Happy Holidays, everyone. Now stop using the internet. That appears to be the message from a number of comics publishers, however unintentional.
On Thursday, December 22, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, chaired by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), released a list of supporters of H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This bill is an attempt by lawmakers to address intellectual property security concerns on the internet. However, it has been flagged by various organizations and individuals for going too far, giving broad power without due process, limiting free speech and discouraging technical innovation. Graphic Policy has a great summary of the bill’s weaknesses and how it relates to the comic book industry. Some are claiming it could cripple social sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Tumblr, along with thousands of harmless fan-sites and any other sites sharing their IP addresses.
Among the corporations and organizations listed as supporters of SOPA are the following comic book and graphic novel publishers:
- Marvel Entertainment, LLC (Disney-owned corporate name of Marvel Comics)
- Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.
- Time Warner (parent company of DC Comics)
- Hachette Book Group (imprints include manga publisher Yen Press and occasional graphic novel publisher Little, Brown and Company)
- HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, Inc.
- Hyperion Books (owned by Disney)
- Macmillan (include First Second Books and Hill and Wang imprints)
- Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
- Random House (includes Pantheon Graphic Novels imprint; distributes for manga publisher Kodansha Comics)
- Scholastic, Inc. (includes graphic novel imprint Graphix)
- The Perseus Books Group (includes one-time graphic novel imprint Running Press)
- W.W. Norton & Company
Also included is the Association of American Publishers, which counts DC Comics, Disney Publishing and more among their members.
As we come out of the holidays, many of these organizations might have to start responding to a vocal outpouring of concern among customers and partners, and in some cases, threats of organized boycotts.
There has been considerable push back already, and from public pressure some organizations have dropped their support of SOPA. The Graphic Artists Guild has retracted their support, stating “We are concerned that the bill may have unintended consequences that may do more harm than good.” They also added that they “have not spent a dime on any lobbyist in Congress for this bill”. The largest domain name registrar GoDaddy faced massive threats of boycotts, and has also reversed their position. Time will tell if more will shift their support.
(via Graphic Policy)