The Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response.
Others are interpreting the White House blog post differently of course and let's hope they are right. In our experience, the minute this administration mentions keyword bi-partisan, we know we're about to be screwed frankly. Just look at the National Defense Authorization Act. That said, the fight against SOPA is heating up.
What is SOPA? It's a bill winding through Congress which is supposed to stop online piracy. The bill has broad powers through vague and ill-defined clauses for pretty much anyone to shut down any website by claiming they are hosting copyrighted material and such. Public Knowledge puts it more succinctly, This Bill Screws the Internet. The domain americancensorship.org has been at the forefront of fighting both SOPA and PIPA. The link above goes to their infographic and we reprint one slide with some of the more damning SOPA and PIPA consequences below.
Passage of SOPA and PIPA means this site could be blocked. Yes, Economic Populist fans, we could be in deep dodo if these bills pass.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an entire site devoted to helping you lobby Congress to stop these bills. EFF labels SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills and by golly, they are right.
If an IP rightsholder thinks you meet the criteria and that it is in some way harmed, it can send a notice claiming as much to the payment processors and ad services you rely on.
Once they get it, they have 5 days to choke off your financial support. Of course, the payment processors and ad networks won’t be able to fine-tune their response so that only the allegedly infringing portion of your site is affected, which means your whole site will be under assault. And, it makes no difference that no judge has found you guilty of anything or that the DMCA safe harbors would shelter your conduct if the matter ever went to court.
You can file a counter-notice, but you’ve only got 5 days to do it and the payment processors and ad networks have no obligation to respect it in any event. That’s because there are vigilante provisions that grant them immunity for choking off a site if they have a “reasonable belief” that some portion of the site enables infringement.
Basically a site can be shut down almost immediately through just an accusation and a filing of a complaint. Don't like what someone has to say? Why file a notice of infringement!
ProPublica is keeping track of Congress members supporting another bad bill, PIPA. One of the more amusing protest activities is proving the bill sponsor, Congress representative Lamar Smith, is actually in violation of SOPA and PIPA by his own election website.
Lamar Smith, author of the Stop Online Piracy Act, has gotten caught up in his own case of copyright infringement.
Jamie Lee Curtis Taete of Vice investigated an archived version of Smith’s official site, texansforlamarsmith.com, using Wayback Machine, a time capsule that captures different variations of websites as far back as 1996. This led to the discovery of an original background image that did not credit its owner, photographer DJ Schulte.
Did you know big banks are backing SOPA?
Why is the American Bankers Association one of the sponsors of a bill that seems awfully remote from its terrain? The bill allows anyone to send a complain about a purported SOPA violation and get the site disappeared. This faster and more brutal than the execution of Wikileaks via cutting off its access to payment networks.
SOPA 2.0 contains a crazy scary clause that’s going to make it crazy easy to cut off websites with no recourse whatsoever. And this part isn’t just limited to payment providers/ad networks — but to service providers, search engines and domain registrars/registries as well. Yes. Search engines. So you can send a notice to a search engine, and if they want to keep their immunity, they have to take the actions in either Section 102(c)(2) or 103(c)(2), which are basically all of the “cut ‘em off, block ‘em” remedies. That’s crazy. This basically encourages search engines to disappear sites upon a single notice. It encourages domain registries to kill domains based on notices. With no recourse at all, because the providers have broad immunity.
Did you know Rubert Murdoch has started tweeting on how awesome SOPA is? Nuf said!
It is true intellectual property theft is a real problem, but that has more to do with China, who already censors their Internet, just not brazen sites which host full length films before they have even been released. Regardless, this bill isn't going to answer that.
The content providers, media industry have responded to digital media and networks like this time and time again. They turn to laws and wish to turn U.S. citizens into criminals, instead of innovating technology and adopting new business models. The miracle of Steve Jobs is how he got content providers to embrace iTunes. Normally the media industry has fought every innovation tooth and nail. Even when the media industry enters into the technology security fray, they always seem to embrace the worse of the lot, never seeing the value of a digital distribution center or sharing. Why should this be any different?
What we like to see are technologists piping up. We see many who actually created a lot of the technology we use daily speaking out about these bills.
At the extremes, the hacker group anonymous just posted personal information on media executives behind the bill.
The online activist group known as Anonymous, which has targeted opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movement and businesses that stopped providing services to WikiLeaks, has set its sights on a new adversary: media executives.
In protest of antipiracy legislation currently being considered by Congress, the group has posted online documents that reveal personal information about Jeffrey L. Bewkes, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, and Sumner M. Redstone, who controls Viacom and the CBS Corporation. Those companies, like almost every major company in the media and entertainment industry, have championed the Stop Online Piracy Act, the House of Representatives bill, known as SOPA, and its related Senate bill, called Protect I.P.
There also is an app to change your twitter photo. Techology companies of all sizes, from Google to small website owners, are literally turning into grassroots lobbyists. Companies and individuals are walking the halls of Congress, all trying to stop SOPA and PIPA from passing. That's how alarming these bills are.
Will it work? Will the engineers, technologists and even ethical copyright, intellectual property attorneys stop this attempt to get rid of that pesky Internet and free speech? It's yet to be seen but you can help. Get active, get proactive. Save the Internet, stop the bills.