The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, is a bill that grants power to the federal government and copyright holders to take actions against sites that promote copyright infringement. The problem with the bill is its murky definition of what makes a site in violation. A site is in violation of the act if it operates with the “object of promoting, or has promoted, its use to carry out acts that constitute a violation” of copyright. Unfortunately, this includes any site that allows users to post text, images, audio or videos. There is no additional process for determining if a site actually infringes on this criteria.

At Behance, we take copyright very seriously. As an online platform for Creative Professionals, one of our goals is to help you get the exposure you deserve while at the same time protecting your work with copyright settings. Currently, we allow an assortment of copyright options via Creative Commons licensing, which is what most major photo-sharing sites use. We believe this affords a great balance of protecting your work and allowing it to get the exposure it deserves.

We constantly handle issues of copyright. After seeing both sides of the struggle, and helping both the accused and the accuser, we’ve been able to take an even, fair stance. It has required patience, care and a considerable amount of time. However, in cases where the accuser stands correct, we’ve been able to handle it in our own way by mediating situations, talking to all parties involved, and making even-handed, careful decisions.

Under SOPA, accusers have the option to go to the US Department of Justice. When complaints are lodged, they are not lodged against individuals, but rather an entire site. Should a court decide to take action against a site, they can issue orders against a site in its entirety. Measures include ordering online advertising networks to halt delivery of ads, and therefore revnue, and issuing orders to payment clearinghouses (paypal) to stop paying sites who are considered in violation. At an extreme, the court can issue an order to completely redirect the site.

As creatives moving around the Internet, this bill makes every post, project, or upload a target. Tumblr posts, personal portfolios, projects on Behance, Dribbbl’ed designs, artistic mash-ups, Cargo sites, photos on Flickr, and even tweets that contain copyrighted text. SOPA threatens to ruin careers, livelihoods, businesses, and even entire industries – not to mention creative expression. To help combat SOPA, contact your local congressperson, or go here.


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