SOPA is lethal to online community creators

We are a software vendor and copyright owner, and we hate SOPA.

SocialEngine is different than most online community-building tools. While our platform is commercially-licensed and not open source, we do give our customers total access to our source code. We don’t compile or encrypt anything because we want our customers to have complete creative freedom when they customize their community websites.

The downside of making our source code accessible is, you guessed it… piracy. SocialEngine is widely pirated and not terribly hard to find in the Internet’s murkier recesses. Ostensibly, the SOPA/PIPA legislation is designed to protect intellectual property owners like us from this kind of activity. The obvious truth, though, is that SOPA/PIPA would absolutely ruin our business because it would drastically inhibit SocialEngine customers’ ability to create their own online communities in the first place.

Gigaom published a great article about the rise of social content curation on social networks and interest-based communities. At SocialEngine, we’ve seen tons of evidence supporting this. Much of the content that end-users share on the thousands of community websites powered by SocialEngine is being re-shared from other sources, or links to copyrighted content that’s hosted elsewhere. SOPA/PIPA puts niche online communities in as much jeopardy as it does the mainstream networks like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Communities powered by SocialEngine only make up a fraction of that long tail. There are millions of online communities and hundreds of millions of end-users that enjoy them every day.

We are calling on our community of SocialEngine customers, developers, service providers, and hosting affiliates to speak up in solidarity against SOPA/PIPA. Here are some ways you can take action right now:

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