We were going to post today about our annual FictionAlley fundraiser, which we're starting this week to cover our server fees for 2012; you can take a peek at our page on FirstGiving if you want to, but we're delaying the official launch until tomorrow so we can talk about other issues that have the potential to impact funding of FictionAlley and fansites like it, as well as many social media, news, fan-discussion, blogging and informational sites.
You may have seen this image on the internet today:
And you may wonder why we care about an act designed to stop piracy; FictionAlley doesn't allow links to downloads of the Harry Potter books or films!
But the thing is, the "Stop Internet Piracy Act" is written in such a way that it gives any owner of any copyright, trademark right, right of publicity or other intellectual property rights the ability to shut down a site's ability to accept donations made via credit card companies, PayPal or Amazon, or bar a site from hosting Google or Groupon ads or being part of the WBShop or Amazon Affiliate programs just because they think that one icon, one User Profile, one piece of fanart, one fanvid or one fanfic infringes on their content - regardless of whether that story, icon, vid or art is transformative, or created pursuant to fair use.
"Fair use is a lawful use of copyright." That's what the Northern District of California said in Lenz v. Universal Music back in 2008. So much of what we do on FA - from the discussions in the Park to the art and fic and vids we host and link to - is fair use, but there's no Fair Use provision in SOPA.
"Think about this for a second: think how many bogus DMCA takedown notices are sent by copyright holders to take down content they don't like," writes TechDirt's Mike Masnick. "With this new bill, should it become law, those same copyright holders will be able to cut off advertising and payment processing to such sites. Without court review."
If we can't accept donations from FictionAlley's users and visitors, we won't be able to keep the site online; it costs about $3000 per year to cover our servers, domain names and other related expenses, and we appreciate all the help you give us in covering those costs. If SOPA passes, and one copyright-holder who doesn't agree with the law of Fair Use complains to PayPal or Google or Amazon, we may lose the ability to accept donations from users like you.
And we're just a little site in the grand scheme of things. YouTube hosts fanvids, parodies and reviews, Tumblr and LiveJournal host every type of content that can be created, and Google links to everything. One person can choose to abuse the provisions of SOPA and damage each of those sites for everyone - or the sites themselves may curtail certain services, or limit what they allow people to share, discuss and distribute.
That's not an Internet that any of us would recognize.
If you live in the US, please send a letter to your Representative, or click here to visit the EFF's website and have an email automatically sent to your representative. If you don't live in the US, please make sure your friends who do are aware of what this bill says and what it could do.
And later this month, please come back and support FictionAlley, so before the year is out, we're set for our server and domain name fees for all of 2012. If SOPA makes it impossible for us to do a fundraiser next year, we'll figure something out then, but for now we need to make sure we're all set for 2012.