subscribers" and thereby gain access to "high-speed" downloads. Essentially for $10 bucks a month one can download an entire feature film in 3 minutes as opposed to an hour. Ultimately it's a very lucrative proposition with no apparent downside. The more traffic the site attracts, the more income generated.

      As for the oft-mentioned DMCA-it's utterly useless. Sure, you can spend hours upon hours sending DMCA notices to the multitude of cyber-locker sites ripping off your content, but the files are NOT removed, only the links. What this means is that within an hour or two a BRAND NEW link is generated that leads to the same infringing content. Essentially you end up playing a losing game of whack-a-mole. Content creators are powerless to stop this rampant theft and nothing, to this point, is being done to stop this.

      Hopefully the Protect IP act will contain language that forces the cyber-lockers to become more pro-active and thorough when it comes to removing infringing content. Youtube has developed a fairly effective content ID system that allows content creators to easily identify and remove content OR, should they choose, to MONETIZE it by earning a % of the ad income. Reasonable measures can be taken the protect consumers and content creators. The time has come to work together to find a solution. If nothing is done, the quality and diversity of content available will suffer and jobs will be lost in increasing numbers. It's in everyone's best interest to find a solution. We can work together to refine the law and make something us all.

      As a filmmaker confronting online piracy when our film was first released, I began documenting what I've found in a blog: If you do oppose this law, you may want to read a bit about who profits from piracy at whose expense. I think it's pretty clear that if one targets the illicit profits, one can make a real dent in the problem.

      For the record, indie filmmakers, who often don't get any theatrical release are even more vulnerable to online piracy since we depend on back-end revenues through legit online sales, DVD, etc. to pay off production debts, SAG obligations, etc. Our film is available worldwide, subtitled in multiple languages, on various legit online platforms. However, when Megavideo can show a FREE HD stream with the click of a mouse all I can say is that it's hard to compete with free.

    10. Missing avatar

      Ellen on

      I would also suggest watching a video I put together based on a presentation about piracy (and who profits from it) that I gave at Canadian Music Week last March. It offers a look at the state of online piracy today and offers a useful counterpoint to the video posted above:

    11. Missing avatar

      Jaygosi on

      @Joel Bergvall
      >>To say that this bill will in any way limit any freedom of speech or freedom of expression, as so many commentators on this topic claim, is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.<<

      Obviously, you don't know how vague sections 103 and 104 are in regards to just a 5 day notice of infringement, with sites such as Reddit, Sourceforge, or even 4chan being held liable for user commentary. We won't discuss foreign websites since Rojadirecta has already been put up as a "rogue websites" for providing links to content that has not been deemed illegal in a court of law.

      >>The bill will give lawmakers the right to shut down website only when they DO NOT COMPLY. To say that this threatens Kickstarter, Tumbls, Twitter and YouTube is wrong. It would only be a threat to these sites if they refuse to take reasonable steps towards removing stolen material once prompted.<<

      Look at who is funding this legislation. That's the MPAA and RIAA, who have made billions on their current business model. There ARE no reasonable steps. They point a finger and suddenly a site has to comply or else.

      >>As the law stands now the victims of content theft are powerless to do anything to the thieves other than ask them cicely to stop. If they refuse, and keep selling your goods at the proverbial street corner, too bad for you.<<

      There are a number of studies that say piracy is not theft, and actually benefits companies. See also: Valve software, Rovio, or Youtube gamers profiting off of infringement by making available videos of games and walkthroughs or reviews.

      >>There a sites online that make millions of dollars selling advertising on sites made up entirely of copyrighted material. <<

      [citation needed]

      >> This is direct theft, it is illegal and the law needs to catch up with the times and give us the right to stop them.<<

      False. Infringement is not theft, legally and economically speaking.

      >>THAT is in the best interest of freedom and democracy<<

      Censorship of websites such as Wikileaks does nothing for freedom nor democracy. Censorship of Reddit because people like to link to material is neither freedom nor democracy. As explained, the determination of "rogue websites" are very vague. So much so that The internet Archive, ebay, and Craigslist are considered rogue websites by those promoting this bill.

      >>Entertainment is the largest export industry in the US, if we allow thieves to steal that from under us the entire entertainment industry will collapse<<

      In 10 years of the DMCA, there has not been a collapse of the entertainment industry because people can find infringing material. The GAO has said their methodologies are debunked, and if you read "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies" you find that piracy can be reduced by more legal alternatives of product instead of government censorship. If the old content entertainment industry wants to make money, the better option is not legislation, but competing with piracy through better services instead of going after websites that people enjoy visiting.

      >>Please do not spread misinformation, check your facts<<

      I should ask where you got your facts from. There is no evidence backing you up save a moral imperative that has no basis in reality. Piracy is inevitable so long as the internet is the World's Greatest copying machine.

    12. David Newhoff on

      Everyone who has called this blog hysterical, fear-mongering is DEAD RIGHT. It is all too easy to sound smug, intelligent, and hip while propagating complete nonsense, but that's what this and many blogs like it are doing. I am an indie filmmaker who successfully launched a film using Kickstarter, and I'm dismayed to see this site fostering misinformation that has the potential to harm independent artists. These bills are in no way a threat to free speech or the Internet as we know it. They simply strengthen our ability to shut down rouge sites that seek to steal American-made media -- not just Hollywood's media, your media, my media, every indie artist's media . We have a bad habit of passing on headlines without doing our own research, assuming that if it comes from a source we believe is "on our side," it must be valid. Sadly, the sheer onslaught of blogs like this one keep well-meaning people, even artists themselves from learning the real facts; and in many cases, this is the goal. Google, for instance, has a vested interest in seeing these bills defeated, but before you decide whether or not Google (or Kickstarter for that matter) has your best interest at heart, check the facts for yourself. I urge anyone who makes a living through creative work to read the blogs at Each of these hysterical concerns is refuted with facts excerpted from the bills themselves. Copyright Alliance has neither the time nor the resources to build a spin campaign -- just some tireless IP lawyers providing real information. If you're an independent artist, you owe it to yourself to learn more.

    13. Missing avatar

      Mpg on

      As an indie film produce who has stopped making full features because I can no longer compete with the pirates, I am thankful that Lamar smith and other co-sponsors of this bill to help creators like me. This bill in no way abridges anyone's 1st amendment rights. There is no 1st amendment right protecting stolen property. This bill only targets sites that traffic in stolen property. 1st amendment scholar Floyd Abrams has said that this bill has no free speech problems. Free Speech Champion Senator Pat Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, who oversees the Senate Juduciary Committeevand is one of the few Senators out there whobwill stand up for free speech rights - has a companion Senate bill. The Aurhors Guild testified in the Senate that they did not have free speech concerns.

      Read the bill. It only goes after sites dedicated to stolen property. The Stop Online Piracy bill is one of the most important things the Federal Government is doingvto help independent filmmakers.

    14. James Rodovich on

      @David Newhoff: "I urge anyone who makes a living through creative work to read the blogs at Each of these hysterical concerns is refuted with facts excerpted from the bills themselves. Copyright Alliance has neither the time nor the resources to build a spin campaign -- just some tireless IP lawyers providing real information."

      Contrary to your claim, David, it seems quite clear that Copyright Alliance does have the time and resources to build a spin campaign. According to its website, Copyright Alliance's board includes BMI, the MPAA, NBC Universal, and Viacom. (…) Further, according to the LinkedIn profile of the author of the article to which you referred, she is "the lead IP lawyer in the corporate legal department of Time Warner, Inc." (

    15. David Newhoff on

      And your point is what Jim? That's part of CA's membership, which also includes about 8,000 independent artists making an average $35,000 a year from their work. Do you think those people have the ability to fight piracy without the support of MPAA, et al? Moreover, those are CA's board members but are not actively producing any campaigns supporting these bills. If they were, you'd see them. Also, CA is transparent about its members. Take a look at and figure out who's funding them.

      Who do you think pays for the deluge of negative blogging and press that is generally self-referential and never cites any specifics from the bills themselves? Google. You're afraid of NBC Universal but not Google? One is a content creator that doesn't want to get ripped off any more than you do (assuming you're an artist), the other has a vested interest in "free" content. You think Google makes $9 billion from family videos of kids pouring cereal on their heads?

      Finally, I know first hand that CA is a very small organization that has not even a fraction of the resources to combat the volume of bullshit being passed around about these bills. The truth is most people aren't reading beyond the headlines and are simply sharing these rumors because they're trained now to fear both the government and big companies. You're being fooled by big companies into believing in a doomsday scenario; and if you're an artist, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

    16. James Rodovich on

      David, my point is simply that your characterization of CA as "just some tireless IP lawyers providing real information" is misleading. Copyright Alliance is closely affiliated with many of the large corporations that are enthusiastically lobbying for SOPA & PROTECT IP; they certainly are not impartial on the matter. And I don't understand what you mean when you say that these companies "are not actively producing any campaigns supporting these bills": a post on the MPAA's blog the day that PROTECT IP was introduced lists supporters of that bill, and their list includes almost all of the companies that I mentioned from the CA board. (!.aspx) And an MPAA representative testified before the House Judiciary Committee today to support SOPA. Perhaps you meant that they haven't produced campaigns that were *targeted at the public*?

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a civil liberties organization that focuses on online rights such as privacy and free speech. EFF does publish a list of its board members (, and its most recent financial report ( summarizes its sources of funds.

      FWIW, I'm a tech entrepreneur, not a filmmaker or musician; while I understand the problems that piracy creates for those industries (indeed: software gets pirated, too), I think that SOPA and PROTECT IP are the wrong prescription. I don't think they'll put a serious dent in piracy (pirates are clever and motivated enough to devise workarounds), and the collateral damage that the use of these blunt tools will cause to social websites and their users are too great a cost.

      And who says I'm not also afraid of Google? ;-)

    17. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    18. David Newhoff on

      Jim, I say what I say about CA because I know the organization personally and can tell you that it's tiny. MPAA, et al do not spend money or labor on anything akin to the machine that is currently scaring everyone into thinking these laws will "End the Internet," "End Freedom of Speech," etc. So yes, I did mean campaigns aimed at the public because that's what a campaign is. Clearly, the content producers will lobby and testify before Congress; it's their content they're trying to protect.

      EFF's board is clearly no indication of its funding source, although the financial report is -- tech companies with vested interests that run afoul of protecting content creators. What you don't see in that report is the money EFF has received from Google, which by way of settling the Buzz class action lawsuit, paid nothing to those harmed but instead paid millions to several organizations claiming consumer advocacy but are actually doing Google's lobbying for them. That's not conspiracy mongering; it's fact. Google is the 800 pound gorilla in this fight.

      The bottom line is the language in the bills themselves, which is anything but blunt. It is strict and narrow, clearly stating the definition of a rogue site and the conditions under which it can be taken down. It is precisely because pirates are clever and motivated that new legal tools are required to protect content creators like me, like most of the people using Kickstarter right now, and like you, frankly, if you ever develop a piece of software you'd like to be paid for. The collateral damage is fear-mongering. It won't change a thing other than the fact that these entities make money on piracy right now, whether they admit it or not. This is Phillip-Morris not disclosing how much money it makes from teen smoking.

    19. rowenacherry on

      @Jim Rodovich Do you think that this sort of EFF-published headline is accurate, truthful, and concerned with legitimate free speech rights of law abiding folks?

      "Big media and its allies in Congress are billing the Internet Blacklist Legislation as a new way to prevent online infringement. But innovation and free speech advocates know that this initiative is nothing more than a dangerous Hollywood wish list that will compromise Internet security while doing little or nothing to encourage creative expression. Contact Congress today!"

      Advocates of the bill include organizations of policemen, firefighters, various trades unions, small-press authors, individual musicians, independent film makers, troopers, attorneys general, and pharmacists. So much for "Big media/Hollywood". So much for a "Hollywood wish list">

      The legislation is the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA), not "IBL". Giving a Bill or Act a different name and attacking it for that name is hardly ethical or responsible in my opinion.

      The best thing that can be done to encourage creative expression (by the original creators) is to make sure that digital parasites don't hijack their content and profit from it while destroying the ability of the original creators to make a living.

    20. rowenacherry on


      Here is another thoroughly irresponsible (in my opinion) headline from EFF promoting distortions of the laws. If, as has been plainly stated many times, no one believes that YouTube can be identitifed as a "site dedicated to copyright infringement" (it patently isn't!), then Justin Bieber is in no danger whatsover from SOPA.

      Quoting EFF
      "The House's proposed copyright bill might impose criminal penalties for the types of public performances that Justin Bieber used to make his name - posting videos of himself doing cover songs. To raise public awareness about the bill, hilariously posts images of Justin Bieber where he looks like he’s in prison. Apparently, Justin Bieber, or his lawyers, don’t think the campaign is funny, but makes an obviously transformative use of Bieber’s image and engages in political (aka core First Amendment) speech."

    21. Yancey Strickler

      Good discussion so far everyone, but let's make sure we keep it civil.

    22. James Rodovich on

      David, given that it's Congress and not the public that will be voting on SOPA, I don't think I understand why one tactic for influencing representatives "counts" but others do not. On the contrary, EFF, CA, MPAA, and Google all have interests on the subject; they all are campaigning in one way or another; none are completely impartial.

      I think it's naive to say that there won't be any collateral damage. Intellectual property is a complex subject, and precise boundaries on fair use, first sale, public domain, etc., are frequently contested, and we already have examples of the DMCA being abused (e.g., SOPA targets entire domains rather than individual pieces of infringing content; it is therefore a blunter tool than the DMCA, yet it lacks any due process protections for the allegedly infringing sites. (

      @rowenacherry: I don't agree that it's irresponsible or unethical to refer to a piece of legislation by something other than its given name, inasmuch as a bill's given name is essentially a marketing term chosen by the bill's author(s) which describes its goals in non-specific and inoffensive terms. (Who could disagree with the "Defense of Marriage Act," "USA PATRIOT Act," "No Child Left Behind Act," "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act," "America Invents Act," etc.? There's nothing to disagree with in any of those names -- they're chosen exactly for that reason!) Given that H.R. 3261 would appear to compel ISPs to maintain lists of allegedly infringing domain names, and prevent users from accessing domains on those lists, I don't find the term "internet blacklist legislation" to be particularly misleading. (I could do without EFF's capitalization of that term, however.)

    23. David Newhoff on

      I'm not suggesting for a moment that all sides aren't lobbying Congress and/or testifying. I'm saying the hyperbole and lies are coming from one side; and they're being propagated by many of the people the laws are designed to protect -- many of them my friends. The content creators aren't bombarding the public with false statements and scare tactics. They're not making this an ideological fight because it isn't one. It isn't about freedom or innovation or any of that. It is simply about strengthening existing laws to make it possible to squelch foreign-based sites that are solely designed to commit piracy. If DMCA can be abused now, it can be abused with or without these changes. Sure the Scientologists will try to throw their weight around, and there are remedies for that; but why does that mean we content producers don't deserve to have our property protected?

      Yes, the question of fair use is frequently a matter of debate and a court case. So what? That's like saying we're still debating over marijuana use, so let's leave the cocaine cartels alone until we sort it out. Off-shore pirate sites steal content from American creators, and many of the victims are small, independent entrepreneurs who have no resources to fight these thefts on their own. The most vulnerable artist is the independent photographer. You, like so many of my colleagues, have become so mistrustful of government in general (and not without reason) that you forget it is does occasionally serve a purpose.

      On a side note, I'm entirely offended by "Defense of Marriage," "USA Patriot," and "No Child Left Behind," but that's me.

    24. James Rodovich on

      David, I was referring specifically to the names of those other laws, not their contents. The names are aspirational and (to varying degrees) euphemistic, because that sort of name tends to sound better than more specific & descriptive ones would. The laws themselves may be repulsive.

      The problem that I see with your analogy is that people disagree about whether certain drugs ought to be illegal, but NOT about whether any particular substance actually is or isn't illegal. ("Does this baggie contain an illegal substance?" Give it to a chemist and find out!) With IP, we have both types of debates, because it's much harder to unambiguously define (e.g.) "fair use" than it is to define a chemical. So we're turning over new enforcement tools to IP owners, without having a clear picture of what can and cannot be enforced, and without giving accused parties a chance to defend themselves before being put out of business.

    25. David Newhoff on

      I know you were referring to the names, and so was I. In particular, the very words "Defense of Marriage" make my skin crawl for their sanctimony, but that is a digression. And I knew I was walking into trouble with a loose analogy, but my point was simply to say that rogue sites are criminals operating outside US jurisdiction and harming US businesses. This is indisputable. To argue that we cannot go after these sites on the grounds that fair use can be a gray area, is a bit like saying don't go after the drug lord because drug use is a gray area. It's not the best analogy, I'll grant, but it's the best I had in the moment.

      All that aside, though, you continue to repeat things that are widely distributed myths. We do have a clear picture of what can and can't be enforced. The language is very restrictive. IP owners CANNOT willfully and maliciously put anyone out of business by using these enforcement tools, and the attempt to do so carries strong penalties. Seriously, Jim, unless you're a Russian site selling media you haven't paid for, these laws won't change your world in the slightest, except to offer you better protection against getting ripped off.

      Here are some facts about how "easy" it is to shut down a site:

      First,the bill requires a notice/counternotice procedure, pursuant to which an entity seeking help from a payment processor or advertising network in dealing with a rogue site would have to plead all the facts supporting its case, subject to penalties for perjury, and the accused site would have an opportunity to challenge those assertions. Second, the bill imposes damages, including lawyers’ fees and costs on anyone who misrepresents the facts about a site alleged to be a rogue site. Third, if the dispute is not resolved through the notice/counternotice process, the private party is granted the ability to seek a Federal court order determining that a site is dedicated to infringement – subject to all of the procedural protections available to all US litigants under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Only if a Federal Court determines the allegations to have been proven, can the private party seek enforcement of the court order by third parties like payment processors or advertising networks.

      In short, it's a major undertaking to make Google responsible for the rogue site it might be benefiting from, so taking down your little blog or whatever is really not a concern.

    26. Missing avatar

      Jamie on

      Yancey – please explain the retractions or “edits” to Kickstarter’s blog post by Meghan O’Connell on June 23, 2011 titled ‘Kind of Screwed’.

      Specifically, as late as July 20th it read:
      “In short, a sobering reminder to those of us doing creative work that sometimes the law can interfere even with our best intentions.”

      But on July 21st instead said:
      “And this is just as good a time as any to reiterate what we say in our Project Edit page:
      Don’t use music, images, video, or other content that you don’t have the rights to. Reusing copyrighted material is almost always against the law and can lead to expensive lawsuits down the road. The easiest away to avoid copyright troubles is to create all the content yourself.”

      Is it short sighted to assume that a law form 1998 is sufficiently protecting artists (those who make up your core customers) who are using today’s internet?

      Especially when those at Kickstarter say the existing laws are an interference?

      “This means that if, say, someone found a single instance of copyright infringement on Kickstarter, all of Kickstarter — every project — could be taken down until it's removed.”

      Big deal?

      A.) First, it isn’t that simple.

      B.) What do you mean “if” – has there ever been such an instance on Kickstarter or not?

      And “Three”.) If Kickstarter simply plays by the same ©/IP TOS/laws they ask users to adhere to, why would there be any problem with Kickstarter’s removing stolen copyrighted material?

      What is Kickstarter’s current policy - how have you delbt with the illegal use ("if" any) of copyright infringing material on the website thus far? It has NEVER happened yet? You removed the material? Or was the material still used anyway?

    27. James Rodovich on

      David, again, even an alleged drug lord has due process and a presumption of innocence. This isn't the case for alleged copyright infringers under SOPA: his website and mail server are taken offline, his revenue streams are cut off, his existence is purged from search engines, etc. If he decides to challenge the infringement claims, it's terrific that he can seek redress if the claims are proven false. But that's an expensive risk, and it's often easier to acquiesce even if you believe you're in the right. (For example, see (though that's an issue with patents, not copyrights or trademarks), or…, or the dispute over the "Kind of Bloop" album art to which Jamie referred above.) Keep in mind that not everyone is Google or NBC Universal, with an in-house legal staff...

      I don't think anyone's arguing that "rogue" sites set up specifically to profit from copyright/trademark infringements don't exist, nor that content creators shouldn't have tools to fight them. But I don't agree with your assertion that the concerns that have been raised about SOPA/PROTECT IP's likely effects on free speech, innovation, and legitimate businesses are all "hyperbole and lies"; therefore I don't believe that SOPA & PROTECT IP offer the correct tools that are appropriate for the broader context.

    28. Missing avatar

      Jamie on

      Hey Jim,

      If Yancey’s statement above is the truth of the matter, and the decade-old DMCA law means that “copyrighted content is already policed” adequately enough to protect his customer base/users, artists, and individual copyright holders alike, why would one of Kickstarter’s employees write a blog that a third (former) employee’s legal settlement is “a sobering reminder to those of us doing creative work that sometimes the law can interfere even with our best intentions”?

      Would you be willing to explain exactly how the existing law is an interference? And please bear in mind the Yan-man has contradicted her by saying the DMCA has been the “common-sense approach that has guided the web for the last decade.”

      After one month, O’Connell’s blog was changed (numerous times) with no mention of the edits. The version in late July offered a very different reminder and reiterated Kickstarter’s policy.

      Also, the KOB example you gave was settled out of court between two individuals. Neither party had any in house legal team like Google or NBC Universal. Baio himself said it was NOT a David vs. Goliath situation...

      If you wanted to try and get everyone even more worked up, you should have made the comparison using your wishful thinking that it would be like if the KOB project used the music with out permission and tried to go up against a powerful in-house corporate legal team like the one at Sony (who was the music’s copyright holder).

      Sadly, you will never get to make the argument because the producer contacted the music label and gladly paid to license the copyright protected music from the start.

      Why they felt it was the right thing to contact and license work from a large music label, but risk a legal argument with an individual artist over fair use is anyone’s guess…but in the end, neither party wanted the risk, so they settled out of court.

      As for your point about the financial risks associated with using copyrighted content is too costly to defend, keep in mind this quote about how some people feel about injecting personal finances in to a legal discussion about copyright:

      "I don't know Thomas Hawk and I don't remember ever meeting him or communicating with him online. But I read Hawk's blog posts and disagreed with much of it. His repeated name-calling, leaps of logic, questionable grasp of copyright law, hostile attitude, and the repeated inaccurate (and irrelevant) references to each of our finances were frustrating."
      - Andy Baio

      Or, there is also this sound advice from Kickstarter’s Meghan O’Connell:

      “Don’t use music, images, video, or other content that you don’t have the rights to. Reusing copyrighted material is almost always against the law and can lead to expensive lawsuits down the road. The easiest away to avoid copyright troubles is to create all the content yourself.”

      "almost always"? Sounds like another pesky legal interference!

      How about:
      Not only is it risky and illegal, but also a violation of KS's TOS/user agreement to use copyrighted material unless you have a license or permission in advance from the owner/copyright holder. We recommend purchasing a license, having permission, or creating your own original content.

    29. David Newhoff on

      Jamie, thank goodness you're here, and I'm very glad you've perhaps shed a light on Kickstarter's angle on this. Jim, I understand your instinct to mistrust these things but not your belief that a site can be taken down so easily as you portray. If you can cite language from the bills and not from 3rd parties with vested interests, then so be it; but I don't think you can because, again, the laws are pretty tight. You're assuming loopholes without identifying any. At a certain point, we believe what we want to believe regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

    30. Missing avatar

      Jamie on


      There are many, many issues at play here, two stand out in my mind:
      Legal Liablity, and of course, money.

      1.) LIABLITY - the Kickstarter TOS/user agreement clearly states that the user/customers assume most of the legal liability. It is a reasonable policy considering the artist is responsible for what content he/she creates. This isn’t a particularly interesting read, but here is a link to KS’s TOS:…

      Of particular note:

      “Content and License
      You agree that the Service contains Content specifically provided by Company or its partners and that such Content is protected by copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents, trade secrets or other proprietary rights and laws. You shall abide by and maintain all copyright notices, information, and restrictions contained in any Content accessed through the Service.
      Company grants each user of the Site and/or Service a worldwide, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable and non-transferable license to use, modify and reproduce the Content, solely for personal, non-commercial use. Use, reproduction, modification, distribution or storage of any Content for other than personal, non-commercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from Company, or from the copyright holder identified in such Content's copyright notice. You shall not sell, license, rent, or otherwise use or exploit any Content for commercial use or in any way that violates any third party right.
      Third Party Intellectual Property — Copyright Notifications
      Kickstarter respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask our users to do the same. Kickstarter may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, terminate the accounts of users who infringe the intellectual property rights of others. Kickstarter will remove infringing materials in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if properly notified that content infringes copyright.”

      2.) Of course, the all mighty dollar bill – MONEY. In exchange for a service, Kickstarter charges creative minded people a percentage of their successful fund raising campaigns. With out the creative ideas of others, there is no fundraising, and Kickstarter would have no revenue stream.

      A few months ago, the quote below was the first thing on their FAQ section, it is still there but the format/order has been updated.

      “Does Kickstarter take some percentage of ownership or intellectual property of things made through Kickstarter?
      Absolutely not. Project creators keep 100% ownership of their work.”

      In other words, Kickstarter doesn’t make any money licensing their customers/user’s creative content – on the flip side, they don’t loose any money if the work is stolen or suffers from a copyright violations.

      One would think it would be in the best interest of their business and customers/users to have a Content and Licensing policy similar to Kickstarters, but then I get to wondering why their founder is satisfied with a law from 1998 to regulate the internet – especially since we all recognize the internet is obviously exactly the same as it was (13) years ago?

      I’m wondering if a user/customer who violates Kickstarter’s licensing terms would ever tell Kickstarter’s lawyers that their copyrights, trademarks, service marks, patents, trade secrets and other proprietary rights are just a creative interfearence?

      And more importantly, how would Kickstarter’s lawyers respond to the theft of their IP? They probably would take serious action, after all, protecting that IP is how the company is able to license and charge customers/users for their services and products. With out it, anyone could use Kickstarter’s IP for free.

      Maybe Kickstarter should have a financial stake in their customers/users work/© – perhaps then they might be more interested in protecting it from theft/infringement.

    31. Missing avatar

      Jamie on

      On second thought, what is/has happened to content creators when they rely on a large company to set the value of their work:

    32. Missing avatar

      Jamie on

      Yancey, as the founder of Kickstarter, a company with extensive Content and LIcensing terms that legally protect your ©, trademarks, and IP, can you please comment on this absolutely epic comment above by Jaygosi and his efforts support of your efforts to stoping the Stop On-line Piracy Act:

      "There are a number of studies that say piracy is not theft, and actually benefits companies. See also: Valve software, Rovio, or Youtube gamers profiting off of infringement by making available videos of games and walkthroughs or reviews."

      What is Kickstarter's position on piracy, and do YOU believe your customers/users benefit from piracy? How about those who he identifies as "infringers" who are profiting off of your customer/users work by making it available (is he talking about the "infringer" doing reviews with or with out the © owner's permission).

      Has Kickstarter ever had to take legal action to enforce all those ©, trademark, and IP terms listed in the Content and Licensing TOS? Or are people permitted to just ignore them?

      Piracy is not theft, and profiting off of infringement, well I guess if there are "a number of studies" out there is must be true - instant classic!

    33. Missing avatar

      John Hancock on

      Lets not forget who is opposing this blog post: according to their twitter profiles, two film makers (Joel Bergvall & David Newhoff). These guys are probably worried that their livelihood is in jeopardy because of the fear mongering of the MPAA. You just have to watch the brilliant documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated to get a sense of how big a political / manipulative player the MPAA is.

      My question is - will this hot topic fold into the Occupy movement and create further explosive tension between the wealthy and the working class? Film makers aren't exactly the working class of society.

      With freedom of expression at stake, my money is on it getting a lot hotter before it cools down!

    34. Missing avatar

      Jamie on

      Hey John,

      I’m neither a wealthy film maker or the founder of the world’s #1 crowd sourcing platform, so I’m just as eager as you to read Yancey’s response to the questions above about his/Kickstarter’s stance on their ©, trademarks, and IP policy vs. piracy and infringements.

      And the customers/users who respect Kickstarters extensive ©/IP TOS are also looking forward to understanding more about why he thinks a law from 1998 is all anyone needs to protect their work from piracy and infringements.

      Speaking of the fear of loosing one’s livelihood:

      “My question is - will this hot topic fold into the Occupy movement and create further explosive tension between the wealthy and the working class? Film makers aren't exactly the working class of society.”

      We all know that stereotypically the vast majority of film makers are a selfish, and lavishly wealthy bunch – but aside from that, we can also all see that is exactly why so many filmmakers need Kickstarter’s services and © protected IP content and services to try and help with their individual fundraising in order to scrape together enough money to produce/create a film…?

      In answer to your question, coming from someone who lives near Zucotti park, the OWS movement certainly has an element of frustration about the working vs. the wealthy and you can bet that there will be more tension between both those in favor and against piracy and copyright infringement on the internet.

      Keep in mind, Kickstarter LICENCES (makes their money – and a lot of it!) their copyrighted, trademarked, IP & proprietary content and services to creative individuals and working artists who need money/help raising capital. Since Kickstarter users/customers typically need help with financing film projects, are you saying typical client is mostly a class of filthy rich film maker types who just want to hoard their ©/IP? And how is that different from Kickstarter’s TOS? What original content is Kickstarter creating? Or are they just licensing the same services/content to different individuals?

      Have fun looking up how much Kickstarter earns, but consider this: they don’t have any financial stake/risk in the working artist’s project whether it fails, becomes a huge success, or if it is released and pirated, or infringed upon. Like any smart business, they get their money upfront - Kickstarter has nothing to loose on the back end, they take a percentage of the fund raising and move on to get a percentage of the next creative thinkers successful fund raising campaign.

      I’ve read what Yancey has to say, but I haven’t seen him address any questions about why his company uses those Content and Licensing terms to make millions of dollars, but then writes a blog in opposition of the Stop On-line Piracy Act. If the law from 1998 is all anyone needs, why does Kickstarter have those TOS? If he prefers to embrace piracy and infringements, why does Kickstarter bother to protect their ©/IP?

      Speaking of OWS, this situation looks like one very successful company that earns a lot of money and expects it’s customers/users to respect it’s ©/IP, trademark, proprietary content. But in turn would they rather their customers/users “share” their work or at least let Kickstarter “self regulate” piracy and infringement in order to help individual workers make a living?

      One set of rules for the wealthy and powerful companies, another for the class of working creative individuals below – yep, it sounds like OWS to me too.

    35. David Newhoff on

      John, I don't need the MPAA to worry about piracy threatening the livelihoods of content creators, and I am anything but a wealthy filmmaker. If I were, I would not use Kickstarter and don't really like people of means who use crowd funding. Piracy wipes out little guys long before it harms the big guys (photographers are among the most vulnerable), and as I said above, the only hope for the middle-class content creator is the financial power of the larger content creators to develop anti-piracy methodologies and lobby for tougher laws. Exactly whom is the MPAA harming in your opinion?

      And what this has to do with OWS is unfathomable. Occupy is a reaction to nearly a half-century of policies that have steadily built a new Robber Baron class in America. It's high time people got angry about it, and I hope it results in a cultural shift in this country about who we are as people relative to market values. How that relates to laws that are very narrowly designed to go after foreign pirate sites is something you'll have to go to great lengths to explain rationally. You seem to make the mistake of others in thinking these bills are ideological, which they are not.

    36. Yancey Strickler

      As things are going off-topic we're going to close comments on this thread. Thanks to everybody for commenting.