As a result of recent public attention, most of us understand the broader details of SOPA and PIPA, two pieces of proposed U.S. legislation designed to control piracy and protect intellectual property by regulating content on the internet. These proposals were debated in congress and ultimately shelved, partly due to widespread concerns about internet privacy and impediments to free speech.
But the conversation continues. And while SOPA and PIPA failed to gain support in congress, similar initiatives are already being drafted in the U.S. and around the world. The problems surrounding content ownership and piracy have not gone away, and without adequate intellectual property protections, businesses, artists, writers, and other content creators struggle to protect their interests.
Right now, for example, every business owner, innovator, and internet user should be keeping one eye on the progress of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This is an international agreement being negotiated in relative secrecy by 39 countries including Japan, the U.S., and 27 members of the European Union. Supported by many in the entertainment industry, ACTA will impose new criminal sanctions on copyright violators, and will likely lead to new forms of internet censorship and content control.
Internet marketers should also carefully follow the progress of ACTA negotiations. If enacted, this law may impose new restrictions on marketing practices and message distribution, which, in turn, may affect the price of paid marketing content, and may require more careful dissemination of images, sound and video.
Will ACTA be bad for business? Possibly. The free flow of information throughout the internet is generally considered a benefit to both business and society. But without control of intellectual property rights, producers remain unprotected, innovation remains unsupported, and content revenue streams remain uncontrolled. The answer will lie in the details of the legislation and the results of the international debate.
As digital marketers, we’ll be following these issues closely. Our position will be based on the needs of our clients, our partners, our community, and our stakeholders.
Image By: DonkeyHotey