Top 5 Stories on LinkedIn: Concern About SOPA Dominates The Conversation

January 20, 2012

Not since the death of Steve Jobs in the fall of 2011 has one story so dominated the attention of professionals. The fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA -- a U.S. House of Representatives bill designed to block online copyright violations took three of the top five headlines in our weekly look at the most-shared stories by 135+ million LinkedIn members. From professionals in the IT industry to aviation and aerospace workers, concern over how the Internet might work or might stop working with the bill's potential passing brought a torrent of sharing. Here's the full list:

Top 5 most-shared articles on LinkedIn (Jan 13, 2012 - Jan. 19, 2012) Follow @LinkedInToday

  1. Why Sopa is Dangerous (Mashable)
  2. Some Key Social Media Trends To Look For In 2012 (TechCrunch)
  3. Obama Says So Long SOPA, Killing Controversial Internet Piracy Legislation (Forbes)
  4. 10 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes for Marketing (Mashable)
  5. PIPA and SOPA Co-Sponsors Abandon Bills (Mashable)

Mashable grabbed the top spot with an usual pairing: It had Chris Heald, Mashable's chief architect, try to decipher the bill. And "decipher" is really the best word. As Heald wrote:

If a programmer on my team wrote code as convoluted as this bill, I would fire him on the spot.

Heald focused on a few areas of special concern, including how easy it would be for nearly all websites - or web users - to run afoul of the law. Take sections 103, which sets out to define what it means for a site to be all-about-theft. The language is broad enough, says Heald, that a site just has to offer some way for copyright-violating content to be uploaded. That could come from a photo upload feature, a comment box, or a video service. He goes on to look what would happen if you uploaded a video of yourself singing a popular song in the shower. That act, he says, may win you a following, but it could also provide you a criminal record.

"You don't have to receive any money. You don't have to gain anything from your video. Simply receiving 2,500 views on a song you sung, which happens to have copyright held by someone else, makes you a felon." Other top articles look at the tick-tock of the law's progress: Forbes pointed out that President Obama had come out against SOPA and similar bill Protect IP. And after some websites went dark to protest the bills, Mashable kept a running tab of all of the Congressmen who had suddenly yanked their acts. That ran from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (a co-sponsor of Protect IP) to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. "Do you think the widespread website blackouts, such as Wikipedia's, are to credit for the bills' supporter drain?" asks Mashable.

Now the focus shifts to what's next. As Forbes points out, the copyright battles aren't going away anytime soon (just after we compiled the data, for example, file storage and sharing site Megaupload was shut down). "Just like piracy itself, this debate isn't over," says Forbes contributor John Gaudiosi. "Expect more bills to move forward, although the wording in future legislation is expected to be more narrowly focused in an attempt to appease the current administration." One thing is clear: the professional world turned into this bill in an unprecedented numbers. It's not just the White House that will be studying new language carefully.

Here are the most shared stories by professionals in the following industries: