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Colbert Gets Saucy with SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stop Online Piracy Act
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Last night, my second favorite satirical news anchor, Stephen Colbert, told the Colbert Nation, “I am wholeheartedly against the infringement of copyright.”  In fact, he’s so much against it that he “had the phrase trademarked and emblazoned on a Mickey Mouse® doll,” as you can see above.  Take that, Disney!

Now, I checked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) TESS database, and, well, while I hate to break it to Mr. Colbert, I think his attorney misled him about that trademark registration.  Of course, we all know that Colbert’s attorney is Trevor Potter, and Trevor Potter is a Federal Election Commission (FEC) lawyer, so I guess that’s what Colbert gets for relying on a FEC attorney to protect his brands for him.  No wonder none of his other marks (like Stephen Colbert, Colbert Report, Colbert Nation, Threat Down, Food for Thought, the Colbert Report theme song, etc., etc.) are protected either.

If you’ve been reading this blog with any frequency, then you also know that U.S. trademark rights are acquired through common law, meaning that rights are acquired through trademark use, rather than through registration.  Hence, it is possible that Colbert does in fact have trademark rights in the phrase, “I am wholeheartedly against the infringement of copyright,” so long as he’s using the mark in interstate commerce, which I kinda doubt, though that’s neither here nor there, really.

But back to SOPA . . .

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act (somewhat more comprehensible explanation of the 79 page Act found on Wikipedia here) would allow the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and/or copyright holders to shut down websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement and bar online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with such sites.  Buh-bye YouTube, Facebook, Google . . . not that we need them anyway, right?  I mean, who uses those sites anyways?

So what do Colbert’s guests, music manager Danny Goldberg and Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, have to say about this?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stop Online Piracy Act – Danny Goldberg & Jonathan Zittrain
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

While Goldberg claims that we need a new law to create internet cops to pursue thieves (infringers) for stealing (pirating) intellectual property — including music, movies and books — on-line, Zittrain claims the new law over-reaches by classifying internet piracy as a felony punishable by three years imprisonment.  As if our country’s federal penitentiaries aren’t crowded enough; let’s throw the YouTubers in with the potheads and call it good!

So who else supports this crazy legislation?  The members of the Business Software Alliance, that’s who.  Who else is against it?  Just about everyone else in the world.  Meanwhile, SOPA is making its way through Congress, presently before the House Judiciary Committee, which will complete a mark-up of the bill on December 15, 2011.  It will be several more months before there’s a full vote on the bill so we won’t know for a while if the rules of the game of the internet have changed, and if so, how.

Whether or not SOPA passes, you can bet content providers will continue to “bring the hammer down” as Colbert says on infringers and possibly those who view infringing content.  CLICK WITH CARE.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. News for you….The BSA Rejects The SOPA Bill…
    Apple thrives on iTunes, which
    surves hundreds of thousands
    of developers alike, would be
    brought down because of SOPA
    should anyone post
    “infringing materials” in
    iTunes such as cover songs.

    Something that should be
    considered is that major
    innovations in software
    through copy infringements
    happened to help two
    major members of the BSA
    innovated what we now know as
    Mac OS and Windows through
    infringement that the BSA
    specifically. Apple and Microsoft
    Have made improvemts to so called coppy-
    written ideas to their innovations and
    created their first GUI’s that
    made them famous because of it.
    They owe their existence to each
    other in that sense.

    The BSA promotes freedom of innovation
    and the exchange of ideas
    conforming to open exchange
    of software ideas and problem
    solving solutions. SOPA
    blocks this ideal and hampers
    the exchange of ideas and offers.

    Immagine if you create something
    using Microsoft BASIC or other languages created by Microsoft,
    Under SOPA you can be liably sued for making a
    profit off the program you created and all
    MS would have to do is complain once
    to stop your program’s production.
    That is exactly what SOPA aims for
    only it blacklists the DNS sights that
    hold images and clips of movies.
    One such site is in
    particular danger and it is
    listed as my website.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my post. Thanks as well for the update on BSA’s position on SOPA, which I see as a bad & dangerous legislation that should not be enacted. This website also would be at risk, even though I would never knowingly infringe.

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