If you visit Jive’s website today, you’ll see a special message. It’s part of a demonstration taking place across the web, with a wide array of businesses, tech leaders, and organizations voicing their opposition to two Congressional bills now under consideration—the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA). Jive is joining with the Internet community to oppose this legislation because of the potentially disastrous impact it could have on our customers and on social business in general.

 

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SOPA and PIPA are intended to combat online piracy and copyright infringement. These are serious problems, and we support the efforts of content creators and intellectual property owners to protect their investments. But the bills as written are much too broad and badly overreach. They put a huge and unrealistic burden on online sites and service providers to police user content, and subject companies to massive penalties for the actions of a handful of users.

 

For example, many of our customers maintain vital public communities, where people exchange information, work together, and carry on all sorts of productive collaborations. Under SOPA and PIPA, a single user posting infringing material unbeknownst to the company could expose the company to lawsuits and domain blocking, effectively causing the community to be shut down. In order to avoid that sort of calamity, the customer would have to pre-emptively monitor and screen every post and comment in their community around the clock.

 

It’s just not practically possible. With the massive liabilities involved, it turns social business into a very risky business. We think it would have a chilling effect on social sharing, collaboration, and innovation across the Internet. It could impair critical processes that millions of people and thousands of companies have come to depend on.

 

Dozens of leading technology businesses, consumer and free speech advocacy organizations, and much of the online community have come out against the legislation. Recently the White House joined the opposition, issuing a statement that “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#/!/response/combating-online-piracy-while-protecting-open-and-innovative-internet

 

We agree. Protecting intellectual property is critical, but it’s a matter of balancing effective enforcement with the need to preserve the openness that has made the Internet and social business such empowering and transformative technologies. SOPA and PIPA don’t strike that balance. We believe a better solution can be worked out, but it will require a broader conversation among stakeholders in industry, government,  public interest groups, the Internet community, and the public at large. We look forward to being a part of that conversation, and we encourage everyone to become educated on these issues and take part in driving an outcome that works for all involved.