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Beauty Companies’ Support of SOPA Disappoints

Are you against SOPA? Did you know that a number of popular beauty companies, such as Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, and Revlon to name a few support this misguided legislation? (You can view a partial list of SOPA supporters here).  Beauty and Fashion Bloggers, you can add your link to register your opposition to SOPA at the end of this post.

Normally I would have a pretty picture on a  post, but this isn’t a pretty situation, so here is a black square, in line with other black out items that you might be seeing today:

black SOPA

If you are not aware of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the Congress and its Corollary in the Senate, The Protect IP ACT (PIPA), it is a bill seeking to expand the ability of law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online copyright violations. Now, that sounds fine on the surface, heck I hate copyright violators as much as the next person and have issued my share fair of cease and desist notices in the past to protect my own copyright, but the problem is that the legislation goes too far and is unworkable to the point where it could have serious repercussions on internet speech and business.

As originally proposed, SOPA and PIPA would allow the U.S. Department of Justice and  copyright holders a mechanism to obtain court orders against any website accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.  The act would enable courts to take a wide range of actions over even the most innocent and accidental act of infringement, including barring advertisers and payment facilitators from doing business with the site, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. Streaming of copyrighted content would also become a crime.

Now, imagine that you own a website, forum, or blog, and one day a use adds content that includes a copyrighted item. Under the current law, the owner can demand removal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and there are penalties for failure to comply. You would be notified, you would remove the offending content, and life would go on.  Under SOAP and PIPA, the entire site could be shut down before the owner has any chance to respond. While that might be fine for legitimate and serious copyright violations, the process could easily be abused and the impact on social sharing sites could be huge .  Further, the economic effect on multitudes of business, large and small are jeopardized by such a threat. For many smaller sites, a shut down also shuts off the owner’s ability to pay the bills.  The Act will also have a chilling effect  on speech, with sites being forced to highly censor themselves and others in order to proactively protect themselves. Smaller bloggers and those who seek to call out bad behavior by companies will may become hesitant to act, in fear that any references to companies, or images of their products or actions, could be labeled as a use of copyrighted material (read below for an example). Some predict that it would essentially cripple the internet.

Here is an example of how the legislation, which is meant to do good, could actually cause harm to beauty blogs such as this one: A blogger could place a negative review of a product he or she purchased with a photo of the item.  Perhaps they also include a photo of the product they found online or that was given to them by a PR person. The company, angered by the review seeks remedies under SOPA, which would essentially shut down the site. Note that it would not result in simply removing any copyrighted material, instead it could shut down an entire site without notice.  Also note that I mentioned items that might not actually be copyright violations. I would argue that they would not be.  I used those examples because, in the case of a photo, a company could attempt to argue that their logo shown in the photo was copyrighted, and in the case of a PR photo, I am aware of a past instance where a company demanded removal of such an image from a blog. I believe it was the Estee Lauder Company (A SOPA supporter) at that, and I had another blogger confirm their memory that it was Estee Lauder company, but I am not 100% positive in my recollection there.  In any event, in that example, the problem was remedied through communications sent under existing law, and the company was informed that the photo was provided to the blogger to use . Under SOPA, the company, if it felt so inclined, could cause the website to disappear for some time before anything was resolved. Now, imagine what this Act might do to your favorite larger sites such as You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter.  If you are a social media fan, you should be very concerned.

Members of the House and Senate have repeatedly shown little understanding of how the internet operates or a real understanding of the actual harm the legislation would cause.  Please contact your representatives and express your opposition to SOPA and PIPA!

In the meantime, the Estee Lauder company and companies under their umbrella are on the list of those who support SOPA and PIPA. Please express your disappointment in that!

Are you a Beauty or Fashion Blogger, or Blogger in a closely related area, and are you against SOPA? If so, feel free to add your blog link below to show your opposition to SOPA and disappointment in the companies that support it. (refresh the page if the link tool does not show)

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