I’m sure everyone and their collection of LOLcats has written about this by now, but if just one person reads this it’ll be worth it. If you didn’t notice (which statistically you probably didn’t) Cubed Gamers was shut down on Wednesday, January 18th. The reason for this is simple: The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which is something to avoid if you’re dyslexic and smell.
The Stop Online Piracy Act is an act currently proposed in the United States congress which would allow copyright holders and government officials to take immediate action against any website they feels enables the use of copyrighted content. The process would begin as soon as a claim of copyright infringement was made (no proof required!) and it would be the defendant’s responsibility to prove otherwise.
The wording of this act is so vague and so sweeping that it could mean the end of many websites we know and love in their current form. Any videos on YouTube that use a clip of a song – gone. Any links on Facebook that guide people to a clip from a TV show – guess Facebook’s gone! Small gaming websites just getting into their stride – gone. We need this bill to be stopped or Cubed Gamers – the website we want to use to lead to journalism as a way of life – may not be around much longer.
“How can this be?” You probably aren’t asking yourself. “Surely Cubed Gamers, as a website run by British and Australian people, isn’t affected by this law?” You’d be wrong. You see, since we’re poor and trying to make our way in the world, we went for the cheapest hosting option, the US website host Ipage. This means everything on our server is hosted in the United States. If a copyright holder launched a legal challenge, our server space could be taken away and nothing would replace it. In any case, there have been rumblings about similar systems in the British parliament and elsewhere. The United States can not be allowed to set the precedent for future draconian laws.
“But Robin, you’ve not used any copyrighted content!” I don’t hear you cry. Think again, old chum. Any screenshots, promotional videos or audio tracks we use without the owners’ express permission, even for legitimate, credited, fair use purposes, would be able to be challenged. Those images I use in my videos? Banned. Phil’s video series would just about survive as long as he kept playing indie games and nothing else, but say goodbye to reviews with screenshots, news with videos or editorials that happen to contain a throwaway joke about Mario’s bum and plumbing.
We love gaming, and we love writing about games. If you like reading and watching our honest, not-owned-by-publishers commentary, we need your help. Thousands, no, millions of jobs worldwide hinge on the decisions made in Congress and we’d like to play our part in helping that number grow.
Even if you’re British, Australian, Canadian, Mexican, Indonesian or Pakistani (as our stats application shows you most likely are), we need to show the United States that the world is watching them. Three million people have petitioned against this bill, and with your help we can have that little extra support. You can head to several websites to do this, but the one I would recommend is American Censorship.
Robin Wilde, Cubed Gamers.