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03-19-2011, 09:52 AM
White House wants new copyright law crackdown
by Declan McCullagh - March 15, 2011 10:51 AM PDT
The White House today proposed sweeping revisions to U.S. copyright law, including making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony and allowing FBI agents to wiretap suspected infringers.
In a 20-page white paper (PDF (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ip_white_paper.pdf)), the Obama administration called on the U.S. Congress to fix "deficiencies that could hinder enforcement" of intellectual property laws.
Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator,
with Vice President Joe Biden during an event last year.
The report was prepared by Victoria Espinel, the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator who received Senate confirmation in December 2009, and represents a broad tightening of many forms of intellectual property law including ones that deal with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and overseas royalties for copyright holders. (See CNET's report (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20030956-281.html) last month previewing today's white paper.)
Some of the highlights:
The White House is concerned that "illegal streaming of content" may not be covered by criminal law, saying "questions have arisen about whether streaming constitutes the distribution of copyrighted works." To resolve that ambiguity, it wants a new law to "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances."
Under federal law, wiretaps may only be conducted in investigations of serious crimes, a list that was expanded by (http://www.law.duke.edu/publiclaw/civil/index.php?action=showtopic&topicid=3) the 2001 Patriot Act to include offenses such as material support of terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction. The administration is proposing to add copyright and trademark infringement, arguing that move "would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses."
Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it's generally illegal (http://news.cnet.com/2010-1028-978636.html) to distribute hardware or software--such as the DVD-decoding software Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr/) available from a server in France--that can "circumvent" copy protection technology. The administration is proposing that if Homeland Security seizes circumvention devices, it be permitted to "inform rightholders," "provide samples of such devices," and assist "them in bringing civil actions."
The term "fair use" does not appear anywhere in the report. But it does mention Web sites like The Pirate Bay (http://thepiratebay.org/), which is hosted in Sweden, when warning that "foreign-based and foreign-controlled Web sites and Web services raise particular concerns for U.S. enforcement efforts." (See previous coverage (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20011210-261.html) of a congressional hearing on overseas sites.)
The usual copyright hawks, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded the paper, which grew out of a so-called joint strategic plan that Vice President Biden and Espinel announced in June 2010.
Rob Calia, a senior director at the Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center, said we "strongly support the white paper's call for Congress to clarify that criminal copyright infringement through unauthorized streaming, is a felony. We know both the House and Senate are looking at this issue and encourage them to work closely with the administration and other stakeholders to combat this growing threat."
In October 2008, President Bush signed into law (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10064527-38.html) the so-called Pro IP ACT, which created Espinel's position and increased penalties for infringement, after expressing its opposition to an earlier version (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10050080-38.html).
Unless legislative proposals--like one nearly a decade ago implanting strict copy controls (http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/) in digital devices--go too far, digital copyright tends not to be a particularly partisan topic. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c105:H.R.2281.ENR:), near-universally disliked by programmers and engineers for its anti-circumvention section, was approved unanimously in the U.S. Senate.
At the same time, Democratic politicians tend to be a bit more enthusiastic about the topic. Biden was a close Senate ally (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10024163-38.html) of copyright holders, and President Obama picked (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10133425-38.html) top copyright industry lawyers for Justice Department posts. Last year, Biden warned (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20008432-261.html) that "piracy is theft."
No less than 78 percent of political contributions from Hollywood went to Democrats in 2008, which is broadly consistent with the trend for the last two decades, according to (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=B02) OpenSecrets.org.
When does the Obama Drama and the Democrats stop pandering to big Hollywood money and start representing the voters?
Without a doubt, the Obama Presidency and Administration appear as a one time event and a grave mistake at that.
03-21-2011, 05:45 PM
When does the Obama Drama and the Democrats stop pandering to big Hollywood money and start representing the voters?
Without a doubt, the Obama Presidency and Administration appear as a one time event and a grave mistake at that.
That sums it right up! His is our President, but from what I see, he has no clue what Americans are looking for from him.
05-19-2011, 07:05 AM
Google vows to fight antipiracy bill even if passed
by Greg Sandoval - MAY 18, 2011 9:05 AM PDT
Google has signaled that the company is prepared to oppose the major film and music companies as well as Congress and the president of the United States on a controversial bill designed to thwart online piracy.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
(Credit: Elinor Mills)http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/05/18/EricSchmidtsmile_270x210_270x210.pngGoogle Chairman Eric Schmidt said today in London that the company is prepared to go on fighting the bill should it become law, according to published reports. U.K. publication the Guardian is reporting that in a discussion with reporters during a London business conference, Schmidt said: "If there is a law that requires DNS [domain name systems, the protocol that allows users to connect to Web sites], to do x, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it...If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it; if it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."
This is the first time Google management has come out against attempts to dispose of Web sites accused of piracy. A bill introduced into the U.S. Senate last week, called the Protect IP Act, looks to hand the U.S. Department of Justice the power to seek a court order against an allegedly infringing Web site. The order could be served on search engines, certain Domain Name System providers, and Internet advertising firms--which would in turn be required to "expeditiously" make the target Web site vanish.
• Leahy's Protect IP bill even worse than COICA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20062419-38.html#ixzz1Mk2McbfS)
• Has Google jumped sides in copyright war? (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20024510-261.html)
• Indie filmmakers: Piracy and Google threaten us (http://news.cnet.com/%20/8301-31001_3-20016920-261.html)
Protect IP, which is the offspring of a bill introduced last year called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), is supported by an array of groups that represent copyright owners, such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), clothing manufacturers, the Alliance of Safe Online Pharmacy, Eli Lilly and others. Supporters say such a bill is necessary to stop the mass pirating of intellectual property occurring online, which costs U.S. businesses billions in lost revenue and thousands of jobs.
Critics, which include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, prominent technologists and the American Civil Liberties Union, say the bill would equip the government with the means to silence dissenting opinion at will.
"If there is a law that requires DNS to do x, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it...If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it."
Schmidt compared the bill to the kind of laws that restrict free speech in China. Copyright owners have said the legislation has a series of legal checks and balances built in and would be geared only toward pirate sites. The United Kingdom is also working on plans to restrict access to sites accused of trafficking in counterfeit or pirated goods.
The timing of Schmidt's comments is important. For the past year, Google has signaled it wants a closer relationship with Hollywood film studios and the major music labels as it has attempted to obtain licensing rights to content. The search engine announced it would start booting alleged copyright violators off AdSense, Google's successful advertising program. Managers said they would try to block terms associated with piracy from appearing in the search engine's Autocomplete function.
But big copyright owners may not have as much leverage over Google now. After months and months of negotiating over licenses with the four largest record companies, Google launched a music service but did so in a way that the company said wouldn't require licenses.
Schmidt's comments on Protect IP and antipiracy were far more resolute than those made before Congress last month by Kent Walker, Google's general counsel. A subcommittee of the House of Representatives held a hearing on online piracy and counterfeiting, and members grilled him about accusations that Google profited from intellectual-property theft, such as from the posting of Google ads to pirate sites.
Kent Walker, Google's general counsel,
testifying before Congress in
April about Google's antipiracy efforts.
(Credit: Greg Sandoval/CNET)http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/05/18/walker10_270x209.jpg
Walker listed many of the ways Google has helped protect copyrighted works and also cautioned against trying to take drastic approaches to piracy that may lead to other larger problems. However, Walker was certainly much more conciliatory than the saber-rattling Schmidt.
Some of the copyright owners lashed out at Schmidt's comments.
"This is baffling," said Jonathan Lamy, an RIAA spokesman. "As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity. In substance and spirit, this contradicts the recent testimony of (Walker) that the company takes copyright theft seriously and was willing to step up to the plate in a cooperative and serious way."
"Is Eric Schmidt really suggesting that if Congress passes a law and President Obama signs it, Google wouldn't follow it?" asked Michael O'Leary, the MPAA's chief of government relations. "As an American company respected around the world, it's unfortunate that, at least according to its executive chairman's comments today, Google seems to think it's above America's laws."
O'Leary also said that a respected expert on the U.S. Constitution noted last month that "copyright violations are not protected by the First Amendment."
"Google seems to think it's above America's laws."
-- Michael O'Leary, MPAA exec
On the other side of the debate, those who believe in the free flow of information, and critics of Protect IP, will likely welcome Schmidt's comments. Up until the company began making nice with copyright owners the past year or so, Google was seen as a champion of open Internet distribution of content. The company has sparred over copyright issues with newspapers, book publishers, recording companies, and big Hollywood studios--even fending off a $1 billion copyright complaint filed against it by Viacom, parent company of MTV.
It's unclear how much Google can do to prevent the bill from passing, or if it does, what it can do to reverse the government's position. Protect IP has broad support in both major political parties and in both houses of Congress, as well as in the White House.
In response to questions from CNET, a Google representative issued this statement: "Free expression is an issue we care deeply about, and we continue to work closely with Congress to make sure the Protect IP Act will target sites dedicated to piracy while protecting free expression and legitimate sites."
The RIAA and MPAA both have skirted the law in getting these huge settlements. Both has been shown to strong arm Judges into "fishing" trips. Both of these groups are nothing short of thugs."Google seems to think it's above America's laws."
-- Michael O'Leary, MPAA exec
No MPAA Michael O'Leary you seem to be above the law by trying to strong arm ISP's into forking over private and privileged personal info to go on that fishing trip.
Folks both the RIAA and MPAA has not one shred of proof or evidence that a person has committed piracy. When they cant get the proof the legal way both of them then goes for the strong armed tactics against the judge. They have even had the matter transferred to a judge who will side with them and or file in a court that sides with them.
To be honest the fed's needs to step in and smash these 2 groups the RIAA and MPAA and fine the living hell out of them for what they have done and is doing. What they are doing is nothig less than commiting fraud.
**** both the RIAA and MPAA and they can both goto hell.
05-27-2011, 07:31 AM
Senate panel OKs controversial antipiracy bill
The Protect IP Act is passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee
but Sen. Ron Wyden has vowed to block it.
(Credit: Dan Terdiman/CNET)
by Greg Sandoval - May 26, 2011 8:14 AM PDT
As expected, the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to approve a bill that targets Internet pirates based overseas.
The Protect IP Act looks to hand the U.S. Department of Justice the ability to seek a court order against allegedly infringing Web sites. The order could be served on search engines, certain Domain Name System providers, and Internet advertising firms--which would in turn be required to "expeditiously" make the target Web sites vanish from the Internet.
The bill was backed by leaders of both major political parties and is supported by a wide range of industries, including the film and music sectors. Backers of the legislation say that online piracy cuts deeply into their profits and kills jobs.
"The small businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, software designers, local journalists and every other segment of the creative community support the (Judiciary committee's decision) today," said Sandra Aistars, director of the Copyright Alliance, a group backed by varying copyright owners. Related links
• Lawmakers want power to shut down 'pirate sites' (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20016995-261.html)
• Senate to try again on controversial antipiracy bill (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20028167-261.html#ixzz1NTNGhSTt)
• Senator who opposes antipiracy bill under pressure? (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20028772-261.html)
Critics, who include Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, have said the legislation threatens free speech by providing the government with a simple, effective way of silencing critics: brand them copyright pirates. Schmidt criticized the legislation in London last week and went as far as to suggest that Google could continue to fight it even it becomes law.
"If there is a law that requires DNS to do x," Schmidt told reporters, "and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it...If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it."
Before the bill can be passed in the full Senate, it must overcome opposition from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation...but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective." --Sen. Ron Wyden
"In December of last year I placed a hold on similar legislation, commonly called (the Combating Online Infringements Counterfeit Act)," Wyden said in a statement. "I felt the costs of the legislation far outweighed the benefits. After careful analysis of the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, I am compelled to draw the same conclusion. I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective."
Wyden could hold up the bill for an indefinite amount of time. The next move for the bill's backers would be to try to reach some kind of compromise with Wyden.
If a compromise can't be reached, the bill's supporters could try to put the bill up for a full vote in the Senate, where all they need is a majority. Meanwhile, a similar bill is expected to be introduced in the house and opposition there is said to be light.
06-08-2011, 07:24 AM
Protect IP copyright bill faces growing criticism
by Declan McCullagh - June 7, 2011 3:01 PM PDT
Technologists are warning that the practical effects of a controversial copyright bill backed by Hollywood will "weaken" Internet security and cause other harmful side effects.
As more Internet engineers, networking professionals, and security specialists have evaluated the so-called Protect IP Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:s.00968:) that was introduced last month, concern is growing about how it will change the end-to-end nature of the Internet in ways that could do more harm than good. (See CNET's previous coverage (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20062398-281.html).)
The Protect IP Act would give the U.S. Department of Justice the power to seek a court order against an allegedly infringing Web site, and then serve that order on search engines, certain Domain Name System (DNS) providers, and Internet advertising firms, who would be required to make the target Web site invisible. It's sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and aims to target overseas Web sites.
An analysis (PDF (http://www.circleid.com/pdf/PROTECT-IP-Technical-Whitepaper-Final.pdf)) prepared by five Internet researchers lists the problems with that approach. Among them: it's "incompatible" with a set of DNS security improvements called DNSSEC, innocent Web sites will be swept in as "collateral damage," and the blocks can be bypassed by using the numeric Internet address of a Web site. The address for CNET.com (http://www.cnet.com/), for instance, is currently 188.8.131.52 (http://184.108.40.206/).
Another concern, the authors said, is that the filters could be circumvented easily by using offshore DNS servers not subject to U.S. law. That "will expose users to new potential security threats" not present if they continued to use, say, Comcast's or AT&T's DNS servers. Fake DNS entries can be used by criminals to spoof Web sites for banks, credit card companies, e-mail providers, social-networking sites, and so on.
Circumvention by using offshore servers "will also mean that ISPs gain less data on network security threats, since they use their DNS services to monitor systems and guard against denial-of-service attacks, identify botnet hosts, and identify compromised domains," wrote Public Knowledge attorney Sherwin Siy in a blog post (http://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/internet-engineers-criticize-protect-ip-dns-p) yesterday.
The technical paper was authored by Steve Crocker, a longtime member of the Internet Engineering Task Force; David Dagon, a post-doctoral researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology; security researcher Dan Kaminsky; Verisign Chief Security Officer Danny McPherson; and Paul Vixie, chairman of the Internet Systems Consortium and principal author of popular versions of the BIND DNS server software.
It's not entirely clear how broad the Protect IP Act's authority would be. An earlier draft (PDF (http://www.publicknowledge.org/protect-ip-act-2011)) of the legislation would have allowed the Justice Department to order any "interactive computer service"--a phrase courts have interpreted to mean any Web site--to block access to the suspected pirate site.
But the final version (PDF (http://leahy.senate.gov/amend/media/doc/BillText-PROTECTIPAct.pdf)) refers instead to an "information location tool." That's defined (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000512----000-.html) as a "directory, index, reference, pointer, or hypertext link," which would certainly sweep in Google, Yahoo, and search engines, and may also cover many other Web sites.
The technical paper joins other criticism of Protect IP, including that from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has created a petition (https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=487) saying the measure will "invite Internet security risks, threaten online speech, and hamper Internet innovation."
EFF and other like-minded advocacy groups, including the American Library Association and Human Rights Watch, sent a letter (PDF (https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/coica_files/pub_interest_pipa_ltr.pdf) last month to the bill's Senate sponsors saying the legislation goes too far. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has panned it (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20063963-261.html). Internet industry trade associations, including the Consumer Electronics Association and NetCoalition, said in a separate letter (PDF (https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/coica_files/tech_industry_pipa_ltr.pdf)) that Protect IP has a real "potential for unintended consequence and require intense scrutiny and study." (CNET's parent company CBS has been a member of NetCoalition.)
All this criticism hasn't done much to slow the bill's momentum so far. On May 26, the Senate Judiciary committee voted unanimously (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20066456-261.html) to send the bill to the floor for a vote.
"The small businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, software designers, local journalists and every other segment of the creative community support the (Judiciary committee's decision) today," Sandra Aistars, director of the Copyright Alliance, a group backed by copyright owners, said after the committee vote. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, too, is an enthusiastic supporter (http://www.uschamber.com/press/releases/2011/may/us-chamber%E2%80%99s-donohue-commends-senate-introduction-legislation-protect-jobs-a).
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has placed a hold (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=33a39533-1b25-437b-ad1d-9039b44cde92) on the bill, saying Protect IP takes an "overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective." That hold could be defeated through a cloture vote, a significant hurdle but not an insurmountable one.
07-07-2011, 07:17 AM
Dozens of law professors: PROTECT IP Act is Unconstitutional
By Timothy B. Lee | Published about 13 hours ago
An ideologically diverse group of 90 law professors has signed a letter (http://volokh.com/2011/07/04/and-speaking-of-the-inalienable-right-to-the-pursuit-of-happiness/) opposing the PROTECT IP Act (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/revised-net-censorship-bill-requires-search-engines-to-block-sites-too.ars), the Hollywood-backed copyright enforcement/Internet blacklist legislation now working its way through Congress. The letter argues that its domain-blocking provisions amount to Internet censorship that is barred by the First Amendment.
Jointly authored by Mark Lemley, David Levine, and David Post, the letter is signed not only by prominent liberals like Larry Lessig and Yochai Benkler, but also by libertarians like Post and Glenn "Instapundit" (http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/) Reynolds.
"The Act would allow courts to order any Internet service to stop recognizing [a] site even on a temporary restraining order... issued the same day the complaint is filed," they write. Such a restraining order, which they describe as "the equivalent of an Internet death penalty," raises serious constitutional questions.
The Supreme Court has held (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedman_v._Maryland) that it's unconstitutional to suppress speech without an "adversary proceeding." That is, a speaker must, at a minimum, be given the opportunity to tell his side of the story to a judge before his speech can be suppressed.
Yet under PIPA, a judge decides whether to block a domain after hearing only from the government. Overseas domain owners (and the speakers who might make use of their websites) aren't offered the opportunity to either participate in the legal process or appeal the decision after the fact. (Affected domain owners may file a separate lawsuit after the fact.) This, the professors say, "falls far short of what the Constitution requires before speech can be eliminated from public circulation."
The law professors also point out that blocking entire domains could "suppress vast amounts of protected speech containing no infringing content whatsoever" if an entire domain is blocked (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/03/ars-interviews-rep-zoe-lofgren.ars) based on finding infringing material on a single subdomain. The Supreme Court has compared (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&navby=case&vol=521&invol=844) such over-broad censorship to "burning the house to roast the pig."
The letter also warns that passing legislation that violates America's free-speech principles will undermine the government's credibility when it tries to promote free speech principles around the world. America's strong support for Internet freedom has "made the United States the world leader in a wide range of Internet-related industries," the professors write. "Passage of the Act will compromise our ability to defend the principle of a single global Internet. As such, it represents the biggest threat to the Internet in its history."
07-07-2011, 11:10 AM
People had better wake up to this Bill..... its a disaster looking for a place in history to happen.
I know of no game developer, artist (music, graphic, vid, etc.) who could find any redeeming values in this proposed oppressive law.
11-23-2011, 07:56 AM
Surprise! Microsoft quietly opposes SOPA copyright bill
by Declan McCullagh November 22, 2011 9:23 PM PST
Microsoft has long been one of the most ardent proponents of expanding U.S. copyright law. But that enthusiasm doesn't extend to the new Stop Online Piracy Act, which its lobbyists are quietly working to alter, CNET has learned.
It's little surprise that Web-based companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter oppose SOPA, which is designed to make allegedly piratical Web sites virtually disappear from the Internet. They, and many civil liberties and human rights groups, worry that SOPA could jeopardize legitimate Web sites too.
Even Garret, the Business Software Alliance's
"copyright-crusading ferret," doesn't like
the Stop Online Piracy Act. (Credit: BSA)
http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/11/22/bsaferret1_270x391.jpgBut Redmond's skepticism is notable because unlike the Web companies, Microsoft earns nearly all of its revenue by licensing software--which can, of course, be pirated--and loses money on Bing and its online services division. What's even more telling is that Microsoft had enthusiastically endorsed a narrower version of the copyright bill, called Protect IP, earlier this year.
That concern about SOPA, which is heading toward a committee vote in the House of Representatives next month, led to a rare and embarrassing about-face on the part of the Business Software Alliance, a trade association that represents Microsoft's interests in Washington, D.C. (BSA, along with the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, is among the seven members of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Among BSA's projects is a pro-copyright Web site for kids featuring Garrett, the copyright-crusading ferret that Wired dubbed one of the "lamest technology mascots ever.")
When Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, introduced SOPA last month, BSA distributed a statement saying it "commended" him for it and that the legislation was a "good step...to address the problem of online piracy."
Yesterday, BSA President Robert Holleyman changed his tune, saying in a blog post that SOPA "needs work" and that "valid and important questions have been raised about the bill."
While the wording of SOPA hasn't changed over the last four weeks, the politics have. A person familiar with the situation told CNET that BSA's volte-face came after Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, other members of the trade association had reviewed the bill and informed Holleyman of their displeasure.
Holleyman did not respond to a request for comment today. A spokesman for BSA would say only that "I'm directing you to the blog post."
It's possible that Microsoft is reluctant to oppose SOPA publicly because it would jeopardize its relationship with Smith, the influential chairman of the House Judiciary committee, which oversees copyright law. Microsoft declined to respond to a query from early yesterday, with a representative saying only that we are "unable to accommodate your request."
Microsoft isn't the only company to embrace Protect IP yet have reservations about SOPA. Tim McKone, AT&T's executive vice president of federal relations, told CNET last week that "we have been supportive of the general framework" of Protect IP. But when it comes to SOPA, all AT&T would say is that it is "working constructively with Chairman Smith and others toward a similar end in the House."
One major difference between the two proposals is that SOPA is broader. Protect IP, which is awaiting a Senate floor vote, would allow courts to order AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other ISPs to pretend that the domain names for targeted Web sites didn't exist. (The Domain Name System, or DNS, translates alphanumeric domain names like CNET.com into the numeric IP addresses actually used by computers, in this case 220.127.116.11.)
SOPA goes further by permitting the Justice Department and courts to order ISPs to block customers from visiting the numeric IP addresses of off-limits Web sites. It also appears to authorize deep packet inspection, which raises privacy concerns.
This week's public position-revision by BSA has inspired some mirth on the part of its customary opponents on copyright law.
Art Brodsky, communications director of Public Knowledge, which previously twitted BSA in a blog post titled "Copyright industry: Copyrights trump human rights?", says he welcomes a potential new ally.
"Generally BSA has been very hawkish on the intellectual property front," Brodsky says. "We're always glad to see them become enlightened on these issues."
11-24-2011, 07:18 AM
Why SOPA endangers America's Internet leadership
By Timothy B. Lee | Published about 19 hours ago
Last Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution (http://www.edri.org/EU_parliament_SOPA) ahead of a forthcoming summit between Europe and the United States. It included a section on "the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names."
That provision was added at the urging of the civil liberties organization European Digital Rights (EDRi). In a presentation (http://www.edri.org/files/Libe_041011_final.pdf) to the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee, EDRi's Joe McNamee noted that "the United States has, up until recently, never sought to exploit its theoretical jurisdiction over the companies and infrastructure that are at the core of the Internet."
Obviously, that is changing. The government has begun seizing domain names (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/01/crime-is-crime-meet-the-internet-police.ars) of so-called rogue sites. And the Stop Online Piracy Act (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/10/house-takes-senates-bad-internet-censorship-bill-makes-it-worse.ars) (SOPA) would lead to even more aggressive copyright enforcement efforts. These tactics threaten to undermine US leadership of the Internet and could endanger the conensus-driven process that has served its development for so long. It could also harm US companies competing overseas.
Because the Internet was originally developed in the United States with federal money, the US government enjoys disproportionate influence over Internet governance. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is based in the United States, as are the majority of the DNS root servers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_name_server) and the registries for popular top-level domains like ".com" and ".org." While there has been regular grumbling about this dominance, the US government's relatively hands-off approach has served the Internet pretty well (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/06/eu-admits-icann-setup-has-worked-well-wants-change-anyway.ars) and has helped dissuade other nations from challenging the status quo (other governments have gained some modest additional power at ICANN).
But that's likely to change if the US government continues throwing its weight around. For example, we've covered the case of Rojadirecta (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/08/judge-says-domain-name-loss-is-not-a-substantial-hardship.ars), a site that had its .com domain seized by American officials despite the fact that its operations had been found legal by a Spanish court. Whatever short-run benefits this policy might have from an anti-piracy perspective, the long-run consequences are obvious: non-Americans will be more reluctant to register .com or .org websites. And eventually, foreign governments will object even more strongly to the US control of key DNS systems.
That backlash doesn't seem to have started in earnest yet. While the European parliament has been critical of US efforts to use its control over DNS to fight "rogue sites," McNamee says the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has endorsed the American government's actions. He speculates that the EU government is hoping to set a precedent for European authorities to seize European IP addresses under similar circumstances. (Such plans for a "virtual Schengen border" have already leaked (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/06/western-governments-mount-major-push-for-internet-rules-of-the-road.ars/).)
The controversy over DNS is just one example of the US government using its de facto control over key communications infrastructure to promote US policy objectives. For example, because the United States created the Internet, a disproportionate share of Internet traffic passes through the United States. Or at least it used to. Under the Bush administration, the National Security Administration realized that America's central position in the Internet backbone was an opportunity to intercept foreign communications. Of course, within a few years the existence of this program was revealed to the public (http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/5791.ars), with predictable results: foreign nations became less willing (http://www.digitalcommunities.com/articles/Global-Internet-Traffic-Routes-Around-US.html) to have their traffic flow through the United States.
Similarly, dozens of American software and telecommunications companies have thrown their weight behind the Digital Due Process Coalition (http://www.digitaldueprocess.org/) because the lack of robust Fourth Amendment protections for online services makes it difficult for American companies to sell cloud-based services overseas. Foreign businesses are not interested in storing their sensitive documents in a country where the third party doctrine (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/04/the-cloud-and-the-future-of-the-fourth-amendment.ars/) (once you store a document with a third party, you have given up much of your privacy protection) gives the government the power to rifle through electronic files with minimal judicial oversight.
America's position of influence over the Internet economy is a valuable form of "soft power." If the US government uses this power judiciously, it can ensure that the Internet evolves in ways that serve US interests.
Instead, American policymakers are rapidly squandering this soft power by giving US law enforcement agencies—and, under SOPA, even private copyright holders—free rein to exercise this power with minimal judicial oversight. The US is home to many of the world's leading search engines, advertising networks, and credit card payment networks. These firms not only serve the US market, they are also widely used overseas. If the US begins to use them as pawns in its war against file-sharing, foreigners and their governments will become more reluctant to rely on them.
This may serve some short-term political goals, but it's likely to produce ham-fisted behavior by law enforcement that will permanently damage our international reputation. Other countries will find it harder to trust the US. Instead, foreign countries will build their own competing communications infrastructure, and they'll demand that control over Internet governance be transferred to truly international institutions. In short, if America abuses its soft power, that power will evaporate.
12-02-2011, 07:13 AM
SOPA on the ropes? Bipartisan alternative to 'Net censorship emerges
By Nate Anderson | Published about 11 hours ago
The Senate's PROTECT IP Act (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/revised-net-censorship-bill-requires-search-engines-to-block-sites-too.ars) and the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/10/house-takes-senates-bad-internet-censorship-bill-makes-it-worse.ars) are so noxious that even the Business Software Alliance has serious reservations (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/even-the-business-software-alliance-now-backpedaling-on-sopa-support.ars), and SOPA's main backer had to take to the virtual pages of National Review (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/284535/defending-sopa-lamar-smith) today to quell a growing revolt among his conservative colleagues about "regulating the Internet." Whatever you think of the legislation, it unquestionably represents a sea change in the US approach to the Internet, one which explicitly contemplates widespread website blocking and search engine de-listing.
The level of debate on an issue this important has been... suboptimal. (And hearings have been rather lopsided affairs (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/at-web-censorship-hearing-congress-guns-for-pro-pirate-google.ars)). Just listen to the rhetoric of SOPA author Lamar Smith: "Enforcing the law against criminals is not censorship." Pithy, sure, but it doesn't relate to any actual objections put forth by thoughtful critics.
But rightsholders do need some means of enforcing copyrights and trademarks, something tough to do when a site sets up overseas and willfully targets American consumers with fake goods and unauthorized content. Some sites can be leaned on when hosted in friendly countries, but many simply thumb their nose at US law with impunity. If you can't go after the sites at the source, and you can't lure their operators to the US (both tactics used with success in other cases), what's left but blocking site access from within the US?
Fortunately, plenty can be done, and it can be done in a way that doesn't raise the same immediate concerns about due process and censorship. One promising alternative was unveiled today by a bipartisan group of 10 senators and representatives. It ditches the “law and order” approach to piracy and replaces it with a more limited, trade-based system.
And the legislators behind it have put out a draft of the idea for public comment before they even begin drawing up actual legislation. (Does the Smoky Back Room industry know about this threatening behavior?)
Less cops and robbers, more trade policy
Here's the plan, according to a draft seen by Ars Technica: online piracy from overseas sites will be taken away from the Attorney General and moved out of the courts. Instead, power will be vested in the International Trade Commission, which already handles IP disputes relating to imports (the ITC is heavily involved in the recent patent wars around smartphones, for instance).
The government won't bring cases, either; rightsholders can petition the ITC for a "cease and desist" order, but only when the site in question is foreign and is "primarily" and "willfully" violating US law. Sites would be notified and would have a right to be heard before decisions are made in most cases, and rulings could be appealed to a US court if desired by either party. ("Urgent" requests could get preliminary and temporary letters based on a one-sided hearing, but the process also envisions "sanctions" for any company that tries to abuse the ITC process.)
Sites which are truly bent on counterfeiting and piracy are unlikely to pay much attention to a US-based cease and desist order, of course, so the new plan envisions two remedies. If such an order is issued, Internet advertising firms and financial providers would have to stop offering credit card payments and ads to the site in question. Website blocking by ISPs and DNS providers is not part of the plan, nor would search engines or others be required to remove links to such content.
The two-page draft of the plan is being issued so that "the public can provide us with feedback and counsel before the proposal is formally introduced in the House and the Senate." And clearly, feedback would be useful. Can such a "follow the money" plan do anything about noncommercial piracy, for instance? Should it try to do so? But the whole shift in tone marked by the new approach looks far more promising than anything likely to come out of the mess that is SOPA.
Who's behind all of this sweet sanity? Senators Wyden (D-OR), Cantwell (D-WA), Moran (R-KS), and Warner (D-VA); Reps. Chaffetz (R-UT), Campbell (R-CA), Doggett (D-TX), Eshoo (D-CA), Issa (R-CA), and Lofgren (D-CA).
12-09-2011, 07:08 AM
Censorship foes roll out antipiracy plan, say stop "butchering the Internet"
By Nate Anderson | Published about 14 hours ago
It's a battle of the Congressional antipiracy acronyms. In one corner are SOPA and PROTECT IP, the House and Senate bills that would bring site blocking, search engine de-listing, and more to the US in an effort to stop "rogue" sites. In the other corner, today's challenger (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/sopa-on-the-ropes-bipartisan-alternative-to-net-censorship-emerges.ars): the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, called the "OPEN" Act (http://www.keepthewebopen.com/assets/pdfs/OPEN.pdf) (PDF).
OPEN has been spearheaded by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who released draft text of the plan today on a special website (http://www.keepthewebopen.com/) that invites citizen comment and reaction before the text is finalized.
"Butchering the Internet is not a way forward for America," said Issa in a statement.
OPEN instead moves the antipiracy process away from the courts and the Department of Justice and to the International Trade Commission (ITC)—treating the issue more as a trade problem than a criminal case. It also does away with private rights of action by copyright holders.
Rightsholders who win a case at the ITC would gain two remedies: payment processors would have to block all payments from US customers, and advertising networks could no longer do business with the site. (Site blocking isn't contemplated, nor is search engine de-listing.)
Sites can be targeted only if they have a "non-domestic domain name," if they conduct "business directed to residents of the United States" (such as advertising prices in US dollars, for instance), and if they have "only limited purpose or use other than engaging in infringing activity."
Wait, we have to prove this stuff?
The "features" of the bill are mostly negatives to rightsholders like the MPAA, which criticized the OPEN Act today. Some of the critiques have real merit—the ITC, which generally handles patent questions, can be slow, and it may currently be understaffed to handle the work.
But other critiques show that a frustrated industry would prefer to shut down its targets first and deal with challenges later. The new approach "places copyright holders at a disadvantage and allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders," said the MPAA's Michael O'Leary today in a statement. "It even allows notification to some of these companies if they want to help advocate for rogue websites."
The MPAA worries that ad networks (like, presumably, its bęte noire Google) would show up at the ITC to weigh in on the side of targeted sites. (This sort of thing happens routinely in courts, where parties appear as amici in cases of interest.) It's hard to see the problem here. Google is really going to show up to defend even sites like Chanelripoffbags.co.uk? Deeply unlikely. But if it had a reason to do so, shouldn't that reason be heard before giving the axe to a site's US-based advertising and sales? Rightsholders certainly need the ability to move with reasonable speed, and the new bill does provide for quick action in certain cases, but general complaints that one might actually have to argue more against someone who disagrees with you aren't going to gain much traction.
It's unclear how much support OPEN will receive; the current chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have pledged to shepherd PROTECT IP and SOPA to the floor, and some rightsholders say there's simply no time to start the legislative process from scratch.
In addition, Hollywood is already trying to frame the debate as one about being soft on crime. As the headline from today's MPAA statement puts it, "DRAFT LEGISLATION BY REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA AND SENATOR RON WYDEN GOES EASY ON INTERNET PIRACY."
This line of attack fits neatly with one offered by SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX), who last week basically accused Google of wanting to profit from piracy. "Unfortunately, there are some critics of this legislation who are not serious about helping to protect America’s intellectual property," he wrote (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/284535/defending-sopa-lamar-smith). "That’s because they’ve made large profits by working with and promoting rogue sites to U.S. consumers. Google recently paid a half billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search-engine giant’s active promotion of rogue foreign pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients. Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites."
12-13-2011, 09:06 AM
New version of SOPA copyright bill, old complaints
by Declan McCullagh December 12, 2011 11:10 PM PST
A new version of the Stop Online Piracy Act appears to be no more popular than the last one was.
In an effort to head off mounting criticism before a vote on the legislation this Thursday (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341679-281), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today announced a series of tweaks (PDF) (http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/HR%203261%20Managers%20Amendment.pdf) to SOPA, which is backed by Hollywood and major record labels but opposed by Internet firms and the Consumer Electronics Association.
But Smith, who heads the House Judiciary committee, stopped short of altering the core of SOPA (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261:)--meaning that allegedly piratical Web sites could still be made to vanish from the Internet. Deep packet inspection could still be required (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57328045-281/sopas-latest-threat-ip-blocking-privacy-busting-packet-inspection/). (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/).)
"There are still significant problems with the approach," said Public Knowledge attorney Sherwin Siy (http://www.publicknowledge.org/user/1713). The revised version of SOPA "continues to encourage DNS blocking and filtering, which should be concerning for internet security experts and human rights activists alike," he said. DNS stands for the Domain Name System.
Ryan Radia (http://cei.org/expert/ryan-radia), associate director of technology studies at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute (http://cei.org/), says SOPA v2.0 is "better than the old one, and more carefully written in several places." But, Radia says, "it's still a very bad bill."
The changes streamline and narrow other portions of the bill, especially those that allow copyright and trademark holders to file their own private lawsuits against suspected pirates. Now their target must, in some but not all cases, actually be "offering goods or services in violation" of U.S. intellectual property laws, a change from the previous wording that was more vague. The target also must be offshore.
SOPA v2.0 also takes more careful aim at Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and other search providers. Previously the definition included a service that "searches, crawls, categorizes, or indexes information," which could have included thousands, or perhaps millions, of other Web sites with search boxes as well.
"Our staff and Chairman Smith have been working closely with stakeholders and other members over the past few weeks to strengthen the bill and address legitimate concerns from groups who are interested in working with Congress to combat foreign rogue websites," an aide to Smith wrote in an e-mail message circulated obtained by CNET. "The below changes reflect many of those conversations and result in a bill with even broader industry and bipartisan support."
The Recording Industry Association of America, a staunch SOPA supporter, applauded the changes in a press release from Chairman Cary Sherman: This legislation is now more focused on the bad actors and provides additional safeguards for legitimate operators. These changes are reflective of the cooperative efforts led by the chairman's office and exercised by the creative communities and responsible intermediaries who all agree that overseas rogue sites cause serious damage to American innovation and jobs, and who recognize that the status quo is simply not working. For those who continue to blindly criticize or suggest ineffective alternatives, it's becoming ever more apparent that they simply want to defend the status quo because it helps their bottom line. Other changes that have been made to SOPA v2.0:
• An ad network or payment processor forced to cut off service previously was guaranteed the ability to "determine the means to communicate such action" to its customers. That language has disappeared.
• A committee of federal agencies, which includes the Department of Homeland Security, "shall conduct a study" on how SOPA affects "the deployment, security, and reliability of the domain name system and associated Internet processes."
• The definition of an "Internet site" that could be the subject of legal action for allegedly infringing activities has been altered. The previous wording said a "portion thereof" could be taken offline; now it explicitly refers to "a specifically identified portion of such site," which could mean a URL or subdomain, such as news.cnet.com (http://news.cnet.com/).
SOPA foes marshal opposition before House panel vote (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341679-281/sopa-foes-marshal-opposition-before-house-panel-vote/)
DHS abruptly abandons copyright seizure of hip-hop blog (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339569-281/dhs-abruptly-abandons-copyright-seizure-of-hip-hop-blog/)
SOPA foes ready alternative plan--no Web blocking (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339110-281/sopa-foes-ready-alternative-plan-no-web-blocking/)
How SOPA would affect you: FAQ (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/)
• What Smith's aides are calling a "savings clause." It's in response to criticism from technologists warning of SOPA's impact on DNS, and says that blocking orders should not "impair the security or integrity of the domain name system or of the system or network operated by" the company required to comply.
• Banks and credit unions appear to be exempted from being targeted as a "payment network provider."
Meanwhile, concern over the concept of taking suspected pirate domains offline is growing. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has proposed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales#Request_for_Comment:_SOPA_an d_a_strike) an article page blackout as a way to put "maximum pressure on the U.S. government" in response to SOPA. This follows a similar protest in October (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15192757) by Wikipedia's Italian site.
Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, posted an analysis (http://www.bricoleur.org/2011/12/overbroad-censorship-users.html) on his personal Web site about how SOPA could affect average Internet users. If someone uses Web sites to store photos, documents, or blog posts on a Web site that's accused under SOPA of copyright infringement, those files "can be obliterated from his view without him having any remedy," Macgillivray writes.
During a speech in Washington, D.C. today, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt slammed SOPA, according to a report (http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/198777-google-chairman-says-online-piracy-bill-would-criminalize-linking) at TheHill.com. "They should not criminalize the intermediaries," Schmidt reportedly said. "They should go after the people that are violating the law."
The Motion Picture Association of America responded in a statement from Michael O'Leary, senior executive vice president for Global Policy and External Affairs, saying: "There is broad recognition that all companies in the Internet ecosystem have a serious responsibility to target criminal activity. This type of rhetoric only serves as a distraction and I hope it is not a delaying tactic."
SOPA represents the latest effort from the MPAA, the RIAA, and their allies to counter what their members view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org (http://thepiratebay.org/). The measure would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order to be served on search engines, Internet providers, and other companies.
Two opponents of SOPA, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), have proposed an alternative called the OPEN Act (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339110-281/sopa-foes-ready-alternative-plan-no-web-blocking/), which targets only Internet ad networks and "financial transaction providers" such as credit card companies. It's not without its own critics: Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, has posted a lengthy critique (http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2011/12/the_open_act_de.htm).
Smith, the House Judiciary chairman, is planning a committee vote on SOPA this Thursday. The next step would be for the bill to go to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a full vote, which would happen next year at the earliest.
All campaign contributions and MPAA & RIAA affiliations of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) should be thoroughly examined. Smith is far too cozy with the entertainment industry heavyweights. SOPA in any incarnation, needs to DIE.
12-13-2011, 02:46 PM
From what I know about SOPA, it's intentions are good but it steps over all bounds of well intent. This has to be the worst thought out bill to ever hit Congress. If passed then it could be possible that RGN could be taken down without any explanation of what was wrong except that Activision said that Mike violated a copyright somewhere on the site. Video clip, trailer, picture anything.
Just say NO to this bill, call your reps and voice your opnion.
12-14-2011, 07:37 AM
Rep. Jared Polis, Web entrepreneur, on SOPA (Q&A)
by Declan McCullagh - December 13, 2011 7:53 PM PST
Rep. Jared Polis probably knows more about how Internet businesses work than does any other member of the U.S. Congress.
Which is why it should be no surprise that Polis, 36, a Colorado Democrat who has founded a series of successful Web businesses including the BlueMountainArts.com (http://www.bluemountain.com/) electronic greeting card company, has become an ardent foe of the Stop Online Piracy Act (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339110-281/sopa-foes-ready-alternative-plan-no-web-blocking/). SOPA will "destroy the Internet as we know it," he warns.
(Credit: U.S. House of Representatives)
SOPA represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org (http://thepiratebay.org/). It would allow the Justice Department to seek an order making allegedly piratical Web sites virtually vanish from the Internet. (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/).)
That approach has attracted criticism from Internet engineers, Web companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Zynga (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57325134-281/google-facebook-zynga-oppose-new-sopa-copyright-bill/), and civil liberties and human rights groups. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341679-281/sopa-foes-marshal-opposition-before-house-panel-vote/) SOPA violates the First Amendment and "should not be enacted by Congress."
Polis, who also founded Web hosting company American Information Systems and whose district includes Boulder and some of Denver's suburbs, is the newest member of the House Judiciary committee. He's planning to put his position to good use this Thursday, when the committee meets to vote on a revised version of SOPA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341916-281).
CNET spoke with Polis, who took office in 2009, this afternoon. Below is the transcribed interview, lightly edited for clarity. [Ed. Note: On November 18, CNET offered MPAA the same interview opportunity. The MPAA declined. CNET also offered MPAA member company Paramount Pictures the same opportunity. Paramount did not respond.]
Q: Are you the only Internet entrepreneur in Congress? Polis: That's a good question. I cannot think of any others offhand.
Why are you so concerned about SOPA? Polis: In my professional career in the technology industry, I had the opportunity to be on nearly every side of every issue.
I had patents frivolously attempted to be enforced against me. I tried to enforce--fully justifiably enforced--patents against others. I had intellectual property issues on both sides. I've been involved in receiving venture capital, on the funding side. I've gotten to see all sides of the industry from the investor side, the principal side, the rights holder side, the fair use side, from the e-commerce side, the advertiser side.
I think what's needed in public policy is a balance. SOPA is far from a balance. It still reads like a wishlist for rights holders rather than a balanced approach.
What do you think of the revised version? I've been calling it SOPA v2.0 (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341916-281). Polis: It's certainly an improvement over the previous draft. But it has a number of problems.
It allows and mentions DNS blocking. The new version eliminates a remedy process, which is a critical piece. Before you go to court, sites should have an opportunity to comply. We also have a threat to free speech by including search engines, including some language that can be used very easily against BitTorrent and Web anonymizers that are actually used to get around censorship.
There's a lot of damaging elements to the bill, to the Internet ecosystem and free speech.
You had an exchange on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#%21/jaredpolis/status/134844339602993152) with Creative America on SOPA, after the group claimed (https://twitter.com/#%21/creativeamerica/status/134801810937487360) that over 320 of your constituents sent you pro-SOPA letters. Were you tweeting that yourself? Polis: Of course. Some members of Congress might not... Polis: No! Are you serious? (laughs) It doesn't happen here, Declan.
You replied (https://twitter.com/#%21/jaredpolis/status/134793471943909376) to Creative America saying: "Are u insane? SOPA would destroy the Internet as we know it." Polis: I had fun with that. They were saying, "Oh, we generated hundreds of calls to your office." I said: You're not getting your money's worth. We certainly didn't get 300 calls. We got hundreds against SOPA saying don't support it. [Ed. Note: After checking the actual figures for the last two weeks, a spokesman emailed us afterward to say: "We haven't received a single call asking us to pass SOPA."]
You had an exchange last week with Attorney General Eric Holder on SOPA. What do you think of his response, that if SOPA were law the Justice Department would have to allocate its resources in choosing which sites to target? Prosecutorial discretion? Polis: Exactly. I find this particularly hypocritical, this proposal, coming from many Republicans. Not Darrell Issa, who's consistent and opposed to SOPA.
Other Republicans have been very skeptical of the attorney general's leadership, of his use of discretion. And here we're going to give him enormous powers over the Internet and allow him to use them at his discretion in a selective way.
He's going to have to make some choices about enforcing it. And that raises the specter of that being colored by political considerations or economic considerations or ideological considerations--or who knows what considerations will be used by any attorney general when it comes to selective enforcement.
What kind of outreach do you get from copyright holders versus technology companies and Internet users? Who's more effective at lobbying? Polis: I think it's fair to say that many of the proponents of SOPA have a larger more traditional presence in D.C. than many of the tech companies and grassroots opponents of SOPA, who don't have the same kind of lobbying apparatus in Washington.
Your advice for tech companies? Spend lots of money on D.C. lobbyists? Polis: Many in the tech industry are waking up to this threat. It's a wake up call to many companies.
When you're talking to tech companies, there's a perception that Congress could never do anything this stupid or one-sided. It's a challenge for me to convey to them that, yes, this actually could pass and you need to pay attention and work to derail it.
What's your prediction for the committee vote this week? Polis: I don't know the vote count. I think it is somewhat surprising that we have a totally different bill that we just saw yesterday, and I'm working on trying to prepare some amendments to that.
It's slightly better, but it's still fundamentally a damaging bill to the Internet economy. We'll see what it's reception is. I think many members and their staffs are just reading this bill today for the first time.
What amendments are you planning to propose to SOPA v2.0? Polis: We're just preparing amendments now. I just read it myself this morning.
I don't see how [Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)] can necessarily have the votes on a version that everyone is just seeing for the first time yesterday and today. I think people are just beginning to digest what is a flawed bill but is fundamentally different in many ways from the draft that had been circulated earlier.
Another provision that I think is just ridiculous is to have this blacklist of notorious infringers that are named foreign people that are then ineligible to raise capital from Americans or the the American marketplace. It shows a real misunderstanding of how the Internet works. Because if we name somebody a "notorious infringer," they can raise a ton of money from the netroots just on that.
Can you imagine if the attorney general said that "Vladimir Vivinsky" from Moscow is a notorious infringer? All of a sudden, that person who was a nobody becomes a somebody and can raise millions of dollars from people who tend to support WikiLeaks and other causes like that. We're causing a bigger problem. Any last thoughts? Polis: I think that this bill in its current form will have serious problems on the floor of the House. It's important to push the effort to derail it in the next few days.
Everyone agrees with the concept of protecting intellectual property. I care deeply about it...I was involved with Web sites like BlueMountain.com--we were ripped off and had to engage in actions against people who pirated our intellectual property.
Everyone agrees that we should do something. But we don't want a so-called solution that's worse than the problem. And doesn't address the problem. I hope that we can declare this bill dead soon so we can actually do something, working with the valid stakeholders to ensure that intellectual property is better respected.
12-14-2011, 08:20 AM
Rep. Issa: SOPA won't be approved unless fixed
By Declan McCullagh - December 14, 2011 4:00 AM PST
Rep. Darrell Issa, a senior House Republican, is predicting a dim future for the Stop Online Piracy Act (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341916-281/new-version-of-sopa-copyright-bill-old-complaints/).
"I would expect this bill is not going to become law in this Congress unless these problems are resolved," Issa, whose district includes portions of San Diego and Riverside counties, told CNET in a telephone interview.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who's planning
to offer amendments to SOPA during a vote on Thursday.
(Credit: U.S. House of Representatives)
The problems he's referring to are a long list of criticisms from opponents of SOPA, including Internet engineers, Web companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Zynga (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57325134-281/google-facebook-zynga-oppose-new-sopa-copyright-bill/), and civil liberties and human rights groups. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341679-281/sopa-foes-marshal-opposition-before-house-panel-vote/) SOPA "should not be enacted by Congress" because of censorship concerns, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has proposed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales#Request_for_Comment:_SOPA_an d_a_strike) an article page blackout.
Issa says he became a critic of SOPA because he came to Congress from the high tech industry and has been on multiple sides in intellectual property lawsuits. He was in federal district court "on patent cases as a defendant and a plaintiff," he says.
Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who drafted SOPA, has scheduled a committee vote on a slightly revised version (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57341916-281)--call it SOPA v2.0--on Thursday.
Issa says he's planning to offer amendments to SOPA that would "reduce" the discretion of the U.S. attorney general, who under the legislation would be allowed to seek a court order to make allegedly piratical Web sites virtually vanish from the Internet, including through Internet Protocol address blocking and deep packet inspection (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57328045-281/sopas-latest-threat-ip-blocking-privacy-busting-packet-inspection/). In a separate statement (http://issa.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=941:issa-statement-on-stop-online-piracy-act-sopa-managers-amendment&catid=63:2011-press-releases&Itemid=4), Issa said SOPA v2.0 "retains the fundamental flaws of its predecessor." (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/).)
The Justice Department has already "abused its discretion" by seizing the domain name of a hip-hop music blog and then relinquishing it last week (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339569-281/dhs-abruptly-abandons-copyright-seizure-of-hip-hop-blog/) by abruptly abandoning the lawsuit, Issa says. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a Web entrepreneur who serves on the House Judiciary committee, told CNET yesterday that he has similar concerns (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57342694-281/rep-jared-polis-web-entrepreneur-on-sopa-q-a/) about the Justice Department's expansive authority and is also planning to offer amendments to SOPA.
It's probably a fair statement to say that Smith would only have scheduled the committee vote if he thought he had enough votes to forward SOPA to the House floor. On the other hand, he waited until virtually the last minute to announce the hearing: committee rules require three days notice, and Smith made the announcement late Monday.
Even if SOPA does clear the committee, "would it be appropriate to bring such a controversial bill to the floor?" Issa asks. "I think the Republican House leadership will look and say, 'Unless we have the support of the vast majority of Republicans, we're not going to take the bill to the floor.'" (Issa is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which is busy investigating the Obama administration on many fronts, including Fannie and Freddie bonuses (http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1511%3A11-16-11-qpay-for-performance-should-fannie-and-freddie-executives-be-receiving-millions-in-bonusesq&catid=12&Itemid=20), the Justice Department's Operation Fast and Furious (http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1335%3A6-15-11-qoperation-fast-and-furious-reckless-decisions-tragic-outcomesq&catid=12&Itemid=20), and the Freedom of Information Act (http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1223%3A3-31-11-qwhy-isnt-the-department-of-homeland-security-meeting-the-presidents-standard-on-foiaq&catid=12&Itemid=20).)
SOPA represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what their members view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org (http://thepiratebay.org/). The National Governors Association sent a letter to key House members today (PDF (http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/2d1bcffa-4c68-4aba-8ed8-39e328a3ec55.pdf)) urging legislative action against "foreign 'rogue' Web sites that traffic in stolen and counterfeit" intellectual property--but which stopped short of endorsing SOPA by name.
Along with Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, Issa has proposed an alternative (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57339110-281/sopa-foes-ready-alternative-plan-no-web-blocking/) called the OPEN Act. It targets ad networks and credit card companies, but stops short of trying to delete "rogue" Web sites from the Internet.
Before being elected to Congress, Issa founded Directed Electronics in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1982 to sell Viper car (http://reviews.cnet.com/car-tech/) alarms and similar products. During that time he learned firsthand how the International Trade Commission (http://www.usitc.gov/) works, and the OPEN Act creates what amounts to a specialized ITC piracy court. (Issa sold his interest in Directed Electronics in 2000 and it subsequently went public.)
The MPAA has criticized (http://blog.mpaa.org/BlogOS/post/2011/12/08/Draft-Legislation-by-Rep-Issa-and-Senator-Wyden-Goes-Easy-On-Internet-Piracy.aspx) the OPEN Act as failing to "provide an effective way to target foreign rogue Web sites"; it's also been dismissed by content owners who say using the International Trade Commission (http://www.usitc.gov/) instead of the federal courts makes the process too slow.
"The MPAA is being disingenuous when they say that," Issa replies. If a foreign Web site doesn't reply and participate in the ITC process, he says, the process wouldn't be the normal 16 or 18 months but far speedier. "The ITC has a faster rocket docket than any federal court."
Internet companies including Mozilla, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo have endorsed (http://www.net-coalition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Issa_Wyden-Company-Letter.jpg) the OPEN Act, with some executives planning full-page ads (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70404.html) criticizing SOPA, and the Senate version called Protect IP, that will appear in the New York Times and Washington Post.
For his part, MPAA chairman Chris Dodd lashed out at "piracy apologists" in a speech (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57342716-281/rep-issa-sopa-wont-be-approved-unless-fixed/www.mpaa.org/Resources/598142e0-c242-4741-8c7d-60403399a8c5.pdf) yesterday and called comparisons between SOPA and the Great Firewall of China "outrageous." Hollywood has prepared its own a set of ads warning (http://vimeo.com/33248176) of offshore Web sites. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, has written an op-ed (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_74/marsha_blackburn_conservative_look_at_stop_online_ piracy_act-211025-1.html?pos=oopih) offering many of the same arguments.
Issa has convened an online discussion of the OPEN Act at KeepTheWebOpen.com (http://www.keepthewebopen.com/), which allows anyone to critique the draft bill or suggest improvements.
"We think it's the right way," he says. "Legislation shouldn't just be a piece of paper on a desk or posted to a static site. The American people should be able to have a dialogue with others to have a better piece of legislation."
12-15-2011, 08:46 AM
Tech entrepreneurs attack SOPA on the eve of markup
The cofounders of some of the Internet's most successful startups have put out a letter condemning the Stop Online Piracy Act. It warns that SOPA will undermine online security, burden future web startups, and "censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran."
The strongly-worded letter is signed by Google's Sergey Brin, Yahoo's Jerry Yang, eBay's Pierre Omidyar, Netscape's Marc Andreessen, three cofounders of Twitter, and a number of other Internet luminaries. According to CNet (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57342914-281/silicon-valley-execs-blast-sopa-in-open-letter/), it is slated to appear as an ad in the New York Times and other newspapers.
The release of the letter comes on the eve of a Thursday markup on SOPA before the House Judiciary Committee. SOPA sponsor—and Judiciary Committee Chairman—Lamar Smith (R-TX) released a tweaked version (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/sponsor-waters-down-online-blacklisting-bill-but-stop-still-has-issues.ars) of SOPA earlier this week, but the changes haven't mollified critics, who continue to condemn it (http://techliberation.com/2011/12/14/the-new-sopa-now-with-slightly-less-awfulness/) as an Internet censorship bill.
One of the signers of the anti-SOPA letter was Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, who has also requested opinions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales#Request_for_Comment:_SOPA_an d_a_strike) from the Wikipedia community on the possibility of protesting SOPA by temporarily replacing all English-language Wikipedia pages with a page of anti-SOPA information. Wales's proposal is modeled after a similar action (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/10/italian-wikipedia-replaces-every-page-with-free-speech-protest.ars) by the Italian edition of Wikipedia back in October to protest a censorship proposal then before the Italian parliament.
Comparisons between SOPA and censorship in repressive regimes enrage MPAA chairman, and former Senator, Chris Dodd. Speaking at the Center for American Progress on Tuesday, he called (http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/598142e0-c242-4741-8c7d-60403399a8c5.pdf) such comparisons "absolutely reprehensible." Dodd cited a recent op-ed (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/property-thefton-the-webno-less-wrong/2011/12/09/gIQAFxgDjO_story.html) by famed First Amendment advocate (and frequent Hollywood lawyer (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/famous-hollywood-backed-first-amendment-lawyer-says-sopa-is-a-ok.ars)) Floyd Abrams, who said that such comparisons "trivialize the pain inflicted by actual censorship that occurs in repressive states throughout the world."
Dodd and Abrams seem to be attacking a straw man. No one claims that the blacklisting scheme envisioned by SOPA would be as bad as the the political censorship in force in China or Iran. But the proposal does use many of the same means—blacklists, intermediary liability, technology bans—as are employed in repressive regimes. If the US government adopted these techniques in the United States, it would obviously weaken its credibility to criticize other governments when they use the same means to pursue what everyone agrees are more reprehensible ends.
12-15-2011, 09:11 AM
Chris Dodd.... there's a name to remember. A powerful Democrat politician who, among many other powerful Gov't positions, Chaired the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. (a powerhouse of a committee)
Watch and see what happens when mortgage giants Countrywide (http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/top-5/2008/06/12/Countrywide-Loan-Scandal/), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unravel.... look for who received "sweetheart" loans.
Yep...... Chris Dodd (http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2008/06/sen-christopher-dodd-tied-to-c.html) is a standup guy.... :confused:
He really should shut up and go away.
12-17-2011, 08:11 AM
Stop Online Piracy Act vote delayed
By David Kravets, wired.com | Published about 13 hours ago
The House Judiciary Committee considering whether to send the Stop Online Piracy Act to the House floor abruptly adjourned Friday with no new vote date set—a surprise given that the bill looked certain to pass out of committee today.
The committee's chairman and chief sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), agreed to further explore a controversial provision that lets the Attorney General order changes to core internet infrastructure in order to stop copyright infringement.
Smith said the hearing would resume at the "earliest practical day that Congress is in session." Hours later, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) tweeted that the committee would resume action Wednesday.
The abrupt halt to Friday's proceeding, which followed a marathon-long, 11-hour hearing Thursday, was based on a motion from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). He urged Smith to postpone the session until technical experts could be brought in to testify whether altering the internet's domain-naming system to fight websites deemed "dedicated" to infringing activity would create security risks.
Just yesterday, Smith said that was not necessary, despite a signed letter by many of the internet's core engineers saying the bill's approach was technically flawed.
The legislation mandates that ISPs alter records in the net's system for looking up website names, known as DNS, so that users couldn't navigate to the site. Or, if ISPs choose not to introduce false information into DNS at the urging of the Justice Department, they instead would be required to employ some other method, such as deep-packet inspection, to prevent American citizens from visiting infringing sites.
ISPs, could, for instance, adopt tactics used by the Great Chinese Firewall to sniff for traffic going to a blacklisted site and simply block it.
But a host of security researchers and tech policy experts, including Stewart Baker, the former Department of Homeland Security policy director, said the plan "would still do great damage to internet security (http://volokh.com/2011/12/14/sopa-rope-a-dope/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+volokh%2Fmainfeed+%28The+Volo kh+Conspiracy%29)."
On Thursday, Chaffetz and a host of other lawmakers asked Smith to stop the hearing so that the committee could bring in experts to testify. But Smith had refused, and the committee voted 22-12 to leave the DNS redirect and firewall provisions intact.
The committee heard from the Motion Picture Industry Association of America at a SOPA hearing last month, but has never called an expert on internet architecture. It was not immediately clear who Smith would ultimately line up.
Michael O'Leary, an MPAA vice president, had testified last month before the committee that security concerns were "overstated (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/piracy-blacklisting-bill/)."
Putting false information into the DNS system—the equivalent of the net’s phonebook—would be ineffective, frustrate security initiatives and lead to software workarounds, according to a paper co-signed by security experts Steve Crocker of Shinkuro, David Dagon of Georgia Tech, Dan Kaminsky of DKH, Danny McPherson of Verisign and Paul Vixie of Internet Systems Consortium. The paper was lodged into the committee's record on Thursday.
"These actions would threaten the Domain Name System’s ability to provide universal naming, a primary source of the internet’s value as a single, unified, global communications network," they wrote.
Also lodged into the record was an open letter from 83 prominent internet engineers, including Vint Cert, John Gilmore and L. Jean Camp. "The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open internet, both domestically and abroad. We cannot have a free and open Internet unless its naming and routing systems sit above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry," they wrote (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/12/internet-inventors-warn-against-sopa-and-pipa).
In the security context, they maintain the bill would break the internet's universal character and hamper US government-supported efforts to rollout out DNS-SEC, which is intended to prevent hackers from hijacking the net through fake DNS entries.
The measure, meanwhile, also grants private companies the ability to de-fund websites they allege to be trafficking in unauthorized copyright and trademark goods. Rights holders may ask judges to order ad networks and banks to stop doing business with a site dedicated to infringing activities.
The legislation also gives legal immunity to financial institutions and ad networks that choose to boycott the rogue sites even without having been ordered to do so.
Smith’s legislation targets sites with foreign domains, not American-based ones ending in .com, .org and .net.
"Smith’s legislation targets sites with foreign domains, not American-based ones ending in .com, .org and .net."
For now if this garbage bill is passed - but those domains will be up for grabs in the future.
SOPA is a Gestapo-like Tactic of absolute CENSORSHIP!
12-23-2011, 08:44 AM
Piracy act debate getting ridiculous
James Temple, Chronicle Columnist Wednesday, December 21, 2011
As Congress debates nothing less important than the future of the Internet, our nation's leaders are applying all the intellectual rigor you'd expect from a tween selecting a smart phone.
Her primary philosophical considerations are, of course, what will her friends think and what will her parents pay for? And so it goes for the House Judiciary Committee.
A markup session for the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act last week devolved into high school drama, replete with name calling and a stubborn refusal to let the nerds talk. The debate, if you want to call it that, could resume today.
This column has repeatedly pointed out how the bipartisan bill designed to battle Internet piracy undermines critical legal protections that foster online innovation. Even after some recent improvements, it still grants copyright holders enormous power to cut off access or funds to sites they determine are infringing, with too little judicial oversight or due process.
Meanwhile, a growing chorus of Internet infrastructure experts believe that the specific mechanisms for blocking sites - such as inserting false information into the domain name system - could introduce technical problems and security vulnerabilities.
In other words, the bill could chip away at the underpinnings of the most transformative technology and economic force of our age. But you wouldn't sense the weight of these issues by watching the behavior of our elected officials.
Late last week, Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and their colleagues managed to grind the session to a halt as they exchanged taunts that boiled down to: You're boring. Yeah, well, you're offensive! Nu uh, you're out of order!
But the charade of an intellectual debate on the subject didn't stop there. It didn't even start there.
In November, the Judiciary Committee set up a mockery of an open debate by flagrantly stacking the witness deck. One person opposed to the bill, Google policy counsel Katherine Oyama, was left to duke it out against five people from organizations that back the measure, like the Motion Picture Association of America, Pfizer and MasterCard.
Similarly, a major sticking point in the markup session last week was whether the committee should bother to hear from any of the many Internet experts (those "nerds" cited earlier) who could intelligently lay out the security concerns.
Level of ignorance
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and sponsor of the legislation, refused to entertain the idea as he sought to rush the bill onto the floor. Other representatives admitted they didn't understand the technical complexities, but nonetheless felt satisfied with the bill - and apparently their own level of ignorance.
It seems it was enough for them that someone like Motion Picture Association of America Senior Vice President Michael O'Leary said the security concerns were overstated, when he was given a chance to testify. And surely he would know, what with a career spent mostly in government.
Or is it possible that someone like Vint Cerf, considered one of the founding fathers of the Internet, knows a little something worth hearing? He and 82 other "innovators, inventors and engineers" who in various ways helped build the Internet signed a letter strenuously opposing the bill.
"When we designed the Internet the first time, our priorities were reliability, robustness and minimizing central points of failure or control," it read. "We are alarmed that Congress is so close to mandating censorship-compliance as a design requirement for new Internet innovations. This can only damage the security of the network, and give authoritarian governments more power over what their citizens can read and publish."
Late Friday, Smith appeared to reluctantly agree to allow experts to testify, after dozens of amendments and other delays made it clear the bill wouldn't sail through the committee as initially expected.
Perhaps I'm more dewy-eyed about our political system than I realized, but why wouldn't elected officials at least want to hear what experts have to say on this matter? Even if they're in favor of the ultimate goals of the bill - and no one's out arguing for piracy - couldn't it still be that the methods employed are misguided or dangerous?
It all smacks of the growing strain of anti-intellectualism in this country - and in this Congress. The attitude seems to be: Why would the committee need to hear from any pointy-headed brainiacs about niggling little things like facts and details? Theft is wrong; the media industry says this bill stops theft. Ergo, this bill is right and just.
The real question is, why are the politicians so eager to embrace the media industry's take on this matter?
Here, we come back to our tween picking out that smart phone. In the case of Congress, the media industry seems to be playing the dual roles of influential friend and paying parent. And they're willing to splurge on that shiny new iPhone 4S while the tech industry is only coughing up enough for last year's Android.
The nonpartisan research organization Map Light.org noted that sponsors of the bill have raised four times more money from the media industry than they have from technology sectors: nearly $2 million versus just over $500,000 since the start of the 2010 election cycle.
Aides turn lobbyists
Meanwhile, Politico reported this month that two senior Republican aides who were instrumental in advancing online-piracy bills were just hired by the lobbying firms of the Motion Picture Association and the National Music Publishers' Association. I guess that's what friends are for.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista (San Diego County), recently put forth an alternative, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. It's designed to narrowly target the blatant infringement by overseas sites that supporters of the Piracy Act have claimed was the sole focus of their bill.
It also hands authority to enforce the measure to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the group already tasked with enforcing international trade rules, rather than the Justice Department and private businesses.
Tech giants' backing
The new bill quickly earned the backing of technology giants strenuously opposed to the original bill, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and others.
"This approach targets foreign rogue sites without inflicting collateral damage on legitimate, law-abiding U.S. Internet companies by bringing well-established international trade remedies to bear on this problem," the companies said in a letter.
But the media industry says it doesn't go far enough.
The proposal "fails to provide an effective way to target foreign rogue websites and goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting," the motion picture association's O'Leary said in a statement this month. "Hopefully, this draft legislation is not just a delaying tactic to prevent Congress from acting quickly on this serious problem."
Yes, because playing political games when serious issues are at stake would be a horrible thing.
12-25-2011, 07:45 AM
<header> 21,000 domains transfer out of Go Daddy in 1 day
by Natalie Weinstein - December 24, 2011 3:25 PM PST
http://www.raidersmerciless.com/images/nodaddy.pngDomain registrar Go Daddy lost over 21,000 domains yesterday. It could be a coincidence--or it could be the result of the company's p.r. debacle over its support for the Stop Online Piracy Act. (SOPA)
Yesterday, Go Daddy actually reversed course (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57347915-38/go-daddy-spanks-sopa-yanks-support/) and dropped its support for the controversial legislation. "Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it," Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman announced in a statement.
SOPA, introduced in Congress this fall, would make it easier for the Justice Department to shut down sites allegedly dedicated to piracy.
An anti-Go Daddy thread on social site Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/nmnie/godaddy_supports_sopa_im_transferring_51_domains/) led to the creation of Godaddyboycott.org, a site set up to let people amass their disapproval with the company's support of SOPA.
While 21,054 domains transferred out Friday of Domaincontrol.com--which is managed by Go Daddy--it is only fair to note that 20,034 transferred in the same day, according to domain tracker Dailychanges.com (http://www.dailychanges.com/transfers-out/)
According to techie site TheNextWeb.com (http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/12/24/go-daddy-lost-21054-domains-yesterday-in-wake-of-sopa-pr-disaster/), though, the transfers-out have been building over the course of the week, with 8,800 reported on Monday and 14,500 on Wednesday.
Go Daddy did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.
GoDaddy Faces boycott over SOPA support
By Timothy B. Lee | Published 2 days ago
http://www.raidersmerciless.com/images/nodaddy.pngMajor Internet companies have formed a united front in their opposition to the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. Well, almost. One exception has been the domain registrar GoDaddy. In a op-ed (http://support.godaddy.com/godaddy/go-daddys-position-on-sopa/) published in Politico shortly after SOPA was introduced in the House, GoDaddy applauded the bill and called opponents "myopic."
Now furious Internet users at reddit (owned by Advance Publications, which also owns Condé Nast) have organized a boycott (http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/nmnie/godaddy_supports_sopa_im_transferring_51_domains/) of the registrar.
"I just finished writing GoDaddy a letter stating why I'm moving my small businesses 51 domains away from them, as well as my personal domains," wrote redditor selfprodigy on Thursday morning. He proposed that December 29 be declared "move your domain day," with GoDaddy customers switching to competing registrars. The post has accumulated more than 1,500 comments, most of them supporting the idea.
We contacted GoDaddy for comment. A spokesman declined to comment on the boycott specifically, but reiterated the firm's support for the legislation. She sent us a link to the company's written testimony (http://www.thedomains.com/2011/11/15/here-is-godaddys-statement-in-support-of-the-stop-online-privacy-act-house-hearing-tomorrow/) to the House Judiciary Committee last month.
"This debate is about preserving, protecting, and creating American jobs, and protecting American consumers from the dangers that they face on-line," the statement reads. "US businesses are getting robbed and US consumers are getting duped."
The company dismissed free speech concerns. "Not only is there no First Amendment concern, but the notion that we should turn a blind eye to criminal conduct because other countries may take oppressive steps in response is an affront to the very fabric of this nation."
GoDaddy appears to be doubling down on this position. Today, it reposted its Politico op-ed (http://support.godaddy.com/godaddy/go-daddys-position-on-sopa/) to the GoDaddy support forums. Comments were disabled.
The House Judiciary Committee has released (http://www.gamepolitics.com/2011/12/22/who-supports-sopa-special-interests) a list of 142 companies that support SOPA. GoDaddy appears to be the only domain registrar, or Internet company for that matter, on the list. Indeed, even traditionally strong copyright supporters like the Business Software Alliance have been having second thoughts (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/11/even-the-business-software-alliance-now-backpedaling-on-sopa-support.ars) about the legislation.
Update (6:18 PM): GoDaddy seems unimpressed by the boycott so far. They made the following statement to Ars Technica: "Go Daddy has received some emails that appear to stem from the boycott prompt, but we have not seen any impact to our business. We understand there are many differing opinions on the SOPA regulations."
Update (December 23): Barely 24 hours after the boycott started, GoDaddy now says it has dropped its support (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/victory-boycott-forces-godaddy-to-drop-its-support-for-sopa.ars) for SOPA.
GoDaddy... like many others, failed to or, chose to ignore, the fact that SOPA has little or no safeguards against future abuses. No built-in system of checks and balances. SOPA is wide open for unforeseen abuse by power hungry appointees or an Internet FEARING Gov't.Just look at HLS (Homeland Security) and its "SUPER" Law Enforcement powers with its vicious tentacles now into every walk of US living. From website confiscation to quietly established FEMA camps. What are the camps really for? What's NEXT from this runaway power hungry super agency?
Be very suspicious of SOPA! Its nothing more than fuel for control freaks.</header>
12-25-2011, 07:53 AM
Victory! Boycott forces Go Daddy to drop its support for SOPA
By Timothy B. Lee | Published a day ago
http://www.raidersmerciless.com/images/nodaddy.pngUnder intense pressure from an Internet-wide boycott, domain registrar GoDaddy has given the open Internet an early Christmas present: it's dropping its support for the Stop Online Piracy Act. The change was announced in a statement (http://www.godaddy.com/newscenter/release-view.aspx?news_item_id=378) sent to Ars Technica:Go Daddy is no longer supporting SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" currently working its way through U.S. Congress.
"Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation—but we can clearly do better," Warren Adelman, Go Daddy's newly appointed CEO, said. "It's very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it."
Go Daddy's embarrassing climbdown took barely 24 hours. The boycott started on Thursday (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/godaddy-faces-december-29-boycott-over-sopa-support.ars) on reddit (an Ars sister site), but it quickly spread to the broader Internet. Go Daddy's competitors began offering special deals with promo codes like "SopaSucks" to entice GoDaddy switchers.
Initially, Go Daddy was defiant. In a statement emailed to Ars Technica Thursday evening, the company said "Go Daddy has received some emails that appear to stem from the boycott prompt, but we have not seen any impact to our business."
But this reaction only enraged Go Daddy's customers. And evidently, the impact on their business began to be more obvious on Friday.
Go Daddy claims that during negotiations over SOPA, the company "fought to express the concerns of the entire Internet community and to improve the bill" by pushing to make the bill's provisions less onerous. But now the company has been forced to concede that the bill's authors did not adequately address the Internet community's concerns.
"In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet," the company's Friday statement reads. Go Daddy says it has removed past postings expressing support for the legislation from its website.
12-25-2011, 11:54 AM
It could be a coincidence... I don't think so, GoDaddy found out that there are other providers out there and if people aren't happy they will pick up and move. Now if we can just find a PC shooter that has the same feel of COD and allows for true modding and mapping, the same will happen to Activision.
12-27-2011, 09:43 AM
GoDaddy accused of interfering with anti-SOPA exodus
by Declan McCullagh - December 26, 2011 4:46 PM PST
http://www.raidersmerciless.com/images/nodaddy.pngAn effort by GoDaddy customers to boycott the domain registrar over its support for Hollywood-backed copyright legislation has sparked allegations of foul play.
NameCheap, whose chief executive last week likened the Stop Online Piracy Act to "detonating a nuclear bomb" on the Internet (http://community.namecheap.com/blog/2011/12/22/we-say-no-to-sopa/), said today that GoDaddy has intentionally thrown up technical barriers to prevent its customers from leaving. It lost over 70,000 (http://www.dailychanges.com/domaincontrol.com/) domains last week.
NameCheap has seized on a dispute over the
Stop Online Piracy Act as a way to lure new customers.
http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/12/26/namecheap_270x259.png (http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2011/12/26/namecheap.png) It's not alone: at least half a dozen GoDaddy rivals have seized on their competitor's pro-SOPA lobbying (http://lifehacker.com/5870649/ditch-godaddys-sopa+loving-butt-and-get-a-better-web-host-at-a-discount) to lure its customers away. NameCheap dubbed December 29 "move your domain" day (http://www.namecheap.com/moveyourdomainday.aspx), offering below-cost transfers with the coupon "SOPASUCKS" plus a $1 donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Other registrars such as Dreamhost, HostGator, and Hover.com, and Name.com have offered similar SOPA-related promotions.
"GoDaddy appears to be returning incomplete Whois information to Namecheap, delaying the transfer process" in violation of rules established by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, NameCheap wrote in a blog post (http://community.namecheap.com/blog/2011/12/26/godaddy-transfer-update/) today. By this afternoon, the company said that GoDaddy had "finally unblocked our queries" and that transfers should now "go smoothly."
For its part, GoDaddy, which has reportedly called customers (https://plus.google.com/111996409013825587891/posts/7AMw7gDQ7Bi) to ask them to return, denies any wrongdoing. In a statement sent to CNET this afternoon, the company said: Namecheap posted their accusations in a blog, but to the best our of knowledge, has yet to contact Go Daddy directly, which would be common practice for situations like this. Normally, the fellow registrar would make a request for us to remove the normal rate limiting block which is a standard practice used by Go Daddy, and many other registrars, to rate limit Whois queries to combat WhoIs abuse.
Because some registrars (and other data gathering, analyzing and reporting entities) have legitimate need for heavy port 43 access, we routinely grant requests for expanded access per an SOP we've had in place for many years. Should we make contact with Namecheap, and learn they need similar access, we would treat that request similarly.
As a side note, we have seen some nefarious activity this weekend which came from non-registrar sources. But, that is not unusual for a holiday weekend, nor would it cause legitimate requests to be rejected. Nevertheless, we have now proactively removed the rate limit for Namecheap, as a courtesy, but it is important to point out, there still may be back-end IP addresses affiliated with Namecheap of which we are unaware. For complete resolution, we should be talking to each other -- an effort we are initiating since they have not done so themselves."
Namecheap refused to say who at GoDaddy was contacted or when. Instead, chief executive Richard Kirkendall sent CNET a prepared statement saying "all we know on our side is that GoDaddy was preventing us from conducting normal business with our clients, and in turn causing harm to our reputation and at the same time overloading our support channels."
"We were quite confident after significant analysis that this issue was not on our end, and after the issue had persisted for more than 24 hours with no response from the other party, we made a blog post clarifying what we felt was causing the issue," the statement said. In a separate forum post (http://community.namecheap.com/blog/2011/12/26/godaddy-transfer-update/#comment-1709), a Namecheap community manager said, without providing any additional information, the company tried "reaching out to GoDaddy" but received "no response."
Criticism of GoDaddy (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57348183-93/21000-domains-transfer-out-of-go-daddy-in-1-day/) coalesced around a protest thread (http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/nmnie/godaddy_supports_sopa_im_transferring_51_domains/) on Reddit and was aided by Jimmy Wales' announcement last week that "Wikipedia domain names will move away from GoDaddy (https://twitter.com/#%21/jimmy_wales/status/150287579642740736)." It inspired GoDaddyBoycott.org (http://godaddyboycott.org/), which urged Internet users and companies to "boycott GoDaddy until they send a letter to Congress taking back any and all support of the House and Senate versions of the Internet censorship bill, both SOPA and PIPA." The Protect IP Act, or PIPA, is the Senate version of SOPA.
On December 23, GoDaddy partially caved, announcing (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57347915-38/go-daddy-spanks-sopa-yanks-support/) that it was no longer backing SOPA (http://www.godaddy.com/newscenter/release-view.aspx?news_item_id=378), but stopping short (http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/23/godaddy-ceo-there-has-to-be-consensus-about-the-leadership-of-the-internet-community/) of saying it will oppose the legislation. And not until today did it post a clarification saying GoDaddy "does not support" Protect IP (http://www.godaddy.com/newscenter/release-view.aspx?news_item_id=379), either. (The GoDaddyBoycott.org site, which hasn't been updated, continues to say that GoDaddy endorses the Senate bill.)
A GoDaddy representative did not respond to a question from CNET this afternoon asking whether the company now opposes SOPA and Protect IP.
SOPA, of course, represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org (http://thepiratebay.org/).
It would allow the Justice Department to obtain an order to be served on search engines, Internet providers, and other companies forcing them to make a suspected piratical Web site effectively vanish, a kind of Internet death penalty. It's opposed (PDF (http://www.net-coalition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Opposition_Dec16.pdf)) by many Internet companies and Internet users. (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57329001-281/how-sopa-would-affect-you-faq/).)
Accusations of hypocrisy help any boycott, and, as TechDirt helpfully noted (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111029/07003216560/go-daddy-supports-e-parasite-legislation-even-though-its-own-site-is-dedicated-to-theft-property-under-terms-bill.shtml), GoDaddy condemns intellectual property theft while encouraging customers to buy domains "that are perfect for infringing sites." If you try to buy the domain Chanel.com, for instance, you'll get offered "RealChanel.com" as an option.
Prior to its current public relations debacle, GoDaddy had been an enthusiastic supporter of expanding copyright law to deal with "parasite" Web sites. In testimony (PDF (http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Jones04062011.pdf)) before a House of Representatives hearing this spring, GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones endorsed Domain Name System (DNS) blocking as a way to prevent Americans from accessing suspected piratical Web sites.
Jones said that DNS blocking is an "effective strategy for disabling access to illegal" Web sites. It can "be done by the registrar (which provides the authoritative DNS response), or, in cases where the registrar is unable or unwilling to comply, by the registry (which provides the Root zone file records -- the database -- for the entire TLD)," she said.
Last updated as of 8:24 p.m. PT with details about Namecheap's response.
01-04-2012, 09:45 AM
Entertainment Software Association continues to support SOPA
by Xav de Matos, Jan 03, 2012 4:45pm PST
The Entertainment Software Association, the video game trade association that lobbies on behalf of the industry and presents such events as E3, says that it stands behind the controversial "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA (http://www.shacknews.com/tag/stop-online-piracy-act/news)), despite multiple companies pulling support from the legislation.
Last week (http://www.shacknews.com/article/71787/nintendo-sony-ea-drop-sopa-support), it appeared that numerous developers and publishers had withdrawn support for the proposed legislation; however, a laundry list of major game companies now appear to be supporting SOPA by proxy, due to their connection with the ESA.
In a statement to Joystiq (http://www.joystiq.com/2012/01/03/esa-stands-behind-proposed-sopa-legislation-issues-statement/), the ESA said:
"As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection, and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. Rogue websites – those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy – restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs. Our industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective. We are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation".
The ESA is comprised of almost every major video game company, save for Activision who left the association in 2008 (http://www.shacknews.com/article/52500/activision-and-vivendi-break-from).
Shacknews has reached out to a number of the companies listed as member's of the ESA (http://www.theesa.com/about/members.asp) to clarify their position on the bill and will update this story when additional information is made available.
01-05-2012, 07:34 AM
RIAA: Kodak/Apple/RIM patent tangle proves we need Web censorship fast
By Matthew Lasar | Published about 12 hours ago
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says that a proposed alternative to the draconian Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/10/house-takes-senates-bad-internet-censorship-bill-makes-it-worse.ars) won't work, and that it has found the patent case to prove it: Kodak's patent claims (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/04/apple-fires-back-in-digital-imaging-patent-war-with-kodak.ars) against Apple and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM). Two days before the new year, the US International Trade Commission announced that the Commission will place the "target date" for review of the case at September 21, 2012.
Aha! declares Mitch Glazier, Senior Executive Vice President for the RIAA, in a blog post (http://www.riaa.com/blog.php?content_selector=riaa-news-blog&blog_selector=Case-For-Closing-OPEN-&news_month_filter=1&news_year_filter=2012). This delay means that the ITC "will have taken 33 months to decide on a high-stakes and time-sensitive issue. So this is the 'expedited' process SOPA opponents are embracing as an alternative in the proposed OPEN bill?"
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) are the principal advocates of OPEN (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/www.keepthewebopen.com/assets/pdfs/OPEN.pdf), which moves antipiracy enforcement from the Department of Justice and relevant courts to the ITC. Infringement appeals effectively become trade sanction questions rather than criminal disputes.
That's the problem, Glazier insists.
"Why in the world would we shift enforcement against these sites from the Department of Justice and others who are well-versed in these issues to the ITC, which focuses on patents and clearly does not operate on the short time frame necessary to be effective?" Yet "more proof" that "the OPEN Act is not a meaningful solution to a serious problem," his post warns.
This instance may indicate that the ITC can't handle these matters. Other observers have raised legitimate questions (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/the-open-act-significantly-flawed-but-more-salvageable-than-sopaprotect-ip.ars)about the agency's qualifications to tackle copyright infringement issues. On the other hand, delay is also a necessary corollary to a truly adversarial process in which the other side objects and introduces evidence and arguments.
That is, in fact, what happens in patent disputes like the aforementioned. In January of 2010, Kodak presented the ITC with its complaint (http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/kodakitc-complaint.pdf) against Apple and RIM, which the agency accepted for consideration (http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2010/er0217hh1.htm). The camera company cited five allegedly infringed patents, among them two digital imaging related holdings: "Electronic Camera for Initiating Capture of Still Images while Previewing Motion Images" (US Patent #6,292,218) and Single Sensor Color Camera with User Selectable Image Record Size" (US Patent #5,493,335).
Patent 218, the complaint noted (http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/kodakitc-complaint.pdf), describes and claims:
an image capture and processing device with certain components for "previewing" the scene to be captured. The patent discloses the first effective color preview for a digital camera - a key feature that requires managing the enormous amounts of data present in color images, accounting for the complex manner in which the color pixels of an image interact, and processing image data at speeds sufficient to present moving images on a display that accurately reflect the scene to be captured.
Kodak asked the ITC for an order excluding from US markets any RIM or Apple mobile devices and related components that infringe on these patents. As you might guess, Apple and RIM aggressively sought to defend their methods from Kodak's charges, given how indispensable image previewing has become to mobile gadgetry. Apple fired back with a series of patent counter-complaints (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/04/apple-fires-back-in-digital-imaging-patent-war-with-kodak.ars) against Kodak filed in a US District Court and at the ITC.
But the Commission rejected (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/07/itc-apple-loses-against-kodak-gets-initial-win-against-htc-and-android.ars) those charges about five months ago. To be specific, it decided not to review an ITC Administrative Law Judge's call clearing Kodak (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/12/us-apple-kodak-idUSTRE74B7NR20110512) of Apple's patent infringement claims. Following that call, the Commission partially accepted, partially rejected, and partially remanded an Admin Judge's ruling (http://www.usitc.gov/secretary/fed_reg_notices/337/337_703_Notice12292011sgl.pdf) concluding that Apple and RIM hadn't violated any Kodak patents, either.
When throwing the case back in the ALJ's court, however, the presiding judge retired and a new one hadn't been recruited yet. A search for and shuffling of personnel ensued; hence, the target date for final resolution of the great Kodak/RIM/Apple patent war is now set for September. Such delays are unlikely to be common.
28 days later
Obviously, the RIAA wants people to see this lengthy deliberative process as a refutation of OPEN's "expedited" processing claims. What Glazier's post is less interested in noting are the actual provisions of the bill itself (http://www.keepthewebopen.com/assets/pdfs/OPEN.pdf), which really, truly do include expedited action rules.
These provisions allow a rightsholder to ask for preliminary (and temporary) cease and desist orders against Internet sites, "upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances by the complainant filing a petition" for the temporary order. These can last for as long as 28 days, and the law sets a 30 day deadline for determining if a cease and desist should be granted following the beginning of a formal investigation. Once the cease and desist is issued, the complainant can take the ITC judgment to credit card companies and ad networks and cut off the rogue site's income—a wake up call, no matter what the duration of the order.
"SOPA was introduced to address the devastating and immediate impact of foreign rogue sites dealing in infringing and counterfeiting works and products," Glazier's commentary concludes. "Every day that these sites operate without recourse can mean millions of dollars lost to American companies, employees, and economy, and an ongoing threat to the security and safety of our citizens."
Perhaps, but a bill like SOPA, with its vague "dedicated to the theft of US property" provisions allowing ISPs and payment processors to block access to sites on their own also poses a threat—to a nearly uncountable number of websites, search engines, and applications that create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Maybe handing this problem over to some government agency that takes its time with complex intellectual property questions isn't such a bad idea.
01-05-2012, 10:12 AM
Good ideal but the bill in it's present form is a no-go for me. To broad and not well defined, giving really unlimited powers to shut down any site if there is any complaint from anyone. Got a beef with a competitor? Then just shut down their site with some BS claim that may have infringed upon any copyright, fair use be dammed. The competing site has no recourse from stopping you from doing so until the damage is done..... Or am I reading this wrong????
01-12-2012, 10:05 AM
MPAA attacks Ars for "challenging efforts to curb content theft"
By Nate Anderson | Published 27 minutes ago
The Motion Picture Association of America doesn't like us. According to the MPAA blog (http://blog.mpaa.org/BlogOS/post/2012/01/10/Standing-Against-Those-Who-Trumpet-the-Economic-Value-of-Theft-.aspx) on Tuesday, "Arts Technica" is a "tech blog with a long history of challenging efforts to curb content theft." (If so, we're the only such tech blog that actually encouraged a now-current MPAA lawyer to do copyright coverage for our site and that recommended the pro-rightsholder book Free Ride in this year's holiday guide.)
One can see why MPAA staffers might think this way. "Ars Technica opposes our attempt to gain 'broadcast flag' control over people's digital devices," they might say. "And it doesn't appreciate our plan to censor the Internet. And for some reason they'd like to rip copies of their DVDs to watch on the airplane, even though we managed to write anti-DRM cracking provisions into law. Man, these guys really love piracy!"
Put this way, the problem becomes clear: it's a simple conflation of our opposition to absolutely freaking insane (you'll forgive the slight hyperbole) approaches to copyright enforcement with opposition to enforcement of any kind.
It's a lot like saying, thirty years ago, that anyone who supported the VCR and its nefarious, time-shifting ways was to copyright holders what the Boston Strangler was to women home alone. (Not that any MPAA official would say anything so ridiculous (http://cryptome.org/hrcw-hear.htm).)
Not quite notorious enough for the MPAA to get our name right
Let's run down just a short list of the highest-profile copyright-related ideas we've opposed in the last few years. In parentheses are the, err, crazy freetards who came to the same conclusions we did on enforcement overreach.
Broadcast flag (US Court of Appeals, DC (http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/05/4882.ars))
$1.92 million in damages against Jammie Thomas for P2P use (Federal judge Michael Davis (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/judge-slashes-monstrous-jammie-thomas-p2p-award-by-35x.ars))
$675,000 award against Joel Tenenbaum (Federal judge Nancy Gertner (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/judge-slams-slashes-unconstitutional-675000-p2p-award.ars))
DRM is needed on purchased music (all RIAA members, iTunes, Amazon (http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/05/amazon-announces-drm-free-music-store.ars))
YouTube and Veoh don't qualify for safe harbors (US District Court, Southern District of New York (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/06/google-beats-viacom-in-billion-dollar-lawsuit.ars); federal judge A. Howard Matz (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/09/judge-safe-harbor-applies-to-veoh-umg-lawsuit-eviscerated.ars))
SOPA/PIPA Internet blacklisting (Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Darrell Issa, Google, Wikipedia,Reddit (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/reddit-going-dark-for-a-day-to-protest-sopa-online-censorship-bill.ars), GoDaddy (http://mashable.com/2011/12/30/go-daddy-now-officially-opposes-sopa/), the Internet)
That's a long list of federal judges, official, and companies who came around on copyright. Perhaps they likewise can't stand anyone who tries to stop content theft?
As for the argument about economics that the post goes on to make, we'll just note that MPAA's own track record on the issue of piracy and money is so bad that, as Robert Levine notes in Free Ride, "The exaggerations of most Hollywood-funded studies have become a running joke." Even the MPAA had to admit that a 2008 study it was using to push a law was off by a factor of 3 (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/01/oops-mpaa-admits-college-piracy-numbers-grossly-inflated.ars) in the key metric.
Regarding Julian Sanchez, the former Ars editor who is the main subject of the MPAA blog post, he committed a serious act of journalism for us back in 2008 when he showed conclusively just how bogus some of thecentral antipiracy figures (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/10/dodgy-digits-behind-the-war-on-piracy.ars) were. His new post on the subject for Cato is also well worth a read (http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/how-copyright-industries-con-congress/).
The thing is, we're really on the MPAA's side; they just don't realize it. We're both content creators who support copyright and want to see creators get paid for their efforts. But copyright maximalism is the wrong way forward. Like an addict who can't help himself, though, major copyright holders are so used to stanching their piratical worries with just one more hit on that sweet, sweet bottle of 120-proof distilled Essence of Enforcement that they can't stop the impulse any longer; it has become reflex. Those who ask them to have a calming cup of tea instead go on the "enemies list."
"Good copyright policy" doesn't necessarily mean "stronger copyright policy." Thinking that it does has caused a long litany of problems (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/10/100-years-of-big-content-fearing-technologyin-its-own-words.ars) over the last century as copyright holders have sought to throttle the photocopier, the VCR, digital audio tape, MP3 players, and the DVR. Indeed, the industry's record on this score is downright shocking. But most of the people who backed those devices—like Mr. Rogers did with the VCR (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/the-court-case-that-almost-made-it-illegal-to-tape-tv-shows/251107/)—weren't out to screw creative professionals. Neither are we. But sometimes, you need to stage an intervention, and you need to do so for the good of the addict... and the health of the community around him.
01-18-2012, 07:18 AM
SOPA Resistance Day begins at Ars
By Ken Fisher | Published about 6 hours ago Last updated about 6 hours ago
Today is SOPA Resistance Day at Ars. Sites across the 'Net, from reddit to the Internet Archive, from Wikipedia to Google, are protesting the excesses of the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA remains a flawed bill that treats piracy as an existential threat to the US economy and to a sacred class of rights-holders—and in doing so loses all perspective on appropriate remedies. The discussion is absolutely unbalanced.
Many sites have chosen to go dark (i.e., offline) today, a stance we respect—but it's not the right path for us. Ars Technica has, for 14 years, tried to be an information resource, and the most appropriate response from Ars is to provide even more information on the legislation, how you can fight it, and what's really at stake.
Our normal publishing schedule has been frozen in carbonite. For a limited time, we're turning our attention to SOPA and its Senate cousin, the PROTECT IP Act. What remains in each bill after the managers' amendments and the removal of DNS blocking? What would we like to see in a vastly improved SOPA 2.0? Is there a way forward?
Most importantly, what can you do to make your voice heard? Writing a boring note to your Senator won't get the job done. So, we're going to show you our tips on really ruffling feathers en masse. Some people are already celebrating the death of SOPA, but we all know this is far, far from over.
We'll be covering all these stories and more throughout the day, along with documenting the protests and the responses to them. Come back in the morning for the first installment of our Fighting Back Guide.
A few words of sanity
Piracy is an emotional issue, but it's important to note what it is not: a war between the "creators" and the "technologists." Ars Technica lives or dies by our content and its copyright. So does publisher Tim O'Reilly (https://plus.google.com/107033731246200681024/posts/BEDukdz2B1r). So does musician Peter Gabriel (http://www.facebook.com/292910949759/posts/350342421660581). Yet all of us oppose SOPA. It's time for supporters of SOPA and SOPA-like legislation to drop the conveniently facile caricatures they have of their opponents. Millions of us believe in intellectual property as a fair concept that can have an important place in our society. And for a subset of us, it's our intellectual property that's at risk, anyway.
There's room to build a reasonable consensus for dealing with the "worst of the worst" online. But that means going back to the drawing board and bringing the tech community and Internet users to the table before legislation is drafted. Creating a sudden "emergency" around the issue and using only the perspective of the biggest rights-holders as a starting point is no way to legislate on key Internet issues—and band-aid patches to such a flawed approach aren't going to fix that.
SOPA needs to be stopped—and then we can start the hyperbole-free conversation that the content industries and the White House both say they want.
We challenge the White House, the Congress, and all supporters of SOPA: engage with us and with the Internet community on assessing the real threat of piracy and the appropriate response to it. This isn't a PR stunt. Ars Technica has the longest track record online of taking these matters seriously and listening to both sides. We can save you a lot of time by pointing out the areas in which your failure is all but assured—and point the way forward on areas where we can find common ground. We'll have more later today on ways to move forward with a strategy that isn't dead before you think of it. Meanwhile, the smartest, most tech savvy people on the Internet will be here, waiting for your next move.
01-20-2012, 06:30 AM
SOPA and PIPA
A Horror Story in the Making!
What SOPA and PIPA are at face value and what they could end up enabling.
01-20-2012, 08:24 AM
Senate leaders from both parties back away from PROTECT IP
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
By Timothy B. Lee | Published about 12 hours ago
The PROTECT IP Act continued to suffer serious blows on Thursday as both the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Minority Leader made moves that further damaged the anti-piracy bill's chances of passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will not seek to use his leverage over other Democrats to ensure the Protect IP Act gets enough votes to overcome a filibuster. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined other Republican senators in blasting Reid for rushing the legislation to the Senate floor.
Ordinarily, party leaders use their leverage over their members to "whip" them into voting in line with the rest of their caucus. But according to Politico (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71672.html), "Reid won't whip Democratic votes for an online anti-piracy bill, according to sources familiar with his plans." That means Democrats will feel free to oppose the bill without worrying that they will be denied future favors by party leaders.
"The decision deals a severe blow to movie, music and television producers, who had hoped to withstand a surprisingly strong Silicon Valley surge against the bill," Politico reports.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined the growing chorus (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/pipa-support-collapses-with-13-new-opponents-in-senate.ars) of Republican Senators accusing Reid of rushing the bill (http://mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=395c3114-a1a5-4550-9080-ed412caf547d) through the Senate without adequate debate.
"While we must combat the on-line theft of intellectual property, current proposals in Congress raise serious legal, policy and operational concerns," McConnell said. "Rather than prematurely bringing the Protect IP Act to the Senate floor, we should first study and resolve the serious issues with this legislation."
He urged the Democratic leadership to "reconsider its decision to proceed to this bill."
For more details on the "serious issues" with PIPA, Sen. Reid might want to ask his staff to check out our coverage (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/even-without-dns-provisions-sopa-and-pipa-remain-fatally-flawed.ars) from yesterday.
01-20-2012, 06:15 PM
How about this novel ideal.... Lets enforce the current laws before we try "Alice in Wonderland" laws.
01-21-2012, 12:56 AM
Just hours after Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he was delaying a vote on the PROTECT IP Act, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, followed suit and announced he would be delaying consideration of the companion legislation.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy," Smith said. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products."
"The Committee will continue work with both copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property," Smith continued. "We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem." (He may want to check out our thoughts on the matter.)
Even former Senator Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, seemed to concede defeat. "With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property," he said in a statement. "It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal."
The ideas present in both SOPA and PIPA may return, but both bills in their present form—and with their present names—are probably done for good.SOURCE (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/internet-wins-sopa-and-pipa-both-shelved.ars)
Take a gander at this clip
LOL the very same people who are trying to ram this down our throats and cry like a spolied baby were the ones for the last 10 years promoting and distrubing said pirating software.
01-23-2012, 01:41 AM
Great take on this Wiz.... and entirely true.
01-24-2012, 09:47 AM
After terrific year, music biz demands that world adopt "SOPA plus"
IFPI's music map of legal services
By Nate Anderson | Published about 17 hours ago
In order to protect itself from piracy, the worldwide recording industry needs a few favors from governments and corporations around the globe, and a major new digital music report (http://www.ifpi.org/content/library/DMR2012.pdf) (PDF) from the industry's worldwide lobby IFPI lays them out. When placed end-to-end, it's a lengthy list—and its one that comes after a year of surprisingly strong growth for the industry.
First: Graduated response schemes, in which rightsholders can easily pass along notices about file-sharing to the accused party, possibly disconnecting them from the Internet. This requires the cooperation of Internet service providers. Also, strong deterrents are needed, such as eventual Internet disconnection.
Second: Site blocking. The industry wants the ability to wall off infringing sites, however defined, at country borders. The site might still be "up," but if local residents can't see it, who cares? ("Site blocking is effective in dealing with the various new forms of infringement such as cyberlockers and websites," says the report. "However, an approach based exclusively on website blocking is insufficient by itself, given the importance of major P2P services that are decentralised and therefore not covered by blocking.")
Third: Search engines need to help—and not just by removing links to infringing content that rightsholders identify, which most already do. The music biz wants more, like "prioritization" of links. Search engines need to rank search results factoring in clear indication of legality or illegality," the report says. "A basic measure such as this would help consumers not only avoid viruses and malware, but also being directed unwittingly towards content piracy."
Many artist searches return infringing links
Fourth: Payment processors should cut off pirates voluntarily. This was a theme of the recent Stop Online Piracy Act in the US, which originally featured a section encouraging companies like MasterCard to take unilateral actions against websites, and provided legal immunity for doing so. IFPI touts a deal with the City of London Police and credit card companies (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/07/paypal-joins-london-police-bid-to-financially-starve-illegal-websites.ars) in which "IFPI supplies the City of London Police with evidence that illegal downloads are being made available from an infringing site. The police review the evidence, verify its integrity and notify payment providers that their services should not be provided to such sites."
Fifth: Ad networks need to cut off funds to pirates. "Advertisers can also help restrict the funding of illegal sites," says the report. "Important steps forward were taken in these areas in 2011, but more cooperation will be needed."
Sixth: Mobile operators need to get involved. Outside the US, piratical behavior increasingly takes place through phones and other mobile devices. The industry push for ISP involvement isn't just targeted at traditional wireline operators but also at "mobile service providers."
Seventh: Keep suing the big sites. "Litigation has also played its part in the US recovery," says the report, pointing to the Limewire closure. "The percentage of the US internet population using a P2P file-sharing service fell from 16 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010, when Limewire ceased its file-sharing operations."
Top songs of 2011. World, you have terrible taste.
Middlemen, please put on this badge
These are not measures to be adopted piecemeal, as though legislators can choose their preferred morsels from this tasty policy buffet. Instead, the industry says all are needed.
What binds the ideas together? Most involve intermediaries, the middlemen who can be deputized to help the industry address its piracy problem. "The music industry sees cooperation from online intermediaries, such as internet service providers (ISPs), payment providers, advertisers, mobile service providers and search engines, as indispensable in addressing the problem and significant progress was made with all these parties in 2011," says the report.
IFPI has pioneered ideas wherever it has found willing legislators. South Korea has blocked some sites, as have a few European ISPs after judicial orders. France has been trialling graduated response, as has New Zealand; London police have helped with payment processors; US bills—now derailed—were to be the proving ground for the full move against search engines and ad networks.
The disastrous attack on end users appears over; the music business has aimed all of its guns at the intermediaries.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that such a comprehensive approach would be needed because things had been going so badly. But the opposite is true—and IFPI CEO Frances Moore tries to explain the discrepancy.
"With a healthy 8 per cent increase in our digital revenues in 2011—the first time the annual growth rate has risen since records began in 2004—some might feel tempted to say that a troubled era for the music industry is coming to an end," she writes. "Such complacency now, however, would be a great mistake. The truth is that record companies are building a successful digital music business in spite of the environment in which they operate, not because of it."
Perhaps. But let's look at IFPI's own numbers when it comes to the massive US market. The percentage of US Internet users making use of "infringing P2P services" fell from 16 percent in 2007 to just 9 in 2010. How was this miracle possible? It wasn't thanks to search engine "prioritisation," SOPA, site blocking, or even graduated response—none of which exist in the US.
Yes, piracy exists. Yes, it appears to have some effect on recorded music sales and subscription services (estimates vary as to the extent of this effect). Yes, rightsholders should have the ability to takedown infringing items if they choose to execute that right. And yes, the P2P number has probably dropped just because people have switched to easier (and less-easily watched) cyberlockers and HTTP streaming services.
But legal services have also proliferated in that time, as the industry rightly notes with pride. The days of getting gouged for $16 for a CD have ended for good, and the industry is no longer looking back so longingly to an era that won't ever return. Indeed, 52 percent of record companies revenues in the US now come from digital services. Even VEVO, the industry-backed music video hub, was initial designed "principally" for marketing; in two years, it threw off more than $100 million in royalties to labels.
In such an environment, where the industry is now experiencing real growth and earning real money from digital, where P2P use has shown dramatic declines, and where the labels already have the tools to go after Limewire and Megaupload, we're faced with a choice. Is the best path forward for society and the Internet the industry's worldwide "SOPA plus" wishlist?
Despite a reputation for working in smoke-filled rooms, rightsholders have generally been quite upfront about their enforcement goals. For a few years it involved suing everyone in sight, then it moved to graduated response, and now it means roping in all key Internet players. Expect to see many parts of this plan show up in national capitals around the globe throughout 2012.
Hmmm.... "Hiz honor" Dodd, have cocaine prices risen in Tinsel Town?
Dodd and the rest of the Hollywood goons are giving Obama & Holder an excuse to rape the Internet in the USA.
Chris Dodd is really and truly a piece of work. What's the matter Dodd.. ya didn't grab enough from Freddie & Fannie?
01-24-2012, 09:57 AM
If the feds can shut down Megaupload, why do we need SOPA?
By Timothy B. Lee | Published a day ago Last updated about 22 hours ago
For more than a year, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America have argued that existing laws were insufficient to deal with the problem of "rogue sites" hosted overseas. They've been pushing bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act as essential weapons in the fight.
But evidently, American law enforcement didn't get the memo that they were powerless against overseas file-sharing services. The day after the Internet's historic protest (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/sopa-protest-by-the-numbers-162m-pageviews-7-million-signatures.ars) of SOPA and PIPA last week, the United States government unsealed an indictment against the people behind Megaupload, one of the largest sites on the Internet. Four senior Megaupload officials were arrested in New Zealand on Thursday, and officials seized millions of dollars in assets.
As we reported Thursday, (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/megaupload-shut-down-by-feds-seven-charged-four-arrested.ars) the FBI worked with authorities from New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, the UK, and the Phillipines to catch the defendants and seize their assets. Law enforcement officials froze accounts at banks based in Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the Phillipines, and Germany. The feds also seized numerous servers, cars, pieces of artwork, televisions, and other assets. The list of seized assets in the indictment was six pages long.
So if the US government already has the power to arrest people and seize assets in places as far away as Germany, New Zealand, and the Philippines, are the new enforcement powers sought by content companies even necessary? We posed that question to two people on opposite sides of the SOPA debate. Cara Duckworth is a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America. And Julian Sanchez is a research fellow (http://www.cato.org/people/julian-sanchez) at the Cato Institute and an occasional contributor to Ars Technica.
Beyond domain seizures
Duckworth told Ars that "under the 2008 PRO IP law, the federal government has the authority to shut down US-registered sites that are overwhelmingly dedicated to piracy—sites with a .com or .org domain. So Megaupload.com falls within US jurisdiction." She argued that new laws are needed to deal with sites at domain names not under US control, such as .hk or .ru.
But Sanchez argued that the seizure of the megaupload.com domain was a fairly minor part of the government's offensive against Megaupload. "If you're really interested in shutting down an illegal enterprise that is located overseas, shutting down one domain or another is a lot less effective than getting your hands on the people and subjecting them to penalties or jail," he said.
By itself, seizing megaupload.com would have simply caused the site to move to megaupload.tv or megaupload.ru, he said. It was the government's ability to lock up Kim Dotcom and his lieutenants, and to take their servers and freeze their bank accounts, that took the site down for good.
We pressed Duckworth on this point, and she suggested that the Megaupload operation may not work as a good model for counter-piracy operations in general. "Law enforcement cooperation for US criminal investigations may not go as far in certain countries such as Russia and China where they have lax copyright laws and a huge piracy problem," she said. In addition, countries like Russia will also not extradite their citizens.
It's true that many countries won't help the US with such investigations (note that the countries involved in investigating Megaupload are all traditional US allies), but sticking your rogue site in such a country comes with its own set of problems. Sanchez pointed out that Megaupload's business model depends on hosting large volumes of user-submitted material without scrutinizing their contents. That business model is unlikely to work well in repressive regimes. For example, he said, it's true that the Iranian government would be unlikely to help the FBI take down an Iranian version of Megaupload. However, he said, "I hear there was quite a lot of pornography on Megaupload."
A similar point applies to China. "If you try to create Megaupload in China, SOPA would be the least of your worries," Sanchez said. China requires websites based inside its Great Firewall to comply with a comprehensive censorship regime. It would be difficult to comply with those rules while maintaining Megaupload's anything-goes philosophy to file hosting.
For rogue site operators, the trick is to find a country with great Internet infrastructure, weak IP enforcement, and little censorship. But finding all three is tricky, as shown by the fact that Megaupload actually leased hundreds of servers within the US to provide a good experience to US residents despite the obvious risks this posed.
Moreover, while relations between the US and countries like China and Russia can be frosty, Sanchez said it's not true that the US government has no leverage there. For example, in 2007, the Russian government shut down AllOfMP3 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AllOfMP3#Closure_of_AllOfMP3), a notorious source of unauthorized copies of major-label music.
Sanchez pointed out that the Chinese government does conduct periodic crackdowns on traditional, physical piracy, often under pressure from the US. Shutting down a website like Megaupload would be a much easier job than clearing Chinese markets of merchants hawking bootleg DVDs.
"This is a familiar story," he told Ars. "The whole international intellectual property system has basically been operating on treaties, on diplomatic pressure. This is how we've been working internationally to have a stable IP system for decades. So I don't know why that suddenly doesn't work" for rogue sites.
Disclosure: I'm an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, an unpaid position.
Here ya go - Learn the true deal with sopa/pipa
Go to http://onecandleinthedark.blogspot.com (http://onecandleinthedark.blogspot.com/) and http://www.cbsyousuck.com (http://www.cbsyousuck.com/) for thousands of pages of evidence and links to the original source research on the Internet Wayback Machine.
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