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MPAA issues statement slamming SOPA/PIPA "blackout" protests as "dangerous gimmick"

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 corporate interests.

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 combat piracy.”

PDF link to entire statement.

On Wednesday, January 18, Boing Boing will be participating in the dangerous gimmick.

(Image: Shutterstock)

Google will go semithermonuclear tomorrow

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."

Stop PIPA bar for your website


Morgan sez, "Hello Bar's Stop PIPA bar is a free notification bar that can be added to the top of any website. It's an easy way for websites to show their opposition to PIPA and SOPA if they can't go dark. The bar consists of two lines of code, is free, the message never changes, and there is no registration required. There are three versions to choose from. The code can be removed at any time and works on any site where you can add a couple of lines of javascript. 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 (Thanks, Morgan!)

Wikipedia will go dark to protest SOPA/PIPA

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 (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Emergency NY Tech Meetup SOPA/PIPA protest Wednesday at Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand's offices

Andrew sez,

The New York Tech Meetup, a 20,000 member community of people working in the New York Tech Industry are protesting the pending legislation in the US Senate called Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and its companion legislation in the House of Representatives, called Stop Online Piracy Act, (SOPA). These proposals pose a great threat to the open web by making censorship possible by the US government and corporations without due process. Although we agree piracy of intellectual property should be stopped, these laws if passed as currently written would have a chillingly negative effect of free speech around the world.

We are gathering this Wednesday at 12:30 PM in NYC in front of the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, (who are sponsors of PIPA). Our effort is aimed to show are collective dismay through our physical presence in solidarity with all the other online protests planned for that day by a consortium of sites in support of the open Internet. You can read about them. Please join us by signing up here and please tweet, blog, and inform all your various networks.

(Thanks, Andrew!)

Googler on how best to black out your site

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; and a simple javascript method.

UPDATED: SOPA is DYING; its evil Senate twin, PIPA, lives on

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 (via /.)

White House rejects SOPA and PIPA

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 (Thanks, James!)

Boing Boing will go dark on Jan 18 to fight SOPA & PIPA

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

Lamar Smith and Patrick Leahy blink: take DNS-blocking out of SOPA and PIPA

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 (via Deeplinks)

60 senators won't meet with activists to talk about PIPA: will yours? Call in & ask them to reconsider!

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?

PIPA sponsor in the hotseat today at 12:00 Eastern

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 AG publishes pro-SOPA op-ed with uncited quotations from MPAA promotional materials

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

MPAA lobby group plagiarizes anti-PIPA group's email

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.

Fight PIPA, SOPA's Senate cousin, with this Senate scorecard


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 (Thanks, Maxwell!)

How cloture works and what it means for PIPA

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 (Thanks, James!)

Adam Savage on SOPA: "We're better than that"

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

(Thanks, James!)