The internet lit up today when Google and other popular sites took a stand against the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). But why? In a nut shell, there is a big disconnect between what the goals of these acts are and what they could potentially evolve into.
Content piracy has always been a hot topic online. This is especially true for the entertainment industry that constantly sees music, movies and other copyrighted material being used in unauthorized digital mediums. There are already laws in place to assist copyright-owning companies that focus on penalizing users, taking down specific site content and suing peer-to-peer software companies (remember Napster?) that infringe on copyrights.
But SOPA and PIPA take those penalties to the next level. SOPA and PIPA would enable companies to sue sites, search engines, and blogs who act as outlets for users that share copyrighted material. So the argument boils down to who is responsible when copyrighted materials are being shared online: the users who are sharing the copyrighted material without permission or the sites they use to share that material on?
Although SOPA and PIPA may have good intentions when it comes to controlling digital piracy, many are concerned about the consequences of these acts if passed. SOPA and PIPA are worded in a way that would enable the government and companies to have internet service providers (ISPs) block any site for having just one infringing link and subjected to law suits until the infringing material is removed. This would force popular sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to censor their users or potentially be sued into nonexistence. Even search engines such as Google could be liable for the links that appear in their results.
So what does this mean for healthcare marketers? The biggest takeaway is to be a responsible user today, right now. Develop original content when creating videos that are posted on YouTube. If there is a question about whether or not a song can be used in the background, make sure to double check before posting. Don’t post content on your hospital blog that wasn’t written by someone on your staff without the permission of the author. Taking a few extra steps to ensure you have the right to post the content that is associated with your brand has never been more important.