How Could SOPA And PIPA Affect Web Marketing Firms?

by Tim Greening

Some of the recent headlines in the news have been about SOPA and PIPA. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) are both bills proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively. These acts are designed to prevent the sale and use of pirated material over the internet. These acts could have a titanic effect on web marketing efforts, which in turn would affect most any online marketing firm.

The bills propose legislation that will guard copyrighted material. The bills were mainly formed to protect this material from being pirated in other nations, but would have dramatic consequences for American companies. These bills would ask the sites to start monitoring their users further than what they currently do. Most online sites have terms of use that ask their users to regulate themselves, and if an issue of misuse occurs then the website can shut down the individual user’s profile. If the acts were passed then it would mean any content posted by individual users could result in the shutdown of the entire website.

Especially for an online encyclopedia like Wikipedia, this poses many problems. In keeping with its encyclopedic background, the site tries to remain neutral in any information that is created on the site. If SOPA and PIPA were passed through Congress then Wikipedia would need to censor any information posted and start acting as an advocate for social and political issues; which goes against the very nature of the website.

In response to the bills, Wikipedia shut down its English language website for a 24-hour period. The blackout of its services was meant to be a small protest to the bills and a way of raising further awareness for the average person. If other internet sites, and search engines in particular, shut down there services for any period of time it may have dramatic effects on the web marketing performance of any online marketing firm. While several of these sites are staying up, but making their opposition known, if they choose to follow suit and shut down it could mean great loses for web marketing firms.

Web marketing firms rely on websites and search engines to distribute content and spread awareness about their clients. If websites and search engines started to be blacklisted and shutdown then this might take away the web marketing firms’ ability to generate traffic to the websites of business all across the globe. If individuals don’t know about these businesses then everyone suffers. The online marketing firm will lose business because they can’t provide the results they previously could. The small to mid-sized companies wouldn’t be able to compete as well as they did with the help of the online marketing firm. They would lose sales opportunities due to decreased visitor rates and public awareness. And lastly, the individual consumer would lose out because they would not be able to use the services of the internet and the number of options for them would decrease.

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