Archives for January 2012
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jeremy Kolassa, originally published on December 21, 2011.
In one of the few instances of “good news,” or at least “not that terrible news,” the Stop Online Piracy Act has been delayed until after the winter recess:
WASHINGTON POST - The House Judiciary Committee confirmed Tuesday that it will delay continuing debate on the Stop Online Piracy Act until after Congress returns from its winter recess.
Committee spokeswoman Kim Smith said in an e-mailed statement that the hearing is expected to be scheduled for “early next year.”
Well, that is certainly good news on one front. It at least means they won’t be shoving it down our throat today.
But they’re going to try again. It always happens.
There was widespread outrage when TARP was first proposed, and under that public onslaught, the House of Representatives bucked its campaign contributors and shot the plan down. There was much rejoicing—until they passed it, with even more pork, four days later.
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jason Pye, originally posted on January 3, 2012.
With President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law last week, it should serve as a reminder that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the next battle that civil liberties and privacy advocates should turn our attention to. Some are already taking the fight over this issue straight to SOPA supporters. For example, Reddit users launched a campaign against GoDaddy, which caused the Internet hosting firm to switch its position to opposition of SOPA. Similarly, they also went after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a popular figure in the conservative movement, causing problems for his staff and, potentially, his re-election campaign.
Why is there such a backlash against this legislation? Because it promotes Internet censorship and elimates due process for website owners and operators. Jerry Brito explained the problems with SOPA at Time back in November:
Demand Progress has been the organization behind a lot of the SOPA Strike. They encouraged Wikipedia to join the blackout, and they’re receiving a lot of grassroots support.
They’re also working on the next phase of operations, called “Vote for the Net.” This is a campaign for people to pledge that they will not vote for politicians who try to restrict liberties on the Internet.
This is a great thing. 56,000 have already pledged to Vote for the Net (yours truly included.) This is what it comes down to, people. What these senators and representatives care about are votes. If they don’t have the votes, they don’t have their jobs, plain and simple. The campaign money is only to guarantee those votes, that is all. If we can send a message to them that we won’t vote because of SOPA and PIPA, they won’t support SOPA and PIPA. That’s it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how democracy works. So if Chris Dodd ever comes back and complains about it, you will simply know that he is against democracy, plain and simple.
So Vote for the Net, and vote for our freedoms (and a more sensible IP protection policy.)
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Nate Nelson, originally posted on January 17, 2011.
Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.
Most times, petitions, protests, and the like to seem to have very little effect. People protested against the Iraq War, but we went in. People protested against TARP and the bailouts, but we bailed them out anyways. People protested against Obamacare, and it was passed anyways.
Today is different.
Judging from the news I’ve been seeing, it appears that the SOPA Strike is having an appreciable effect. I’ve already noted that Sens. Rubio and Cornyn, two sponsors, have switched sides on the bill. Declan MuCullough over at CNet reports that there is even more antipathy than I previously thought:
Rep. John Carter, [R-Mars? -Ed.] a Texas Republican who is listed as a SOPA sponsor, “reserves judgment on the final bill,” a spokesman told CNET today. “He’s certainly not saying pass the bill as-is — there are legitimate concerns in this bill.” (See CNET’s FAQ on the topic.)
The home pages of Craigslist and Google feature exhortations to contact members of Congress and urge them to vote against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate version called Protect IP. Amazon.com and Yahoo’s Flickr have also joined in. (Craiglist’s snarky note: “Corporate paymasters, KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET!”)
New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats who are Protect IP sponsors, sent CNET a joint statement saying: “While the threat to tens of thousands of New York jobs due to online piracy is real and must be addressed, it must be done in a way that allows the Internet and our tech companies to continue to flourish.” They said they believe “both sides can come together on a solution that satisfies their respective concerns.”
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Tom Knighton, originally posted on December 20, 2011.
I’m kind of a rare breed of libertarian. I actually believe in the concept of intellectual property. As such, some might be under the belief that folks like me would be in favor of something like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.
Of course, they would be horribly, horribly wrong.
Regardless of ones feelings on IP, the reality is that SOPA is nothing less than a NDAA or PATRIOT Act for the internet.
You see, the internet is the last bastion of freedom anywhere in the world. While it’s entirely possible to render something illegal in one country, it’s virtually impossible to stamp it out. Laws and regulations become meaningless as physical borders mean nothing on a cyberscape free from such lines.
The kick in the butt with this bill, as with many similar bills, is that it really won’t do a whole heck of a lot to combat piracy. Of course, there are some that will argue that what SOPA seeks to do is crush that freedom. That ideas breed in such freedom, and such ideas can not be allowed to incubate.
I don’t know if I would go that far, but what is clear is that SOPA is nothing more than a powergrab. Those that are supposed to support and defend the Constitution have instead decided to just ignore the document completely.
SOPA seeks to require your ISP to spy on you. It seeks to hurt companies like Mozilla that haven’t done what the powerful want it to do. It seeks to rewrite the current laws regarding the internet and remake it into a place where innovation no longer happens.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is not completely abandoning the Protect IP Act, but in a statement on his Facebook page, he has said:
SOPA: better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.
I agree with him that stealing content is theft—please, let us remember that some people live on their content—but SOPA and PIPA are a cure that’s worse than the disease.
Unfortunately, Cornyn is not really off of PIPA. What he is saying is that he wants to go back, “fix” it, then later reintroduce a “better” version.
There is not better version of SOPA or PIPA. There just isn’t.
Cronies are attempting a last-ditch bailout for a failing industry.
I saw Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was good, but I don’t think I would see it again. The problem is there are apparently government officials out there who have seen the film and believe that it’s real. Except instead of seeing Orlando Bloom swoop down from a chandelier in order to save his, would be, girlfriend from vengeful and evil ghost pirates, they see anyone who has ever used the Internet as one knot-tying lesson away from loading up every last ship in the kings navy with any and all privately licensed media and heading straight for Tortuga.
Lamar Smith (pictured right), creator of SOPA (now PIPA) believes this in the deepest part of his heart. He is scared of Geoffrey Rush, and ipso facto he is scared of you. Him and people like him believe that the free dissemination of information makes everybody criminals. They want to put the genie back in the bottle, as it were, and given the chance they would probably be perfectly happy to see us crawling around on all fours and hanging from trees with our tales so long as we pay the going rate for DVDs; not that monkeys behave that way, or that folks like Smith likely believe in evolution.
If you take the time to calm down and ask the supporters of the PIPA doctrine about their motivation for their support of the whole mess, they will argue that media corporations and producers need to be protected against folks who steal from them and that the way to enforce this protection is not to change the way that media is provided but rather snap the lid shut on forward thinking technologies — which is, of course, total bullshit, but it’s their story and they are sticking to it.
When I read Jimbo Wales’ Twitter account about Wikipedia going dark, he linked to this October 2011 article from the Guardian in the United Kingdom about the entertainment industry’s profits. Surprisingly, it shows that piracy might not be having that much of a dent after all:
A surge of more than 50% in spending on e-commerce services such asNetflix and Amazon – helped by booming sales of Blu-ray discs of films such as the Star Wars franchise – has fuelled the first rise in home entertainment spending in the US for more than three years.
Consumer spending on services that provide films and TV shows digitally – including streaming, video-on-demand and subscription services such as iTunes and Hulu – grew 55.79% year on year to $811m in the third quarter, according to a report by industry body the Digital Entertainment Group.
The booming growth of digital services and surge in Blu-ray disc sales fuelled an overall 4.87% year-on-year increase in total US home entertainment spending in the third quarter to $4bn.
“[It is] a major milestone as this is the first time spending has increased since the first quarter of 2008 when the economic downturn began,” said the report. “This growth reflects an encouraging shift in the marketplace … [and] the continued stabilisation of the industry.”
Of course, it was a change from previous years, but then, that’s to be expected since we’re in a global recession.
If you’re like me, you hoped that you wouldn’t be hearing anything more from allegedly corrupt former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) after he decided in 2010 not to seek a sixth Senate term. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decided it just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hire somebody who allegedly knows exactly what it takes to buy a senator. The MPAA selected Dodd as its new head lobbyist chairman and CEO last year. Now Dodd is taking aim at Wikipedia, Google, and other websites involved in today’s protest against the SOPA/PIPA internet censorship legislation pending in Congress:
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.