piracy

The Return of SOPA

SOPA

You’d think Congress would learn its lesson. After much of the nation revolted in protest this year, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was killed in the House, as was its counterpart (PIPA) in the Senate. Americans don’t want government regulating and policing the Internet. Beyond that, the bill was bad for technology.

SOPA got pulled. We won. We sent a clear message that Congress should keep its grubby paws off the Internet. Victory is sweet!

But now it’s happening again.

Lamar Smith, the stubborn Republican from Texas is pushing his Intellectual Property (IP) legislation back into the forefront, and it seems that his latest effort, the Intellectual Property Attache Act, is on the fast track to be rushed through Congress before the public really understand what’s going on.

TechDirt reported yesterday about how the IP attaches that would be created would be for pushing maximalist policy globally:

Their role is not to support more effective or more reasonable IP policy. It is solely to increase expansion, and basically act as Hollywood’s personal thugs pressuring other countries to do the will of the major studios and labels. The role is literally defined as pushing for “aggressive support for enforcement action” throughout the world.

Are SOPA/PIPA protests a tipping point in history?

While some of my colleagues here at United Liberty may feel that the protests yesterday may be heralding a new age of libertarianism, I’m afraid I have a darker feeling.  You see, yesterday, while the masses were arguing against a law that will create intense burdens on small websites, stifle the creative flow that makesup the internet, and ultimately throw us back about 20 years digitally, I saw only a handful of politicians leave the embrace of SOPA and PIPA.

Both of my senators have remained as co-sponsors of PIPA.  Senator Saxby Chambliss tried to argue that he was best positioned to change PIPA because, as a co-sponsor, he would have more influence.  Whatever.

After the NDAA sailed through Congress with remarkably little opposition, and I see little evidence that Congress has the testicular fortitude to say “screw the entertainment industiry’s money”, I’m forced to ponder as to whether we are at a tipping point in history.

Every society eventually falls.  Freedom is and always has been an endangered species.  It requires a great deal of vigilence for it to thrive.  This nation is obviously incapable of providing that vigilence.  Does this mean we are at a tipping point in history?  A downward slide towards all out totalitarianism?  Honestly, I don’t know.  However, I do see some things that make me very concerned.

For example, there are people who honestly believe that getting a court order counts as “due process”.  They thing that because a judge says something is acceptable, that is sufficient to meet the standards set forth in the constitution.  They don’t understand that a law like SOPA or PIPA will have a negative effect on websites that have nothing to do with piracy.

It’s time to bring down SOPA and PROTECT IP

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been keeping you up to date on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). While its supporters say that the legislation is needed to safeguard intellectual property rights and protect jobs, SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act (it’s Senate counterpart) would fundamentally change the Internet by censoring websites that purportedly enable copyright infringement or piracy.

There are many who will deny that piracy is a growing problem, but the answer to the problem is not SOPA, PROTECT IP, or any other bill that would promote government censorship of the Internet and, as Mark Lemley, David Levine, and David Post have noted, remove due process protections for sites accused of copyright infringement. These bills would also tinker with DNS filtering, which would block “offending” websites from being accessed by Internet service providers.

As you can imagine, the consequences of these two bills has many websites owners on edge. The prospect of an entire site being essentially wiped off of the web due to a single instance of copyright infringement, even if it’s unintended, has many ready to fight back. That’s why today many big names are either blacking out their sites in protest of SOPA/PIPA — among them are Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and Wordpress.org. Others, such as Google, are hoping to educate vistors of the dangers of these two bills.

8 Technological Reasons to Stop SOPA & PIPA

There’s legislation in the House and Senate right now that is very troubling to me. In the House, it’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act (abbreviated SOPA); in the Senate, it’s called PROTECT IP (or PIPA). The goal of the legislation is to stop online piracy, which is definitely a problem. The Senate will be voting on it later this month, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in awe at the absurdity of this legislation while trying to find a proper way to respond to it.

I’m a freedom loving, Constitution defending, small government guy who writes my own personal opinion about politics (which, for the record, may or may not always be the view of my employer). My day job (the one that actually pays bills) is as a systems administrator for a very large company. I’ve spent the vast majority of the last 13 years since my college graduation dealing with the technology of the Internet, and I know it quite well.

My career in IT and my fondness for liberty make me one of a relatively small number of political bloggers qualified to address this issue from both the technological and political points of view. Today I am discussing the technological issues around this legislation; tomorrow I’ll post the political problems with it.

This weekend I spent a lot of time poring over this legislation, blog posts, and white papers about it. I made my own notes and then merged my concerns of this legislation with those I found elsewhere on the Internet. This post is a fairly exhaustive list of the technological problems with SOPA and PIPA.

When a domain is seized, the pirated content still exists on the server. Additionally, it can still be accessed by its IP address. There is nothing, outside of draconian national firewall rules, that can be done to stop Americans from accessing this content.

Drop the SOPA: Protect the Internet from censorship

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.

Now, SOPA may not be all bad.  After all, plenty of companies will love to open up their nations to the off-shore dollars that are bound to flee the United States after a SOPA-like bill is passed.  While I’m not an opponent of out sourcing per se, I’d prefer it not to be encouraged through idiotic legislation.

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

Mitt Romney’s brand of protectionism spells trouble for the United States

Mitt Romney

Those of us who are proponents of free trade have heard Mitt Romney’s frequent jabs at China, the United States largest trading partner. While President Barack Obama hasn’t been consistent on free trade — his administration has gone after China on tires, steel, and cars — he has signed three new trade agreements into law.

Despite his reputation as a proponent of free trade, Romney has been harsh toward China in this cycle, promising to label them as a currency manipulator and impose sanctions for violating intellectual property rights. It’s hard to believe that Romney actually believes this would be good for the economy and he’s just pandering to populists, hoping to earn votes.

But over at Reason, Shikha Dalmia explains that the policies toward China pushed by Romney on the campaign trail and in debates are misguided and could hurt the American economy, rather than protect jobs:

Romney even suggested—rightly—that the power in the China-U.S. relationship was on America’s side. Hence, retaliation against China wouldn’t trigger a trade war, because that would hurt China’s trade-dependent economy far more than America’s domestic-oriented one.

Netflix: FLIXPAC is Nothing For You to Worry About

Netflix fascinates me. How a company that has done such a great job of delivering a quality product to customers in an array of methods can get into so much trouble with its customer base is mind boggling.

Remember last year when Netflix raised prices and infuriated their customer base? Customers got furious. Then Netflix announced that DVD rentals would be going to a new service Qwikster. Separate web site, separate queues, separate credit card charges, incredibly stupid name…yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So Netflix announced Quikster. Then after customers responded in ways that could only be described as blowback, it backed off of the idea in a poorly written blog post from Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO.

Somehow after demonstrating amazing levels of stupidity time after time, Netflix has managed to keep customers. Sure, it lost some customers in the midst of that price change chaos, but the company is still doing just fine. This is probably because despite a history of poor decisions, the company really does deliver a quality product. So these poor decisions don’t really have too much of an impact on revenue.

But you can only go to that well so many times before it runs dry.

This week it was announced that Netflix had formed a political action committee (PAC). Immediately people all over the Internet were (rightfully) concerned that this company that supported that horrid SOPA/PIPA legislation was going to be pushing for its passage again.

Copyrights don’t matter to Lamar Smith

While looking through Twitter last night, I came across this ironic image from Andrew Bloch. It would seem that, despite trying to push the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) through, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) isn’t all that concerned with copyright protection; and, by his own standard, his campaign website should be removed from Internet:

Lamar Smith

8 Political Reasons to Stop SOPA and PIPA

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Ron Davis, originally posted on January 11, 2012.

My post from earlier today, 8 Technological Reasons to Stop SOPA and PIPA, discussed the legitimate technological problems with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). These bills are supposed to be an attempt at stopping online piracy, but as I mentioned yesterday, they will not work but will instead cause harm to the speed, reliability, security, and safety of the Internet.

There are also political reasons this legislation should not be supported. Here are eight of them:

SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy. It’s even a stretch to argue that they would impact it at all. I explained how earlier, but the technical details aren’t important to today’s point. If proposed legislation will obviously not accomplish its stated purpose, it should never pass. This one point alone should be enough for your congressman and senators to oppose it. In case it’s not enough, keep reading; I have seven more reasons.

SOPA and PIPA mandate censorship compliance. When a domain name is seized by the government, ISPs are forced to comply with the censorship. There is no option of appeal for the ISPs; they must comply.


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