Why SOPA Sucks for Bicycle Geeks

Today, many sites are going dark in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, Bill H.R. 3261 in the House) and its Senate counterpart, PIPA (Protect IP Act, S. 968). 

Gizmodo has an excellent description of the bill and its potential consequences. Craftzine/Make has issued a wonderful letter that shares their opinions on it. The gist of it is simple: If any Intellectual Property Owner doesn’t like the way their content is being used by another party, they can quickly and easily remove that site from search results, prevent payments and advertising to them and block their domain. The oversight of these actions is a joke, effectively letting the companies with the largest legal fund own the Internet and control what you see.

We don’t use Bikerumor for a political platform often. Ever, really, except to promote bicycle advocacy. But here’s why this matters to us. We occasionally post leaked documents, spy shots and press images before they’ve been officially released by their manufacturer. It’s not a stretch to imagine one of the big companies could use SOPA to claim we have illegally used their copyrighted intellectual property and seek to get Bikerumor shut down. Likewise, a competing media outlet could do they same if they felt our writers inappropriately referenced their articles.

And it’s not just us. This could affect any website, whether it covers cycling, technology, fashion or, most importantly, political and financial news.

While none of us imagine anyone in our wonderful industry would do such a thing, the concern is that they could. And they could do it all too easily.

As an entrepreneur, I believe market forces should steer the Internet. I believe in free markets and capitalism. I do not believe competition (or lack there of) should be mandated by government policy. Especially when that policy is all but written by the very companies it serves to benefit the most. These bills effectively suppress competition and crush small businesses.

If you enjoy the variety of viewpoints Bikerumor and other websites and blogs offer, I encourage you to email your Senators and Representatives and tell them to abandon SOPA and PIPA. Even President Obama and the White House do not support the current draft.

Sincerely,


 

Tyler Benedict, Founder & Editor

Now, back to your regularly scheduled bike news.

Comments

Jon Sparks - 01/18/12 - 11:37am

OK, but how DO you think Intellectual Property should be protected? Let’s not forget that copyright is vital for the survival of writers, photographers, musicians and lots of other creative types. We are not big faceless corporations, we are individuals and small business struggling to make a living.

Alex - 01/18/12 - 12:10pm

By ‘inappropriately referenced’ do you actually mean ‘copy/pasted’?

Sevo - 01/18/12 - 12:27pm

Well said Tyler. I’m with you 100%.

Pedalhound - 01/18/12 - 12:30pm

Great to see more people see how big this really is.

I could see Specialized pulling that kind of move.

guyonnabike - 01/18/12 - 12:36pm

So if this passes, Bikerumor would get shut down for all the content Tyler ripped off from Cyclingnews?

Chris - 01/18/12 - 1:01pm

Glad to see this appearing here too. It’s true that the spy shots we love to see pop up here could easily wipe this website off the cycling industry map. It’s a shame that the Big Media tailored this bill to their needs, so they can quickly and easily shut down the primary content thiefs, movie and music pirates. Whatever your opinion on piracy is, this is too widespread of a bill that will do nothing but turn the free Internet into a warzone of copyright complaints and government takedown notices. The free speech of smaller websites will be crushed under the immense weight and pressure of bigger businesses. You’ll eventually only be able to get information from underground sources and biased media outlets.

Ettore - 01/18/12 - 1:02pm

Tyler
I support you 100%. I will write my representative ASAP! and ask him to reject SOPA and PIPA. However, I will not write the Whitehouse; that will be an exercise in futility.

Topmounter - 01/18/12 - 2:05pm

I think you guys are missing the point…

Company X can take down News or Blog Site Y (i.e. the entire site is blacklisted in DNS) and due process is left to News or Blog Site Y to prove why they are not “guilty”… i.e. lots of time and money spent on lawyers in court just to get off the DNS blacklist.

Basically, if you want to report on anything negative or unflattering about Company X, you need to run it by their PR and Legal departments first (unless you have enough to cash to fight them in court).

Basically SOPA (House Bill) and the Protect IP Act (Senate Bill) dispense with the concept of “Innocent until proven guilty” and turn “Due Process” into a memory for anyone other than “Big Media”.

Brendan - 01/18/12 - 3:16pm

It’s not just what Tyler and the other editors post. Any hyperlink submitted in user comments could be enough to shut down and blacklist Bike Rumor. The editors would have to constantly monitor the comments section, or take it down completely.

Morpheous - 01/18/12 - 3:44pm

Lets be honest, any company that “Leaks” product info or pics is doing it with intent. There is no better exposure for the hype cycle of said product. (because people just love to have exclusive first claims to new information) ;-) So I would not worry about the major parts and bike manufacturers shutting down sites, it would not be in their best interest.

We do have to be concerned about general censorship and freedom of expression though. I wrote my elected officials yesterday. This is an important issue in much bigger circles than the bicycle industry.

The internet and global information sharing has become the thorn in the side for any entity trying to control the masses. Free thought and speech are critical to our individual survival. Do something today.

Evan - 01/18/12 - 5:25pm

Wow.

Clearly nobody here has actually read the bill(s).

I highly suggest doing just that before hyperventilating over some agenda riddled blog post or google article full of misinformation.

cxracer - 01/18/12 - 11:31pm

If these pass Specialized will be the only bike related site you would be able to access because they would have all others shut down…. not cool!

lol - 01/20/12 - 5:05am

When did bloggers become Entrepreneurs – aren’t half the ads on here Google ads and not sold to people who actually care in the bike business?

As much as the SOPA bill sucks, so does nicking a good portion of your content from legit sources who work hard to get their stories.

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