Protect IP / SOPA Act

  By Shamus   Jan 18, 2012   395 comments

splash_gavel.jpg

A lot of sites are doing a blackout today as a protest to SOPA. I don’t feel right about doing that. However, I will partly, cautiously lift my ban on political talk to tackle this subject, because a few people have asked for my thoughts on the matter. I doubt I’ll say anything new, but I’m willing to say it all the same. Also, don’t miss Michael Goodfellow’s thoughts on the cultural and business aspect of this thing and what led us here.

I’m hoping that opposition to this thing is universal enough that we can sidestep the usual Red Team vs. Blue Team political football that makes me so crazy. First, here is a video that outlines the details:


Link (YouTube)

Governments and copyright holders have struggled for years to stop piracy and have been unable to do so. So their solution is to point the banhammer at the rest of the internet and say, “Hey you. You are now in charge of protecting Disney’s copyright holdings. Do it or you lose your website.” Basically, they’re conscripting all website owners as police. If we fail in this task – a task they could never do themselves – then our domain name is revoked / suspended. We’re talking about blocking an entire domain over the sharing of a link, which is the equivalent of closing down a nightclub because one patron whispered to another patron where to score a bootleg copy of Transformers, even if neither one of them has ever possessed such a thing.

Q: “Hey, millions of people share links on Facebook every day. How can we make sure none of them infringe on copyright?

A: “Good question. You’d better figure it out before we shut you down.”

The news stories are going back and forth on this. Three days ago it looked like this thing was going to be shelved. Yesterday it was un-shelved. After today? No idea. The important thing is this:

This is not over. Even if the representatives supporting this bill back off, it will only be due to overwhelming public pressure. That’s not the same as having a change of heart. If someone supported this bill, it means that they accept, on general principles, the ideas outlined in this bill. They are fine with tampering with the low-level operation of the internet. They’re fine with using censorship to impose US copyright law on people outside the US. (I wonder if they’ve ever considered what the reverse would look like?) They’re fine with punishing anyone, US citizens or not, for failing to enforce (not just uphold) US copyright laws. They are willing for this punishment to take place without due process, something which not even CRIMINAL justice allows. (See, if I rape somebody, you have to prove it in court before you can punish me. But if someone uses my website to tell someone else about where to download copyrighted stuff, my website gets shut down and I have to fight to have it re-instated.)

All of this to protect the income of people who, let’s face it, aren’t going to miss a meal anytime soon. We’re not talking about fighting against poverty, crime, hate, or disease here. We’re talking about fighting against “billionaires making less than they should, even though they’re still doing okay”.

“But we have to do SOMETHING about piracy!”

“We”? Actually, “we” don’t. It’s your copyright, you defend it. I produce copyrighted works. If people started spreading around copies without paying me, I’d be frustrated and disappointed. But I’m not going to try to make it your problem. I can’t imagine even DREAMING about silencing an entire domain in an attempt to hide my bootleg work from pirates. That would be ridiculous, even if it could work.

If you can’t make money doing X, then you go out of business if you insist on doing X. If Pepsi stopped making money on vending machines because people routinely vandalized the machines and nobody ever called the cops because vandalism was socially acceptable, then Pepsi would have to find another business model. I’m sorry people are jerks, but your earning a living can’t come at the expense of the freedoms of everyone else.

I’m as anti-pirate as they come, and if you really can’t make money making the videogames and movies I love, then I’ll be sorry to see you go. I like the X-Men as much as the next guy, but I’m not willing to pay for the next movie with my freedoms, and you have no right to bend the foundations of this communication miracle that has changed the fortunes of the human race for the better. Sod off already.

The politicians who got on board with this must fall into one of two categories:

  1. People who signed on with this bill without understanding what it was, how it works, and without considering the freedoms it would take away, in spite of the oath they took when entering office promising not to do this very thing.

  2. People who have been bought by the entertainment industry.

Both of these should disqualify you from public office in my book. If you supported this bill, you should be defeated in the very next election. Full stop. I don’t care if you recant later. You don’t “accidentally” choose to violate the rights and freedoms of people around the world and then change your mind like you were ordering breakfast. There is something deeply wrong with you, and we would have better luck filling your post with any person chosen at random off the street.

This is an important point, because this bill can easily be cut up and smeared over any number of spending bills, passing this a little bit at a time. Sure, we can get all worked up and organized to fight SOPA, but how much momentum do you think we’ll have against “Provision 112.2, section 3, of the proposed revisions to the house bill of Protecting Doe-eyed Street Urchins From Pollution and Terrorists“? I’m begging you people, get rid of these losers. Even if they’re on you favorite politics team. No, especially if they’re on your team. I mean, the other side was already going to vote against them.

I’m sorry for the political rant. Please remember that there are Democrats and Republicans supporting this bill in congress, and there are Democrats and Republicans opposing this thing in the streets. I cannot convey how little I care which of the two you like best or how much you hate the other one.

To wash away the taste of bitterness and cynicism, today we will have TWO episodes of Spoiler Warning! Nice, right?

Of course, this is exactly the sort of show that could be killed by SOPA. So there’s that.

A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!2020202015There are now 395 comments. My website weeps for mercy.


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  1. Vlad says:

    It’s amazing how the MPAA can brush this blackout aside as a gimmick and PR stunt, and say that the all these websites are intentionally misinforming their users to further their own corporate goals.

    Source: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120117/13254717438/lamar-smith-mpaa-brush-off-wikipedia-blackout-as-just-publicity-stunt.shtml

    All the while, they paint themselves as the angels who want to protect US jobs from foreign criminals. Poor, poor billionaires.

    Apparently, Obama is anti-SOPA as well (Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/14/obama-administration-responds-we-people-petitions-sopa-and-online-piracy ). That’s rather reassuring, but then he gets accused that he “has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery”, source: http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2012/01/28604.html. So I guess he’s supposed to throw his lot with Hollywood paymasters, or something.

    I’m not American, so I don’t know anything about Democrats or Republicans. All I want is freedom.

    • Shamus says:

      “All I want is freedom.”

      I like the way you think.

      • Mathias says:

        What annoys me the most about this is how little we Europeans apparently matter. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of citizens from around the world have protested this on top of the millions of phone calls Americans have sent to their representatives, and apparently we’re just being fed “propaganda” by the tech industry.

        This will affect businesses everywhere because, for better or worse, America has the largest tech industry in the world, and what happens in the U.S carries shockwaves throughout the world, and we don’t even get a say on stuff like this?

        It’s funny how when China censors its internet, we call it a breach of human rights. When America does it, it’s “protecting content owners.”

        • RCN says:

          We Brazilians eagerly and promptly embraced the internet. And no, not just because of piracy. Brazil is the emergent country with the largest ratio of users per population. It easily encroaches the figures of first world countries. We pretty much commandeered Orkut for ourselves.

          What I’m trying to say is, Brazilians are widespread in the internet. I’ve found fellow countrymen in the least expected places of this strange, strange medium. Heck, I’ve seem the odd brazilian videos in sites like College Humor and Cheezburger.

          And we are in full opposition against anything remotely similar to SOPA. The consensus here is that SOPA is like if China suddenly decided to make its internet censorship apply world-wide by making hostile takeover of all server farms around the world. It is just inconceivable and fundamentally wrong.

          And finally, SOPA just means soup in Portuguese. This legislation already sounds like a joke around here.

          EDIT: This was supposed to go stand alone, not attached here. But whatever.

          • Mathias says:

            I’m reliably informed by my brothers to the northeast (Sweden) that “sopa” is “rubbish” in Sweden, which I just find utterly hilarious.

            • Vlad says:

              I believe it is “rubbish” everywhere.

              • Mathias says:

                @RCN’s comment: I’m kind of in the same boat, considering that I’m seeing more and more Danes on the internet as well.

                It always astounds me how much bigger and how much more powerful a global force the internet is becoming. Not just a voice for one part of the world, but a growing, global consciousness for the entire human race.

                It’s awe-inducing to think that today, there are people who make music, write stories, make movies and videos, participate in political activism and make a difference from behind their screens. All of these people would never have had a voice if not for the fact that the internet is free.

                The internet has become a global force of innovation and progress, and while that progress is not always for the better (I’m looking at you rage comics), at least innovation is better than stagnation. Moving forward is always better than rotting in your place.

                • cl says:

                  I am sorry to remind you of this good sir, you seem so nice…but there is nothing “free” about the internet. Nothing in this world is free. Least of all the internet. Fiber, routers, switches, all cost money. Servers cost money. That ties them to businesses. Businesses run the internet…they are run by government regulations. Err go the internet is regulated. Period.

                  Have fun living in your world where you think things are free.

                  cl

            • bucaneer says:

              In Lithuanian, it’s a somewhat archaic way to say “it hurts” or, as a noun, “pain”.

              • RCN says:

                What’s uncanny in our case is that even the pronunciation is just right.

                Maybe it is to you too, I can’t say.

                So for me it feels weird when I see videos of people saying “We have to stand against soup”, “soup is going to change the internet forever”, “soup is a horrid attack on our civil rights” and so on.

                Amusing, but weird.

                • Zagzag says:

                  I’m not actually sure how you go about pronouncing it, I just make it up every time I try… Is is Sopp-ah or Soap-ah, or something else entirely?

                  • Stupidguy12 says:

                    I have usually heard it referred to as Soap-ah, just because it sounds better, but I think either pronunciation is considered acceptable. Besides, technically it’s an acronym S.O.P.A.

                    • Ross Bearman says:

                      A trivial point, but pronouncing it as soap-ah would make it an acronym, S-O-P-A is an initialism.

                • RCN says:

                  Oh, right, and PIPA means Kite in my language. Though in this one the pronunciation is very different.

                  • Wtrmute says:

                    Not just kite: it may also mean a kind of large barrel for containing for water or wine; and, before metrication in the mid-19th Century, a unit of volume. Rural Portuguese still frequently store their wine in pipas for private consumption in their cellars, and when you need water delivered in Brazil somewhere the water pipe network doesn’t reach, you call for a caminhão-pipa (a pipa-truck) to have it delivered to your cistern.

              • Maldeus says:

                Chzo wrote SOPA.

            • Eruanno says:

              Swedish person here!

              The word “sopa” actually has two meanings. Or rather, two ways to use it.

              “Sopa” literally means “a piece of trash” (singular), and is more commonly used as “sopor” (plural) and means “pile of trash”. This is used to refer to a lifeless object.
              It can also be used to refer to a person, along the lines of: “Du är en sopa” = “You are a useless person/trash/expendable”.

              Useless information, ahoy! :3

          • Tse says:

            It’s an archaic, but still used word for a large wooden stake in Bulgaria. It’s usually referred as something you use to beat someone else (especially spouses).

        • Rack says:

          When the UK did it it wasn’t even called anything. They just did it and no-one noticed.

          • Newbie says:

            And have proceeded to do it with complete dignity and respect… Because when did this happen and what has been affected?

            Seriously, have we done this?

            • Rack says:

              The Digital Economy Bill launched in 2010 gives the UK government the right to blacklist any website so it can’t be accessed from the UK. So far they haven’t done so, but if they wanted to block a website posting hostile stories they could do so overnight.

              • Dys says:

                I strongly advise anyone from the UK to go read all you can about that little bit of law, before forming a position on SOPA. Though you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to look it up on wikipedia. :P

                I will admit to an unfortunate tendency to accept from my government what I would find egregious in others. Largely I think because of the way the UK government works, in that while the MPs bluster and preen in the house, the civil service quietly gets on with running the country.

                Oh, also British politicians far more rarely claim that they are the personal chosen of God. That probably has something to do with it.

                • Graham says:

                  As a Canadian, I was unaware of this UK law, so I looked it up (you can still access Wikipedia by turning off stylesheets). It is very similar, but has a key difference.

                  The biggest problem with SOPA/PIPA is that is allows companies to do many of these things without a court order, without going through law enforcement, without having to prove they’re even correct, and without due process on the part of the site in question.

                  For example, if a content holder was to claim Shamus’s site was hosting copyrighted material from Assassin’s Creed 2, they could directly contact his hosting provider and threaten them with fines unless they took down his website within something like 24-48 hours.

                  In addition, they can target foreign sites with the same basic thing, thus imposing US law on foreign countries.

                  .

                  .

                  With regards to DNS blocking/blacklisting, the UK bill has an interesting caveat, in that the Secretary of State has to consider (with a court) freedom of expression, whether blocking the DNS is an appropriate response, and a variety of other factors, the most interesting of which is “steps taken by the copyright owner to facilitate lawful access to the material”.

                  So if the media in question (be it game, show, or movie) is unavailable to the public any more, they probably won’t shut it down (because how can it cut into nonexistant profits) or if there has been no effort to give the public a legal online way to view it, it probably won’t get shut down.
                  None of this excuses the bill, of course, but it is interesting that the UK has basically legitimized abandonware.

                  • Josh H says:

                    Aye, probably the worst thing about SOPA/PIPA is how there is no attempt at due process. All that is necessary for a site to be removed is one party alleging copyright infringement.

                    In my mind, this might have the effect of recreating the situation of Youtube across the entire internet. Think its annoying to have videos taken down with bogus copyright claims? Imagine if the same was possible for entire domains.

                    Another thing to keep in mind is that, at least for SOPA, the companies can send a similar notice to payment processors and ad networks demanding to freeze the website’s services within five days. This would allow websites to taken offline with little fanfare– why bother publicly blocking them when you can just cut off their financial support?

                    • Thomas says:

                      I actually think the British one is okay. There were two problems with SOPA, one that it just arbitarily gives corporations powers, two that sites can be held responsible for stupid things they have no control over.

                      There’s a legal process so already companies have to be a lot of time effort and money into it with no guarantee of return (and in Britain it’s more common for the company to have to pay both sides legal fees if their case is thought to be invalid)

                      Secondly it sounds like there actually has to be some flouting of piracy laws for it to take place, rather than just a youtube video review.

                      I mean I’m not arguing that it shouldn’t be possible to take down a website that breaches the law, freedom of speech isn’t freedom to forget about the consequences and it’s not freedom to commit crimes and get away with it. There should be a law, there are laws, just not this one

                • Trix2000 says:

                  You CAN technically use wikipedia still today – disable JavaScript or use mobile devices to view it. They explicitly state they are okay with using workarounds – they just want to get the point across.

          • Soylent Dave says:

            Actually there was a relatively big protest against the Digital Economy Act- it’s just that there wasn’t too long to protest it, and the most effective protests came from inside the industry (and parliament) – but the reason there isn’t quite so much fuss being made about it is

            a) it doesn’t go quite so far as SOPA – partly because it got watered down. A bit.

            b) it hasn’t been implemented yet (the EU still need to okay it, and they won’t – because nobody wants to pay for it…)

            c) the British courts have ‘blocked’ (ordered one ISP to block) one webdomain in the history of ever.
            And it didn’t use the DEA to do so; it used existing copyright laws – which required a lengthy – and landmark – court case, including such key points as “the ISP bears no responsibility for what its users get up to”

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15390021 and
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15212651

            (note also that the big UK ISPs are STILL trying to get the Digital Economy Act changed, and Parliament keep dropping provisions and deciding that bits of the DEA aren’t worth using after all… the Designs, Copyrights and Patents Act 2003 is still a stronger and more useful bit of legislation from the perspective of a copyright holder)

        • Aanok says:

          Here in Italy, our local equivalent of RIAA, SIAE (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori, Italian Authors and Editors Society) already possesses the power to take down a website for hosting movie trailers without paying for a very expensive licence (if I’m not mistaken, we’re talking €5000 a year). Fortunately enough, it has not been applied as yet, at least that I know of.

          This is ALREADY out of the US, as a form of approach. SIAE is one of the most hated public agencies in my country, also beacuse it’s supposed to work in the interest of the artists, while it actually is a heap of corruption, living out of public funding and demanding money from the artists, instead of handing it out to them. Just a note on how such systems end up working.

          All considered, this is already a worldwide issue. Everytime a country passes a draconic copyright law, it offers a precedent for everyone else in the world to move in the same direction. Of course, the US are more influent than the others and SOPA/PIPA actively works, from the US, abroad. But it wouldn’t be nice for the rest of the world even if it limited itself to American soil.

          • RCN says:

            Aren’t you Italians dealing with a particularly rough political scene right now? I’ve heard you have an unanimously despised president that alters his figures to pretend he has over 60% approval rating and the Vatican has a tight grip on every government agency.

            At least it is what I heard and it may well be outdated data.

            • Raygereio says:

              Silvio Berlusconi resigned a while ago. As for the vatican having a “tight grip” on the Italian government; they have a strong voice, that’s pretty much it.

            • Aanok says:

              That was until November, when Berlusconi resigned as he had lost his majority in the Parliament. Right now we have a “techincal government” (that is, a government not composed of politicians but of various experts: technicians), led by Prime Minister Mario Monti. Monti’s government is one of the strongest and most influential we have had in the last years. Right now, we are contending Europe’s leading role to Germany and we have a strong say in all European matters. This has come to the cost of some reforms which have put a very heavy toll on the population, but were more or less inevitable due to our national debt crisis.

              Regarding the Vatican, Raygereio explained it well.

              • RCN says:

                Well, it is just that I’ve heard of comedians being harassed by the government for making jokes criticizing the Vatican, but not really much beyond it.

                Good to know you got this Berlusconi guy out of the office. Props to you! *thumbs up*

              • X2Eliah says:

                Right now we have a “techincal government” (that is, a government not composed of politicians but of various experts: technicians)

                So.. is it working out? ‘Cause it in theory soundslike a pretty damn amazing, good thing..

                • Aanok says:

                  It’s working incredibly well for now, but, no, it’s not an amazing thing. Politics, ipso facto, requires politicians, requires people that work in the interest of other people so that everyone gets a say on what’s going on and all points of view get proportionally represented. Plurality and clash of opinions are what makes democracy the best possible system, as, through debate, the best solutions are found and enacted. Theoretically speaking, of course.

                  Monti is the dude who managed to fine Microsoft for antitrust law infringement, on account of the European Union. He IS a badass, and so is the establishment he has chosen togheter with our President of the Republic. The fact that we are experiencing such an improvement in our government is a terrible symptom of how sick the Italian political scene is. Of course, while Monti is travelling around half of Europe, meeting Camerun, Merkel and Sarkozy, our political parties keep bickering and losing time beacause of ineptitude and personal interest. The fact that, in a year or so, we’ll be back to relying on them for our government simply terrorizes me, but a techinical government must be no more than a transitional government. It is inadequate for the long run, because it’s not an expression of national sovereignty.

                  • Drexer says:

                    I did notice that the news from Italy I saw almost weekly before have now diminished quite a bit. It’s nice to see the country is at least recuperating a bit from Berlusconi’s antics.

                • Dys says:

                  Oh, I agree absolutely. It’s hilarious the looks you get when you mention that someone in power decided to enlist the help of people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about.

                  I guess you know you’re down to the bone when the politicians are suddenly less interested in what it takes to get reelected than they are in actually fixing their country.

              • “Inevitable due to our national debt crisis”–
                What national debt crisis? It’s an EU crisis based on the inability to set interest rates, print currency etc.; the Italian debt is at perfectly workable levels if the traders weren’t in a position to run interest rates up.

                All “technical government” means is that the people who matter have decided a government for the bankers isn’t enough any more, to be really safe they have to make it of the bankers and by the bankers as well. They aren’t corrupt in a sense, simply because conduct that would normally be defined as corruption–helping private interests raid the public purse–has been redefined as their official mission, so that makes it all nice and aboveboard. I’m not clear that’s an improvement, no matter how competent they are at it.

          • Mindstar says:

            Since we’re sharing stupid and shameful nacional laws… the Portuguese Society for the Protection of Authors (SPA) proposed a scheme that will tax storage devices which is already in the form of a law proposal. Supposedly this is is not even a way to “pay” for piracy, but to charge us for making a copy of the work to an alternate medium for our own use (rip a CD I own to mp3 to listen in my iPod, for example).

            This law would apply to hard drives, flash drives, printers(!) and mp3 players deserve special attention as well.

            Prices for a hard drive would increase at least 20% depending on capacity, printers can go up to 60% increase. A 160GB ipod would get a 50% increase in price.

            And how are they going to split the money? how will they know which CD I copied? and if I am not copying a work of art by a portuguese author? and what about storage devices not used for this purpose (storage for companies, printing of pamphlets, etc, etc)? none of these questions were answered.

            Plus, this “tax” is taxable… it’s applied BEFORE VAT! Which means it’s even more expensive to the final consumer.

            100€ printer + 25€ SPA tax + 23%VAT = 153,75€ -> 50% increase in price, not 25%

            So if this passes: congratulations to the Portuguese government, now everyone will order their hard drives, usb drives and iPods from foreign sites (amazon.co.uk sends all this to Portugal with free postage at similar or cheaper prices to local stores)

            if you want to find out more search google for PL 118 (projecto de lei 118), althou there are not many english articles about it.
            sixhat’s blackout page mentions PL118: http://www.sixhat.net/blackout.html

            Fun fact: SPA, the society I mentioned early, has debts of 9 Million euros… funny how they came up with this law now, isn’t it?

            • Rosseloh says:

              Off the cuff comment here: It would be pretty hilarious from my standpoint if printer prices went up 60%. They’re already built so cheaply that we just tell our customers “you’re better off getting a new one than paying me to fix it”.

              Of course, I’m not in your country, so (hopefully) I don’t have to worry about something like that.

              • Shamus says:

                Heather and I just ran the numbers on our color printer, and it’s very nearly cheaper to buy a new printer / scanner / fax machine / copier than to refill the ink.

                Nearly.

                I can’t imagine ever paying to repair a printer. The damn things are almost disposable.

                • Ink prices are ridiculous and the cartridges seem to last about ten seconds. It’s a scam. I’m getting a laser printer next time–it may cost five times as much, but I think I’d make it back over time just on ink costs.

                  • Soylent Dave says:

                    That’s what I did.

                    It’s more beautiful than you can possibly imagine.

                    (to be fair, toner does cost nearly as much as a (cheap) laser printer – but toner also lasts nearly forever, and you don’t have to worry about it congealing all over your print heads)

                    • Worth noting as well – the toner you buy (at least for the entry-level brother lasers) has about 4000 more pages in it then the toner that comes in the printer.

                      Not worth replacing it after the first is empty. When the drum is worn on the other hand…

                    • zootie says:

                      I bought my sub-100.00 laser 3 years ago, and I haven’t changed the cartridge yet. And it’s even the cheapo 3000 page cartridge, not the default 6000 one. I am glad that I don’t have to print color though.

                  • Vlad says:

                    It’s what I did already, especially after Canon totally scammed me.

                    My parents had a nice Canon printer, it was working quite well and the ink for it was pretty cheap (about 12-15€ a cartridge). But I also needed a printer, so we bought another one; it was a different model, but it used the same cheap cartridges which we could then share.

                    Fast forward some time, with one month to go before the warranty expires, mine broke down. I brought it back to the store and they sent it to be fixed.

                    Well guess what? They couldn’t fix it, so they sent me a replacement. Problem was, they didn’t make the 4500 model anymore so they sent me a newer 4750 model. I was very happy with this, until I realized the ink cartridges for this one cost about 40€, triple what I was paying before!

                    Now it sits on my desk gathering dust because I don’t print enough to put that price to good use before it dries up.

                    When my parents printer broke down as well, they just bought a laser printer (it only does black and white, but it prints on both sides of the paper, so we’re happy). And it’s also not Canon.

            • Drexer says:

              Thanks for making a far better explanation of it than what I did down there.

              Just to add to what Midnstar said, this was proposed by one the 5 main political groups in the Parliament. Currently all the others have already jumped along in agreement.

              >_>

              We really do have quite the government don’t we. *facepalms*

              • Mindstar says:

                Forgot to add up there that we are already paying a small tax on each CD/DVD we buy (€0,02 I think)… this is an extension of that law to line the pockets of the SPA (since no artist ever received a cent of the money they got from those CD/DVD “taxes”)

      • T-Boy says:

        I’m Malaysian, and frankly I resent having to rely on the goodwill and principles of your government.

        I mean, taking your argument to it’s logical extreme, it’s fairly clear that your country cannot remain in it’s position as the leader and de facto policy-maker of the Internet. If I had it my way, America would be the focus of a major intervention, and led to the nation-state version of rehab, and the internet would be handed over to the equivalent of Child Protective Services.

        I wish I was joking. Listening to Hillary Clinton talk about how stupid brown backwards people like us should cherish Internet freedoms so soon after hearing about SOPA convinced me that there is something seriously wrong wit your nation. And frankly, knowing that this is a systemic trend? Makes me feel that while your systemic rot may not be insurmountable, someone else needs to look after the Internet while you sort yourself out.

        • Shamus says:

          “someone else needs to look after the Internet while you sort yourself out.”

          True, but as the rest of this thread reveals, it’s pretty hard to find a government that doesn’t want to control the internet.

          Sopa seems to be a symptom of a larger problem: [The governments of] human beings are callous, power-hungry, and stupid.

          • T-Boy says:

            There’s only one group we can count on, then.

            We must hand over the controls of the Internet to organized crime.

            Sure, the Internet would become an infinitely worse place, but at least you know what their motives are up front.

            • Deoxy says:

              Sure, the Internet would become an infinitely worse place

              Really? Organized rime exists to make a profit, so I doubt the internet would become much worse than it already is.

              In fact, they might find a way to shut down SPAM – that would almost be worth it, just by itself.

              • Adeon says:

                I don’t know, I get the mental image of a couple of gangsters sending out emails to website owners demanding protection money. “It’s a nice webpage you’ve got here. Be a shame if something were to… happen… to it.”

                • Felblood says:

                  –but at least there’s an established protocol for keeping your site, or getting it back.

                  SOPA will skip strait to the metaphorical knee breaking, and they won’t even give you the ,option of selling your daughters into slavery, to save your livelihood.

                  SOPA doesn’t want web2.0 and fan content to pay protection money, they just want it to sleep with the fishes.

                  SOPA: Worse than The Mob.

              • Maldeus says:

                I’d rather not turn all my personal information over to gangsters, thanks. The corporations just want to sell me stuff, not rob my house and set up protection rackets.

            • rayen says:

              this is actually a good idea… I mean orgnized crime is callous and power hungry the difference between them and government is people who are stupid usually end up shot in a ditch somewhere…

            • Trix2000 says:

              Wouldn’t that be what this proposed legislation is doing already? :P

            • Keeshhound says:

              Oh, thank god. For a minute I thought you were going to recommend we hand it over to Anonymous.

              • Felblood says:

                Power hungry radicals, with minimal qualms about violating due process?

                The Anons might be grassroots, but they’re still politicians.

                Worse yet, they’re still human.

      • ACman says:

        What I’d like to know is exactly how many jobs would be “saved” by this legislation.

        If the US government actually cared about jobs they would separate investment banks from peoples savings accounts and pension funds.

        They don’t because Wall Street pays them not to.

        The worst most worrying thing about American Politics is that “cash” = “speech” which has led to situation where America is no longer a democracy but a corporate kleptocracy.

    • Andrew says:

      The only reason Obama is against it – is Cause this is an election year, and he is way behind in the Polls

      • Loonyyy says:

        Didn’t he say not to do this? You know, the pointless political silliness?

        And besides, shouldn’t politicians at all times be attempting to serve their people? So if he’s doing something to get votes, then he’s completing his purpose, for whatever reason.

        I’m Australian, and I have no idea why such stupid side taking nonsense is always the sign of American politics.

  2. X2Eliah says:

    They’re fine with using censorship to impose US copyright law on people outside the US. (I wonder if they’ve ever considered what the reverse would look like?) They’re fine with punishing anyone, US citizens or not, for failing to enforce (not just uphold) US copyright laws.

    Basically, this.. This seems incomprehensible to me – shouldn’t such far-reaching things be decided by, oh, I don’t know, maybe International agreements or something?

    Let’s put it this way.. the fact that the US government is arrogant enough to try and push their laws on non-US people, well – sorry to say it, but this isn’t helping the international image of the US one bit.

    • Fat Tony says:

      THIS! THIS! THIS!
      NO-ONE I KNOW, EVEN FUCKING KNOWS WHAT S.O.P.A IS!
      WHY ARE OTHER COUNTRY LETTING THE US PLAY WORLD POLICE!

    • Raygereio says:

      US government is arrogant enough to try and push their laws on non-US people
      Well, I reckon this is something that dates back to the end of World War 2 when the US became the “leader of the free world”. Back then everyone just meekly followed the US and I guess the US has gotten used to that over the decades.

      I mean, it’s not like this is a unique case in which the US thnks it can dictate plocies of other countries. There are plenty of examples.

      • Thomas says:

        In all honesty I don’t think it’s arrogance. I really don’t understand what it is, but in my country if – after some internet research the Jon Huntsman stuff appears to be a fraud – my faith in your country is partially revealed, if you stop saying stuff like ‘how dare they torture American citizens’ amidst the old Guantanamo discussion, I may even stop being concerned

      • ehlijen says:

        I don’t think this is the US wanting to police the world. It’s no country getting that the internet is basically international property. And while no country gets that and therefore no international efforts to regulate the net are made, the coorporations interested in having their rights represented are just going to have to make do with buying the biggest bully on the market, even if he doesn’t want to be a bully.

        The US people don’t want to destroy the internet anymore than any other people on the planet. But a few people in the US control enough of the net to make that possible, so they will be targeted by those few indivuals (whose nationality doesn’t matter) who want that to happen.

        Noone wants the US to rule the internet. But some want someone to rule it, and the US has the best shot at it.

        • Raygereio says:

          Well this is the US trying to police the world in the sense that the US has been actively pushing other contries to set up similar laws to SOPA and the like.

          Now I’m not saying this nonsense is completely caused by the US goverment though. Nor is it something unique to the US. Take the Netherlands; we have plenty of insanity of our own with Brein. In fact between the blatant lies in press releases, fabrication of evidence, complete disregard of due process, etc, etc, these guys are more then a match for the MPAA and RIAA when it comes to idiocy.

      • Felblood says:

        You are all getting hung up on all the wrong parts of this situation. Laying aside (if only briefly) that America is more having a mid-life crisis than basking in it’s own youth and magnificence, anymore:

        This does NOT nominally change the way servers in other countries function. It only alters the most profitable way for them to function, by changing the shape of the American market for foreign web-related services.

        SOPA’s DNS edit is functionally identical to China’s web censoring program, which the rest of the world has been more than able to ignore for years now. DNS servers inside US borders will be prohibited from directing people to sites on the blacklist including ones outside the country.

        Judging from this thread, stuff like this has already passed in some European countries and the world never even noticed.

        The reason you should care about American internet laws, more than those imposed on the people of China, is that the American internet really is more important. We have the largest install base (ie we provide more potential profit for web service companies), and we’ve had the longest lasting presence(people look at us to see their own future). What happens in America will have a global impact whether we like it or not.

        So long as at least one country maintains a truly free DNS server, we can ALL just use that. Those poor servers will be overload as all get-out, but they’ll still be there.

        Your concern should be with the damage that this is going to do to “web 2.0″ businesses. Blogging, Social Networking platforms, video sharing and file sharing are all going to become much riskier industries, which will reduce the number of successful startups and do untold harm to innovation. This Cooling Effect will brutalize startups, even if they are in other countries.

        In fact, reducing American access to social networking, sharing and blogging technologies may drastically undercut America’s place as the dominant cultural force on the internet, and by extension the World.

        Once we step aside and Japan or China (or someone similarly positioned) takes our place, America will effectively become France. –and France will join England with the other, “also once-great, but now mostly okay” nations.

        Don’t we all feel better about our own country’s place in the world, not that we’ve remembered that even countries only get 15 minutes in the spotlight, and all our great cities are just dust in the wind, on the grand scale of History?

    • Drexer says:

      You know, I considered saying that yes, this isn’t helping the US image internationally, but that a bit of that is still anger from all the conflicts of the Bush years, but a funny thing happened just as I thought that. I was watching last night’s Daily Show episode in parallel and I saw an audience in a Republican debate booing to the concept of a golden rule to foreign policy: “don’t do to other nations what we wouldn’t like to be done to us”. Booing to this…!

      I think my point is, you’re right. There still are far too many USAers who think they really do live on top of the world.

      And a worrying ammount of those work in the government.

      • Thomas says:

        That’s not arrogance though.. that’s just empathy failure to a ridiculous degree. If only there were say a large demographic of Americans who read maybe a metaphorical story – a parable – one might say, about maybe loving foreign people who you culturally hate and despise like someone who lives right next door to you? And then maybe if there was another tenant like ‘Love your neighbour like yourself’ that would complete it nicely. And then maybe if we had a large group of people believing it, maybe they should, I dunno, pay miniscule amounts of attention to what they very loudly proclaim?

        I have to believe it’s just because all the normal people are to quiet and uninteresting to make the news

        • delve says:

          Hard to get into network news with a message of love and peace these days. You need guns and hoes these days. Or mass murder. Or assassination. etc.

          • Thomas says:

            ‘Church donates money to charity’ isn’t news, because it’s expected, so no-one gets told about it. (Which is good, when you do good do it quietly so that others benefit and all that Jesus stuff)

            But still, with the demographics the US has it would be nice if there was a little more alignment between the practices and preaching. Less Republicans actually booing what is essentially paraphrasing one of _the_ bible quotes by tying it into one of _the_ bible parables in a way that was directly indicated that your meant to do for instance. I know we’re flawed people and people aren’t going to instantly change, but if God’s choosing their candidates, maybe their candidates could be open to pointing his stuff out? Instead of saying that they’ve got a God-given right to have guns, which is actually not that apparent in the bible, what with guns not having being invented

    • Aquarion says:

      Basically, this.. This seems incomprehensible to me – shouldn’t such far-reaching things be decided by, oh, I don’t know, maybe International agreements or something?

      They have a solution to that, actually. I think it’s called “Police the world”, and my government at least appears happy with the concept.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/13/us-filesharing-extradition-idUSTRE80C15C20120113

      A London court ruled on Friday a British student can be extradited to the United States for breaching U.S. copyright law by running a website that allowed users to access films and TV programs illegally.

      • Dys says:

        It’s well past time we cut ourselves off from the states, seriously. This whole ‘special relationship’ thing has been sour for more than a decade. Now it’s really starting to smell.
        Europe has a whole slew of problems of its very own, but hitching your chains to an empire in a full state of collapse seems to me the height of foolishness.

        • KelThuzad0398 says:

          Can the US stop paying for the rest of the world’s defense then? Have fun actually funding a military on top of your social programs.

          • T-Boy says:

            Defense from what, exactly? Space aliens?

            Last time I checked the biggest bad-ass in the world by a huge margin are you guys.

            Before you say “terrorists and rogue states”, let me begin by saying please don’t make me laugh. The body count of your nation’s reaction to terrorist attack and rogue state action overshadows the body count of the actual event by a factor of, say, 120. That’s for the War on Terror, mind.

            Please. The only thing being defended here are your interests. We are too remote and too far away for our actions to affect you in any significant way.

            • KelThuzad0398 says:

              Iran? North Korea? Palestine? China? Do you imagine the world would be a better place if at midnight tonight, the US disappeared and these countries were free to get what they wanted through force? There’s always conflicts between foreign powers and they often become violent. Europe hasn’t had to have a meaningful military for almost a century because the US (wrongly in my opinion) decided to defend the world from bullies that actually spent money on military. Europe has largely spent the money that would have been spent on defense, and then some, on social programs and then claims how barbaric the US is for not having these social programs. This is not to say that the US hasn’t also been stupid with money (largely wasted on social programs). I would rather the US save its military only for defense of ITSELF instead of the world. It would probably be a lot cheaper that way, too.

              • Raygereio says:

                *facepalm*
                I’d make a detailed rebuttal, but that would just be inviting a flamewar even more.

                Just for the love of Ao do some frigging homework before you go spewing random facts from whatever your favorite propaganda channel is.
                Do it for yourself so that you don’t look like a completely uninformed individual who has no clue about history and about the political, military and socio-economic situation on a global scale.

                • KelThuzad0398 says:

                  I’d really like to avoid a flame war, but if I am incorrect I would like to be corrected. I’m not trying to be sarcastic either; I’m honestly interested in your perspective.

                  • Keeshhound says:

                    Neither China, nor Iran, nor Pakistan, nor even North Korea would truly benefit from the economic destabilization that military action in their respective spheres of influence would bring. One of the benefits of globalization is that it really does create very strong incentives for peaceful coexistence. (It creates other problems in regards to human rights and cultural degradation, but neither of those are best solved by military intervention.

                    To summarize, the bogyman of rogue states is vastly overstated.

                    • atavus_5@hotmail.com says:

                      Edit: This was in response to KelThuzad0398. I fail at Intertubes.

                      It’s already been done. But since you asked:
                      “Do you imagine the world would be a better place if at midnight tonight, the US disappeared and these countries were free to get what they wanted through force?”
                      First of all the threat of a nuclear war is over. No one has the ability to pull off a victory in one and everyone knows it. The moment you fire of a nuke, you are toast. So let’s forget about that.
                      Secondly, while countries like Iran are often pounding their chest like a gorilla, a war is the last thing they want. Not in the least because they’re not very good at playing soldier. When it comes to conventional warfare they’re downright pathetic. If any western country (even us pathetic Dutchmen) would respond in force to their bluster, the Iran military would crap their collective pants so hard they’d launch themselves into geostationary orbit. That saber-rattling is not meant for us. It’s all internal politics.

                      As for Europe not having any need for a military for almost a centory. A one hundred years ago it was 1912. Two years before world war 1. In case you don’t know, that wsa a fun little shindig that started in Europe with rather large armies on every side. In fact it was the US at the time who had little to no standing army. The US only began becomming a large military force on a permanent basis after world war 2 as the threat of the red army demanded it.
                      The demilitarisation policies in Europa – while already present since after the second world war (after two big wars in rapid succecion people were rather sick of it) – is something that started for real after the cold war ended. The socio-political-econimic climates shifted and there was (and frankly still is) just no need for a large standing army anymore.

                      As for your other comments like how money is “wasted” on social programs. Well, I’m not even going to touch that with the standard 10 foot pole. Suffice to say spending mony intelligently is of far more import then throwing large ammounts of money at something.

                    • Jeff says:

                      There’s one thing that isn’t really mentioned though, is that the Golden Rule can be applied the other way.

                      If a stronger nation was committing genocide against us, firing chemical weapons at our cities, it’d sure be nice if somebody stronger than Saddam stepped in to help fight him.

                  • Soylent Dave says:

                    Without wanting to get into a dick-measuring contest –

                    Frighteningly, the EU is probably the most powerful entity on the planet at the moment (world’s largest economy, world’s second largest gross military budget (after US), world’s biggest army) – and yes, that is including the impact of the recession and the collapse of the Eurozone.

                    Additionally, while the EU has more soldiers in active service (1.6m vs. 1.4m and considerably larger reserves 2.7m vs 800,000), the EU focuses a much greater percentage of its military spending on R&D – even though the US actually spends more money on its armed forces.

                    (This is possible because the EU is lots of little countries, all working towards a common goal; it’s not
                    the US being horribly inefficient – although the MI complex does mean the US military love building things that are more expensive than useful (like helicopters, and gigantic dedicated aircraft carriers (which need a support fleet, but do look pretty awesome))

                    It’s just a good job that none of the EU states ever agree with one another, and that we spend our time legislating the correct length of cucumbers instead of worrying about world domination. I also think most of us are a bit fed up of war…

                    (conversely, the most powerful thing about the US is probably Hollywood and other US media – broadcasting American culture and standards to the rest of the world 24/7; something nobody else really competes very well with at all – and which kinda brings us back to SOPA; the idea of censoring US media, the thing you’re BEST AT, doesn’t strike me as the best way to increase US global influence…)

                    • Atarlost says:

                      The EU also lacks force projection. The US has expensive things like carriers and the large military cargo aircraft and dedicated marine assault platforms that allow us to intervene places we can’t drive to. The EU doesn’t. They have destroyers and cruisers and infantry and tanks and aircraft, but they have no way to get them to eg. Malaysia quickly and keep them supplied.

                      Unless you share a land border with your prospective enemies raw force numbers mean quite a bit less than force projection. I guess if Putin decides he wants eastern Europe back the EU is prepared. If China decides to settle old scores with Japan the EU is rather less equipped to intervene.

              • Nick-B says:

                Contrary to what most Americans seem to believe, the entire world ISN’T held back from ripping each others throats out were the US to stop it’s patrol of carrier groups not 50 miles outside their borders. There are a handful of countries that may start something were the US to drop support of other countries (Iran is a bit peeved off at Israel), but nuclear war isn’t what will happen.

                Sadly, the US seems to support only the regimes or leaders of countries that give the US something in return, not the leaders that exemplify democracy and human rights. One such example was the US and UK-backed coup of a democratic government in Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat) because Iran was a bit tired of being treated like a British colony and nationalized their oil industry.

                • Yeah, it’s mostly Israel and Taiwan that would get screwed if the U.S. decided to go totally isolationist. And Putin likes to make noise about getting the Soviet Bloc going again.

                  Most of the globe is pretty civilized these days, but that sort of thing can change at the drop of a hat.

            • Deoxy says:

              This is off the current topic, and I will try to keep it brief.

              The WHOLE WORLD benefits from having someone on top as the “world policeman” – even though calling that a “police” action is really quite ridiculous.

              Yes, the country on top generally benefits the most, but they also bear the cost, so that seems at least something in the “fair” part of the spectrum.

              How does the whole world benefit? Trade is the easiest, most obvious example. When there is one strongman at the top, defending the trade routes, all countries benefit. When there isn’t, piracy, etc, become more of a problem, and trade suffers.

              “Strongman” is probably a much better term than policeman, really. It shows the relationship better – the strongman is in charge because he’s the strongest, not for any noble reasons.

              The strongman who keeps most others happy with his (essentially) rule keeps goodwill and stays around easier, but a strong enough fellow can rule anyway.

              The strongman generally rules for his own benefit… but, being lazy (like most of humanity), he benefits from STABILITY, not having to actually apply his strength very often, which is to everyone’s benefit.

              And yes, the strongman typically takes advantage of at least some of the weaker around him, even fairly well-behaved* ones like the US.

              *”well-behaved”? REALLY?!? Well, give me a comparison to a historical “strongman” country/empire that makes the US look bad in comparison. Seriously, I’m open to it.

              • Drexer says:

                Yes, the world benefits from having a world police. But it does not benefit from that world police being a single country instead of an alliance of countries. Even NATO with all its problems is a much more constructive international player than the singleplayer movements of the USA.

                Issues such as piracy in the cost of Somalia are in fact many times thwarted by ships and NATO members from a variety of countries, showing that a large group of smaller military forces can still quite effectively work towards the common good of various countries.

                Unfortunately today it’s quite hard to find the graph of dispersion of US troops around the world, but you would be surprised as to how many of them are kept at home. Exemplifying very well how from the outside that same military seems like a truly megalomanous gesture which causes quite a bit of fear from everyone.

                Also, didn’t one presidential candidate of the USA said recently how he wanted a military ‘bigger than anything else in the world to make sure no one thinks about threatening us’. This is the kind of lines that makes other countries look sideways at the USA military. It sounds like a bond villain.

                • It’d be kind of silly for us to be thinking about having an army bigger than China’s anyway.

                  The British Empire was actually pretty benevolent at the height of its power. Rome was okay. The main problem with the U.S. nowadays is that it’s having an existential crisis and forgetting that it’s a GOVERNMENT and not YOUR MOM.

                  • Jeff says:

                    …the British Empire and the Roman Empire did not treat others anywhere near as well as the US treats others. Yes, part of that is due to the time period and generally accepted international relations, but we can’t really just ignore that component.

                    I’m not American, for the record.

                  • Soylent Dave says:

                    The British Empire was benevolent by its own, Liberal (Whig) standards.

                    These would be the same Whigs who developed workhouses and concentration camps – many Whigs of the time genuinely thought that they were helping people with these programmes, but that doesn’t stop them being abhorrent, monstrous schemes of totalitarian oppression.

                    When the British Empire decided that something was right, then it enforced it at gunpoint; sometimes this genuinely was – in the end – good for other nations (like implementing parliamentary democracy, trial by jury and abolishing slavery) – but benevolent might be going a wee bit far..!

                    As a Briton, I’m justifiably proud to hail from the nation that built the largest Empire the world has ever known – but that also means I’ve grown up learning just how horrible we were to everyone while we were building it.

          • A Different Dan says:

            No. It can’t. For the simple reason that it’s not about the supposed defence of the rest of the world; it’s about congressional pork and the US defence industry making huge amounts of money off it all. No congresscritter will ever vote in favour of lowering military spending if he or she has a large proportion of active and former military personnel in the district, or any companies with DOD contracts.

            So please, stop pretending it’s about “protecting the free world.”

          • ACman says:

            Why do we need YOUR defence? Defence from who?

            All you seem to do with it is waste ridculous amounts of YOUR money on invading the middle eastern countries. The world hasn’t need the American Military since 1989 but your Military industrial complex needs feeding so…..

        • Maldeus says:

          “Cut yourselves off” how? The reason the US can pass legislation that will affect other nations is not because those nations just kind of meekly go along with it. In this case, it’s because enough of the hardware that sustains the internet is physically located in the United States to give the US effective control over the internet at large. Cutting yourself off from the US in such a way as to make SOPA irrelevant to you would basically mean disconnecting yourselves from the internet.

          As a general rule, you can’t cut yourself off from anyone even halfway important in the global economy. You want to cut yourselves off from Morocco or whatever, you knock yourselves out, but the States? China? India? Germany? Brazil? Forget it.

      • Blake says:

        I was going to look this up and post it myself.
        The worst part is that what he did isn’t even considered criminal in your country, yet the Americans decided their local laws still applied.

        To my understanding the boy had never been to the US, wasn’t using US servers, commited no local crimes, but is getting extradited to the US so they can try him as though he’d broken American laws.

    • Tizzy says:

      Didn’t the DMCA also have a similar flavor of applying US law to the world? I can’t remember, I guess I ought to look it up on wikipedia. Oh wait… :-(

    • Robert says:

      This seems incomprehensible to me – shouldn’t such far-reaching things be decided by, oh, I don’t know, maybe International agreements or something?

      You think that would help? Seriously?

      Look at the US record for following international agreements. They either refuse to sign, or refuse to be bound by them anyway. As a Canadian, I’ve seen them collect illegal tariffs, lose the court case over it (under the FTA) and then refuse to refund the money, even after they admitted they shouldn’t have collected it in the first place.

      • Actually, refusing to follow international “agreements” has been some of the best work the U.S. government has done protecting our rights in 50 years. Well, not on the tariff thing–but the government shouldn’t have the power to create tariffs in the first place, so personally I don’t really care whether a *given* tariff is supposedly legal or illegal or whatever.

        There’s no principles and no respect for principles at work, which is why everything is degenerating to some kind of least-common-denominator quasi-socialist, quasi-fascist, quasi-imperialist bullcrap.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        Look at the US record for following international agreements. They either refuse to sign, or refuse to be bound by them anyway. As a Canadian [snip]

        Does that mean you’re from the same Canada that just backed out of Kyoto when it realised it was going to get fined for failing to meet its internationally agreed targets?

        :P

  3. Destrustor says:

    The worst part is, REAL pirates would be barely inconvenienced by this, I think. They’re already saying “fuck it” to laws, so they’d just do so in a different way.
    And then everyone ELSE gets punished. When did the U.S. become communist china?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Considering how all of the torrent sites are hosted outside the usa,pirates wont be affected at all.

      • Tse says:

        No, they’re not! One of the 2 biggest torrent sites in my country is hosted in the US. It’s even available from there! The funny thing is, noone does anything against it.

      • guy says:

        Well, actually, they will. Because SOPA includes a provision requring ISPs to delist “infringing” URLs from their DNS servers.

        It won’t stop people from getting to sites via their IP addresses, though.

        • Lazlo says:

          Or, using non-us dns servers.

          • siliconscout says:

            That might not make any difference because as I understand it SOPA is not a blocking of the DNS it’s a deletion.

            Basically they aren’t going to allow it to exist and simply block access to the IP (as they do in say China). What the US is talking about here is actually CHANGING DNS. The only way this doesn’t block it for the whole planet is if the rest of the world removed the Root DNS servers in the US from their DNS pulls.

            This isn’t a firewall to protect their internal interests, this is nothing less than an actual claim that the US owns the internet. It’s not a restriction of freedoms for Americans, it’s the nation that boasts to be the “land of the free” restricting freedoms of the global populace.

            Now the rest of the world might give them the middle finger and simply delist the US root servers, sure that might happen, then again it might not. But the only way to be certain to get around this would be to use private DNS servers, which is at best a messy proposition.

            Considering it appears every ISP with any major stake is on board with the legislation (or at least not opposing it) don’t count on their DNS to keep the site up.

            This is horribly thought out legislation being supported by at best completely ignorant twits and at worst corporate political whores.

            • Jarenth says:

              Here’s the point, though:

              If anyone, anyone, can get this done, or find an alternative way around it, or find an alternative way of sharing files, it’ll be pirates.

              And they will find a way. Even without the Pirate Bay, even without the Internet, they are still a globally distributed hive mind of geeks.

              • rayen says:

                I would like to say right now, that the internet is the most convenient way to move product. And i’m going to add this, they don’t make money through the internet.

                If the internet gets closed off, we’re just going to see an uptick in material bootlegging. And then the bootleggers are going to be making enough moeny from it to have incentive to do more bootlegging.

                This is prohibition all over again. i honestly think that even if it passes, it’ll last for a couple of political cycles before being repealed. however the damage will have done to american image, ideals and personal freedoms opening the door for other problems. And btw during the political cycles pirates will find a way around it on the internet.

              • Irridium says:

                If nothing else, they’ll just go back to copying that floppy.

              • Maldeus says:

                I once heard someone explain it like this: The internet is like a giant, automatic phone book. You punch in “shamusyoung.com” and it automatically looks up Shamus’ IP address and then sends you to his website (as opposed to all the other websites hosted on the same IP). SOPA won’t actually take any websites offline, it’ll just remove them from the phonebook. So if I already know Shamus’ IP address, I can easily rig my browser to take me there anyway, no matter how blocked he is.

                Regular wikipedia users aren’t going to know wikipedia’s IP address or how to tell their computer to sort out wikipedia from other sites with the same IP, which means they’re left in the cold. The majority of pirates, meanwhile, will quickly and easily figure out how to access the old websites, just like they found out how to use torrents.

                The only way to stop pirates from communicating this information to each other is to shut down online communication altogether. To take the internet offline completely.

                • zootie says:

                  Unfortunately, that’s not as easily done as said on any WordPress-based site (which this is). WP stores the entire FQDN (fully-qualified domain name) in its DB, so when you go to the site and your browser downloads the home page file, it makes many additional domain name requests to load the other files necessary for the site to display.

                  So the DNS measure is actually really effective against WP-based sites. The whole FQDN in the DB issue has been hotly debated many times, but it’s still that way as of today.

                  • MrPyro says:

                    It’s also effective against hosting companies that host multiple sites on the same IP address. You can get away with it because the HTTP request sends the domain name being requested to the web server, and the same web server can serve different content based on that info.

                    You’d need a browser that allowed you to mess with the HTTP request to get around that one.

  4. Type_Variable says:

    Does this mean if a website gives a bad review for a game, then the publisher could get the entire site taken down (even if only temporarily) if they found an excuse for copyright infringement? And this also shuts down any parody or satire found unacceptable? Ridiculous. The fact that YouTube could be shut down for one infringing link is a clear enough sign that you’ve gone. too. far.

    • Mathias says:

      Yup. Looking forward to all the 10/10’s on IGN in the future.

      Oh wait, they’re already there.

    • delve says:

      Youtube will doubtless be the very first hole to appear in the fabric of the network. No doubt followed closely by other streaming media and social networking sites and a big lawsuit (here’s the kicker) by *Google* to get access to their domain back. How’s that sound?

      Meanwhile PirateBay will carry on without a burp even if the US can’t get to it until they get clever enough to use a custom DNS server. Go figure.

  5. blue_painted says:

    That’s exactly what I thought.

    But it could go a step further, for example:

    1) Here’s a website that says things I don’t like.
    2) Here’s my “infringing link” (or my stoolie’s link) to someone else’s content.
    3) Hey, ban this site!

    … and it makes me wonder if, for example, http://www.whitehouse gov could be brought down by the same mechanism?

    edit: Bleah This was supposed to be a reply to Type_Variable’s comment.

    • Jack V says:

      I assume that even though there is no sort of due process, the people enforcing this (website owenrs, ISPs and whoever in the government actually turns off websites) will have some discretion to ignore some and act on others.

      What usually happens when people have discretion like that (if they’re not deliberately chosen to be impartial) is that big famous pro-government pro-corporation sites get a pass because “well, obviously they’re not really doing anything wrong” and small, anti-government or marginal-group sites get shat on “because what did you expect? Look they broke the law!”

      • delve says:

        I understand it’s the IP owner’s discretion. So yeah, whitehouse.gov won’t get called out *as long as the prez toes the line*.

        • Ysen says:

          If it’s at the IP owner’s discretion, rather than the service provider’s, it would be even easier for random internet people to get websites they dislike taken down. Just get a stooge to illegally link to your own property, then demand the domain be blocked.

          • delve says:

            You don’t think that’s on the top of Hollywood’s mind?

            Even you, even me. Post a link to a pirate copy of some whatever that’s being discussed in a forum and then tweet it @MPAA or whatever. Kill whatever website you like. It’s madness.

  6. W.D. Conine says:

    SOPA, DRM for the Internet.

    It amazes me that, over the past ten years, the entertainment industry still hasn’t learned a single thing about fighting piracy. Or maybe they have and they’re more stubborn and brutal then I imagined.
    When you can still enter a site with the ip address, the bill is useless. The pirates have to spend an extra minute of their life to bookmark the ip and everyone gets to see the degeneration of one of our greatest accomplishments because some executive is angry that not enough people saw Transformers 3.

  7. Fat Tony says:

    What I’m afraid of, is that I, an Englishman, have very little, to no, way of protesting this… which is down right bullshit as it seems the U.S govt. are playing world police again! GODFUCKINGDAMN!

    This bill could pass and there would be no momentous riots in the street, not a whisper, it could slip past whilst I’m typing a comment, or even sleeping, it’s very, VERY, VERY un-nerving.

    I mean it’s down-right horrific.

  8. Fat Tony says:

    I’m struggling to put in to words how damn mad I am.

    • Aufero says:

      I can do it for myself in two sentences:

      My state’s senators are co-sponsors for a bill that would censor (or kill outright) every business or pastime I’ve been associated with in the last twenty years.

      I voted for both of them.

      • Hence why I stopped voting, until I can start voting AGAINST EVERYONE and canceling out their ACTUAL votes. I refuse to vote FOR anyone because they’re all unprincipled bullshit artists anyway, and no matter what they say you have no idea what they’re going to DO in office.

        • Klay F. says:

          Why hasn’t this been implemented yet for the love of Christ??? I would so love to cancel out other people’s idiotic votes!

        • Blake says:

          You guys really need preferential voting, then you could vote for minor parties without your vote being completely wasted (as people could all vote for say, the pirate party, then ‘favourite political team’ afterwards, and they could see X number of people voted for the pirate party first, we should adopt their policies before our opponents do or else we’ll lose voters.

  9. Aanok says:

    I believe that no person in his sane mind could possibly approve of such legislation, unless he was either a complete ignorant or a bought out.

    This is just like DRM. It’s stupid and inconvenient. Should it pass, the majors would receive a capital PR blow, while piracy would continue almost as before. I’m left speechless everytime someone tries to do something like this (hello, Ubisoft).

    Amusingly enough, nobody gives a shit about music and movies corporations. Their influence is abysmal if you compare it to, say, arms or oil corporations. Imagine what would happen if a more influent agent was tring to pass such draconic legislation. It’s an issue which might not be so distant or unlikely as it sounds at first: I’ll direct you to Cory Doctorow’s speech at 2011 28c3 convention. It’s a bit long (half the video is for question, his speech si a half-our long), but I recommend you listen to it anyway:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUEvRyemKSg

    You would find a transcript here, was the site host not on strike for today.

  10. Drexer says:

    With all of the pressure and building up towards today I’ve actually been trying to keep an eye on the news to see how this goes along with the general public. So far I grabbed a small mention on the morning news but I’m awaiting for the midday news and night to see the true impact this has internationally.

    All in all there is hardly nothing I can say against this bill that hasn’t been said before, but more than that I want to see how the governments of Europe respond to it. In my mind my cynicism and optimism have battled between whether Europe would oppose this awful example of censorship(which in the medium-long run might result in the migration of services and companies from the US to the EU and show the politicians the economical value of a free internet), or if they would simply bend over like the USA politicians have(which would certainly have its fair share of interesting consequences considering the social unrest that everyone is feeling due to the economical situation right now).

    I can’t disregard taking notes either, because here in Portugal we’ve just watched attempts to introduce similar draconian measures; the prime example a 0,50€ tax per Gb for storage mediums. Yeah, I know… So we’ll probably have to raise our vocies too soon enough.

    I’m pleasantly surprised though how many sites joined this protest though either by blacking out or by simply putting the issue front and center. SMBC, xkcd, RockPaperShotgun, all my STFUtumblr blogs, without counting the big guys such as wikipedia and reddit. It almost feels like I’ll be able to do some proper study today.

    • Aanok says:

      We have a storage tax even here in Italy. It’s ridiculous.

      • We have one in Canada too. What’s interesting to me is that the tax is explicitly supposed to pay for the costs of digital copyright infringement. There are a number of implications to this.
        1. Perhaps least pleasant, it means that I (and the whole Canadian population, plus any tourists who buy blank CDs or USB drives) am assumed to be a criminal, not just until proven innocent, but unconditionally–I cannot prove myself innocent at all, but must pay for my presumed crime automatically. Nobody is legal.
        2. Looked at a different way, apparently it means nobody uses storage for anything legal. So my vacation photos, my Linux liveCDs, banks’ servers full of their customers’ financial records, even paid-for pr0n, none of that could possibly be filling up any storage media to the exclusion of illegal copyrighted material.
        3. More positively, it seems to me that there is an implication that such piracy is thereby in some sense legal in Canada. They’ve already made me pay for the downloading (whether I actually did it or not); surely there’s some kind of double jeopardy in hassling me over it a second time. You don’t tax crime. In taxing it surely it is legitimated.

    • Mathias says:

      Actually, the Parliament is currently voting on a bill called ACTA, which is like SOPA, only for 32 countries besides the U.S

      I wish I could link you to the page for the anti-ACTA movement, but they’re protesting SOPA.

    • RCN says:

      I give my greetings to our progenitors and ex-colonizers. No hard feelings.

      What I’m really curious about is what kind of stirrup this is causing in France. They’re big opposers to attacks on civil liberties and the U.S. in general.

      • Drexer says:

        I give my greetings to our descendants and ex-colonies. No hard feelings here either. Although anyone who has ever watched a Portuguese vs Brazilian discussion on youtube would find this impossible.

        Yeah, France is I think really one of the major players upon which this discussion might rise. Specially because in the major European Union discussions no one really cares about the United Kingdom and its policies, so anything that happens there will still be treated as very much a foreign event instead of an inside issue.

        • Newbie says:

          WOO!!! We are foreigners in our own international group! My god we are pros.

          Too be honest, we completely disagree with the idea of joining an international grouping fully which refuses to acknowledge us as a worthy partner. (Or that is what the government says, and not just the current one).

          But I think you should have a go at our government if we start any of this shit.

          • Drexer says:

            I don’t like it either, but it’s as if our governments are kids which just don’t wanna make up and play along. I can understand the UK keeping its coin and the economic union aspect is certainly good for both worlds(easy buying from amazon.co.uk wooohoo), but other than that the UK government seems to hate the EU and vice-versa.

            Every election there seems to be all UK politicians insulting the EU and most of its countries as freeloaders and there are various instances of UK members of the European parliament acting in simply aggressive ways. Of course on the other hand the EU parliament insists on only speaking in French officially and never in English for my eternal annoyance and seemingly to simply annoy the UK and I’ve seen the media practically cutting short talks when it comes from the UK representatives.

            I just wanna shake them all and make them play properly with each other.

    • Zagzag says:

      Wait… a 50 cent tax per Gb…? Have I read this right? So you pay 50 cents in tax for each Gb worth of storage you buy…? How can this work. This would make my current computer’s hard drive cost 1000 Euros extra in tax were I to buy it again with this tax in force…? How can this possibly be even remotely viable? I’m very glad I don’t live somewhere that wants to do this.

      • Bubble181 says:

        We already have a similar tax in Belgium, though it’s currently capped at, IIRC, €5 per physical medium. Still, it’s €0.50 per blank CD you buy, which is madness considering I never use them to pirate. I just use thm to make back-ups (one set of CDs in my car, one at home).

      • Drexer says:

        WARNING: I made a mistake that 0,50€ tax is only for SD cards, iPods/pads/phones/cellphones. Not as bad, but not good either.

        But there are more bad ideas too:

        Seeing as you can use a printer to print illegal material, they want an additional value which depends on the printing speed of pages/minute. A 9 pages per minute simple printer would have a 23€ tax.

        Each CD/DVD writer would have a 4€ tax, each CD-R 0,05€. So 5 extra € in a box of 100 of those.

        Regarding hard drives it’s 0,02€ per Gb for the first Tb and 0,025 afterwards. So extra 25,2€ for a Tb and 57,98€ extra for two Tb. Considering the advance of storage and the diminishing of prices, in 5 years you would pay 152€ for a 5 Tb disk which might cost less than 100€.

  11. Veloxyll says:

    Well, the film industry doesn’t want us talking about how terrible their films are. And how do people talk? by the INTERNET. so shutting the internet down would kinda be in their best interests. I wish I had the link to how many senators were breaching SOPA.

    What I do have is a link to how Piracy isn’t killing the cinema industry: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3779894.html?WT.svl=theDrum
    It’s the current strategy of said industry – I haven’t been to the cinema in ages, and I don’t miss it a bit.

    • rofltehcat says:

      A very good link that backs up old claims with a very deep analysis of the movie industry’s situation.
      But not just movies are affected by this, also series and other stuff.

      If I’d like to watch a series here for example, it may take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year until it is aired in my country. If it is aired at all. And even then I only get the German version, which often has lost a lot of its humor (Big Bang Theory – just can’t translate many of their jokes and some voice-overs are just horrible) or has pretty bad voice actors (Stargate Universe – everyone sounds the same in the german version! it is worse than Oblivion’s 4 voice actors!)

      Furthermore, video on demand services offered here tend to always be alibi operations that are only hosted so people can’t say that “the movie industry isn’t even trying to adapt to the internet”. With horribly overpriced and outdated libraries that face the same problems (German version only, often very late after US release).

      Why can’t I just watch the series in English? Why don’t you want my money? Why can’t I just pay 1€ per episode or so?
      Well, it is their own fault… I’ll just turn to free streaming.

      • Amazon_warrior says:

        I currently live in Germany and I have conversations *exactly* like that with my friends on a fairly regular basis. I *want* to pay money to the BBC or whoever in return for the ability to watch TV shows in the original language as and when they’re released. So do my friends. Judging by comments I’ve read on services like the BBC’s iplayer, so do many, many other people around the world. I’m waiting for the TV companies to wake the hell up and realise that they’d probably do far better against piracy if they allowed more people around the world to pay and legally watch their stuff on-demand as it’s produced, if they so desire, rather than forcing them to watch the shows at the whims of local middle-manager distribution companies. It’ll suck for those middle-manager companies, of course, but I can live with that and I’d like to think we’d all get better TV shows to watch this way too.

        Mind you, I know dubbing is really big business in Germany, but I’ve never been sure why. Though possibly because I personally hate dubbing with a firey passion and always prefer subtitles! ;)

        • Blake says:

          Australian here who would happily pay the BBC to view stuff or use services like Hulu if it was available.

        • Dazdya says:

          As a Dutchman, I was always told that there is a large foreign population in Germany which can speak German but not read and write it. This would include Turkish and eastern European countries. This is (apparently) why German tv dubs over its programs.

          Might even have been true, 2 or 3 decades ago.

          • rofltehcat says:

            Nah, Germany is just one of the largest/most important markets for (mostly English-speaking) movies and series. Don’t forget this also includes Austria and Switzerland (and many Dutch people also understand German very well).
            This is the reason why we get full voiceover versions for many series. There is simply a lot of money to make in this market compared to smaller markets. German voiceovers are also kind of good when compared to what you get in many other countries (even though they can still completely mess up series like Big Bang Theory).

    • Abnaxis says:

      A list of senators co-sponsoring PIPA, 36 (out of 100) by my count. Bear in mind, that’s usually a webcomic site–I have no idea what his sources are

  12. potemkin.hr says:

    The Pentagon will treat cyber attacks as acts of war (http://goo.gl/gpupR).
    So, if the US shuts down some foreign major business or government website because of some user content or unfavorable views, can we assume the reverse and see it as an act of aggression or hostile act by the US and retaliate appropriately?
    Purely hypothetical…

  13. Chuck Henebry says:

    If you think that politicians who have been bought by industry money are unfit for office, then almost everyone in Washington is unfit for office. Unfortunately, fixing campaign finance went from very difficult (getting politicians to vote against the system that feeds them) to near-impossible (pushing through a constitutional amendment). All thanks to our Supreme Court—not just the nonsense about corporations being people but the earlier, more fundamental nonsense equating money to speech. So long as unrestricted spending is the norm, the wealthy get a disproportionate influence on the political system.

    So, here’s one bid for major overhaul and campaign reform!

    (Thanks for letting us be political for a day. It’s the Shamus version of the SOPA blackout protest!)

    • Dys says:

      As far as I can tell, quite apart from the fact that anyone who wants a career in politics should never be allowed to have one, US politicians aren’t allowed to take office without the support of the major corporations.

      Wish I could cite a reference, but I recently read a statistic from a likely trustworthy source which kinda made my jaw drop. 94% of the time, the candidate with the most campaign money wins the presidency. 94%!

      • Indy says:

        I know I saw an explanation of the American political system that agreed with you. Just a shame it’s copyrighted material. Newstopia, i miss you.

        Found the link: US Electoral System

      • Amarsir says:

        A far less dramatic way of putting that would be “the most popular candidate gets the most donations.”

        Studies that have avoided predetermined cause/effect find far less correlation between spending and success. The easiest way to check this is largely self-funded campaigns. Notable examples Meg Whitman in California and Jon Corzine in NJ lost their gubernatorial races despite massively outspending their opponents.

        There certainly is a threshold. Candidates do need to spend enough that voters have heard of them and are familiar with their platform. If one reaches that point and the other doesn’t, then the money correlates. But beyond that I’m happy to say that voters don’t simply do what they’re told just because an ad runs in front of them.

        • Tizzy says:

          On the other hand, you cannot deny that money has a terrible effect as a deterrent for dissent: incumbents tend to be always ridiculously well-funded on the simple basis that they’re incumbents, and that’s usually enough to discourage serious challengers. As a result, Congress as the most ridiculously low rate of turnover of all the democracies that I’m aware of.

          • Amarsir says:

            That’s true. And the classic counter to my argument is that even if spending doesn’t affect voters, a politician who thinks spending matters might warp their views in response to contributions. I don’t think that holds in reality, but there’s a theoretical logic to it.

            The thing is, incumbents already have a better voice by nature of the bully pulpit. Trying to chase money out only exacerbates their advantage. To wit: the worst thing about McCain-Feingold is that by restricting negative ads by “soft money” it protected incumbents from criticism on their actions during crucial months before elections.

            So I do grant that having money in the mix makes it complicated. I wanted only to say that the cause/effect isn’t nearly as direct as some statistics are set up to imply.

        • Dys says:

          I’m not sure if ‘the more popular candidate gets the most donations’ is a better, or worse, way of saying it. If you assume those donations come from voters then it’s rather trivial, but I doubt that is the case. Given that the vast majority of campaign contributions come from corporate interests what you’re basically saying is that they throw larger bribes at the person most likely to win. And that they are so good at judging that outcome that they have a 90%+ success rate.

  14. DerBarchen says:

    I dont understand why the UN Hasnt goten an interest in this yet, I mean the internet isnt America’s property =/
    I feel like this might be a thing that happens, only to fail a few years afterwards. Robert Heinlein had a theory that every type of governmental institution has to be tried at least once to filter it out of public consensus and into history books. This was more about regimes but I think that SOPA is very close to a political regime in of itself, as Shamus said this has the potential to turn one of the most important inventions for humanity Ever into a censored wasteland with constant martial law.

    • KelThuzad0398 says:

      Because the answer to government bureaucrats interfering is even MORE interference!

      • Dys says:

        That smells like a party line.

        I’m not trying to start the inevitable flames here, truly, but SOPA is not an instance of government overstepping its limits, it’s an instance of really stupid and or corrupt governance.

        That notwithstanding, the UN certainly doesn’t exist for this purpose. I tend to the opinion that humanity isn’t going to get anywhere until we have a unified global government, but when something like SOPA pops up I find myself extremely glad we don’t yet have one. There are a number of countries in the world which I am quite grateful to not live in, and the US is most definitely one of them.

        • KelThuzad0398 says:

          Government overreach and corrupt governance are not synonymous, but when you have one the other is more likely. Also, different people have different needs and making a one-world government will, again, encourage corruption.

    • Indy says:

      I believe the UN can’t influence domestic policy and probably wouldn’t even if they were allowed.

    • Tse says:

      The UN is powerless, not only against the US.

    • Mike says:

      What do you mean, “UN hasn’t gotten an interest in this”?

      Oh, they DID, and they don’t just have some domestic laws, they are UN, they have an international “trade agreement”international treaty to do pretty much the same thing as SOPA, only with dozens of countries (US included) already signed-in.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=citzRjwk-sQ

      And it will be an international precedent, a legal framework, on which acts like SOPA can be passed without a second thought – they are based on international policy after all.

      From stuff like this, along with all it’s impotence in every conflict or matter since WW2, you can clearly see who these guys fight for and what important role they play in the world.
      I’ll be the first one clapping when this corrupt cesspit will collapse at last, but that would probably mean that all things international will be discussed officially behind closed doors from that point.

    • Tizzy says:

      Trust me my friend: bringing up the UN is NOT the way to get US domestic politics to become more rational and open to the rest of the world. It’s more of a bull and red flag kind of deal…

    • guy says:

      The US is a permanant member of the Security Council and can veto any Security Council action.

  15. DanMan says:

    I think the now infamous “The Internet is a series of tubes” speach showed just how little our governing bodies understand about how the Internet works. They don’t see it as shutting down a bar because one patron told the other some illegal information. They see it as shutting down a pawn shop for selling stolen goods and forcing the Yellow Pages to remove them from their listings.

    I’m not defending them because it is, quite litterally, their job to understand the laws they are writing before supporting them.

    As a wise man once said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The laws are intended to stop piracy, but somehow people who keep making laws can’t see that the intention of the law is determined in court when the lawyers start exploiting loopholes and unclear wording.

  16. Mephane says:

    Just imagine the typical (and mostly justified, if I may say so) outrage at countries like China or Iran censoring websites. This bill looks totally like clever construct to mimick those very un-free systems that are usually shown as examples of how-not-to-do-it without sounding so.

    But similar type of censorship (even the mere existence of it, the mere threat of being shut down due to one single misstep, even if it was done by an random user) imposed by the US will have much large, world-wide effects. Just think about how many websites and companies that have been shaping the web that we all use are US-based and will be affected to the fullest extent. Then think about all the sites affected indirectly.

    To paraphrase a common saying, it could be the end of the internet as we know it. Whatever would be left after might much more resemble what people have in China than what we consider a global network of communication and – let’s face it, that’s what it is all ultimately about – freedom.

    When in doubt, always vote for freedom.

    • RCN says:

      No! Don’t say that! That’s the first statement that gets kidnapped and warped by government officials!

      Remember how the Patriot Act was written in order to “Defend the American’s Right to Freedom”? And then it spiraled from there and now every man of middle-eastern descendent is “randomly” selected for a “more through search (with latex gloves)” in all American airports in the name of “Freedom”. And people who had a single name in common with certain suspected terrorists were barred from flight, in the name of “Freedom”. And so on and so forth.

      • Mephane says:

        Look, I will not refuse to use the word freedom where it is appropriate just because a bunch of politicians like to highjack it for purposes that are directly the opposite of it. The situation is almost Orwellian – just because someone’s talking and acting speaks “Freedom is Slavery” I will refuse to accept their twisted, inverted, perverted use of the word.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Do that, and you’ll inevitably vote for government’s/politician’s freedom to restric everyone else’s freedom.

      • Mephane says:

        Voting for someone who will use their power to restrict freedom is obviously in itself an act against freedom. I don’t see how I thus could support that notion.

        Nevertheless, I know what you mean, and it always makes me sad to think about how so many positive words and ideas get abused by politicians who mean the exact opposite.

        In the end, I have no idea how to word it without anyone being able to use the phrase and turn it into its opposite, as so far most any cruelty and injustice has been brought upon people in the name of the very opposite of what was actually being done.

        It’s not even a “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” issue – there are no good intentions, only greed and/or lust for power.

        P.S.: I come from Europe, where the word ‘freedom’ has not been abused to the extent it has been in the USA. Most bad stuff here comes under the disguise of “protect the children” or “everything else will ruin the economy”.

  17. Amarsir says:

    Let’s be fair here though. If you want to use the rape analogy let’s ask this: if someone sees you in the process of, or attempting to, rape someone, can they / should they stop you? That’s the problem the providers want solved. (At least ostensibly.) If an infringement is actually in progress and damage is building, saying “let it go, we’ll handle it in court a year from now” is problematic.

    What would happen in your rape analogy is that you’d be arrested, booked, and put in a jail cell until arraignment. Is that a punishment without trial? Kind of. (Although not as much when compared to the 20-year sentence you’d get after trial.) So it’s not strictly correct to say that nothing would happen to you until trial.

    So, broadly speaking, I think there’s justification for something. Just not this. The challenge is
    A) can we create an action that’s more like booking/arraignment/bail and less like “prove your innocence” or banishment by decree.
    B) can we restrict that action to people who are complicit and not those who are infringed-upon bystanders.
    and from what I’ve seen, SOPA falls short on both. It’s to broad and laws should always always be specific. And that’s why I hope and rather suspect Congress will end up not passing it.

    But I think it would be wrong to just say “let it go and prosecute it later”. And I don’t think “I didn’t host the content, I just told people where to get it” or even “I just created a place for people to discuss where to get it” is a particularly innocent excuse. I want a law that keeps the Facebook, Twitter, ShamusYoung, RandomForum safe but doesn’t let IllegalLinks.co off the hook.

    SOPA’s bad, so let’s stop it. But then let’s not pat ourselves on the back and go “problem solved, we’re done.” There’s definitely a need for something.

    • Dys says:

      And I don’t think “I didn’t host the content, I just told people where to get it” or even “I just created a place for people to discuss where to get it” is a particularly innocent excuse.

      Surely those are absolutely free speech? Are you really saying there are things which it should be ILLEGAL to say?

      • Bubble181 says:

        You’re a bit late for that debate. Forums talking about piracy and/or pointing you to download links are already illegal.
        If I put a link on my blog to, say, the Buccanneer’s Bay, and to go download Transformers IV there, I’m already breaking a law.

      • Amarsir says:

        If we reset completely it’s fair to have a discussion about the nature of copyright. You could argue that piracy itself is free speech; it’s just communicating ones and zeroes. But I didn’t want to go back that far because A) it’s pretty accepted and B) it would eclipse the ways in which SOPA is specifically wrong.

        But yes, I do think it’s OK that some things are not OK to say. The names of undercover agents and “fire” in a crowded theater are easy examples. (Also there are things you shouldn’t be allowed to say to an unwilling audience, but that’s OT.) Directions to a pirate link might be a bit different from those, but still far more on that side than grouped with the political criticism that free speech laws are intended to protect.

    • Raygereio says:

      “And I don’t think “I didn’t host the content, I just told people where to get it” or even “I just created a place for people to discuss where to get it” is a particularly innocent excuse.”
      Last year more then 30.000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the US. Sure the motor vehicle industry claims they can’t control what people do with the cars they’ve bought, but we all know that’s a particularly innocent excuse, hrm? No, cars are far to much a scary technology. They must be banned!

      Yes, I was being a bit facetious with that. But hopefully you got my point.

      “There’s definitely a need for something.”
      Yes, but this is the wrong to go about doing things. This will not affect piracy (yarr). Pirates (yarr) can and will work around SOPA.
      You want to do something against piracy (yarr)? Then start accepting you can’t stop completely and stop driving people towards piracy (yarr) with idiotic anti-piracy (yarr) measures (that don’t even work in the first place). instead start seeing pirates (yarr) as competitors and start offering a superior product.
      This isn’t rocket science, industry! If I want people to come to my store, instead the store next to my. I don’t go about punching those people that come into my store in the nuts.

      • Amarsir says:

        “Last year more then 30.000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the US. Sure the motor vehicle industry claims they can’t control what people do with the cars they’ve bought, but we all know that’s a particularly innocent excuse, hrm? No, cars are far to much a scary technology. They must be banned!” Completely non-analogous. A) I didn’t say anything about banning technology. B) Cars aren’t bought for the express purpose of running people over. (Even guns don’t have that express purpose, and they do have restrictions.)

        Lest we lose ourselves in changing analogies, let me go back to Shamus’ rape example. If I know what he intends, and I say “here’s some rope, here’s some chloroform, here’s the key to a room off a back alley where you won’t get caught” then I am complicit even though none of those thing would be illegal on their own. I’m not saying “ban rope” and I’m not saying “hold all rope sellers accountable”. I’m saying let’s not play dumb when everybody knows what pirate sites are up to.

        • Raygereio says:

          Well, I admitted to being facetious. But what’s the point you’re trying to make?
          Are you trying to excuse SOPA? Because let’s remember that SOPA will not stop piracy. When it comes to it’s supposedly intended purpose it’s flatout useless.

          Also remember that there’s nothing innately illegal about sites like piratebay.org. I have downloaded a rip of every movie I own on DVD. I downloaded an image of every game I own that’s on a physical medium.
          That was perfectly legal for me to do.

  18. Indy says:

    Extra Creditz, LoadingReadyRun, ScrewAttack and Red5 Studios are making a stand against the ESA, the major lobbying group of the gaming industry, who are supporting SOPA.

    Sign the petition here to try to help the ESA change their mind.

  19. Moriarty says:

    To wash away the taste of bitterness and cynicism, today we will have TWO episodes of Spoiler Warning! Nice, right?

    ah yes, shamus is truly a businessman. The best answer upon hearing other content producers go on strike is of course to produce twice as much content that day. All those potential customers have to go somewhere, right?

    • RCN says:

      Well. I’ll never criticize someone for being smart.

      Though I’m pretty sure this site only gives Shamus pocket change on a good month, so it is not like this can actually count as greed.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      No, see, it actually makes perfect sense because SW can be, far as I understand, treated as infringing on copyright laws (due to “gameplay footage) (I know about fair use and all that but if I recall it has been blocked on YouTube due to DMCA in the past), so why not flood the net with it while there’s still time.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive learned long ago not to fret myself over things that I cannot influence,so this crap doesnt phase me.Plus,I have confidence that,like prohibition,and plenty of campaigns against video recorders and cd burners,this will simply go away in a few years.

  21. Dys says:

    I think you missed a category Shamus, which is those who want to be able to control everything you say, and every means you have of saying it.

    The whole point of democratic rule and the US political system as a whole is to prevent power becoming concentrated to the point where anyone has that degree of control. Unfortunately since your nation was founded there has been constant, natural and entirely expected effort to coopt every branch of government to serve the interests of those who for want of a better term might as well be called the aristocracy. When you have two sides to choose between and one is coopted, you can choose to vote for the other. When both are bought and paid for, you have no choices left and the democratic rule has failed. So far as I know, nobody has ever worked out a way of stopping this from happening, although preventing that aristocracy from forming in the first place would likely help matters. See the OWS protests.

    Incidentally, I know the White House has sided against the bill, but I suspect that’s because they don’t expect it to pass and they want to look good. If it did pass, the chances of a presidential veto are slim to none.

    I know relatively little about politics personally, but it’s a strangely low profile topic most of the time. Everyone should have a decent knowledge of this stuff, at least in democratic countries, but it’s not taught in schools in the UK and not enough in the US I think.

    Broken governments aside, I really do wonder what the world would look like if SOPA or PIPA became law. Likely very little would appear to change, but the online media landscape would quietly and inexorably come to represent another face of the mainstream mass media. I would lay good odds that the vast majority of people would not even notice.

    I don’t know enough about the infrastructure of the net to be sure, but I can’t help wondering what would happen if Google suddenly did become responsible for all searches which resulted in illegal links. Is there anything whatsoever stopping the company from just upping stakes and leaving the US to get away from the jurisdiction of these laws? How many other companies would do just the same, how much revenue would the US stand to lose if the entire net industry just walked away?

    And given that there is absolutely nothing stopping someone setting up an unrestricted DNS server outside the US, is there any reason these laws would have any effect whatsoever on someone who decided to disregard them?

    Finally, Shamus, I am given to wonder how you, as a US citizen, would react to these laws being enacted. If you have a choice of a censored net, or an uncensored net through an illegal DNS server, which would you choose?

    • Stranger says:

      “Likely very little would appear to change, but the online media landscape would quietly and inexorably come to represent another face of the mainstream mass media. I would lay good odds that the vast majority of people would not even notice.”

      This is, probably, the biggest reason SOPA/PIPA aren’t going to be opposed more strongly. People just don’t care about it.

      Wanna lay odds if people move to foreign DNS servers, the next step would be blocking access to DNS servers listed as physically outside the US? If these bills pass, they’re not going to stop pushing on seeing they CAN push things this far.

    • Shamus says:

      “If you have a choice of a censored net, or an uncensored net through an illegal DNS server, which would you choose?”

      What’s interesting to me is that it doesn’t seem to be illegal to simply switch to some other DNS. Which means even if all of this passed, people could route around it. ISP could even help their customers switch to a “proper” DNS.

      In fact, who would want to own a DNS server in the US if this passed? Too much hassle and litigation. Maybe Switzerland would become the new keeper of DNS. (Everyone seems to trust them.) So this law passes, and everyone just abandons US DNS servers. Life goes on. It wouldn’t do anything about the other provisions (jail time for singing pop songs) but it would at least aim the damage inward instead of damaging the net.

      Kind of funny to play out these scenarios, although the best thing is for this bill to just die and for the people who supported it to leave politics and live out the rest of their lives in regret and shame.

      • X2Eliah says:

        How about China? Their dns servers would, in all probability, be the most secure against US copyright-caused changes ;)

        Ona more technical note, why are current networking systems relying on a ‘single’ dns server at once? Why not have, say, a system of 3 concurrent dns server addresses, and an automatic “best-of-three” resolution?

        • Mike says:

          I understand that wikipedia is blacked-out (by easily avoidable JS-banner) right now, but the problem on the level you describe is easily avoidable by using your own “recursive” dns resolver.
          Such “one server for all queries” as your ISP provides plays exactly this role – acts like a proxy for your convenience and caching (better performance, lesser network load).

          But that’s not to say that DNS is flawless – it’s hierarchical, fundamentally centralized, tightly controllable top-to-bottom from a few delegation points (like RIPE).
          It’s quite efficient though, which was definitely the primary goal behind such design, but is not really relevant these days, as some prominent figures (djb) might argue.

        • Loonyyy says:

          China? I think they might be just as bad for the internet censorship thing. Leave it at the Switzerland suggestion.

      • Dys says:

        The internet is an incredibly robust and resilient beast, it could never have survived and grown as it has without those qualities. I’m not engineer enough to know for certain, but I think it wouldn’t be possible to truly kill it without monitoring every phone line in the world?

        The more interesting and immediate effects would have to be on the US based companies which operate on or through the net, all of the ISPs and hosting services, all of the content which could be said to exist under US jurisdiction. Does anyone know how that’s even determined? Is it the physical location of the server which holds the offending data?

        My last question previously was, I suppose, somewhat off topic. Being somewhat tangential, not to mention bloody esoteric, I’ll understand if you want to leave this well alone. Others are welcome to pile on…
        In considering this particular issue I have come to realise that obeying the law because it is the law is, to me, irrational. In an ideal world only things which were immoral would be illegal, but in an imperfect world morality must be superior to legality. I know you have a strong stance against piracy and I wonder if that comes from the immorality of the act, or the illegality of it, or both.

        A related thought : Law dictates the actions of a government, not the actions of its citizens…

        • X2Eliah says:

          Morality is subjective, shifting, often nonexistant for some people. If a sociopath considers, say, murder, to be perfectly ethical and moral, would you want it to be ‘legal/allowed’ for him?

          Or religious nutcases, who have the claim of highest morality (deity, after all), and do soething that is illegal – do you want that to be ‘legal/allowed’ because their morality says so? Or do you want to impose your concept of morality upon others?

          EDIT @Shamus – if this goes beyond what’s appropriate, feel free to block/delete. I don’t know how to respond to “I’ll ignore laws because my morality is surperior and absolutely right” concept level-headedly.

          • Dys says:

            That’s a solid, considered response.
            I tend to the opinion that morality is not, in fact, subjective, but objective and capable of being derived from axiomatic rules. It would hardly be possible to have a perfect world in which law was unnecessary were morality truly flexible.

            That aside however, if we assume morality to be subjective then there is no means for determining which version of morality is superior. That in turn requires that all competing moral codes be granted equal weight and in that case there is no grounds whatsoever for saying that murder is, in fact, wrong.

            In either case, whether morality is objective or subjective, legality still cannot equate to morality and breaking the law cannot be considered an inherently immoral act.

            • Nimas says:

              Sorry to weigh in here, but as a human, morality is not really subjective.

              Hmm, that doesn’t quite explain the intricacies, but the basic idea is that there is a universal idea of morality for the more general things. Things like murder etc are basically universally seen as wrong.

              Now this doesn’t take into account some social constructs, such as killing someone of different race, or of social or religious background (please lets not get into that, I can already feel the Shamus’ delete hammer from here) but generally killing someone of the same ‘group’ is always seen as wrong.

              With things like copyright etc, ethics/morality become a lot more flexible.

              Sorry for long comment, just couldn’t help myself ><
              P.s, while writing this comment had to look up the definition of morality and ethics, and what you say can be completely correct, as it seems morality has more then one definition (the one used by anthropologists would be correct in this case)

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Thats not true.Like X2Eliah already said,psychopats and sociopats dont see hurting/killing other members of the group as wrong.

                Morality is a purely subjective thing.The fact that majority of people share similar taboos doesnt change that fact.

                • Adam Fuller says:

                  You would say that, wouldn’t you, Lucifer? :P

                  Anyway, simply because people have different ideas about what is and is not moral does not mean some absolute morality doesn’t exist. After all, people have varying ideas on how to, say, treat chronic back pain, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s ideas are equally valid and effective.

                  I guess what I’m saying is, if you define morality to be what people _think_ is the moral thing to do, it is of course subjective. If you define morality as what is _in fact_ the right thing to do, it may not be subjective.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Bad comparison.Treating back pain is easy to see if it works:If there is no more pain,it works.With morality,its not so clear cut.Lets take slavery,for example.Most people think its immoral,but if you look on a bigger scale,slavery can actually be beneficial to the society.Or murder.You say how murder is objectively immoral.But,then we have the death sentence,which not only removes a dangerous individual from the society,but it also stops the drain on the government coffers that imprisoning them would be,so it is very beneficial to society.

                    Also,one more problem,what would you base moral objectivity on?If its just whats best for society,then plenty of things that are considered immoral by the majority,would suddenly become moral(slavery,removal of human rights,payed hits,no free speech,etc).If its just what the majority thinks of,then revolutions would be immoral,yet lives of plenty were improved by that.

            • Amarsir says:

              Morality is objective but our ability to define it is sloppy.

              A thousand years ago, people understood the general concept of gravity but couldn’t define it, and made mistakes when making predictions about it. But as human knowledge advanced we’ve come to better – if still imperfect – explanations. I would like to think that in 1000 years man will have taken this morass we call morality and have an improved understanding of it. It is weird to think of morals as something a formula might explain, but then heliocentrism must have seemed crazy too. And I’m comfortable conceiving things I don’t understand.

              To your original question, a person may obey an “immoral law” not because they respect the law, but because they respect the “rule of law“. I for example believe in democracy, and so I respect the result of the vote even if it didn’t go the way I wanted. (But not everyone does, and it saddens me that “we lost the vote” is followed not with “so let’s convince more people” but rather “so let’s obstruct / filibuster / take to a bigger government / overrule in court / deny quorum / etc”. But I digress.)

              The point is that you need to respect the procedure and the fact that laws exist if you want them to mean anything at all. If I ignore what I think is “irrational” and you ignore what you don’t like and everyone else does the same, then we might as well not have laws because no one will ever abide them anyway.

              • Abnaxis says:

                Personally, I would prefer if we kept all morals talk out of law period. Laws should only exist enable the society we desire, not to enforce ethical codes.

                For example, murder is illegal not because it is ‘wrong,’ but because government and commerce would collapse if a person could just kill whoever they want and take their stuff. In regards to copyright, copyright exists in order to maximize the quality and quantity of content available to the public, not because pirating is ‘wrong.’

                Of course, there are subjective judgements still to be made about what shape we want society to take, but overall I think the discussion of the validity of laws should be focused on the overall macro-level implications rather than the individual-level moral code. The ultimate goal should be to do as much good with as little law as possible, and that is only possible if we take a big-picture approach.

            • DirigibleHate says:

              Apologies in advance if my point meanders, it’s 4am here in Aus.

              Whilst this is probably actually coming solely from my own morality, I really think that the only civil restrictions we need in that regard are that your actions don’t impinge upon the freedom of others.

              Effectively, I don’t think we should be stopping anything simply because it’s “wrong”. I disagree with murder, not because it’s “wrong” but because the act impinges upon the freedoms of the victim, in a very basic sense. While this can get shady with regards to intent, if you can’t justify a reason why you, personally, are injured by a particular act, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that act. A good example is prostitution, which is illegal despite there not being any victims for the crime.

              I disagree with SOPA for the simple reason that it removes the freedom of people to speak as they will. They want to tell people what they “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing in their own personal space.

    • Kdansky says:

      >who for want of a better term might as well be called the aristocracy.

      The term is “plutocracy”. I totally agree with what you say.

      • Dys says:

        Thankyou, yes. When wealth is power.
        A privileged overclass has developed. I am unsure that it could be unseated or dissolved purely by money, but the possibility remains.
        With wealth being hereditary various terms overlap.

    • Fat Tony says:

      I am currently studying Government and Politics at A-Level, in England.

      • Dys says:

        Good lord, are you really?
        Well that’s encouraging. I’m pretty certain that was never an option which came up when I was choosing subjects, but then that was fifteen years ago now.

  22. Stranger says:

    I hate to say it, but from everything I’ve been hearing?

    This is going through. Whether or not we like it, whatever we are told, the people behind this bill are going to get it through. It might be more worthwhile to see if it can be lobbied in the Supreme Court as un-Constitutional as restrictive of free speech, because trying to get the Legislative and Executive branches to send this to the paper shredder isn’t working.

    What makes me say this?

    http://spoonyexperiment.com/2011/12/16/senator-mccains-form-letter-response-to-my-letter-about-sopa/

    Pretty much this. The people behind it might back off the bill now due to public opinion and not wanting to jeopardize anything in an election coming up . . . but it’ll come back. They appear to honestly believe (or say they do, same difference) this is a good idea.

    It’s a slim hope that voting these people out will fix it . . . I would envision a lot of the people who would be hit over this would stand by other parts of their record and their constituents would overlook SOPA in a heartbeat. (Why worry about that when other matters are more important?) Then again, I’m arguing from ignorance here . . . I agree getting them out over this should happen, but I fear it’s not possible.

    At this juncture, it might be better to get the Judicial branch involved instead and hope they can handle it. Another slim hope, perhaps, but other avenues are NOT working.

    • Aanok says:

      Well said. If this time we really manage to stop such a travesty, we must be aware of the fact that things will only get worse in the future. They already have, as copyright law has already become ever more strict over the course of the years. Even more so, when copyright will begin to move away from secondary businesses, like the movie industry, to sectors as important as genetics. I really must recommend once again Cory Doctorow’s lecture.

  23. Kdansky says:

    I will (for a rare change) go the conspiracy route: I claim SOPA is not at all about copyright, it only pretends to be. It rather is a law to make censorship possible, because let’s face it: That is all it is. Arbitrary censorship. The entertainment industry is just not clever enough to realize that their interests are being used as a way to push censorship forward. From the outside, the US looks just as corrupt and unfair (check out the Gini-coefficient!) as any badly managed dictatorship. And what’s missing? Censorship.

    Charless Stross argues it well.
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/12/seasonal-flame-bait.html

    • Dys says:

      The most amusing thing is that conspiracy theories are the perfect camouflage for any true conspiracy. The very best way to deflect attention from yourself is to have someone completely discredited expose all of your activities in exhaustive detail.

      There is a dangerous zone below the level of martian chrononauts and shapechanging lizardmen wherein you can find all sorts of outlandish theories concerning the activities of various governmental agencies. The really worrying part is how many of them turn out, when twenty years go by and the files are declassified, to be true.

      I imagine that the majority of people here are aware of MK-ULTRA only in the context of Deus Ex. This was a US government program which drugged, abused and occasionally murdered people in an attempt to develop methods of control. It happened, it’s well documented. Nothing changes.

      Is SOPA part of a plot by the New World Order to gain control of the global information network? I doubt it. I guarantee, however, that there are a few people here and there who see personal advantages in this legislation, and not just in Hollywood.

      • Mephane says:

        It doesn’t need that one big “world conspiracy” any way. It just need enough people in powerful and/or wealthy position to believe that such an outcome would be desirable (for them). They don’t need some “hidden hand” to pull the strings, they just need that similar agenda (get richer, get more powerful, make sure nothing comes in the way) and that’s what we are seeing right now.

        That said, I am strongly convinced that indeed, SOPA is just another attempt at what would ultimately be information control – to control who can know what, to control who can say what, and thus ultimately control what people think. Not because some ominous entity wants it for even more ominous reasons, but because there are people who directly, personally gain something from such an outcome.

        And never underestimate the lust for power that some people have, it is far stronger than mere greed.

        The one big failure of all government systems so far is the inability to identify and hold back those people that want power for the sake of it, and support and bring to power those people that see it as a tool for the betterment of all. Because the latter is the core idea of democracy, but so far we (as a civilization) have failed to a) recognize the extent of this issue and b) come up with a viable solution to it. Frankly, I don’t even have an idea how we could successfully cope with it.

        When I’m in a cynical mood, I sometimes think humans are just not fit get along with each other in the long run. And then I think that is the solution to the Fermi Paradox – no one would ever want to have to deal with us, either.

        • KelThuzad0398 says:

          “…and support and bring to power those people that see it as a tool for the betterment of all.”

          This is a noble goal, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The person will be corrupted by power, or he will be replaced with someone who is corrupt. I believe it’s better to give them as little power as possible. The few places where government should have a part to play are usually in the role of defending the people from threats (to an extent).

          • Mephane says:

            Well basically that’s what I was saying – that the idea did never work out the way it was supposed to. But on the other hand, all attempts to limit the power in an individual’s hands seemed to have failed, too, because it’s just not a single person doing the stuff, but groups of people occupying all the important positions and working together for whatever selfish or power-hungry goals they have for themselves.

    • Mike says:

      I can’t shake off the feeling that this whole “internet strike” is actually a carefully designed and planned viral flamebait, designed specifically to make people go and vent all their frustration and fears on each other…

      Eventually we will get so tired of this “Game of Politics” on the internets so we’ll just skip our vote (what’s the point? you can see from this comment swarm how rigged and ridiculous the game is) or just vote for whatever SOPA is there, just so this insanity, strikes and blackouts will come to an end.

      And you know that “the bad guys” (but let’s face it, they’re not evil space aliens, they’re us) will never give up pushing these baitsacts, so they’re bound to win.

      Conspiracy theories, right? ;)

  24. Zeta Kai says:

    One consequence of the scenarios outlined by Shamus is a group like Anonymous (or several groups, or myriad individuals, or whomever) spamming every site with copyright-violating material. Just flooding everything with illegal information. And then reporting it all, thereby forcing huge chunks of the internet to shut down. Imagine vast swaths of the internet unavailable for days at a time, until the companies behind those sites prove to The Powers That Be that they are clean. And then Anonymous does it again. And again. It wouldn’t take long for laws like these to go away when you give that kind of power to the trolls of the world. And that’s pretty much what these laws do: they enable trolls to kill websites with little effort. Sleep tight.

    • Dys says:

      Except that if the copyright enforcement only comes down from the copyright holders, merely reporting infringement would have no effect. Unless you held the copyright, in which case yes. They could do that. You couldn’t.

      • Stranger says:

        Well, from what I see, there’s no penalty for false reporting, right? I bet Anonymous could very easily pretend to be the copyright holder briefly enough to file a false claim, and then vanish when someone went looking for “who the heck used my name to do this?”

        . . . they’ve done more creative things in the past.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Still wouldn’t make all that lilegal content go away. Say site Example.com is a staunch supporter of SOPA, and has a huge forum. Then let’s say that your group of neighbourly hackers, and other Internet rouges, spam that forum with links to song and game downloads and other illegal material. It doesn’t matter that copyright holder is not waiving accusing finger. What matters is that that content is there, for people to download. It now becomes the race between hackers putting more content, and forum mods baning bots and deleting posts, before copyright holder finally goes and cries to Big Brother, to ban that site.

        • Abnaxis says:

          It’s not even that difficult. Spend five minutes making an original work:

          This is my haiku,
          by the power of SOPA
          you have been destroyed

          I publish this on my blog. As soon as I publish it, I am the copyright holder (though I don’t know if it has to be a registered copyright. If so, I pay the $35 to register it)

          I now have the means to take down whomever I want. Log in, post my copyrighted material, file complaint. It’s that easy.

      • Bubble181 says:

        I write a song, Ann Onymous puts a bootleg version of it on YouTube, I insist my copyright is being infringed, YouTube goes down. Rinse and repeat with the comment sections of ALL US newspapers or TV stations.

        • The problem continues in that it may be just a claim that what you put up was copyrighted.

          Lets say you put up a parody – as protected by the Fair Use doctrine in America, or the Fair Dealing provisions in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), or countless other jurisdictions in countless other ways. The claim pulls down the site, even though what you’ve done was perfectly legal. Then, there would need to be an individualised response (which might not be accepted) about why what you put up IS legal. After your site has already been taken down.

    • rofltehcat says:

      Am I a bad person for wanting to see this scenario?
      I’d really like to see the money-givers of the SOPA&CO lobbies burn.
      Again and again and again.

      Problem? *trollface*

    • Kdansky says:

      Actually, that might just work to get rid of it. If 80% of the internet just stops working in the US, people will take action. And many big companies have a lot of leverage. Pretty much the whole technology sector relies on the Internet, forums, blogs and comments. I’m sure neither Apple, Google nor Microsoft will sit idly when the feds want to take down their sites, because some guy posted a link somewhere on a page they link to. Even Amazon has reviews.

      If the US really goes that far, living there won’t be fun, when everything plunges back a hundred years in time, and the useful companies just abandon the country.

      • Zeta Kai says:

        Don’t forget that all the big media companies (Disney, AOL/Time/Warner, Viacom) have websites, too, & they’ve relied on their web media divisions for ~15 years now to generate buzz about their products. And they have forums, too…

        I’m trying hard to think of a site that anyone would care about that would be safe from attack. Considering how fast & easy it would likely be to file a copyright infringement complaint, I don’t see how any website would protect themselves from the collective antipathy of the world’s malcontents. Especially once the number of accessible sites starts to dwindle.

        The peasants will revolt if they are not distracted by bread & circuses, so if they take away our free circus, then what will we do with ourselves to pass the time? I would be willing to bet that some significant percentage would occupy themselves by filing complaints against every site that they know. Even if it took an hour to properly lodge a complaint (which is an absurdly long time for such a thing, I’m sure), there’s a lot of hours in the day, & only so many websites worth taking down.

      • Adam Fuller says:

        This is why I have some hope that we’ll be able to prevent SOPA and PIPA-like legislation over the long term. It really only benefits entertainment industry content producers. It’s not clear to me that their corporate influence outweighs the corporate influence of all the other internet-using industries which would be harmed by it. By analogy, the horse-and-buggy industry never managed to ban automobiles.

        • Only way I could think for it to stop in the long term is (ironically) for it to pass. For then it to be challenged in the Supreme Court (as an Australian law student – I’m not sure whether the Supreme Court in the US has the power to review legislation independently, or whether they’d have to wait for a case to slowly work its way up) and for the Supreme Court to deem it a first amendment breach, hence invalid. Furthermore permanently invalidated due to precedent.

  25. as says:

    SOPA act: USA #1 on the web NO more!
    Web is complex, piracy stop Nerver worked.
    Old media stinks and is gone anyway
    Only stupids politicians go along, ending USA #1 last hope
    Triggering a western spring/summer!

  26. ThirteenthLetter says:

    Wow, did this comment section ever fill up fast with fashionable anti-Americanism and mindless conspiracy theories. Coming from people in nations that already have SOPA-alikes and blank media taxes in place, it’s particularly rich in irony. If America is now sliding into fascism, what does that say about all y’alls who are well ahead of us on the ride? What have you done for Internet freedom in your own nations lately?

    • Dys says:

      Mea culpa. It’s true.
      A slightly longer and more detailed post would have been considerably more helpful however, rather than vague blanket allusions.

    • KelThuzad0398 says:

      Lots of free enterprise bashing as well.

      • Drexer says:

        Where actually?

        Or is not liking the extreme power of economical lobbies anti-enterprise all of a sudden?

        Because you know, SOPA and all its cousins are quite a danger to the start of a lot of new technology enterprises.

        • KelThuzad0398 says:

          You bash corporations for having economic lobbies but lobbying the government wouldn’t be so effective if it were not so centralized. Everyone expects corporations to try to go around the law but it would be more difficult for them to do so if the Federal government did not have this much power.

      • Amarsir says:

        That’s in vogue these days, but I’m actually not seeing it here. And I don’t think it overwhelms the issue anyway. I know I could make a perfectly Libertarian argument “for” or “against” copyright law in general (depending on inclination) so it’s not it’s not like free enterprise has a clear camp either. What I cannot do however, is craft a Libertarian defense of this particular act.

    • Bubble181 says:

      I’m quite vocal in my city, speaking against quite a few similar laws, and have organised protests against, amongst others, the law forcing blank media taxes. Those protests didn’t /work/, but I still tried.

      That aside, calling yourself the Paragon of Freedom and the Protectors of Freedom and so on, and /then/ starting up censorship laws and such, is hypocritical (not from Americans; from some American lawmakers.) and will get your more attention and, sometimes, ridicule.

      Besides, it’s not because my government are idiots that I can’t protest yours being idiots as well, does it?

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        I’m quite vocal in my city, speaking against quite a few similar laws, and have organised protests against, amongst others, the law forcing blank media taxes. Those protests didn’t /work/, but I still tried.

        Then you’re a better person than most of the yammerers on the Internet, including me. Thank you for making an effort.

    • Drexer says:

      “anti-Americanism”
      I would think that a country which has such a huge stake in the international politics of the rest of the world and quite a bit of it in the everyday lives of most of us can take a little bit of criticism, don’t you? Or do I need to quote Uncle Ben here?

      “mindless conspiracy theories”
      Are you talking about the whole conversation about buying out politicians? Because there are quite a few proofs that distinguish that from conspiracy theories.

      Thanks for calling us all fascists by the way, stay classy.

      • KelThuzad0398 says:

        Fascists was rude, but some of the countries in Europe are more statist than the USA, at least at the moment.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Conspiracy theories? You want conspiracy theories? About three messages above mine is the following:

        I claim SOPA is not at all about copyright, it only pretends to be. It rather is a law to make censorship possible, because let’s face it: That is all it is. Arbitrary censorship. The entertainment industry is just not clever enough to realize that their interests are being used as a way to push censorship forward. From the outside, the US looks just as corrupt and unfair (check out the Gini-coefficient!) as any badly managed dictatorship. And what’s missing? Censorship.

        Yes, the United States can only be compared to a dictatorship, and SOPA isn’t just a stupid idea being advocated by short-sighted special interests, it’s a mechanism to allow… somebody… I wonder who? The Bilderbergers? Trilateral Commission? The lizards living in the hollow Earth? It’s left playfully vague… to censor… somebody… for some reason. This is about a million miles past the garden-variety political influence trading that is unfortunately common to most democracies. This is positing some kind of shadow government scheme to control the world, when Shamus’s explanations of ignorance and corruption are perfectly adequate to explaining why SOPA would have so much support in Congress. For extra derp points it’s then followed by somebody raving about MK-ULTRA, as if a program carried out fifty years ago at the height of the Cold War is any useful guide for what the United States is going to do in 2012!

        It took me about ten seconds to glance through the thread and find those gems. How about removing the beam from your own eye, pal? Disavow ridiculous nonsense like that, then we’ll talk.

        As for calling you a fascist, note the “if” in my statement. If passing SOPA means America becomes fascist, then the various countries who already have SOPA, blank media fees, et cetera, are already fascist, no? If not, why not?

    • Kdansky says:

      Switzerland (where I live) has recently officially declared downloads and P2P sharing to be of no harm to the media industry. For once, our politicians didn’t fuck up.

  27. Color me among the skeptics as to how bad SOPA would be – I’ve written about it here and frankly I think that we are seeing a version of neutrality Theater from Google et al. The big question is would US sites even be affected by SOPA at all, given that it explicitly targets “foreign” sites? Would Google put its money where its mouth is were SOPA to pass and defend users against unreasonable takedowns?

    All that priceless real-estate on Google and Wikipedia today being wasted against SOPA when it could have been used to educate about the REAL solutions to piracy: end DRM.

  28. Tizzy says:

    As ever, it’s difficult, in situations that involve politicians and bi g business, to separate what what is due to complete cluelessness and incompetence from what is simply cynicism and ulterior motives.

    Today’s discussion has me wondering about the real reasons that make those industries that support SOPA so hostile to the net in general. Is it that their terrible content gets ripped off and put out for free? Or do they see more of a threat in the fact that the net is such a content-generating machine that rivals anything they could put out?

    I know that I consume quite a healthy amount of entirely legal and free net content that is put out there by others for my enjoyment, and that cuts down on the amount of time I spend watching Hollywood crap and the likes. And I doubt that I am a typical net user, yet it does seem that a lot of what people do on the net is consume user-generated content and produce new content, even in small ways.

    Any opinions or insights in this?

    • James says:

      I watch more YouTube than I do TV and I have no interest in visiting a cinema any time soon.

      TV is full of bland uninteresting crap, but through careful browsing I’ve managed to collect about 10 or so interesting YouTube channels that regularly give out content I am interested in – and it’s actual content, not low-grade shaky webcam rubbish of someone’s cat.

      I think the fact normal people with cheap technology can amass millions of viewers scares them quite a bit. And you do it for free… The concept of giving away content probably baffles business people who see everything as a potential cost.

      • epopisces says:

        Related to this in the movie industry, I think the greater fear is that piracy will spread to the point where the industry in question is no longer sustainable. The idea that eventually, a critical mass of moviegoers will choose to watch the same movie for free at home or at a friend’s house (because it’s available illegally the day it releases in theaters, if not sooner) rather than go to the movies. A fair number of theaters are already out of business, and I’m sure everyone has noticed the trend towards higher prices to sustain the ones that remain. If the trend moves too strongly in that direction moviegoing (in its current distribution model) will be jeopardized wholesale.

        It’s the greater trend that these industries fear, the idea that a market majority will abandon their outlets.

        This is in no way a justification of the idiocy that this bill, and other bills like it, represent. This is the mindset of an industry entrenched in ‘the way it’s always been done’. Right or wrongly the industry feels like it is fighting for its survival–t’s not about recovering perceived losses,it’s about keeping a customer base.

    • swenson says:

      Yeah, I think it’s because quite frankly, there’s Youtube shows with more viewers than some of their TV shows. Take… FPSRussia, for example. He regularly gets over 1 million views within a week. Plenty of shows only get 2 or 3 million viewers, so for a Youtube video to get more… and for the maker of that Youtube video to be making money off it, with merchandise and ad revenue while having minimal production costs… that’s gotta be disturbing to the big dogs. Because people are out there making money off of ten-minute videos, and those people AREN’T ABC, Fox, CBS, etc.

      I agree with James in general, though–I watch very little TV (literally the only two shows I watch regularly anymore are Doctor Who and My Little Pony, although I’ll watch the new Avatar series when it comes out… I think it says a great deal about the state of TV when two of the shows I watch are animated shows for which I’m not technically in the target audience) but an awful lot of Youtube content, from Let’s Players to machinima makers to live-action shows like Marble Hornets or the Joker Blogs. I just plain like them a whole lot more than most TV!

  29. James says:

    I think the only logical solution to this is to cut the US off from the rest of the Internet. Allow their corrupt government to invent laws and mess with “freedom” without affecting the rest of the entire Internet using planet.

    In reality though, I bet this turns out to be as useless as the DMCA where we’ll see one or two token news stories a year and it’ll largely go ignored – kind of exactly like Google and their Google+ name policy that we don’t hear about any more. You know, it’s another thing that only Internet geeks get wound up about – normal people don’t even know it’s happening.

    • swenson says:

      I was actually pleasantly surprised in regards to your last point when I mentioned the blackout to my parents, who usually are A) extremely conservative and B) completely oblivious to the Internet, and they turned out to both be completely against the bill and already have heard about the blackout. It’s a positive sign! Wikipedia is a big thing. Google is a big thing too, and while they didn’t go black, they at least changed the logo for the day. People are hearing about this!

  30. Even says:

    It goes to show that no political system is safe from abuse by idiots and people willing to sell their souls away. How long will it take to come really come back biting them in the ass is what I wonder. Because it’s inevitable when you dig too deep, if history is any proof.

    • KelThuzad0398 says:

      When you concentrate political power, it takes less effort and is thus more valuable to go to the government and “donate”. It’s the same way with regulations favoring big business.

  31. […] People who signed on with this bill without understanding what it was, how it works, and without con… […]

  32. Stranger says:

    Odd question someone innocently raised to me to get me to think.

    So after SOPA/PIPA the Internet would have to change and no longer be as it is now. Why do we want it to stay the way it is? Should it continue to exist as it is now, given that it is very much a haven for the people this bill is (supposedly) aimed at?

    Not saying I support the sentiments or the bills. God knows that’s not it. But I just want to put the thought out there: “Should the Internet remain as it is currently, or is it better off being forced to change?”

    . . . because as I said earlier, we really need to face the truth: the Internet as it exists currently is very much in need of SOMETHING done to curtail piracy and illegal activities. And be honest, there’s a fair amount of illegal file/video sharing out there right now. (Whether or not it is morally right to pirate is irrelevant here, we are talking legality at this moment.)

    Here’s a few things to consider, though. I watch a lot of my television programming not on television itself but via the network websites. I watch Castle on ABC.com, I watch Person of Interest and the Mentalist over on CBS.com. I have friends who buy Doctor Who on iTunes or rent it on NetFlix. And a lot of folks I know don’t bother going to the movies, they wait for the DVDs to hit Redbox. (“If I hate it, I’m only out gas money and a couple bucks.”)

    We are moving away from the model under which copyright laws as they exist made sense. Digital copies are hard to track, and creative application of the way things are now . . . you could be breaking copyright law for simply viewing the videos on your computer since a copy could be made locally in your temporary cache. Sure, such a case wouldn’t work for other reasons, but still . . .

    Change needs to happen. The Internet, copyright laws, the way society does these things . . . *something* needs to change here. The Internet is notoriously difficult to effect a change on which will stick, society changes are easier by comparison (you have to at least be doing things in person and be at risk physically if you want to be a dick). The easiest thing of those three to change is the law, so that’s where the attention is going to move first.

    . . . while I think the real problem lies in people, and not the laws. Like it’s said so often here – if this passes, nobody breaking the law in a serious manner is going to get hit. It’s going to need another step to try to take a swing at them. And another step. And all the while the people making the laws can keep rationalizing based on the fact “we already started down this path, we have to keep going”.

    Where was I before I rambled a bit? Right. The Internet does need to change. This probably isn’t the right answer, but we really can’t keep resisting change here. SOMETHING needs to be done.

    Continuing on from one of my other posts here? The Internet has the problem, and if we don’t like the solution other people come up with . . . fix it ourselves. Let’s be adult and mature about this, and say “no, Congress, this is our mess, we’ll fix it”. And then DO it. Easy enough to say, I know . . . but if we want the freedom of the Internet and how it functions, we DO need to accept responsibility of keeping it legal and clean. Otherwise, those who think of themselves as our parents are going to step in to “fix” things for us.

    And it’s VERY ABUNDANTLY clear we don’t want that. After all, they don’t know what they’re doing.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I respectfully disagree. The problem is that the internet fundamentally changed the way the delivery of intellectual property is carried out. I don’t need to go to a store to buy a record to get my music, or buy a cassette to get my movie. That means companies whose entire business model revolved around supplying intellectual property are no longer providing a valuable service–distribution–to their customers.

      Despite this, Publishers have continued to invest exorbitant amounts of money into new content (and correspondingly continue to charge full price for its distribution), and then run to Washington when they don’t get paid for adding zero value to the end-user. The entertainment system has built up a great big bubble, and they’re trying desperately, through legislation, to keep that bubble supported.

      Saying the internet needs restriction is like saying we should have restricted the number of automobiles allowed on roads because carriage-makers were taking a beating. It’s not the governments job to make publishers relevant to consumers by force of law.

      • Stranger says:

        I’m not saying it needs restriction. I’m saying the Internet needs to quit breaking the law and justifying it however they please. The law does not care whether it is unjust or outmoded, it is the law. You break the law, there are penalties involved. This whole SOPA/PIPA thing has its roots in the Internet essentially going:

        I really need to stress this point. It does not matter how society has changed, the law remains the law until such time as it is changed. Saying the laws are outdated, saying the laws are unjust, or whatever you choose to argue doesn’t change one . . . simple . . . immutable fact:

        The laws say you should not do that, or pay a penalty.

        I think the Internet is a wonderful tool for communication and getting ideas to be shared. I think it would be a great thing if I could get my fictional intellectual property (games, movies, films, whatever) through it properly.

        However, my parents raised me to understand that with freedoms come responsibility. And if we want to be free to have the Internet without censorship, then it is our responsibility to be sure we’re not breaking laws. Notably, the copyright laws which are causing companies to get up in arms about this.

        I hate to say this, but it’s time for the Internet to grow up. It can’t keep being the Wild West, where whatever you can get away with goes. This point isn’t just about SOPA, PIPA, piracy, DRM, whatever . . . this is about all of that and none of that at the same time. It may just be time for the digital frontier to turn into digital civilization instead.

        So I ask, again: Why aren’t we taking care of this ourselves, and letting people who DO NOT KNOW what they’re doing make the decisions?

        • Abnaxis says:

          “However, my parents raised me to understand that with freedoms come responsibility. And if we want to be free to have the Internet without censorship, then it is our responsibility to be sure we’re not breaking laws. Notably, the copyright laws which are causing companies to get up in arms about this.”

          Ah, but that makes the presumption that our well-being was considered at all when those laws were made. There is a implicit assumption that if you’re going to benefit from society, you should abide by society’s rules. However, while I agree that we shouldn’t just toss all legality to the wind because of the internet, neither do I think I should have to bend my knee to corporations because they have the money to lobby Congress. Copyright law (in its current form) is written by corporations, for corporations, to ensure they can continue to make money. Why should we enforce a law on ourselves that we had no say in the making of?

          • Kdansky says:

            Did you know that copyright length was increased step by step from 2 years to the current 120 years? To note: 120 years is about the life maximum span of a human. Nobody could ever hope to use their intellectual property for that long. No, the law is just this way because the useless distribution industry MAFIAA wants it this way.

            For everyone else, a copyright length of just a handful of years would easily suffice to reap your reward. I mean, I don’t get paid for decades if I do some decent work once.

            And let’s be realistic: If copyright lasts 3 years, nobody will care about pirates much.

          • Stranger says:

            . . . because it’s the law?

            Right or wrong, that’s how it is written. Acting illegally, and blatantly so, is counterproductive to getting it changed. In my opinion.

            And I refuse to run around assuming everyone is out to get me. I just got DONE with my pessimistic paranoia last year, I’m not going to crawl under it again.

            • Zukhramm says:

              And if the law said that every monring you had to spin in a circle three times while shouting “bliblulibuabilaubilbualu” before you were allowed to leave your house, would you do that? If the law said you had to kill and steal, would you?

              • Stranger says:

                What an interesting extension of the argument, and I’m pretty sure this is a logical fallacy . . . “If John jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” “If you were given an unlawful order, and you say you always follow orders, then you must follow an unlawful order and cannot defy it.”

                Take a moment and come up with a better example, especially one I hadn’t heard before when I was six, from my parents. I’ll wait.

                • Jeff says:

                  I don’t see how his point is invalid. He provided an example of a stupid law, and asked if you would follow it purely because it is the law.

                  The Underground Railroad was quite illegal, and I’m pretty sure rebelling against the British Empire was illegal in 1775.

                  • Abnaxis says:

                    It’s invalid because Zukhramm’s argument revolves around making up an arbitrary, ridiculous “law” which would never exist, and saying “Aha! Gotcha!” when Stranger doesn’t say s/he will follow it. While not a logical fallacy, per se, the argument itself is not germane to the debate at hand–whether or not someone is justified in pirating software to defy copyright laws–and is in fact detrimental to the discussion currently taking place. It only incenses, without adding anything of merit to the debate.

                    This scope of this discussion is copyright law. Bringing up stupid laws only really contributes if they are comparable to copyright law. Forcing the discussion in the direction where either side has to say, “Well, you have to follow the law, except here and here and here and here…” for all eventualities, and exacting standards where absolutely no one can misspeak without being written off is not conducive to an intelligent exchange of ideas.

                    • Shamus says:

                      Man, whoever own this blog need to add a way to +1 comments. Because then I would +1 this comment.

                    • Jeff says:

                      You should Google “Stupid Laws”, ’cause there are all sorts of things that are illegal, but are ignored by everybody (including the police).

                      I don’t see why forcing the discussion in the direction where either side has to say, “Well, you have to follow the law, except here and here and here and here…” is detrimental, since my understanding is Zukhramm’s entire point is that you shouldn’t always follow the law. It’s reductio ad absurdum.

                      You’re claiming the proposition “always follow the law” should have an inherent “when it’s reasonable” attached, thus causing reductio ad absurdum to be based on a false dichotomy, but that is in fact also the point – reasonable is subjective. “Follow the law because it is the law” is a position that we should not support in any nation where citizens can consider themselves free.

                      The exchange at hand was:
                      “Why should we enforce a law on ourselves that we had no say in the making of?” “…because it’s the law?”

                      The logical extension of “we should enforce a law we disagree with because it’s the law” leads to us making a citizens’ arrest if a man gives his sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than fifty pounds in Idaho. This is reductio ad absurdum.

                      As far as I can tell, Zukhramm’s point was to make The Stranger admit there should be a “when reasonable” modifier. You then say his point is invalid because “when reasonable” should already be attached – but his entire point is that it should be attached! You’re disagreeing to agree.

            • Abnaxis says:

              It’s not paranoia. It’s how copyright law is. Show me one constituent (you know, the people representatives are supposed to represent) who supports more restrictive copyright laws, and I’ll consider modifying my stance. The only parties in favor of PIPA/SOPA are big publishers who throw millions into lobbying.

              And that’s before you even consider the implications of blindly following something because “it’s the law”. The Law once enforced the segregation of whites and blacks. The Constitution once prohibited the sale and distribution of alcohol for the purpose of recreation.

              In each of these instances, laws were ratified by a party in power who used that power to restrict the rights of those not in power. In each of these instances, representatives failed miserably to act responsibly until and overwhelming majority of those being repressed directly defied the law.

              “It’s the law” isn’t enough to buy my obedience if the law isn’t fair. If the only way I have to fight the law is by illegitimately defying it (because I don’t have the cash to buy acts of Congress), then defy it I will.

              • Kdansky says:

                “Funny” example for this topic: Try to find Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech on the net. It’s copyrighted, and heavily guarded. Which strikes me as borderline insane, considering how important that speech is for the USA.

              • Stranger says:

                I’m really quite sorry, but you’re comparing . . . segregation and Prohibition, to copyright law. I’ll count my blessings you didn’t invoke Godwin’s Law.

                Here, let me break this down a bit better, because people seem to get real hung up on arguing that “the rule of law isn’t important if I don’t agree with the law”.

                As far as I can see (in broad strokes), copyright laws say it’s not legal to copy a piece of music, text, or video without authorization from the owner of the copyright. This is set into place to prevent one person (call them Numbnuts) from selling copies of something they didn’t actually produce.

                I fail to see how that is unjust, or against common decency. And keep in mind, Prohibition falls under that same category; the big problem was that people just didn’t agree with the law. Segregation was not about decency, and I don’t begin to defend it. But I maintain that simply deciding “I don’t like this law so I’m going to ignore it” is . . . well, it doesn’t make the law change for you. The judge isn’t going to go “oh, well so long as you don’t agree, I guess I’m going to dismiss the charges”. You still broke it. You still will get punished for it. THAT is where I hang my point on this, and I maintain that breaking the law puts you at a disadvantage when trying to claim it’s not a just law.

                Now, the minutae of the the copyright laws, I can’t attest to, and I’m CERTAIN there’s plenty in there which can be considered questionable to someone, somewhere. There very well might need to be some wholesale overhaul involved, after years of tangling up what the law SAYS with what it is MEANT TO DO.

                . . . hell I’m going to have to re-evaluate my self-perception of being an intelligent person, aren’t I? . . .

                • Jeff says:

                  The law currently says it’s illegal to put a song from your legally purchased CD onto your MP3 player or computer. Guess you’ll need to buy a digital copy for your computer, and another copy your MP3 player.

                  • Stranger says:

                    Fun fact. I don’t even have receipts for the stuff I bought anymore due to a combination of several factors:

                    – Moving almost every other year.
                    – Water damage to a fair amount of records.
                    – Fading of thermal tape.
                    – Lost the email account which I had used for at least four purchases of digital product.

                    However, I seem to recall someone who investigated the law telling me I was authorized to make one “backup” copy for use in the event the original became damaged. Whether or not this is accurate, I don’t know, but the other side of the argument tells me that if I so much as play a CD where someone else can hear it, that’s copyright infringement.

                    There is most definitely a hell of a lot of misinformation out there on exactly what does and does not constitute “authorized use”. The strange thing is I’m also fairly certain it depends on which judge you happen to wind up in front of.

                • Abnaxis says:

                  Let me be clear: I’m not saying the rule of law isn’t important if I don’t agree with the law. I’m saying the rule of law isn’t important if I had absolutely no say in the making of that law. If a politician I don’t agree with and didn’t vote for creates a law out of genuine concern for the people who put him in office, I will follow the law even if I do not agree with it because I at least had a vote. That’s how Democracy works.

                  If, on the other hand, a politician creates a law in blatant defiance of the desires and well-being of the people who put him office in exchange for the money of interest groups, I’m not going to follow it for the sake of it being the law.

                  That is why I compare copyright to Prohibition laws, (let’s forget about segregation, because there are some key differences there). Prohibition was the result of a group that had undue influence in Washington–conservative Christian movements–used their influence to leverage changes in our laws that the public had no saying in and no support of. In the end, the law failed because the public did not support or agree with it, and did not follow it.

                  It is the same with copyright. Copyright exists solely so publishers can make money. They used to require this money, because producing records and disks required supply channels and manufacturing facilities that take large capital investments, and without copyright laws they would not be able to make a profit and we would not get any quality books or movies.

                  The internet has changed that. I don’t need a factory pumping out CDs to distribute software. Despite this, the publishers refuse to adjust to the changing market. Rather, they have lobbied Congress to enact laws to force the markets to stay the same. And it’s turning out to be just as effective as Prohibition. People still download software because publishers aren’t providing the same service, and people don’t like paying someone for nothing.

                  History tells us that SOPA or PIPA or something like them will go through–money has too much power in Washington, and recent rulings from the Supreme court on campaign donations only makes those with money even more powerful. History also tells us that the only way the law will be changed is if the public rejects following it–prohibition ended because everyone gave Congress and the police the finger when they tried to enforce it, and their sheer numbers made it happen.

                  • Stranger says:

                    The trouble with saying “I didn’t have a say in this law, so I think I shouldn’t follow it”, is that you really don’t have a voice in the laws with the current model. Which you admitted to, but that’s the heart of things:

                    The current model, you have a say in who gets elected into power, and THEY have the vote on these issues. They may or may not vote with your interests, even if you cast a vote for them. And to be fair, how can they act in the interest of every person who voted for them? People don’t even know what it is they really want, most of the time, so asking them isn’t going to get you the right information. And they can change their minds later . . .

                    The duty of those elected into power is to listen to their constituents, and then vote on behalf of their best interests. Some interpret this as “whether or not they understand this is for their own good”, which can get . . . dicey. Some interpret the idea as “well this looks good to me so how could it possibly be bad for someone else?” And we’ll discount the people who are “paid for” in the sense of favors, campaign contributions, and so forth . . . frankly, these people are fully within their rights to take the money and do whatever they want to vote for anyway.

                    (Hell that’s what I’d do. “You want to contribute a million dollars if I outlaw kazoos? Sure, sign the check . . . huh, what promise? Your contribution was very valuable and I’m glad you donated to my cause. Now have a kazoo, on me.” What exactly says I have to vote the way someone who donated money tells me to? I can, at least theoretically, make my own decisions once in office. And the contributor isn’t going to go running around saying “we bribed him to do this and he didn’t do it!” . . .)

                    Again, I’m off on a tangent.

                    I don’t think Copyright exists solely to get corporations money, any more than Patents exist for the same reason. They, at least at one time, existed to protect the inventors and producers of ideas from being screwed over. The laws have very likely drifted from this purpose, and probably need to be reworked instead of just being ignored.

                    That said, I want to try *REAL HARD* to follow the laws as they exist while sitting here talking about all this. If I was alive during Prohibition I probably wouldn’t have drunk any, for a few reasons:

                    – I don’t drink that much NOW. Less than $100 a year, and usually I’m not the only one drinking when I buy the booze.
                    – It would be illegal to buy it.
                    – I couldn’t be sure it was SAFE to drink, considering some idiot with a bathtub was making the stuff and I didn’t know their habits.
                    – I wouldn’t want to contribute to the bottom line of the people running the booze, because a lot of times that wound up being “organized crime”, and I don’t want those people having my money willingly.

                    Right now, I don’t pirate software or other things for similar reasons.

                    – I don’t buy that many games which CAN in fact be pirated.
                    – I couldn’t be sure installing a pirated/cracked game on my PC would be safe.
                    – I want the people who make games I enjoy to get my money. I’ll buy multiple copies, sometimes, just to be sure they profit. (See: NIS America)
                    – Buying games of a certain type encourages companies to make games of that type again, even if only slightly.

                    It’s not just games and software. I refused, even after my father found me a CD worth of ripped Dungeons and Dragons sourcebooks, to make use of that wealth of information because if I was going to use it, I wanted to pay for it. I broke friendships on finding out someone decided it was okay to read the Harry Potter series from photoscans rather than . . . you know, go to the library. (Same justification, mind you: “J.K has more money than God right now, so it doesn’t hurt her if I do this.”)

                    To me, it’s simple. Someone makes something I want, and they have an asking price. I pay it, or I do without. That’s before the legality even enters into the equation in my head.

                    . . . I’d really like politics to start making sense now . . .

                    • Abnaxis says:

                      Note: This a bit blather-y wall ‘o’ text. I think you brought up a lot of interesting points, so I responded to all of them even if they were off on a tangent. If you want to find the OT stuff, scroll down to the second blockquote and the last blockquote…

                      And we’ll discount the people who are “paid for” in the sense of favors, campaign contributions, and so forth . . . frankly, these people are fully within their rights to take the money and do whatever they want to vote for anyway.

                      That would be every United States politician, ever. You can’t discount them. Campaigns cost money. Money comes from contributors. Politicians could disregard the entities that funded their campaign, but as soon as they do that they’ll find that when they come up for re-election in 2-4 years, their opponent gets that money. Presidents generally rule very differently, sometimes radically differently, if they get a second term than they did in their first term–this is because with the two-term limit, they don’t have to kiss ass to make sure they keep their job.

                      It’s true, interpreting “for the best interest of constituents” can be very dicey, but in the case of SOPA/PIPA, I can see absolutely no possible way to interpret these laws as being made for the benefit of the public. Even if the politician in question thinks of the internet as a series of tubes, nobody with half a brain should be looking at this bill and saying “THIS is what my People need!” This bill is bought and paid for by publishers.

                      I don’t think Copyright exists solely to get corporations money, any more than Patents exist for the same reason. They, at least at one time, existed to protect the inventors and producers of ideas from being screwed over. The laws have very likely drifted from this purpose, and probably need to be reworked instead of just being ignored.

                      But…I mean…patents are pretty much in the same boat as Copyright. Anymore, individuals who generate ideas just have to hope that some company with a vaguely worded patent somewhere doesn’t sue them with an army of lawyers because they want to suppress/nickel and dime anyone smaller than them who uses the technology. Idea generators virtually never see a dime as a result of their work, even more-so than artists.

                      I fully agree with you that a need for some sort of intellectual property exists. However, IP laws as they exist don’t just suffer from a few minor issues of minutiae that could be solved with a bit of reform. They serve a fundamentally different purpose from that which they are intended to serve. They protect publishers, because publishers were once the lynchpin of idea generation and publication, and so by serving publishers copyright indirectly served the public.

                      Now that publishers are no longer the lynchpins, copyright…serves them even more, because they have enough influence to get the law made in their image. IP laws have become so far removed from their intended purpose (promote creation of ideas) and from their intended beneficiaries (John Q. Public) that they have become both invalid and ineffectual. And while it would be ideal if established channels for governmental change were enough to ensure a new set of laws that finds a happy compromise between artists’ and consumers’ right, in the current political climate I just don’t see that happening.

                      That said, I want to try *REAL HARD* to follow the laws as they exist while sitting here talking about all this. If I was alive during Prohibition I probably wouldn’t have drunk any, for a few reasons:

                      This is an interesting point. I mean, copyright law isn’t the only thing on the books that is unpopular but is paid for by special interests. Take seat-belt laws, for example. On a fundamental level, I think seat-belt laws are invalid. I think it’s an individual’s right to choose whether they would rather be comfortable or safe while driving, it’s not the government’s decision.

                      Seat-belt laws are a direct result of lobbying from insurance companies, who don’t want to pay for people who are injured because they didn’t buckle up. It affects me slightly (higher premiums), but not nearly enough for the government to rob me of my freedom. It’s a complete load of crap, when I think about it.

                      And yet…I always fasten my belt when I’m in the car. Why? Because I don’t want to die when I get in a wreck.

                      Copyright and prohibition are the same way. If the majority of people didn’t drink much, we would probably still have Prohibition law in the Constitution today. There’s more at work than “is the law fair.” In the case of copyright however, I think the prevalence of piracy is indicative that Copyright affects enough people, that any unjust law will be resisted, even if most pirates do not realize that is what they are doing.

                      To me, it’s simple. Someone makes something I want, and they have an asking price. I pay it, or I do without. That’s before the legality even enters into the equation in my head.

                      If only it was that simple. Piracy would become much less of an issue if it were. The problem is, this is how the transaction actually works: first, a publisher pays someone to make a game, usually sinking unjustifiable quantities of money into costs the market doesn’t support. They then turn around and try to sell the game to customers at a marked up price despite the fact that they have added zero value (or negative value, if they decided to saddle it with DRM) for the end-user–their price mark-up is only justified by a piece of paper they bought from Congress that says it’s illegal to get their product from anywhere else.

                      If all the money went to the people who make the art I like, I would be ecstatic to pay for it. I’m not against paying for software, or even against making millionaires like Rowling richer, I’m against giving someone money who has not done anything to earn it, regardless of whether or not it is illegal to obtain their product through other means.

                    • Jeff says:

                      I’d just like to toss this link: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/a-history-of-ip-violence-how-sopas-and-pipas-sponsors-have-waged-war-on-the-internet.ars

                      They don’t represent “the People”. Given how ignorantly written the laws (DMCA, SOPA, PIPA) are, and how they blatantly protect and encourage corporate malfeasance, it’s quite clear their role in the process is to be corporate yes-men.

                      (I speak as someone certified in Compliance, which generally relies on laws to restrain said corporate malfeasance in the financial services industry.)

                • Abnaxis says:

                  I’ll count my blessings you didn’t invoke Godwin’s Law.

                  That’s actually kind of funny, I was thiiiiiis close to doing it, but I took it out in the end, mainly because fascist governments (like Nazi Germany) are, by definition, governments where a small party in power forces every else to follow their whims.

                  Seriously, though, I used prohibition and segregation to make my point because they are examples of laws enacted by an elected Congress to restrict the rights of people who did not have a chance to vote for those same laws. I retract my use of segregation as an analogy (similar to the fascist issue above, blacks didn’t have a vote so politicians weren’t technically going against their constituencies), but I feel prohibition is still a good example for the idea I am trying to convey.

                  • Bubble181 says:

                    Not to Godwin the whole thing too much, but Hitler and the NSDAP were elected into power, perfectly legally and democratically. Even Jews, the handicapped and women could vote!
                    Mind you, Hitler broke down democracy by becoming both Chanselor and President, postponing the next elections indefinitely, and so forth; not to mention the rampant abuse of power to force people to vote the “right” way, physical violence used to stop people from minorities voting, and so on…

                    Anyway, to return to what I wanted to say (which, to be very clear about it, isn’t “Hitler wasn’t so bad” – he was): laws made by the German parliament between 1928 and 1939 were legal and democratic any way you look at it. It still would’ve been a good idea not to follow them, though.

                    • Abnaxis says:

                      Yeaaaaah…but…I mean, if anyone wants to bring up anything Godwin-worthy, it’s going to be something from the time after democracy collapsed, and the central theme of my point is that laws created without the will of the people in mind are invalid. Whether it’s technically legal or not, as soon as someone declares himself the king of everything, forever, you’ve got yourself a fascist.

        • Dazdya says:

          I am not sure I agree with your point, but you are most certainly thinking on the right scale.

          I would state that laws do not exist in a vacuum. I have not studied law in any sense, but the law cannot be taken ‘as is’, because it is the society around the law that gives it its meaning.

          However.

          The internet does need to grow up. You are right, something needs to change. And for that to happen, people need to somehow feel themselves citizens of the internet.

          I feel this is vital. At the moment, we (I and those I see) are merely users of the net, customers as you will. We are walking around in a toy store. Only if we feel we own it, will we become responsible. (Mind you, I am not saying legal, only responsible. It is quite possible that an evolved internet will have different morals than following laws).

          But, we are not the people to do this. We are the generation that created the net (or were simply present for its birth). To really see what the internet means, we need to see what the people will do who grow up with it. Give it 10 years.

  33. Drew says:

    I’m with you on most of this, Shamus. I don’t support the loss of freedoms, and I think the act is misguided and dangerous. What I don’t support is the mindset that stealing from billionaires isn’t important. In fact, tacit acceptance of theft from billionaires is tacit acceptance of theft, and that very mindset is a large part of what gives ammunition to legislation like this in the first place. I know you’re anti-piracy, Shamus, and I think you have very reasonable views on the subject. I just don’t agree with the paragraph where you talk about protecting the income of people who are well-off as if it’s irrelevant. I can’t support that, and I think your discourse would be stronger without it.

    • Kdansky says:

      It’s not stealing.

    • Trix2000 says:

      Theft is never good, but my sympathy is hard to come by when the so-called “victims” are trying to punish everyone for their own problems.

      And you also have to consider – these corporations and whatnot are spending a TON of money to get this legislation through. Could the amount they recoup from it ever compare? I don’t think so. Piracy will not go away, and I believe the number of people who will suddenly start buying instead will be insignificantly small.

      Seems like a poor stupid losing business strategy to me, but for some reason they are under the belief that they are losing billions and billions from piracy which – in my opinion mind – they are likely not to have had in the first place and will probably never get.

    • Jeff says:

      It’s not stealing, what they’re doing is attacking everyone in order to preserve their outdated, failing business model.

  34. Some_Jackass says:

    Oh God…they want to take Spoiler Warning away? FIGHT THEM TO THE LAST MAN!

  35. noahpocalypse says:

    I e-mailed my representative and the White House. The message is below, though I feel like the writing/pacing makes me sound like a drunken English major.

    SOPA violates almost every freedom we have been given by the Constitution. Freedom of speech (shutting down websites with one user infringing copyright laws, despite the rest being civilized, educated, perfectly legal discussion) , freedom of the press (violates our right to print news EVEN IF WE DON’T MAKE PROFIT OF IT by making us pay immense royalties to whoever creates said copyright)… I do not know if you have declared a position on this bill, but I do ask that you seriously consider what I have said. I am 15 years old, just a sophomore. Without meaning to be disrespectful, for I’m sure you have accomplished many things, I comprehend the Internet and can see that this bill is a violation of our beliefs as Americans, and compromises everything the Founding Fathers, their successors, and eventually what WE have worked for. Again, with the greatest respect, do you understand the full implications of this bill? If you do, I cannot comprehend how you support this bill. If not, then that is completely inappropriate in this day and age. That would be like Thomas Jefferson failing to understand due process. That is an example of how critical and central the Internet is to everyday life. You must understand such a basic part of life to make responsible decisions.

  36. Slothful says:

    I actually sent emails to all three of my congressmen, and each one of them blew me off and said that the bill was good.

    I hate living in Texas.

    • swenson says:

      Man. I’m sorry. I’m lucky enough to have at least one of my reps publicly coming out against the bill. He’s gone up in my eyes… even though he’s from the opposite political party that I usually root for.

      Here’s hoping your guys see sense!

    • X2Eliah says:

      “Representatives of the people”… Gotta love the hypocrisies you guys have to deal with ;)

  37. swenson says:

    I’m not going to get too political; everyone else on here has more or less said everything I feel anyway, much more eloquently than I could. But I just want to say something to anybody who’s still on the fence about SOPA and PIPA.

    I used to not care about either of them. I figured, oh well, it’s another of those silly laws, it’s not really going to have much of an effect on the Internet.

    Then I took a look at my RSS feeds and thought again. I watch Spoiler Warning–copyrighted material is used extensively. I watch a number of other Let’s Plays–Soldierhawke’s HL2 playthrough, davidr64’s myriad unfinished games, Far Lands or Bust. I watch an awful lot of machinima, ranging from Minecraft to Half-Life (Freeman’s Mind, GMod Idiot Box, Concerned…) to Halo (Red vs. Blue!). Webcomics like DM of the Rings or Darths and Droids use screencaps from movies. Any site that posts copyrighted images, even if they’re properly cited and the intent is to share, not steal, they all use copyrighted stuff too.

    None of this should be illegal. I’m not talking about people criticizing copyrighted material (which should not and thankfully is not illegal), I’m talking about people liking this material. They’re sharing it with people because they enjoyed something and they want to show others it too. I can’t count the number of games, movies, musicians, and so on that I got into (and later paid money for) purely because I saw copyrighted material on the Internet. To say that all of these things should be illegal (or worse, that the sites they’re hosted on should be illegal) is nonsensical.

    And that’s what pushed me over the edge. So if you too are thinking it’s no big deal, think about just how much of your Internet entertainment involves copyrighted material, regardless of whether it’s actual piracy or simply material that involves copyrighted stuff too. This is a very big deal. And it will affect you personally if it passes.

  38. Slipshod says:

    “They are willing for this punishment to take place without due process, something which not even CRIMINAL justice allows. (See, if I rape somebody, you have to prove it in court before you can punish me. But if someone uses my website to tell someone else about where to download copyrighted stuff, my website gets shut down and I have to fight to have it re-instated.)”

    Frankly, I find the idea of sidestepping the due process clause “on this one occasion” significantly alarming. Court cases are built largely on precedent; who is to say that if SOPA is passed, someone will not extract two or three phrases, rearrange them and use them completely out-of-context to back their cause. That is what certain lawyers are paid to do on a daily basis.

  39. otakun says:

    Color me skeptical of Google’s commitment to free speech, by the way. Here’s a question for them: If SOPA were to pass, would they comply with takedown requests that don’t meet the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA? (The argument is that SOPA would lower the bar for claiming infringement, but that’s vague in the bill). Would Google fight SOPA and be willing to go to court if their users were unfairly targeted, say for example by using a snippet of copyrighted music in a personal Youtube video? (the stark scenario that Tom’s Hardware painted last week)

    • Trix2000 says:

      Google is motivated by profit just like any company is. That’s just how it goes. But they are at least smart enough to recognize how the internet works and how to please customers.

      If this passes, I believe they will comply if only to prevent losing everything (although who knows – I am not an expert). Under duress as you will. Taking it to court would be expensive…but I guess there is the possibility they might find it worthwhile to do so anyways – the restrictions the laws will force on them will probably cost Google a LOT of money to enact.

  40. Factoid says:

    I could excuse a politician for not understanding the technical dilemmas that the DNS provisions in the bill create. The overbroad and naive wording of “foreign” and “domestic” domains are complicated and you really need to understand technology to understand how stupid they are.

    We don’t expect politicians to be automotive engineers in order to write legislation on emissions standards. I don’t expect them to understand the finer points of cloud computing and how a “domestic” website can be hosted on foreign servers depending on where you’re connecting from.

    I DO expect them to consult with experts in the drafting of the legislation, however. THat’s what’s inexcusable. This legislation was not written by anyone with a deep understanding of internet architecture. It was written by someone familiar with copyright law and a very basic understanding of what DNS is.

    The part that I find TRULY unforgivable, however, is the terrible public policy. Even if you know nothing about technology it’s plainly obvious that this bill lacks due process for sites knocked off the web. It grants power to “qualifying” copyright holders to arbitrarily knock websites off the internet. And it creates loopholes a mile wide for companies to abuse. Presumably these people have SOME experience in matters of public policy, so it’s complete crap that anyone ever let that stuff slide.

  41. Jarenth says:

    This whole SOPA-PIPA-ACTA clusterbomb is really, physically making me sick to my stomach. I just completely fail to understand why anyone would willingly risk the continued existence of the Internet to that degree. Don’t these people use the Internet? Not a single Google, no email, no funny cats on YouTube? It’s the only explanation I can think of.

    I was going to write more here, but I think instead I’ll go eat some ice cream and watch Dr. Who. Which I could’ve only gotten through Internet shopping. Or play video games with my friends. My online friends, as that’s the lion’s share nowadays.

    I’m not very good at making myself less anxious. Can’t help it. The Internet is too big a part of who I am to be anything other than terrified.

    • Trix2000 says:

      I think its more they don’t recognize the threat to their own activities. They believe the legislation will just stop illegal copyright infringement (piracy) which sounds good on paper. However, the law as written will not only fail to accomplish this but it will also affect all the various internet-related tools we have become so used to…even taken for granted.

      The effects of this legislation’s passing scares me – I KNOW it will affect me, but there’s little way to tell exactly how.

  42. TheAngryMongoose says:

    So, fun game. Go to that link and try to guess which of the supporters don’t understand the bill, and which are being paid off (or, more accurately, the proportion of each)

  43. Doctor Satan says:

    Lol. I must laugh at you guys. You are so unlucky. Boo Hoo…. In my country no politician cares about internet censorship and stuff like that. Out of the thousands of policticians, exactly 2 know what an internet is and one lost his reputation because of it. we are free to pirate stuff and all. Hell there is a big pirated and stolen goods market just a few hundred metres from the parliament. Life is good here.
    this reminds ome of a song:
    we all livin in amerika!
    amerika ist wunderbar…

    but then again a lot of good sites will be lost because they are registered in the US, like yours.

    • swenson says:

      Which country do you live in?

      Regardless, don’t forget that the vast majority of Internet traffic goes through the US and that many of the sites you likely visit on a daily basis are based in the US. If they are forced to shut down (which DNS blocking could easily do, simply because sites are going to lose a large amount of traffic from people in the US who don’t know how to get/use the IP address instead), you certainly will be affected. Furthermore, a lot of countries look to the US as an example. You really want your politicians thinking “Well… you know… the US is doing this now…”?

  44. Mr Charles says:

    If you live outside the US and you want to protest against SOPA you can petition the state department here.

  45. Mechakisc says:

    I am assuming that something to do with Anonymous is going to become “Walled City”, and I guess I better start figuring out how to be a part of that, since the rest of the internet is going to be awful soon.

  46. Alex says:

    Shamus, the only problem with voting someone you don’t like out of office(and why voter turnouts are usually so low) is that (usually) the only other choice is a guy equally stupid and unqualified, just under a different banner.

    Even if there were an election in the U.S. right this second, where people could decide to kick out the SOPA/PIPA supporters, they’d just be replaced by similar flock. There’s no valiant, upstanding politician waiting in the wings for us to kick out “The Bad Guys”. The people most devoid of morals, scruples, empathy, remorse or even common sense are the people who have the most power in the U.S.

    Politics are a competition. And nobody is more competitive than sociopaths. Which is why I can’t really be surprised if they don’t notice or care that some websites they don’t go to are blacked out today.

    The problem isn’t with this bill. It’s not with piracy or censorship. It’s not a technological problem. The problem is with human beings. Democracy is a system that relies on the honour of thieves, and that’s why bills like this will pass.

    • Shamus says:

      I agree with everything you just said.

      Still, it’s also human nature to hope in the unknown danger (someone not yet in office) than the known danger. (Our current and flagrantly corrupt or foolish rep.)

      • Abnaxis says:

        The way I see it, politicians will say and do whatever they think will keep them in power. If we kick politicians out for supporting SOPA, whoever comes next might be yet another monumental jackass, but will have sent a clear message that “if you do this, we will can your ass.” So it’s not so much voting for the guy we want, it’s sending him a message that he would have to be an idiot to ignore.

        • Kaeltik says:

          Just finished writing a message to my Senator to this effect (without the jackass bit). Didn’t bother with the other Senator, he’s hopeless. My Representative, though, is fantastic and has already come out against SOPA.

    • Blake says:

      It’s a shame you guys don’t have preferential voting, it’s your only hope of ever breaking the 2 party duopoly.

    • Mike says:

      I’d disagree with you with somewhat progmatic approach to this: culture change and all people follow it, more or less.

      Just a few generations ago you had politics who were openly racist, and if nobody voted them out, they would’ve been there for the rest of their natural lives (and maybe some were).
      Sure, those who came after them had their flaws, but things did change, and change every day, and the more rotation you induce on the top, the sooner you will get the changes there.

      From this perspective, I see that sharing information slowly but surely becomes part of the culture, media companies will change on their own eventually, as their old CEOs and management get replaced, so will the politics, and it’s your job to make such replacements as soon as possible.

  47. […] at this convenient link.  Sam and Fuzzy’s author comments briefly on it as well thisaway.  Shamus of Twenty Sided has a good article up on it, too, and I like the Rampant Coyote’s […]

  48. Meredith says:

    I quite enjoy the phrase “politics team”.

    Also, I completely agree with you and I’m not even going to read the rest of the comments (I don’t have that kind of time today).

    Write to your representatives, people. Their job is to listen to you, make them do it.

  49. Amarsir says:

    By the way, Senator Marco Rubio has responded to requests from his (largely Tea Party) supporters and withdrawn his support, going from original co-sponsor to now an opponent. Just reinforcing my original conviction that it’s not going to pass.

    (Though the piracy concerns won’t be going away.)

  50. krellen says:

    I was not aware that BOTH of my Senators are co-sponsors of the Senate version of this Bill, the Protect Intellectual Property Act. I now am (Thanks Shamus), and am incensed.

    Our senior Senator is retiring, so I guess less people are flooding his website, but I have already sent him a note expressing my displeasure. I’ve yet been unable to contact my junior Senator; his website is down. Poetic justice, perhaps?

    I decided to side-step any discussion with either about the way the Internet actually works and how useless and destructive the provisions within would be. Instead, I’ve decided to point out to them that SOPA and PIPA assume guilt, which is in direct violation of US jurisprudence. I’m hoping this will be a more effective argument.

    • Abnaxis says:

      One of my senators is supporting the bill (my representative is not).

      I’m sort of stuck trying to put my displeasure down in words for him. The way you have it sounds good, could I get a hand?

      • krellen says:

        The text I sent read thus:

        “I am dismayed to learn you are a co-sponsor of the Protect Intellectual Property Act, commonly known as PIPA. Regardless of the dangers of Intellectual Property piracy (a vastly over-blown problem to begin with), any tools that would institute such draconian and wide-sweeping consequences for such irrelevant infractions shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Internet functionality and of US legal tradition itself.

        Put simply, SOPA and PIPA assume guilt. Whatever one thinks of the crimes they are trying to prevent, their basic premises fly in the face of US legal tradition and jurisprudence.

        Senator, you must reverse your stance on this bill immediately, withdraw your support and fight to defeat this bill. To do otherwise would be to violate everything our legal system stands for.”

        • krellen says:

          I suppose if you wanted to add more detail, you could reflect a bit on how a mere accusation of allowing infringement is enough to strike down a website, rather than needing to go through a legal process proving infringement before sentence is passed.

    • Stranger says:

      I suppose I’m lucky . . . nobody I know and support is supporting the bill. It’s hard for me to identify “my Senator/Congressman” when I’m in a different state almost every other year.

      I usually just fall back to seeing if Kucinich is involved in something. And it doesn’t look like he’s supporting or opposing . . . mmm, maybe I’ll try to get in touch.

  51. Josh H says:

    Heh, I’m not sure if I was one of those people who asked you to write about this, but thanks for getting the word out. And good job finding a Youtube version of that video- the original Vimeo one takes forever to load.

    I can also see why you don’t talk about politics much here. Even mentioning something as benign as copyright law gets some… interesting… threads in response.

  52. swenson says:

    Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me. Here’s what one of my state reps has to say, or at least said last April:

    “Millions of American jobs are at stake because of these crimes, which is why my colleagues and I will be coming together to carefully craft legislation. Congress must act to protect property rights and American jobs by targeting the truly bad actors and their revenue streams, and do so in a way that continues our nation’s commitment to due process and freedom of speech.”

    First of all, “millions of American jobs”? I’d like to see some actual evidence before we start throwing that around. What jobs? Why are they being lost? Specifics here, people!

    “Carefully craft legislation”: a far funnier phrase than it should be.

    “…and do so in a way that continues our nation’s commitment to due process and freedom of speech.” And if you cared about that, you wouldn’t support this bill!

    Well, I’ve got one rep on the “supporting” side and one on the “opposing” side. One out of two is better than none, I suppose. *sigh*

  53. David Armstrong says:

    How predictable, your link for “betraying your team” is to the GOP.

    Nevermind that the bill in the Senate is being sponsored by a Democrat.

    Thanks a lot Shamus. You want to blacklist politicians for pushing a bill that limits freedoms? By that same token, I would blacklist you from voting if your bias is that heavy.

    You’re talking about freedom and all its trappings – could you for a moment stop bashing Republicans long enough to pull your head out of your ass?

    • Shamus says:

      “could you for a moment stop bashing Republicans long enough to pull your head out of your ass?”

      Congratulations on being the first person to immediately make this personal in the most inflammatory way possible. I would have nuked this comment, but I’m leaving it up as it’s own punishment. To wit:

      I never used the word “betray”, anywhere in the article. I assume you mean “politics team”. If you look, there are two words. One links to GOP, the other links to Democrats.org.

      • Felblood says:

        PWN’T!

        Ah, schadenfreude.

        This brings back fond memories of watching a young cage fighter be humbled by an old karate master.

        Hopefully lessons were learned, and this exchange has made us all better at discourse, combat, and being human beings.

      • David Armstrong says:

        Holy shit, you’re right.

        I’m sorry.

        • Shamus says:

          Yeah. I know this stuff gets people mad. It’s why I avoid the topic so much. :)

          • Mephane says:

            I find it really shameful actually that even the most serious political debates usually eventually turn into an “us vs them” party politics scenario, and instead of discussing the matter at hand, even people not involved in any party still fall into this trap. SOPA/PIPA are not a question of Democrats vs Republicans, Right vs Left or whatever. It’s a question of freedom vs. control, of open exchange of ideas vs censorship of speech.

            I am, indeed, genuinely surprised at the overall lack of party politics in this post’s comment section. It’s been more civil and on-topic than I would have expected, heh.

            • Dazdya says:

              You know you would be at each other’s throats if us foreigners weren’t watching. We are what keeps you polite. And that is also why we need to find aliens fast.

    • Trix2000 says:

      Political party does not matter, especially not here. Both sides have supporters and opposition anyways.

    • krellen says:

      While Shamus has expressed a few of his political leanings on this site in the past, he has never posted anything that would allow one to pin him down clearly as a Democrat or a Republican; he can’t even be pinned down on the “Conservative/Liberal” scale. We know his stance on DRM and copyright enforcement, but these stances by no means indicate any political affiliation (neither party in the US particularly supports Shamus’s stances on these issues.)

      There seems to have been more people lately attacking Shamus for his posts, mostly with poorly constructed arguments or pedantic rants on rhetorical flourishes. Where did these people come from?

      • Isy says:

        I’ve always been under the impression Shamus is a conservative, which makes the post above extra hilarious/tragic.

        If anything, these relatively uncommon forays into religion/political discussion seems to prove that they don’t have to be the nightmarish quagmires that they always seem to devolve into, though Shamus’ heavy banhammer may have everything to do with that.

        • Shamus says:

          Not a conservative. I’m surrounded by them, I grew up with them, but we diverge at some very important points. I understand why people assume this, though. For the most part people hear “Christian” and automatically prepend “conservative”.

          To say more would result in a terrible thread-jack, and I’d have only myself to blame.

          • Abnaxis says:

            Really?

            You know, any time I have disagreed with you, I thought it was because I swing more liberal–mainly because any time I’ve disagreed with you, it was because we fundamentally agreed that [insert issue here] is a problem, but your presented solution looked more conservative than mine (has nothing to do with religion). Or maybe I wrongly ascribed it to conservatism? That’s weird…

          • krellen says:

            Homeschooling is also stereotypically a “Conservative” thing, which might lead to the impression as well. The combo of “homeschooling Christian” probably makes a lot of people default you to Conservative.

            • Felblood says:

              Which is weird if you’ve followed Shamus for long.

              Adhering to viewpoints I first became interested in through his blog, has put me at odds with some of my more conservative relatives.

              Like all truly right-thinking people, Shamus doesn’t buy his ideals in bulk packages and then toe the party line. It’s something I have always preached, but only really started to practice due to his influence.

              Let us all take a moment to free our minds, for a freer internet.

          • Isy says:

            I’d actually assumed it due to a post a while back where you’d mentioned “hints of your political leanings” along with a link, but I can’t find it and forgot what it’s about and I’m starting to think I just hallucinated it. So I now I feel silly I guess.

            I live in the big blue state by the Pacific Sea, so Christian = Conservative isn’t a thing that comes up as much here.

          • Kdansky says:

            You’re probably conservative by European measurements, because even the US Democrats are more conservative than the local center parties. Oh, and the religious parties are all on the right side of the spectrum. Tradition is by definition a conservative value, and religion is nothing else than a very explicit tradition. I always judged you as a moderate conservative, somewhere near the middle of the spectrum, which would put you firmly into the US Democrat camp, or even left of it.

  54. Sumanai says:

    Good link, good video.

    I’m not feeling optimistic, and I’m not ready to make any fun of the US government. Partially because it feels like it would be in bad taste, but partially because there is already a law that permits internet censorship in Finland. It’s not mandatory for ISPs to apply it, but it came with a threat that the law would be changed if ISPs wouldn’t comply the “option”.

    When people protested it, both lobbyists and “representatives” said that the protest was machinated (unless I’m mixing it up with another awful law that passed). After it went through the supporters suddenly had a change of hearts and claimed it couldn’t be reversed.

    It was supposed to be used only against countries where the appropriate laws (child pornography laws)didn’t exist, so the guilty couldn’t be prosecuted, but it has been used not only against Finnish sites on Finnish servers (and therefore should have been subjected to legal proceedings, not censorship) but also several EU countries. In fact, majority of the sites are in the US. Neither the police, or equivalent, in the countries nor the people who own the sites have been contacted about these.

    You can get in to the list by hosting suspicious content (no burden of proof). And you can get on the list by having a link to suspicious content or to a site that is blacklisted. Which seems to include ad-banners. Also there is no official proceedings for trying to get your site out of the list.

  55. General Karthos says:

    Just happy to say that I did some investigation and neither of my Senators nor my representative (all three of whom I voted for) are in favor of this bill, and have all gone on record as saying they would vote against it were it ever to come to a vote. (These guys have a track record of honesty, ESPECIALLY the Representative. So if they say they’d vote against it, they mean it.)

  56. RariowunIrskand says:

    I hate politics’ discussion as much as Shamus seems to, but SOPA just tempts me to go into full ALL CAPS RAGE mode. I won’t. But it does.

    Anyway, what really baffles me are the responses your politicans seem to be having to this blackout. From what I’ve read, their reaction doesn’t seem to be “Hmmm… We’re making the entire world angry. We should probably stop, considering that this is a democracy, and we at least care about OUR people”, but rather something along the lines of “Bah! Crybabies! Why would we listen to you? Oh, that democracy thing? We were just kidding, of course? Did you expect us to take YOU into account? We have to protect those poor, innocent billionaires who YOU jerks are picking on!”.

    I just cannot wrap my head around a nation that supposedly embodies freedom and democracy beeing so restrictive and undemocratic. Next thing you know, the Ministry of Love is being built, and the clocks are striking thirteen.

    What really scares the crap out of me is that no one here in Spain seems to have even heard of SOPA. Whenever I ask someone I know about it, they always think I’m talking about soup. Of the around 20-ish people I’ve asked about it, only one knows about it. Of course, not that knowledge of it over here can really make a difference in it being passed or not, but is sure as hell can’t hurt.

  57. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know,Shamus,if this thing really does become the law,maybe you guys should go back to your roots,and do what your founders did:Revolt.In fact,seeing all the things already happening there,that seem like an ever more likely option.

    • krellen says:

      There are rumblings in the country that make me think this might be coming, possibly with the next generation, if there are not radical internal changes to the political system. However, unlike a lot of early governmental models around the world (and unlike many of the regimes that have been toppled lately), at least ours has the internal mechanisms to make such radical change possible without systematic overhaul.

    • Adeon says:

      Dress up as Native Americans and throw DNS servers into the harbor?

  58. Irridium says:

    Wow. The fact that someone accused of rape (or any other crime, for that matter) would have more legal protection than someone accused of copyright infringement is pretty fucking telling of the way things are these days.

  59. Sean Riley says:

    Dear Shamus,

    Will you be boycotting E3?

    http://www.screwattack.com/StandTogether

  60. Mersadeon says:

    Okay, I didn’t read ALL the other comments, but just to give my thoughts. I absolutely HATE it that people outside the US can’t really do anything to help. The internet might be “dominated” by US-Culture, but it’s still property of all humankind. The internet is one of the greatest inventions since Gutenberg started printing and has brought progress and understanding to the world. This is not something that the US should decide, it is something that maybe the UN could decide (ok, I have my critical thoughts about those, too, but still).

    This is not about piracy, this is about information. The internet is the biggest accumulation of knowledge known to mankind (and of entertainment). Censorship in this wonderful haven of free thought and sharing is just… wrong. It is against our rights.

  61. Felblood says:

    “There is something deeply wrong with you, and we would have better luck filling your post with any person chosen at random off the street.”

    Oh Shamus, your belief that that most people don’t have the same things wrong with them makes this cynic shake his head.

    Do you really think Joe Shmoe can’t be bought for a few measly millions that the recording industry wouldn’t even miss?

    Our leaders are weak men, but how many could stay strong with an easy million, in lobby dollars waved under their nose.

    • Mephane says:

      I think what he means is “it couldn’t be worse with any random guy anyway”, not that it would be better for sure.

    • Abnaxis says:

      We’re talking probability and luck here, though. Probabilistically, there’s at least a chance that if you pick a random bystander off the street, they couldn’t be bought. Probably a bigger chance than if you took a random politician. Which is ironic, since they’re all rich anyway.

      • Stranger says:

        As I just posted up thread, these people lack the integrity . . . or maybe don’t lack it enough, to just take the money and do whatever they were going to do anyway.

        If I was in office and a dozen companies were each waving seven-figure amounts at me I would so totally do it, and funnel the money somewhere it could have more use than simply making sure I stay in office. (I probably wouldn’t anyway :) )

  62. Eärlindor says:

    *Standing ovation*

    Well said, good sir.

    To wash away the taste of bitterness and cynicism, today we will have TWO episodes of Spoiler Warning! Nice, right?

    Yay!

  63. Bentusi16 says:

    I’d run for office in a heartbeat if I was qualified by the rules of the constitution (I’m to young by less then a handful of years). I know I’d never be able to make a go of it because I’m not a part of either major party and I’m personally poor with my family being middle class (I’m part of the 91%!).

    Remember, politicians have power because A: We give it to them and B: They kind of need some to do their job properly. I’m a big believer in the old social contract ideas, and my job would be to represent the people I represent, not myself. The problem with SOPA and much of whats going on alongside it is that most politicians throughout the world (assuming they use some form of representative democracy) is that they are no longer connected at any real level to the districts they supposedly speak for.

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2 Trackbacks

  1. […] People who signed on with this bill without understanding what it was, how it works, and without con… […]

  2. By Stupid SOPA « Tish Tosh Tesh on January 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    […] at this convenient link.  Sam and Fuzzy’s author comments briefly on it as well thisaway.  Shamus of Twenty Sided has a good article up on it, too, and I like the Rampant Coyote’s […]

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