Yesterday, literally millions of Americans contacted their senators and congressional reps to ask them to withdraw their support for SOPA and PIPA. The result? A massive withdrawal of support from elected lawmakers for the bills. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Boozman (R-AR) all vowed to oppose PIPA (all were co-sponsors of the bill). On the SOPA side, Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Lee Terry (R-NE) voiced their opposition to the bill, and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) blacked out his own site in protest (!).
Remember, this is what happened on the day. The momentum is breaking, and I predict more defections in the days to come.
Update: More defections abound: Ars Technica lists a total of 18 new senators opposed to PIPA.
SOPA / PIPA Co-Sponsors Drop Like Flies As Millions Protest
Michael Geist sez,
While there is little that people living outside the U.S. can do to influence SOPA and PIPA, there are many reasons why it is important for everyone to participate in tomorrow's SOPA protest.
First, the SOPA provisions are designed to have an extra-territorial effect in countries around the world.
Second, non-U.S. businesses and websites could easily find themselves targeted by SOPA. The bill grants the U.S. "in rem" jurisdiction over any website that does not have a domestic jurisdictional connection.
Third, millions rely on the legitimate sites that are affected by the legislation. Whether creating a Wikipedia entry, posting a comment on Reddit, running a WordPress blog, participating in an open source software project, or reading a posting on Boing Boing, the lifeblood of the Internet is a direct target of SOPA. If non-Americans remain silent, they may ultimately find the sites and services they rely upon silenced by this legislation.
Fourth, the U.S. intellectual property strategy has long been premised on exporting its rules to other countries. SOPA virtually guarantees that this will continue.
Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest
Jonathan from Hackers and Founders
sez, "We're planning
SOPA/PIPA protests in SF
on Wednesday the 18th to coincide with the blackouts."
sez, "The websites for 2600 will go dark
on Wednesday, joining many others around the world in protest against the potentially devastating effects of bills like SOPA and PIPA."
Former Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), pooh-poohs the January 18 internet blackout protests over SOPA and PIPA
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use
their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the
marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as
gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected
and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign
criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to
stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to
PDF link to entire statement.
On Wednesday, January 18, Boing Boing will be participating in the dangerous gimmick.
Big news: although Google won't be blacking out tomorrow in protest of SOPA and PIPA, they will have a homepage graphic and link protesting the laws
: "Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet."
We need more websites to join the fight against PIPA and SOPA. With the Hello Bar, sites will be able to easily show their opposition and raise awareness for this important issue."
Stop PIPA. Protect freedom of speech online
Jimmy Wales has announced that Wikipedia will join Reddit, Boing Boing, and many other sites around the Internet in going dark on Wednesday to protest SOPA/PIPA, the pending US legislation that would make it impossible to run any website that links or allows commenters to link, by making us liable for copyright infringement on the sites we link to.
Wales used his Twitter account to spread the news, writing “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa”
In place of Wikipedia, users will see instructions for how to reach local members of Congress, which Wales hopes "will melt phone systems in Washington."
He also noted that comScore estimates the English Wikipedia’s web traffic at 25 million daily visitors worldwide.
Wikipedia to Shut Down in Protest of SOPA
Pierre Far recommends using a 503 HTTP status code—but read on for important details
. Other options include Zachstronaut's beautiful splash page
; a WordPress plugin
Updated: Commenters have pointed out that I've jumped the gun here. SOPA is shelved, but not killed. It could be put back into play at any time.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has killed SOPA, stopping all action on it. He didn't say why he killed it, but the overwhelming, widespread unpopularity of the bill and the threat of a presidential veto probably had something to do with it.
Before you get too excited, remember that the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), the extremely similar Senate version of SOPA, is still steaming forward, and has to be stopped.
But you can get a little excited, as this is pretty goddamned great news. Six weeks ago, I was in DC talking to all the Hill rats of my acquaintance and to a one, they sucked their teeth and said, "Yeah, this thing really looks like it's going to pass. I don't like our chances." A friend who had served in several administrations said he'd "never seen the MPAA get its ducks in a row like this." So we did something amazing here. Thank you all for helping to save the net again.
Let's keep on saving it. Let's kill PIPA, then use this amazing energy to build something positive: a lobby for networked freedom, that acknowledges that the net is more than a glorified form of cable TV -- it's the nervous system of the information society. Any pretense that is used to build censorship and surveillance into the network will touch every part of networked life.
House Kills SOPA
Ranking members of the Obama administration have published a memo condemning the approach taken in SOPA and PIPA, the punishing, pending Internet bills that establish and export a censorship regime in the name of fighting copyright infringement:
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy
On January 18, Boing Boing will join
Reddit and other sites around the Internet in "going dark" to
oppose SOPA and PIPA, the
pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship
regime and exports it to the rest of the world.Read the rest
After repeatedly insisting that establishing a national censoring firewall with DNS-blocking was critical to the Stop Online Piracy Act, the bill's sponsor (and chair of the House Judicial Committee) Rep Lamar Smith has blinked. He's agreed to cut DNS-blocking from the bill, in the face of a threat from rival Rep Darrell Issa, whose House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was preparing to hear expert testimony on the harm that this provision would do to national security and the Internet's robustness against fraud and worse.
Even without its DNS provisions, SOPA remains terminally flawed, creating a regime that would be terminally hostile to any site that contains links and any site that allows the public to post comments on it. But attention has shifted to PIPA, the Senate version of the bill, which is nearly as bad, and which is rocketing towards an imminent vote.
"After consultation with industry groups across the country," Smith said in a statement released by his office, "I feel we should remove DNS-blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [U.S. House Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.
"We will continue to look for ways," Smith continued, "to ensure that foreign Web sites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."
Smith's decision comes a day after Sen. Patrick Leahy, announced he would strip SOPA's sister bill in the senate, known as the Protect IP Act, of all DNS requirements.
DNS provision pulled from SOPA, victory for opponents
Fight for the Future has compiled a list of 61 senators who won't meet with them to discuss PIPA (the Senate version of the Stop Online Piracy Act) before Jan 24, when a critical vote will take place. These senators won't sit down with them, nor will they assign a staffer to do so. Fight for the Future (who run the Stop Censorship site and coordinated many of the major, net-wide actions on SOPA and PIPA) are asking constituents of these senators to call in and demand that their representatives meet with the activists.
They've already gotten satisfaction from Rhode Island senator Jack Reed. One down, sixty to go -- please go see if your senator is on the list and take two minutes to call in and ask for a hearing on this vital issue.
The January 24th Senate vote is our best chance to stop SOPA. The EFF, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, CDT, and anti-SOPA lobbyists all agree on this.
So together we've been organizing meetings with Senators in their home districts. The Senate's in recess until the 23rd, so it's the perfect opportunity for a) a local show of force and b) actually convincing Senators that these bills are flawed.
Here's the problem: the following Senate offices are ignoring our requests for meetings before the 24th. It's not just that the senators are busy; we're asking for meetings with staffers too.
Redditors! Can you call the offices below and ask them to meet with us? Even if your state isn't on this list, calls are helpful. It's fine (and encouraged!) to call the entire list. Be polite, but insist that the senator or staff members meet with concerned constituents.
These 61 Senators are refusing to meet with their constituents before the critical Jan 24 vote on PIPA/SOPA. Oh Reddit, can you call them?
pziselberger sez, "Senator Lahey, sponsor of PIPA [ed: the Senate version of SOPA], will be on Vermont Public Radio's 'Vermont Edition' January 12 at noon
. This is an opportunity to share your outrage over PIPA with the author of the bill."
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's recent op-ed in the Salt Lake City Tribune is full of quotes and paraphrases from promotional materials produced by the MPAA and execs from its member-companies in support of SOPA. This uncited quotation is the kind of thing that academics call cheating, and that the MPAA (incorrectly) calls "copyright theft."
“Congress can make a significant contribution to that effort with legislation to strengthen law enforcement tools. In the interests of American citizens and businesses, it is time for Congress to enact rogue sites legislation.”
The sentence above is copied from a pro-COICA column (bottom paragraph) written by Mike McCurry, co-chairman of the pro-copyright outfit Arts+Labs. At the time, McCurry’s piece was praised by pro-copyright lobby groups and in his writing McCurry also uses the previously mentioned sentence from the MPAA’s former president.
But there’s more. The column from McCurry, which is often quoted by the MPAA and affiliated groups such as FightOnlineTheft, displays more similarities with the article published by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Perhaps he's just experiencing the ecstasy of influence.
‘Rogue’ Attorney General Spreads MPAA-Fed SOPA Propaganda
Public Knowledge, a public interest group fighting SOPA and PIPA, believes that its email to supporters has been plagiarized by its rivals, Creative America, an MPAA-funded astroturf group that lobbies in favor of PIPA. The copyright lobby sent a note to supporters
that had a number of similarities (including word-for-word lifts) to a Public Knowledge email sent four days earlier. It's all fair use, of course, but then again, the MPAA claims that fair use isn't a right, and that no one should rely on it, and that anyone who wants to quote someone else should always get permission.
PIPA is the Senate version of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. It's only slightly less Internet-killingly-insane, but it hasn't gotten as much attention, mostly because the House's SOPA is just so over-the-top awful. Nevertheless, it needs your attention.
Maxwell sez, "We're gaining allies every day, but if we want Protect-IP to die in the Senate, we need to step it up. SopaOpera.org has a list of people who are for, against, and undecided on PIPA. If your representative is undecided, contact them immediately! All of them are potential allies. Tell them about the damage PIPA could do to free speech, and to the American economy. Even the ones in favor of PIPA are worth contacting. If they think that enough people will vote against them in the next election, they might just change their minds. Lay on the pressure! We have until the 24th, when PIPA is up for cloture vote. Let's make every day count!"
About the PROTECT-IP Bill
James Losey from the New America Foundation sez, "Ernesto Falcon with Public Knowledge does a great job explaining Senate rules on filibuster and cloture, and what the rules mean for the Protect IP Act when the Senate comes back in session later this month:"
On January 23rd, the United States Senate will reconvene to begin legislative business for 2012. After the first order of business is taken care of, Majority Leader Harry Reid will then continue the process he started on December 17th of moving PIPA towards a Senate floor vote. This process is known as invoking 'cloture,' which is a rule that allows any Senator to impose a 30 hour time limit on debate subject to three-fifths of the Senate agreeing to end debate. Senator Ron Wyden has stated he will filibuster PIPA along with Senators Jerry Moran, Maria Cantwell, and Rand Paul and together they will use the full 30 hours available resulting in the cloture vote being held the next day.
On January 24th, Majority Leader Reid's cloture motion will have matured its 30 hours and he will then be allowed to call for an up-or-down vote on moving forward to consider PIPA. If three-fifths of the U.S. Senate agree by voting yes on cloture (ending debate), then the bill can be taken up for consideration and the process where Senators can offer amendments will begin as well as another cloture motion (resulting in another 30 hours of debate). The general rule of thumb is a bill that has 60 Senators in support of its passage will take about three days to pass the U.S. Senate.
However, if 60 Senators do not vote yes on cloture, then Senators Wyden, Moran, Cantwell, and Paul will be allowed to continue to speak in opposition to PIPA forever. That being said, what would likely happen in the aftermath if PIPA fails to gain 60 yes votes is the bill is withdrawn and a compromise is negotiated. If no compromise is possible, then the bill officially dies. It is important to note that three-fifths of the Senate must vote yes to move PIPA forward. For example, if 59 Senators voted yes on cloture and 41 Senators voted present or do not vote at all, it fails to pass. The key factor in cloture is three-fifths of the Senate voting yes on cloture and not how many votes are against PIPA.
PIPA’s January 24th Vote and How a Filibuster Works
James sez, "MythBuster Adam Savage joins the growing chorus of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act."
Honestly, if a friend wrote these into a piece of fiction about government oversight gone amok, I'd have to tell them that they were too one-dimensional, too obviously anticonstitutional.
The Internet is probably the most important technological advancement of my lifetime. Its strength lies in its open architecture and its ability to allow a framework where all voices can be heard. Like the printing press before it (which states also tried to regulate, for centuries), it democratizes information, and thus it democratizes power. If we allow Congress to pass these draconian laws, we'll be joining nations like China and Iran in filtering what we allow people to see, do, and say on the Web.
And we're better than that.
MythBuster Adam Savage: SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It
James Losey from the New America Foundation sez, "Sascha Meinrath and I have a new article arguing that bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP amount collectively punishment, something that Americans have a history of rebelling against:"
The United States of America was forged in resistance to collective reprisals—the punishment of many for the acts of few. In 1774, following the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed a series of laws—including the mandated closure of the port of Boston—meant to penalize the people of Massachusetts. These abuses of power, labeled the “Intolerable Acts,” catalyzed the American Revolution by making plain the oppression of the British crown.
More than 300 years later, the U.S. Congress is considering bills that would lead to collective reprisals against online communities. The Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House are supposed to address copyright infringement and counterfeiting. In reality, they are so technically impractical that they do little to address these problems. They would, however, undermine participatory democracy and human rights, which is why these bills have garnered near-universal condemnation from both human rights groups and technologists.
The Internet’s Intolerable Acts
My latest Publishers Weekly column is "Copyrights vs. Human Rights." In honor of Human Rights Day on Dec 10, I've written a piece on publishing's shameful support of SOPA, a law that will punish the online services that are so key to coordinating and publicizing human rights struggles around the world.
The U.N. characterizes access to the Internet as a human right, and government research in the U.K. and in the U.S. shows the enormous humanitarian benefits of network access for poor and vulnerable families: better nutrition, education, and jobs; more social mobility and opportunity; and civic and political engagement. Yet the services that provide the bulk of these benefits—search engines, Web hosts, and online service providers like Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube—could never satisfy the requirements set out in SOPA. The only way for these platforms to satisfy SOPA would be to all but shut off the public’s ability to contribute and to throttle free expression for all but those entities that can afford to pay a lawyer to certify that their uploaded material will not attract a copyright complaint.
Another group of important entities that could never satisfy SOPA are the civic-minded hackers and security researchers scrambling to improve the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). In 2011, the DNS was attacked several times, including a breach attributed to the Iranian secret police, which used forged certificates to allow them to impersonate governments, banks, and online e-mail providers like Gmail and Hotmail. If passed, SOPA would ban the production or dissemination of tools that could subvert its blocks, and that would include tools the world’s technologists are creating specifically to help defeat government censorship and surveillance. Many of these efforts and tools are actually funded by the U.S. government, and some, like the Onion Router (TOR), are used by U.S. armed forces intelligence services as well as struggling Arab Spring revolutionaries.
Cory Doctorow: Copyrights vs. Human Rights
Holmes sez, "Fight for the Future have a new way to stop the internet censorship bills: a Senate-dialing widget you can embed anywhere.
You enter a phone number and zipcode, it calls you back with talking points, and then connects you to your Senator. You can put it in your site, your blog, your Tumblr page--whereever. Click the "embed" link at the bottom for code you can embed in your site.
Take a few minutes to call if you haven't already. It's easy, and the DC-based groups fighting censorship desperately need a steady stream of phone calls to the Senate this week. Most of the outcry so far is against the House bill (SOPA) so there's a real risk the Senate version will slip through."
The creators of the MAFIAAFire browser plugin (which allows you to reach websites whose DNS has been shut down without trial by the US State Department at the behest of entertainment conglomerates) have released a sequel: ThePirateBay Dancing, a plugin that anonymizes your connections to thepiratebay.org and other blocked sites by using randomly picked proxies for each connection.
Attentive readers will remember that the DHS's ICE unit asked Mozilla to remove the MAFIAAFire plugin from its repository, and that Mozilla told them to get bent.
“DNS and IP blocking is probably the most dangerous part of SOPA/PIPA in terms of ‘breaking the Internet,’ so we tackled that first. We will be going after the other parts of SOPA in later releases but probably not in ‘our usual plugin form’ – the other parts require different solutions that we have already started work on,” we were told.
Although the add-on carries The Pirate Bay in its name it also works with other sites such as Newsbin2 and BTJunkie which are blocked in the UK and Italy respectively. In a broader sense it can also be used to bypass national “firewalls” such as in China, and soon perhaps the US.
Putting the add-on to work only requires two clicks and is completely free.
‘The Pirate Bay Dancing’ Add-On Killls DNS and IP Blockades