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MLB Supports SOPA and That Should Bother You

By Mike Silva ~ January 18th, 2012. Filed under: Business of Sports.

Having trouble using Wikipedia today? That’s because the online encyclopedia is participating in an “Internet blackout” in protest of two controversial anti-piracy bills: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Reports indicate each has a good chance of being passed early this year. I think it’s important to understand this isn’t something falling along party lines, this is a fight by the establishment (i.e. corporations) to use legislation to stack the deck in their favor since our Fortune 500s have lost the desire to compete in a free marketplace. Even worse, they disguise it innocuously as if they are doing it to protect their trademark rights.

Gizmodo does a great job of laying out the issues for readers to understand. Wikipedia is asking for your zip code today, and they provide you with the contact information for your local officials.  Out here on Long Island its Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Chuck Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

In theory, this is an innocent bill. SOPA gives the ability of intellectual property owners to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. It lets IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance. All it requires is a single letter claiming a “good faith belief” that the target site has infringed on its content. These loose interpretations could potentially lead to abuses with far-reaching consequences.

I am not supporting anyone going to an illegal site to download a movie, game, or music. I believe this type of bill with vague standards is just the beginning of corporations extending their tentacles to snuff out competition. Small independent websites don’t have the budget to hire a $500 dollar per hour corporate attorney to watch for every violation. I try to make sure that all pictures and videos here are legal (I rely on YouTube to do that for me on the latter), but undoubtedly there has to be errors at some point. In theory, this bill could allow MLB to shut me down on a whim without a chance of a fight. Do you think sites that criticize Bud Selig or a specific team would get more scrutiny? With all the laws on the books it’s highly likely they could find something to tie you to a violation. If you don’t believe me, clearly you don’t understand this country’s modern corporate culture and what it’s about.

Here is the list of companies that are supporting the bills. Major League Baseball, the National Football League and Disney, which owns ESPN, are on the list. They will tell you it’s to stop illegal use of their product, but why isn’t the NBA or NHL on the list? Perhaps because they are third and fourth tier sports that still need to compete for customers? What will stop any sports league from using this bill to target individual sites they deem dangerous because of critical content? What makes you think ESPN wouldn’t push their corporate partners to help them shut down sites under the guise of intellectual property? You create something successful and take away customers from the big boys, and they will find a way to put you out of business. Business has become about legislating out competitors versus generating new ideas or improving current product lines.

I am all for legislation that goes after individuals that pirate copyrighted material. This bill appears to be too vague and far-reaching. Modern corporations can’t be trusted with this far-reaching power because they will use it in a way to destroy necessary competition. The reality is this type of bill could wind up legislating our news. Is that a situation you feel comfortable with? Imagine the only baseball information you received was from MLB and its preferred news partners? Think you might be kept in the dark? Now imagine this was the situation for the important news issues of the day.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to MLB Supports SOPA and That Should Bother You

  1. Garret Craig (@garretkc)

    I’ve seen the NBA and NHL on other lists of companies supporting SOPA.

  2. Frank Russo

    Let’s hope that Congress gets it’s act togehter. I heard that the bill has a less than 50/50 shot to get passed. As someone who has tons of older content on my website, I am not that worried. Still I think your right Mike. Bill’s like this are the first step toward facism on the internet.

  3. Chuck Johnson

    It’s funny ESPN is listed as a supporter of a bill fighting piracy, when they pirate more than anyone.

    So, they could conceivably shut someone down they stole material from?

    That’s messed up.

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