SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" currently being debated in Congress, to massive opposition by much of the Internet industry, would probably be a grave threat to Second Life, if passed. Since SOPA seems mainly aimed at website-based copyright "piracy", I initially assumed that Second Life, being a non-web, 3D client-driven Internet software, might fall outside its jurisdiction. However, here's some of what the President of League of Legends, another 3D client-driven Internet application, says about SOPA:
How would SOPA/PIPA impact League of Legends players?
- Kills streaming. If any single streamer plays copyrighted music (or alt tabs into a movie or other owned content) on their stream, there is a significant risk of the entire streaming service being taken down. In some cases, it could even result in criminal penalties for the streamer.
- Threatens independent content creation. Services we all use to create and share League of Legends related content, such as YouTube, Reddit, DeviantArt, streaming websites such as Own3d and Twitch, and more would be at risk of shutting down or greatly restricting the scope of legitimate content allowed on their sites.
- Attacks our community. Aspects of our service such as the official forums and potentially even in-game chat, could be taken down or have their features reduced based on user behavior.
Replace "League of Legends" with Second Life (or for that matter, many other client-based Internet services), and the implications remain the same. Says Wikipedia: "The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months." And again, that would seem to threaten many SLers, in quite drastic ways.
I'm checking with the Electronic Frontier Foundation on this point, and will report anything they tell me. However, when I asked Linden Lab if they had a statement about SOPA, spokesman Peter Gray said this: "I'm not able to offer a comment at this time."
Hat tip: Brokentoys.org