Ever since internet giants like Wikipedia and Google had shown their stand against SOPA/PIPA, the issues brought about by these two pending legislations has caught the attention of not just those living in the U.S. but also of other internet users across the globe and to the SEO community. Now before you either disregard or dive in to the issue, it is fundamental to have an idea of what these bills are about and its implications to search marketers like us.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are two bills currently being tackled by the U.S. Congress. Both are targeted to fight, specifically, foreign websites distributing counterfeited goods and copyrighted materials like movies, music and much more. SOPA is similar to the Protect IP Act but is more extensive in some ways.
Below are some of the highlights of the Stop Online Piracy Act.
1. Infringing sites will be blocked: This bill would allow the Justice Department as well as copyright holders to seek court orders against any infringing websites. The court order could include requiring search engines to remove a site from its index, ISPs to block subscribers’ access and order domain registrars to take down the whole website.
2. Streaming of copyrighted content will lead someone to jail: The bill would criminalize unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for incurring ten such acts of violation within a period of six months.
3. Ad networks can discontinue your campaigns: Online advertising networks and payment processors will be called to stop doing business with foreign websites accused of facilitating or enabling piracy. Section 102 of the bill states that ISPs, search engines and the other services enforced to stop doing business with an allegedly infringing site cannot be sued for cutting off service to that site.
Also, SOPA gives legal immunity to any service provider, payment network provider, Internet advertising service, advertiser, Internet search engine, domain name registry, or domain name registrar for voluntarily cutting their ties with websites dedicated to infringement.
4. False claims will not be tolerated: If a copyright holder knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement, or if a respondent to a claim knowingly misrepresents that a site is not dedicated to infringement, they can be liable for damages.
What are the implications of SOPA/PIPA to a site’s SEO?
The internet that we know today would surely be a different place given that these bills do get passed as formal laws. It is not just your search engine optimization that gets affected but how the Internet works in general. One question which comes up is: What will happen to sites linking to a website that has been taken down?
There are steps webmasters can take to make sure they don’t get caught if the bill were to pass:
- When using stock images, make sure you have the proper permission – for creative commons licensing properly credit your sources;
- Avoid using generic descriptions for products or supplier if you are not certain the original owner is fine with this;
- Don’t duplicate big sections of content from other websites – quote and source snippets correctly.
As a rule of thumb, to avoid any infringements and to follow SEO best practices, original is always best.
(Source: Smart Traffic)
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