Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
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.)
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.”
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.
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.
Already, today’s SOPA Strike is having an effect. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the co-sponsors of the bill, has withdrawn his support today. From his Facebook page:
A Better Way to Fight the Online Theft of American Ideas and Jobs
By Senator Marco Rubio
In recent weeks, we’ve heard from many Floridians about the anti-Internet piracy bills making their way through Congress. On the Senate side, I have been a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act because I believe it’s important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy, much of it occurring overseas through rogue websites in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs.
However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.
Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy. Since then, we’ve heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.
Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.
Welcome, United Liberty readers! Today we are solely focusing on the evil that is #SOPA and #PIPA, the two bills that are in Congress and aiming to destroy the Internet. Thousands of websites are going dark to protest, including such giants as reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, Wordpress.com, Scribd, and Wikipedia. Google is also joining in, though they aren’t going completely dark, they’re putting notifications on their front page, which will help the protest get a lot more attention.
If you’re new here, or you’re new to the whole SOPA and PIPA debate in general and want to know more about why these bills plainly suck, you’re in the right place. But rather than reinvent the blogging wheel, I’m instead going to give credit where credit is due, and direct you to Mashable’s Chris Heald, who has done an absolutely fantastic job dissecting these bills and showing you why they are some of the worst things that have ever been put before Congress (after the horrific NDAA, of course.)
The post is very long, because it dissects them so thoroughly. Here are some highlights I want to share with you, that I think are most applicable:
We’ll expand on this further down, but the really scary thing here is that there isn’t any qualification that the site be solely for the purpose of theft, only that it facilitate it. Since copyright violation is ridiculously easy, any site with a comment box or picture upload form is potentially infringing. Furthermore, DMCA Safe Harbor provisions are no defense. You, as a site operator, become liable for copyright infringement committed by your users, even if you comply with DMCA takedown requests.
First off, I think the hashtag should have been #OhJesusChristItsAnotherDebate, but unfortunately that was too long for many tweets.
Second, my pessimism from last November and December has returned. During the summer of 2011, I was pretty sure that Obama had it. Even with the killing of bin Laden, after the support quickly evaporated, I figured his support was going to continue to fall. But then, after seeing the rise of Herman Cain and the ridiculous tomfoolery in the back half of the year, I figured Obama had it in the bag. Lately, I was thinking it’s a more 50/50 thing, but last night’s performance has me thinking again that Obama is going to steamroll this election in November.
Why? Because none of the candidates—aside from Paul, natch—had any real divergence or difference, nothing truly remarkable that sets them apart from either each other, Obama, or even George W. Bush. Cut taxes, increase defense spending, some paltry attempts at entitlement reform, and oh, civil liberties, who needs those? They may play well with the base, but they are utterly disastrous with the general electorate. I for one agree on the taxes thing, but you will have Obama and the left point out that taxes are the lowest they have been in years, and unless Republicans shoot back with the OECD taxation charts, I don’t think that will sell very well (though obviously, yes, if we’re going to remain competitive, cutting our business tax rates to ~20% and getting rid of capital gains and payroll taxes would be good—though we have to balance that by massively cutting spending.)
The Washington Times had an interesting article yesterday, about how Congress did very little work last year. It’s a hoot to read:
It’s official: Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills — fewer than during any other session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.
Furthermore, an analysis by The Washington Times of the scope of such activities as time spent in debate, number of conference reports produced and votes taken on the House andSenate floors found that Congress set a record for legislative futility by accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year in history.
The Senate’s record was weakest by a huge margin, according to the futility index, and the House had its 10th-worst session on record.
Futility index? Have they copyrighted that? (I hope not, with SOPA coming down the pipeline…)
Of the bills the 112th Congress did pass, the majority were housekeeping measures, such as naming post office buildings or extending existing laws. Sometimes, it was too difficult for the two chambers to hammer out agreements. More often, the Senate failed to reach agreement within the chamber.
That left much of the machinery of the federal government on autopilot, with the exception of spending, where monumental clashes dominated the legislative session.
Wikipedia will blackout on Wednesday to protest two controversial Internet piracy bills, founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter Monday.
“Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday,” Wales wrote.
The protest will apply only to the English version of the popular online encyclopedia and will last for 24 hours.
Wales estimated that the English Wikipedia receives about 25 million visits per day, but he said the site could receive even more visits during the blackout due to the publicity.
There you have it, folks. Now this protest actually will be effective. 25 million will see that Wikipedia is against SOPA, leading to 25 million who will also be against it. And that’s just a conservative estimate.
The Senate will vote on SOPA’s counterpart January 24. We need to let everyone in the Senate know how bad this bill is—and hopefully, with the weight of Wikipedia behind us, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.
So says a venture capitalist from New York City. Brad Burnham, CEO of Union Square Ventures, the Big Apple’s biggest venture capital company for the tech industry, is saying that not only with SOPA cost jobs (hey, Republicans, this bill you support is job-killer!) it will also be a dangerous attack on the very essence of what the Internet is supposed to be. He writes:
I have always believed that the entertainment industry’s effort to stop people from illegally downloading content on the Web by asking search engines and Internet Service Providers to make it more difficult for their users to find pirate sites — which illegally offer copyrighted content — was the wrong way to solve the problem. But I could never put my finger on why I felt so strongly about it. After all, the entertainment industry argues that they are only targeting the worst pirate sites and are only asking for help because those pirate sites are offshore and out of the reach of U.S. authorities.
At a recent dinner, Joi Ito, the head of the Media Lab at MIT, described the Internet as a “belief system” and I suddenly understood. The Internet is not just a series of pipes. Its core architecture embeds an assumption about human nature. The Internet is designed to empower individuals, not control them. It assumes that if individuals are empowered, they will do the right thing the vast majority of the time.