You've probably read about the heated debate around the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). It's a very important debate for musicians, as it could have a major effect on distribution channels and discovery platforms that many musicians rely on every day.
Eliot Van Buskirk did an amazing post right here on Hypebot called "Everything You Need To Know About SOPA & The New Copyfight". You should read it, but a couple excerpts that summarize the article are:
Our current system [...] requires copyright holders to alert services to infringing content, ask them to remove it, and then only sue if they fail to do so. It also allows the world wide web to be world wide.
A world [Under SOPA] where anyone can sue to have a thing deleted from the formerly âunbreakableâ internet every time their cat video is copied, distributed, or viewed without permission would be a very different one indeed, and probably not preferably so.
Earlier this week, Outside the Box Music posted a wonderful "Artist's Guide to SOPA". It's also worth a read, but the key message is:
The entrenched old guard want SOPA because they feel major labels and middlemen need to control distribution. In turn indies are denied an equitable market share. If anything this year has proven that indies need to be awarded more opportunities Not less. A larger segment of the listening public deserve the right to listen to indie based music. Even on commercial radio stations in primary markets.
The inherent danger SOPA presents is that in the process of "protecting" corporate interests, the distribution, access & discovery platforms the Internet provides for independent artists, musicians and songwriters will be crippled or obliterated.
To help bring more attention to the debate, Hunter Walk and Gregor Hochmuth have put together a campaign called BlackoutSOPA to show your opposition to SOPA in a subtle but effective way. They first met working at Google and believe there are better ways to balance an open web which protects creative rights. Their backgrounds inform their approach - Hunter having run consumer product at YouTube and Gregor coming from a family of filmmakers.
In under a minute, BlackoutSOPA enables you to alter your Twitter profile image to protest SOPA (you can easily change your profile back at any time). So far the campaign is making a huge impact, and has attracted well over 6,000 people since Monday afternoon.