People will remember January 18, 2012, as the day that the internet came together to protest overly harsh legislation that would threaten to limit user-driven content on the world wide web. The United States Congress has two bills being considered: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Many believe that, as currently worded, these bills are overreaching and ultimately could be used to stifle the creative free enterprise that is essential to the internet’s continued vitality. Yesterday, many websites, including Wikipedia and Google, either limited access to their sites or blacked out the information completely. It was a symbolic act to show the world what the internet would be like if this overzealous legislation were to become real.
To mark the occasion, Aaron Colter wrote a comprehensive opinion piece for Comics Alliance in which he asked many comics publishers and creators to go on the record regarding their opinions of SOPA and PIPA. Oni Press chose to come out in opposition to these laws, and below is the full transcript of our interview with Aaron.
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Dear comic book publishers,
I’m working on a story for ComicsAlliance about recent legislation being proposed in Congress that seeks to address issues of copyright protection and piracy online, such as SOPA and the Protect IP Act.
What, if any, stance does your company take on such issues? Specifically SOPA and the Protect IP Act?
Though we believe that protecting the comics published by Oni Press is necessary we are also a creator owned company, and the current bills being discussed have too many unintended consequences that would directly affect our creators rights for us to be comfortable with them in their current form.
What are your thoughts about online piracy and how much it affects sales, but also total readership?
We have seen ancillary positive and negative effects to both, but it’s impossible for anyone to calculate these numbers accurately.
What do you hope to see for the future of copyright protection in our digital age?
Technology is changing rapidly, giving us the world at our fingertips. Passing laws trying to constrain the use of these new technologies isn’t adequate or realistic. It’s imperative that we work together with creators and readers to foster an online culture of mutual respect for the work of these amazing artists. They have devoted their lives to their craft and if we want them to continue creating then we need to support them. We would hope that a way can be found to stop the illegal distribution and profiting from such distribution of works without also crippling the free flow of legitimate information and content on the internet.
With hundreds of creators, who no doubt have wildly different political opinions, does that affect your company’s policy towards certain topics?
The only IP Oni Press owns is its logo. As a publisher whose entire focus is creator-owned comics, we have an obligation to protect the work of our incredible writers and artists. Their input on how best to do that is absolutely essential in the crafting of our policies and positions.
Thank you for responding
Thank you for asking
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If you want to know about the issues behind SOPA, a good place to start is the Gizmodo article that Aaron links to. You can read that here.
Google has also set up an excellent resource for contacting your Senators and Congressional Representatives to let them know where you stand on the issue. Just go here.
We at Oni look forward to the continued discussion on this topic, and to bringing you more of the imaginative comic book entertainment you’ve come to expect from our company and our creative partners–which we think is one of the best byproducts of a free society.