Should Small Local Businesses Be Concerned About Internet Piracy?

by Joanne Steele on January 19, 2012

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stop censorship banner at ruraltourismmarketing.comIf you visited this website yesterday, you saw that we joined with thousands of websites in the protest against the internet piracy bills currently being considered by the House and Senate.

Why is RTMG concerned about SOPA and PIPA you might ask?

NOTE: Go to “The Problem with SOPA (And How to Stop It)” for a more detailed description of the problem and consequences written by Sonia Simone of Copyblogger Media.

This issue is hugely complex. It bumps up against my concern for rural small businesses for this reason:

If these piracy bills should pass, your internet presence, the thing I have been stressing is your key to future success, could be in jeopardy because of sites that you link to and who link to you!

I have stressed that “link love” is vital. You want sites to link to you to increase your authority. And you link to other sites that provide your customers with valuable information.

One of the unintended consequences of this law could be “guilt by association.” Your link to a site that is in violation of SOPA and PIPA could make you a guilty party also. And, the challenge is that everyone shares images, ideas, stories and more without awareness of the original copywrite and ownership of that material.

We and everyone else in internet marketing stress the importance of attribution and permission, but when someone shares something on Facebook or via email that has spread virally, the source is too often lost.

This worries Big Business, the source of pressure for this law. For you and every other small business, in most cases something about you or generated by you going viral is a good thing.

The most important point I have heard made in this debate is that people who don’t truly understand how the internet functions should not be creating laws to govern it.

Congress is so clueless about the issue, a significant number of Congressmen and Senators who are sponsors are also violators! They have images without attribution and copywrite material on their own websites and Twitter pages!

Do they or you infringe on copywite and ownership on purpose? No! It is a condition of “not knowing.”

So, what is to be done to address this very real problem?

The solution will not come out of a legislative body acting at the behest of Big Business. A panel must be convened including the best technology minds, internet security experts, legal experts and a smattering of tech savvy House and Senate members to sort this out.

The solution may be a long time in coming.

As a small local business owner, you have to deal with the dizzying speed at which everything online is changing. It feels overwhelming, trying to keep up with the latest best way to communicate online with your customer and make more money.

A solution must not stifle that growth and change. It must offer some protection for intellectual property without impeding the viral spread of new ideas. A huge job even for the best minds in the world.

Make the Call, Stop the Wall

Google End Piracy, Not Liberty

SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts

 

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