SOPA: US House of Reps copyright bill proposes national censorship, attacks on hosting services, Twitter, YouTube

PROTECT-IP is a US Senate bill that establishes a draconian censorship and surveillance regime in America in the name of protecting copyright. Its House version, SOPA, has just been introduced, and it's even worse than PROTECT-IP. Much, much worse:

As with its Senate-side evil sister, PROTECT-IP, SOPA would require service providers to “disappear” certain websites, endangering Internet security and sending a troubling message to the world: it’s okay to interfere with the Internet, even effectively blacklisting entire domains, as long as you do it in the name of IP enforcement. Of course blacklisting entire domains can mean turning off thousands of underlying websites that may have done nothing wrong. And in what has to be an ironic touch, the very first clause of SOPA states that it shall not be “construed to impose a prior restraint on free speech.” As if that little recitation could prevent the obvious constitutional problem in what the statute actually does.

But it gets worse. Under this bill, service providers (including hosting services) would be under new pressure to monitor and police their users’ activities. Websites that simply don’t do enough to police infringement (and it is not at all clear what would qualify as “enough”) are now under threat, even though the DMCA expressly does not require affirmative policing. It creates new enforcement tools against folks who dare to help users access sites that may have been “blacklisted,” even without any kind of court hearing. The bill also requires that search engines, payment providers (such as credit card companies and PayPal), and advertising services join in the fun in shutting down entire websites. In fact, the bill seems mainly aimed at creating an end-run around the DMCA safe harbors. Instead of complying with the DMCA, a copyright owner may now be able to use these new provisions to effectively shut down a site by cutting off access to its domain name, its search engine hits, its ads, and its other financing even if the safe harbors would apply.

Disastrous IP Legislation Is Back – And It’s Worse than Ever


    1. My understanding is that there are now very close corporate ties between the large, corporate content creators and the ISPs.  This means that the content creators are now in charge of policing their own laws.  This is great for them, as they cut the government and law enforcement entirely out of the loop.

  1. It’s time for a regime change.

    When the elected officials cease working towards the achieving the goals set by their constituents, the only thing left to do is to process them into soylent green.

    1. Perhaps you’re too late: . The greatest enemy that the US government faces at present (and has for a while) is its own populace. Keep up the good fight!

      1. Holy crap. That fits America to a T!

        I almost wish I hadn’t read that as it has given a name, and made real, my own nebulous fears.


  2. They’ll get away with it because any bill including acronyms like SOPA, ISPs, IP and DMCA will make the average citizen’s head swim and get them to assign the whole problem to a box labeled ‘Something to do with computers–not my problem’.

    Try this soundbite? “This bill will limit your freedom of speech and make sure every web page you visit is used against you in a court of law, not to mention harm internet-using companies across the US.”

  3. So I’ll ask the same question I asked the last time one of these bills came up for discussion – *WHO* (actual names please) is sponsoring these bills?!  Not the paid-for senators/congresscritter, but who is actually writing and funding these? 

    They come up again and again almost on schedule, like a deliberate marketing campaign, either when voters are distracted by something else, or on a six-month timer.  This ongoing series of bills are totalitarian-gateway-drugs, and I want to know what special interests and players are behind them all.  Not just “The RIAA” but stuff like “Bob Smith, former NSA Director who works now for Dick Cheney and the Hunt brothers and sits on the board of blah and blah and blah”.  Who who who??

    1. *heh*   you voted for change, and boy, do you get it.

      Like things would have been so much better under President McCain.  *snort*

      Then again when you say things like this everyone knows who the tool is so keep up the good work.

  4. Sounds like this is exactly the type of law Wall Street could use to “disappear” 

  5. So this is because people think that ‘everything on the Internet is free.’
    Well, I sell software on the Internet, and I can see both sides. I’d like to see sites like Rapidshare and piratebay shut down, but hey, that’s just me I guess.

    1. The problem is this bill can be used to shut down any site. Notice how there’s no due process for a site getting shut down. That means I can send off a notice to Youtube, its payment processors and advertisers (probably Google itself) and (if the law is followed) have Youtube shut down.

    2. quote
      Well, I sell software on the Internet, and I can see both sides. I’d like to see sites like Rapidshare and piratebay shut down, but hey, that’s just me I guess.

      At the expense of any free advertising youtube, blogger, twitter, facebook, or just random websites would give for your product?

      Say a site/blog/whatever is covering the Occupy protests. Somebody that doesn’t like said protesting orders the site de-listed and funding suspended. Now this site could’ve also had archival material or some other bit of information you found useful as a reference. Or possibly you found the site creator amusing and interesting. Now it’s gone, or might as well be due to the leash holders not liking the new content and now having a gun to aim at it.

      Also why am I convinced BoingBoing would be one of the first sites that would get ordered to be de-listed?

      Someone get Jason Scott on the horn. We need the Internet archived. All of it.

      1. I was commenting on the one angle I agree with – the copyright theft issue. Or ‘Digital-looting’ as I call it damages a lot of companies, and these Bills have probably come about because of heavy leaning from the larger corporates,  like the film industry. 
        It’s estimated (I don’t know how) that only one in a thousand software possessions have actually been bought. 
        And yes, illegal distribution of copyrighted materials CAN be advertising, unfortunately no-one really knows the effect this really has.

        1. Oh it’s undoubtedly a product of the Entertainment Industry/MAFIAA exchanging any potential good will they have left with the public and endangering American preasence on the web for a little short term profit gain.

          Piracy happens. I don’t like it. However it has existed since somebody that wasn’t a monk thought to try copying down bits of the Bible for home reading (presuming of course this was a noble born person since the vast majority were illiterate.)

          You don’t fight piracy by alienating your customer base and torching a potential method of making money. You do so by seeing what the consumers want and try filling that niche, or failing that expand out and try creating new niches that have yet to be found out to see if there’s a market and so a fresh startup won’t scoop you and turn you into Old Hat that gets steadily less relevant as time passes by.

        2. Oh, for fuck’s sake, let’s just call it “digital child abduction”, the affected products are mostly under 18 years old, aren’t they?

    3. So you approve of the idea of being criminally culpable for anything anyone does on your domain or using your software? 

      This really isn’t some 4-chan “information freedom” circle jerk.  Read the goddamn article before you bother to expound your wisdom, hey kid?

      1. Why be offensive – guilty by any chance? ;)
        Everybody is expecting a change to happen, and I expected a crack-down much much sooner. It’s making the differentiation between freedom of speech, and basic copyright theft that’s the issue.

        1. Why be offensive? Mostly because this thing even being seriously suggested IS offensive. It’s a slap in the face of everyone online. It undermines the ideas of capitolism by giving those that are currently able to buy lawmakers the ability of shooting down anything they don’t like, including potential competition and also by destroying a whole marketplace so we can have their vision of what the net should be like.

          How are you not offended by this? How in the name of whatever person/deity/thing you hold dear do you not feel a deep and abiding sense of being smacked in the face by something this ham handed and one sided?

          Also, just to be insistent on terminology. Copyright Infringement is NOT theft. It is Piracy. Trying to equate downloading a copy of bits that represent a song with physical property laws is a toxic meme the recording industry started.

          Anyone smarter than I am care to back me up here?

          1. Not so sure I’m smarter than you, but I must say there should be some sort of distinction between “theft” where the victim is a person who no longer has a thing and “piracy” where the “victim” has only lost $.02 worth of royalties on a $15 audio CD.

            Especially when I always have the option of mailing the “victim” $2 thus increasing their margins by 10,000% and saving myself $13. Makes it pretty clear who I’m actually “stealing from” here.

          2. Given I’m also a content creator I wouldn’t mind seeing some form of revenue, strictly o na pay as you feel, at least for electronic streams. Then again I wouldn’t have to provide software support, server mantinance/upkeep and there are free services (smashwors, LuLu) that you can house ebooks on if you’re going for purely electronic distribution.

            Still. Have to say we’re letting Zotlerg troll us. Hard.
            Anyway. I don’t see this thing passing at all. However since it’s managed to get as far as it has I’m still frightened and want options. Sure Pirateboxes are nice and even now have forum support, but I want something with a bit more range (sadly using packet is also a no-go for a variety of reasons.)
            Might have to have a thought excersize on my blog on how I’d want to do this in depth.

        2. It seems like you think copyright laws are basically good things that protect artists and make sure they get paid.  I disagree.  I think the copyright laws as they exist right now primarily serve rent-seeking corporations.  Besides that, copyright laws originated in a pre-digital world where replicating and transporting information was actually expensive, and thus they are reactions to a reality that is no longer real.

          Record companies in particular but to a certain extent other media companies are a holdover from this time: they are huge because information replication and distribution was so expensive in the past that they required economy of scale to do so profitably.  IP laws evolved to cater to this particular business model.  But in a digital world it is simply no longer viable. 

          I’m all for paying artists for their work.  Let’s advocate for IP laws that benefit artists and consumers rather than laws that give big, obsolete corporations more opportunities to sue.

  6. OK so I could be paranoid, but I really feel they’re out to get me.
    PS They’re out to get you too.

  7. Does anyone else feel like the only hope to stop this kind of nonsense is to wait until all the senators  older than the internet die of old age? 

    1. Does anyone else feel like the only hope to stop this kind of nonsense is to wait until all the senators older than the internet die of old age?

      Why? If things keep getting worse, as they do, doesn’t it seem more likely that the youngsters are worse than their seniors?

  8. I guess a political solution to this kind of thing is unlikely.  So, it’s time to seriously publicise and start using alternative DNS servers.  Maybe start here: (get it while you can ;)

    But by the way, the existence of a technical work-around is no reason not to push back politically too.  Tell your representatives that this is NOT OK, and that you will view any vote for this bill as a hostile act against the US people and their constitution.

    1. The DNS servers listed there would also me affected by any change move to shutdown a domain. They are standard DNS servers that mirror what propagates across the net.

      At present, there is no open alternative. Freenet and Darknet are the only networks not vulnerable to DNS shutdown, and they are vulnerable to traffic filtering.

      1. There is a possible solution. A browser add-on that serves as a DNS cache, keeps a database of resolved queries. It would also have to be connected into a decentralized network, share the discrepancies detected, and offer history of domain record changes. For added effect, it should also be able to serve as a decentralized, distributed DNS resolver/cache, offering geolocation-sorted results. (This is also usable for research of DNS-based censorship around the world, and as a level of protection against DNS-hijacking, which the DNS-based censorship is a form of.)

        A lighter-weight version is some way to broadcast anti-filtering updates in the form of a hosts file; this however needs centralized administration which makes it vulnerable.

  9. If this is passed, wouldn’t the appropriate response be to use it simply to DOS *.mil, *.gov, the 20 or so largest hosting providers, Google, Apple, and Microsoft (no hearings or due process, remember), then watch all their lawyers try to cram through the courthouse door at once? 

  10. Well, that’s what I do. I didn’t say I didn’t give them what they want, a balancing trick that’s quite hard to get right. It’s all about respecting the customer.
    Your monk analogy doesn’t quite work as he isn’t making an infinite free source of the copies that anyone in the world can read.I don’t know how a film company can get $200 dollar cost films out to an increasing crowd that simply wants them for free. Not yet anyway. I’m just pointing out that people seem to download stuff so much that they don’t see anything wrong with it. It has become their normal position.

    1. Example is stil lvalid because in the hypothetical I shot it’s implied to happen in a time when the Chatholic Church acted as gatekeeper, much as today’s Big Content Providers/MAFIAA attempts to. You couldn’t do anything even lightly brushing against relegion without the church having something to say.

      Oh and Gallilao wasn’t put on trial for his observations of jupiter’s moons or Saturn (‘the bible teaches us how to go to Heaven, not how the Heavens go.) Instead he was tried because of a piece he wrote that was mocking of the church (forget if it was a pope or cardnil expy character he’d named ‘simplico’ and had basically as a stand in whipping boy.) 

      So yea. They thought he wasn’t a problem till he wote critical material on them personally. I’m pretty sure Big Media FOlk that are backing bills like this would do NSFW things if they had the kind of power the Church wielded way back when (exerting taxes, able to basically declare anyone peasent or king outlaw (excommunication) and can act as sole profider of The Word and anyone trying to act as an alternate source is an immediate and emminant threat.)

      However given I’d like to make money at some point off my meager talents I can appreciate and understand frustration ver seeing people pirating. However how many of those would have bought your product anyway? 

      Look at Cory here. He GIVES HIS ENTIRE LIBRARY OF BOOKS AWAY and yet he isn’t in the streets destitute asking for handouts. It’s a thorny issue, but this proposed law is not the answer.

    2. Oh, please.  The film and music industries are parasites rent seeking off the largesse of legitimate artists.  They remove more vitality and artistry from those industries than they contribute.  And besides that, you’re demanding what amounts to an anti-competition protection for these companies: new technologies invalidated their business plans and instead of letting free and open competition find replacements for them, you’re advocating passing more laws to prop them up.

      Film and music industries don’t deserve bailouts or protection from competition any more than investment banks do.  Same for your software.  If you’re not making any money off it maybe it’s because it’s not worth buying.

  11. Oh and Gallilao wasn’t put on trial for his observations of jupiter’s moons or Saturn (‘the bible teaches us how to go to Heaven, not how the Heavens go.) Instead he was tried because of a piece he wrote that was mocking of the church (forget if it was a pope or cardnil expy character he’d named ‘simplico’ and had basically as a stand in whipping boy.)

    Very misleading account of the affair.

    Galileo wrote a treatise in the form of a dialog as was customary to do at the time.  The treatise was on the subject of astronomy, contrary to what Andrew Singleton implied.  The “Simplicio” character was presumed to be a stand-in for the pope or some other church official, but I doubt Galileo ever said, “Oh yeah, it’s supposed to be this guy.”  In other words, not an open-and-shut-case of making fun of a church official.

    And at the trial, he wasn’t charged with making fun of a church official.  This is the charge:

    With the loss of many of his defenders in Rome because of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633, “for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world”, against the 1616 condemnation, since “it was decided at the Holy Congregation […] on 25 Feb 1616 that […] the Holy Office would give you an injunction to abandon this doctrine, not to teach it to others, not to defend it, and not to treat of it; and
    that if you did not acquiesce in this injunction, you should be imprison

    From wikipedia.  So yeah, he was put on trial — officially, and according to the Catholic church — for teaching that the sun is the center of the universe.

  12. What the hell is happening in the US? police attacking people, politicians acting on behalf of Money, Senators wanting to stop all communication, when and where does it end? until they EXPORT these terrible ideas to other countries? Until there is no recourse but WAR on EVERY front? it’s appalling and downright scary…

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