Congress is at it, again. The House Judiciary Committee is currently meeting to decide what the next steps are for SOPA. As an affiliate marketer, if you are not familiar with this pending legislation, you should do so ASAP. The intention of the bill is meant to help enforce intellectual property protections on the Internet.
As it is written right now, there is a significant risk that affiliate marketers can be blind-sided and shutdown for carrying content on their websites that may be violating someone’s copyright. Theoretically, all it would take would be for an affiliate to unknowingly get copyright-infringing creative from an advertiser, as part of a campaign.
If you think this is far-fetched, here’s a quote from Wikipedia, citing some of the ways an affiliate could get hit, if they were perceived as violating a copyright: “Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.”
That’s right. Affiliates could instantly lose their search engine rankings, not get paid, and have their website blocked by their hosting provider.
Many Internet companies are adamantly speaking out against this atrocity-in-the-making. An open letter was sent to congress strongly protesting this legislation. The diversity of Internet companies that were signatories to the letter shows just how serious a threat this legislation is to the Internet and online marketers.
What is interesting is that many original content producers and companies associated with professionally-cited work were signatories, as well. Companies included The Huffington Post, Wikipedia, and Yahoo. Wikipedia is going so far as to threaten to “blank out” every page on their website.
If companies that create content are against the legislation, who benefits? That is the real question.
Details of the bill can be found here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3261