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MichaelGeist.ca

Would a SOPA Version of the Canadian Copyright Bill Target Youtube?

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My post this week on the behind-the-scenes demands to make Bill C-11, the current copyright bill, more like SOPA has attracted considerable attention with mainstream (National Post, La Presse) and online media (Mashable, Wire Report) covering the story. The music industry alone is seeking over a dozen changes to the bill, including website blocking, Internet termination for alleged repeat infringers, and an expansion of the "enabler" provision that is supposedly designed to target pirate sites. Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada also wants an expansion of the enabler provision along with further tightening of the already-restrictive digital lock rules.

The concern with expanding the enabler provision is that overly broad language could create increased legal risk for legitimate websites. As a result, new online businesses may avoid investing in Canada for fear of potential liability or costly lawsuits. My post cited concerns about SOPA being used to target sites like Youtube and the danger that that could spill over into Canada. Industry lawyer Barry Sookman responds in the National Post article, arguing that it is "inconceivable" and "not remotely possible" that the law could be used to shut down a mainstream site like Youtube.

Millions of Internet users certainly hope Sookman is right, yet recent experience suggests that the content industry is open to using these kinds of provisions in massive lawsuits against sites like Youtube. For example, consider the ongoing Viacom lawsuit against Youtube/Google. 


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