If you tried to log onto our blog yesterday, you were greeted with this message:
Yes, we wanted to show our solidarity with other websites all over the ‘net that went black to protest two anti-piracy bills making their way through Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Why are we against these measures and what does any of this have to do with YOMYOMF and our upcoming YOMYOMF YouTube Network?
It may seem odd on the surface that we’re taking this position considering most of us on this site are content creators and, furthermore, make our living creating content for Hollywood productions. And let’s not forget that Offender Justin’s film Fast Five was the most pirated movie last year so if this issue impacts anyone, it’s certainly him.
Of course, we’re against internet piracy—just like many of the folks we know who are opposing SOPA are as well. We just don’t think this is the right way to combat it and could do more harm in the end.
There are many places on the web you can go to read the arguments for both sides so we won’t repeat them here. But check out this Gizmodo piece or–if you prefer pictures–the following video, which succinctly explains why we feel the way we do:
The more relevant question for us is—how does all of this impact YOMYOMF? Would someone really shut us down because we did something as innocuous as link to another site that had material in violation of copyright laws? Maybe, maybe not. On one hand, we’re just a small mom-and-pop site and not that important in the scheme of things. You’d think no one really cares what we do. But you never know. NPR *cough* Car Talk…er…Car Discussion *cough*!
Where SOPA could have a more direct impact for us is with our upcoming YOMYOMF Network YouTube Channel. Now, I know there are some misperceptions out there about how YouTube is throwing around a lot of money to put into their new original channels initiative and, don’t get me wrong, YouTube is indeed investing a lot into this program so it can be successful. But if you break down the budgets for the individual channels, it’s actually very modest. Our budget for our first year of programming probably wouldn’t cover a week of catering on a film like Justin’s Fast Five. But we’re going to take that modest seed and do everything we can to nurture and grow it into something potentially wonderful and amazing and also financially sustainable (i.e. artists would be able to earn a living making videos. How awesome would that be!)
However, we’re not there yet. But we’re close. And I feel confident that it can be done and maybe, if we’re lucky, YOMYOMF might even help bring such a world into being. But we need the freedom to be able to figure out how to do that—to be able to explore, try different things, to make mistakes—and it’s harder to do that when seemingly positive things like SOPA could potentially kill that seed before it has a chance to grow.
Of course, SOPA supporters have made the argument all along that this is just paranoia and we’re exaggerating the threat to be a bigger thing than it really is. Again…maybe, maybe not. I’d like to think that people would have better things to do than to try to take down our YouTube channel simply because of something like, say, a viewer uploading a video response to one of our shows where she sings a bit of a copyrighted song. But the fact that could even happen is troubling. Call us paranoid, but again–NPR *cough* Car Talk…er…Car Discussion *cough*!
Here’s the other reason why this point is very important to me. I don’t need to tell our readers that there are still obstacles facing Asian Americans in the traditional media worlds of film, TV and music. But the internet, and especially YouTube, is the one platform that’s ours. It belongs to us. The largest consumers of new media are Asian Americans (Asian Americans represent YouTube’s biggest demographic) and the top internet stars, like our channel partners Ryan Higa and KevJumba, are Asian American. Here we dominate. Here we have the best shot at creating a model that can truly benefit our community both artistically and financially.
As the gatekeepers of YouTube’s “official” Asian American channel, this is a huge and important responsibility that we don’t take lightly. I’m reminded of this every day as I take meetings and talk to people who make sure I don’t forget the tremendous opportunity we’ve been handed. It’s exciting, but challenging and scary as well. And it’s great to get the support not just from the community, but from those in Hollywood who do get it—who understand what these channels can become.
And that’s what it’s about. We know what’s at stake for us. We know what we want to do. And if anything comes along to potentially threaten that—well, we’re going to try to take that motherfucker down.
(As a P.S., want to make it clear that although YOMYOMF supports the efforts to defeat SOPA, there may be individual bloggers on our site who feel differently and, of course, can voice their opinion if they choose–just as there are individual members of some of the organizations that are pro-SOPA who have opposing opinions)