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An open letter to Nintendo on SOPA - Update
Let me begin by saying that I believe that content creators have all right to defend their creations. StarFox-Online (SF-O) has always had a policy of discouraging game piracy and actively bans the distribution of pirated games through our community.
For some reason, rights holders always seem to throw a straw man argument out there that those who oppose laws like SOPA oppose protecting copyrights. This is certainly not true. Those who seek to profit from the works of others or freeload on the backs of content creators do not have the moral high-ground, and should face the consequences of their actions.
That said, the punishments should fit the crimes. Copyright law in recent years is becoming more and more strict, and in some instances copyright crimes now carry heavier sentences than violent acts, such as assault and battery. Certainly copyright infringement is less of a threat to society than physical violence, so why the sentencing incongruence?
By their very nature, fansites rely heavily on the content of the work(s) that the sites are about. While there are already legal gray-areas with fansites, SOPA presents a new danger.
Fansites are important. They serve as a word-of-mouh network of free (to the content owner) advertising. Fansite owners and community members are the MOST LIKELY to buy the product out of all possible customers. Fan networks generate hype, and their members spread the word to others.
Thankfully, Nintendo has thus far chosen not to bully their fans by filing lawsuits against fansites unless there is actually game piracy going on. I applaud Nintendo for this.
BUT, Nintendo has disappointed me with their decision to throw their support behind the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
This Infographic explains why SOPA is bad better than I can, but in a nutshell it allows the blocking of websites without the full due process of law that is the Gold Standard of the American legal system.
It also makes running a site that links to copyrighted material a felony crime, even if the links are posted by site users.
The law is so broad that sites like SF-O fall in violation of it. But it isn't just fansites like us. Even big names like Google and Facebook would be in violation of this law.
Defending copyright is one thing, but wholesale censorship is another. This bill CANNOT pass.
Nintendo, for the sake of your fans, PLEASE withdraw support for this bill until the language allowing for wholesale censorship are removed.
Copyright is important, but it is not more important than free speech. The Constitution speaks of copyright in ONLY by the words "promoting the useful arts," but it speaks of free speech much more directly: "Congress shall pass no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." Both free speech and free press are threatened by this bill.
Nintendo Co., Ltd. may be a foreign corporation, but Nintendo of America is in the US and should understand that laws restricting these freedoms are unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American.
So, once again, I ask on behalf of Nintendo fans and internet users everywhere, please, Nintendo, rescind your support for this bill.
DZComposer - Owner and Admin of StarFox-Online