Though SOPA has been shelved for the time being, Twitter copyright infringement claims numbered in the thousands during 2011. New York free-form radio station WFMU posted a link on Twitter this morning to this list of complaints filed last year, reaching 4411 individual claims.
This shows the initial direct effects SOPA and ACTA will have on social media censorship. When Twitter is named as such a rampant violator of copyright law, what will stop the Department of Justice from raiding the homes of SOPA violators there, in the same manner they took down Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom? When Twitter makes announcements that they will censor tweets in certain countries, what will stop Twitter -- through willing participation -- from aiding those responsible for prosecution?
A lion's share of the claims use language like this Dec. 26 filing, against low-level Twitter users: The Tweet links to another website where the infringing material is made available. This was written in a claim filed by Your full name: Web Sheriff with Job title: Ultimate Protection against this apparently Slavic tweeter. Nearly every one of the user's 287 tweets dating back to Nov. 29 2011 is a link to something movie related, most tweeted with the tweet button. The user appears to just be a superfan, cataloging what struck him or her as interesting or relevant.
Do users like @kuharevsergey even know what they are posting when linking out to material? As a millennial/digital native, I'm used to the free distribution of information as a given. I would argue many Internet users perceive it as same. I cannot fathom how children born after 9/11 perceive the Internet and its never-ending deluge of free-flowing media. That's not to mention Internet users on the bottom of the digital divide: not every web surfer got to witness the actual evolution of the web and its tools of content control, including federal regulation, as fibrotic technology slowly took hold in economically disparaged countries.
Further, the complaint was filed in London, registered in San Francisco, and clearly targets a non-native English speaker. This emphasizes the pitiful international jurisdiction capable of being exercised by the terms of the ACTA treaty - which Obama, shying callow, couldn't even bring himself to name during his most recent state of the union address, although he mentioned its impetus under the phrase trade enforcement unit.
The general tenor of Pitchfork's excellent roundup of opinion on the topic rang as such: Internet piracy is a detriment to anyone who works in media, financially at the least. We need a solution for the problem without compromising the Internet's free speech capabilities. It's not that we're afraid of legislation as a whole. It's not that we want to be pirates. It's that we cannot allow one of the most prevalent, important tools of communication online and organization offline to be stifled, not by governments, not by anyone, particularly for reasons of profit and information control.
The particular complaint cited above goes on to state: I have confirmed that the infringing material is available for display or download at the linked site as of the submission of this notice. As journalists, we're encouraged to go to the original source. Why are we the only discipline required to make such efforts? Provisions must be added to ensure SOPA/ACTA claims should be filed only against the original source, aka the host.
At the least, that'll keep our minds a little more at ease against notions like these: