For years, the music and movie industry have been doing everything they can to stop online piracy. While exact numbers are had to come by, there have been reports that say up to 95% of all music is downloaded illegally, while there have been plenty of discussion going back and forth about how much this has actually affected the music and film industry, it is clear that online piracy is a problem. To this end, congress is mulling over SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act. We here at fishbat, as a social media management firm, strongly condemn SOPA due to its overreaching powers and dire consequences, but we also feel that, if passed, SOPA would do more harm than good to the industry it’s trying to protect.
Something that any social media management firm will tell you is that people like what they like, and if they don’t like it, they’ll move on to something else. The balance of power has shifted from company to consumer, and any attempt to stop it is a lost cause. This is the first rule of social media management, but everyone forgets it.
Take, for example, high definition DVDs. The movie industry tried to encrypt them as well as they could, and the code was broken in less than 24 hours. The industry has attempted to prosecute as many file sharers as they could, and it turned public opinion against them. Everything they’ve done to stop file sharing has proved ineffective and actually harmed their reputation.
If the bill were to pass, it would be the disseminator’s responsibility to police their content for any potential breaches of copyright. While this idea works for a static website, it’s a social media management nightmare. Companies have significantly less control over what is placed on their social media pages, but they’ll be held responsible for it. Every corporation would have to double their social media management team to constantly police all posts and comments for any and all breaches, which is nothing to say about the damage to the social media outlets themselves. Social media management is a powerful tool, but imagine if missing a single post could result in jail time. It would cripple every single social media page out there.
From a social media management and public relations perspective, this bill is even more harmful. There are already dozens of Facebook groups against SOPA, many with tens of thousands of fans. All the major internet players, from Wikipedia to Google, have spoken against the bill on their social media pages. The laws of social media management have spoken: if the music and film industry continues to pursue this tactic, people are going to turn against them even more. Your brand is paramount and when the rules of social media management turn against you, you have no choice but to comply.