So I’ve grown to dislike the IWC quite a bit, but my dislike for the IWC pales in comparison to my dislike of violated rights, like freedom of speech. While I may not defend some of the ridiculous views that the IWC will produce, I will defend the right for those views to be produced. And if you know anything about SOPA, you know that SOPA threatens to change the Internet as we know it by giving the government the power to block out sites that are using unauthorized copyrighted material. So the question I’m trying to investigate here is: If SOPA were to pass, how would it affect the IWC and wrestling, the business and the hobby, in general?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind would be wrestling related websites. And dirt sheets. I’m going to separate the two because I’m sure that there are more sites like TNAStars.com out there somewhere that are dedicated to providing true news towards whatever their focus be on, be it TNA, WWE, ROH, or other independent circuits in America. Obviously, though, you’d have to look at sites that deal with TNA and WWE, the two biggest wrestling companies in the world (even if 1: the IWC doesn’t want to admit that TNA is a definite far and away second from whoever is third and 2: WWE doesn’t want to admit it’s a wrestling company). Now, where as results of shows that have already aired could qualify as news, where exactly do “spoilers” land? Is this an infringement of copyrighted material? Or is this just news posted a little early? Honestly, I’m not sure. I hate spoilers anyway, so the removal of spoilers would be amazing to me, but once again, not at the cost of freedom of speech. No spoilers would mean that people would have to “take the risk,” if you will, of watching a given wrestling program to see if they’ll enjoy it as opposed to just reading the spoilers and making a decision based on that. And this could work both ways. On one hand, spoilers could have negatively affected wrestling ratings for years; if people read a spoiler and don’t like what they see, that show won’t get that viewer that week. On the other hand, there was that infamous spoiler that Eric Bischoff announced while he was in WCW that created an amazing shift in ratings that second… it works both ways. Personally, like I said, I’m for no spoilers, but not at the expense of rights.
Multimedia is where I feel a real big hit will take place. There are many, many, many classic, noteworthy, and otherwise amazing matches all over YouTube, not to mention favorite clips and promos of given wrestlers, rare matches between wrestlers currently in different companies but did the same indy show, ECW, Botchamania!, and more. Now while both TNA and WWE do have a pretty extensive library of matches, promos, and otherwise on their respective YouTube accounts, it pales in comparison to all the matches, promos, clips, etc. that fans of wrestling have taken the time to upload to YouTube for the enjoyment of other wrestling fans. If SOPA passes, all of that content could be at risk. If TNA and WWE decide to seize the copyright of a wrestler that wrestled a match before, during, or after their tenure at the respective company, no matter how amazing that match may have been, that match is gone. Say you have this favorite WWE promo of all time that’s in an online video that WWE did not produce. It’s gone. And under SOPA, there’s nothing you can do about it but, maybe, track down the DVD that had the promo.
“What if it was an indy circuit promo with no DVD developed?” you ask. Then it’s gone.
Additionally, wrestling theme songs take a hit as well. Wrestling has been the result of some great music, whether it’s original scores or exposing fans to music that already existed, the entire concept of listening to wrestling themes is at risk under SOPA, because that copyright claim can get videos deleted for free. If you made a clip and it has a piece of music in that WWE or TNA copyrighted, it’s gone. As a matter of fact, if you made any type of wrestling video and put copyrighted music in it from anywhere, it’s gone. Here’s the crazy thing, because I can relate to this: let’s say you do backyard wrestling and you record your match and you come out to your “ring” with copyrighted music. Is that copyrighted music in your video? Then it’s gone.
Obviously, SOPA negatively affects all different types of hobbies when it comes to simply uploading a video or making a post that contains copyrighted material, and wrestling isn’t free from SOPA’s potential lock down. I still think that I’m merely sliding along the tip of the iceberg with how SOPA could negatively affect the IWC, the wrestling business, and the wrestling hobby in general, and that there’s probably a whole slew of items that I’m missing (like the possibility that websites like TNAStars.com and dirt sheets could automatically go down simply because they’re not affiliated with TNA, WWE, etc.). I don’t exactly how much is at risk with SOPA, but I do know that a lot is risk. So if you love wrestling in any way, shape or form, no matter what company you place your allegiance, no matter if you’re a casual weekly watcher or a hardcore wrestling junkie, SOPA will probably affect how you deal with wrestling. So sign those petitions, call your Congressmen, and do your part to ensure that SOPA doesn’t get passed.
PS: If you went on Wikipedia on the day of January 18, 2012, you might have noticed that if you look up anything that isn’t SOPA, your page was blacked out in protest of SOPA. And that’s just another reality… you might not even be able to look up information on your favorite wrestlers because it’s copyrighted. This is bad. Do you part. Stop SOPA.