The general manager of one of the web's most active community forums, Reddit, says that the website may have to shut down if the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is passed.
Posting on his own website, Reddit's General Manager Erik Martin says that the work required to many the website compliant with SOPA could mean the end of the website. "It may not happen overnight, but we have a very small staff (~11, mostly engineers), and even dealing with DMCA stuff is a big burden for us. SOPA would make running reddit near impossible. And we have access to great lawyers through our parent company. I can't imagine how smaller sites without those kind of resources could even attempt a go at it if SOPA passes," said Martin in a post on Reddit
Large community forums like Reddit could have anywhere up to 30 million unique visitors per month, and with so many new posts, and many of them possibly linking to infringing content as defined by SOPA, large websites will find they're under increasing pressure to sort and filter through these posts. Currently, websites like Reddit are protected by the DMCA's "safe harbor" provision, which grants immunity to websites with user generated content as long as the website has an active anti-infringement policy.
And while SOPA is said to be aimed at "foreign", that is non US based websites, Martin feels the bill as it is will be "exploited" by content holders to target domestic websites as well. "... the language is far too vague and far too easy for various parties to use it beyond the stated goals. Given our experience with DMCA, it’s a safe assumption that various rights holders will use SOPA in such a way that US companies like reddit are impacted," Martin added.
Under the current SOPA draft, websites linking to "bad" websites such as The Pirate Bay, even US based one, may find themselves in hot water, even if the link was for journalistic purposes (eg. a news report).