EFF to Chamber of Commerce: of course SOPA is a blacklist

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has more on the deadly Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the most extreme, anti-Internet, anti-privacy, anti-free speech copyright proposal in US legislative history. Today, EFF responds to claims from the Chamber of Commerce that SOPA isn't a blacklist because the law doesn't actually contain the word "blacklist":

First, the new law would allow the Attorney General to cut off sites from the Internet, essentially “blacklisting” companies from doing business on the web. Under section 102, the Attorney General can seek a court order that would force search engines, DNS providers, servers, payment processors, and advertisers to stop doing business with allegedly infringing websites.

Second, the bill encourages private corporations to create a literal target list—a process that is ripe for abuse. Under Section 103 (cleverly entitled the “market based” approach), IP rightsholders can take action by themselves, by sending notices directly to payment processors—like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal—demanding that they cut off all payments to the website. Once notice is delivered to the payment processor, that processor has only five days to act.1 The payment processor, and not the rightsholder, is then responsible for notifying the targeted website. So by the time Visa or Mastercard—who will no doubt be receiving many of these notices—processes the notice, informs the website, and the website decides whether to file a counter notice, the five days will almost certainly have elapsed. The website will then be left without a revenue source even if it did nothing wrong.

Third, section 104 of SOPA also allows payment processors to cut websites off voluntarily—even if they haven’t received a notice. Visa and Mastercard cannot be held accountable if they cease processing payments to any site, as long as they have a “reasonable belief” that the website is engaged in copyright violations of any kind. Hmm, wonder how long it will take big media to publicly post a list of allegedly infringing sites, and start pressuring payment processors to cut them off? As long the payment processors are willing to comply, the rightsholders can essentially censor anyone they see fit. Even well-meaning payment processors might do this to avoid liability down the road.

The Stop Online Piracy Act: A Blacklist by Any Other Name Is Still a Blacklist


  1. I go back to, if something like this passes, it needs to be spoofed, and HARD.  Who’s to say that http://www.amazon.com or http://www.mtv.com or rushlimbaugh.org or obamaforchange.org isn’t using one of my copyrighted photographs or text?  Certainly not Visa.  And I’m guessing it would take the big companies longer than 5 days to actually figure out what’s going on, since they certainly wouldn’t be ready for it.

    Hell, for twenty bucks, I could probably get the Mechanical Turk to generate a few hundred of these…

    1. +1 this suggestion. Since there’s nothing to harm for wrongful filing.

      Let’s see how wide a net we can cast. Not just the RIAA, MPAA, but let’s go after some other deserving folk. 

      Whitehouse.gov. Facebook. Myspace. Just think of it. Show the World just how stupid this bill is. After all if words haven’t convinced people. Let’s see how they handle pretty much the entire internet shutting down till this mess gets sorted ut.

  2. Really? Their best defense against allegations that it’s a blacklist is, “Well it doesn’t SAY blacklist…”? My spade doesn’t SAY “spade” on it, but that doesn’t make it any less one.

  3. This will be hilarious: watch as the media giants blacklist themselves, just like they issue takedown notices to themselves now.

  4. FYI – in swedish, the term “sopa” translates to: garbage, beeing bad at something, or sweeping the floor.

  5. It was walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably legislation meant to poop on the First Amendment.

  6. This is such an insane piece of legislation, it gives these assholes massive powers to control the behavior of others without any real oversight to solve a problem they can’t even prove exists. I seriously doubt their motivations are pure, there seems to be something very deeply wrong behind their efforts to seize control like this.

  7. Possibly the freakiest part is that denying that you are engaged in copyright violations is grounds for being blacklisted!

    “(ii) the operator of the U.S.-directed site—

    (I) is taking, or has taken, delib- erate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U.S.-directed site to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 or 1201 of title 17, United States Code;”

  8. Consider this idea; Fair Use Insurance backed by a Fair Use Fund. A website or enduser can take out a Fair Use Insurance Policy and based on their exposure to risk of SOPA action get a suitable level of technical redundancy and legal coverage to respond to any action against them. In the event of a SOPA action, an automated preprogrammed defensive response will be instantly launched. Using a Fair Use Protection Plan identifies your site as legally prepared to fight and acts as a deterrent against frivilous legal action. The more sites covered by the Fair Use Protection Fund the greater the protection each site enjoys.

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