Comics News
Marvel and DC Comics Support SOPA
By Hervé St-Louis
December 24, 2011 - 14:03

A list of all American companies supporting the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been made available to the American public. The list is compiled from records from the American Congress and through the crowdsourced efforts of hundreds of citizens. The bill has been controversial because of the wide range of powers it provides copyrights holders, including the full shut down of a Website. In the past similar powers used through YouTube where instead of going after copyrights infringements, copyright holders used their powers to censor and ward off competitors. Marvel Comics and DC Comics, through parent company Time Warner both support actively SOPA and have contributed to the redaction of the bill.

The Comic Book Bin was a victim of similar gratuitous censoring after publishing a innocuous interview with Reggie Hudlin in 2007 on Black Panther. Then, Viacom used its censoring powers to have the interview removed from YouTube. The interview mentioned a few Viacom properties that Hudlin had been working on (Black Entertainment Television - BET). Because of his subsequent firing from BET, the Comic Book Bin interview, shot with our equipment and that had been authorized by BET's press agents was removed by YouTube, following a request by Viacom. None of the contents of the authorized interview infringed on anyone's copyrights. In fact, all copyrights to this interview belonged to Comic Book Bin. Yet our interview was removed because it suited the corporate agenda of Viacom. After several appeals and complaints, over a year later, YouTube reinstated our interview and the accusation of copyright infringement levelled against The Comic Book Bin was removed. No apologies were ever issued by Viacom. The Comic Book Bin was caught in a cross fire between Viacom and Reggie Hudlin and branded copyright infringers as a result.

This is the kind of power that SOPA gives copyrights holders. Instead of going after real copyrights infringers they can shut down honest and innocent third parties that report on stories concerning topics they would rather did not get coverage. The Comic Book Bin has a history of being independent and severely criticizing both Marvel and DC Comics. It's part of our job to cover comic books independently. Were the Comic Book Bin an American company, Marvel or DC Comics could attempt to shut us down at any time for writing a story that negatively criticized them and their products.  The only excuse they would have to use to trump our rights is claim that we infringe on their copyrights. The burden of proof would be ours, but any dubious complaint could seriously jeopardize our operations, if we were an American-based company.

This is why the support of SOPA by comic book publishers like Marvel and DC Comics is a serious issue. Because the editorial stance of the Comic Book Bin protects the independence of our writers, I, as the publisher and editor in chief will not issue a site-wide mandate to boycott comics from Marvel and DC Comics in our coverage. But in my own articles, I will remind readers at the top of every page that the vendor being covered in one of my article is a supporter of SOPA. This rule goes for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and any other vendor I cover that actively supports SOPA, like Electronic Arts.

SOPA threatens the freedom of the press and the freedom of citizens like you to use the Internet freely.

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