Why we need to stop SOPA and PIPA: Joi Ito and Ethan Zuckerman discuss why current anti-piracy legislation in the US must be stopped

Posted in: Government & Policy at 18/01/2012 19:03

SOPA - the Stop Online Piracy Act - and a sister bill, PIPA - the Protect IP Act - seek to minimise the dissemination of copyrighted material online by targeting sites that promote and enable the sharing of copyright-protected material, like The Pirate Bay. While this goal may be laudable, entrepreneurs, legal scholars and free speech activists are worried about the consequences of these bills for the architecture of the internet. At the MIT Media Lab, we share those concerns, and we oppose SOPA and PIPA as threats to innovation on the internet.

To limit access to rogue sites, SOPA and PIPA would:

  • Supersede the "notice and takedown" method of policing for copyrighted material on internet services and require service providers to police content uploaded by users or prevent users from uploading copyrighted content.
  • Require Internet Service Providers to change their DNS servers and block resolution of the domain names of websites in other countries that host illegal copies of content.
  • Require search engines to modify their search results to exclude foreign websites that illegally host copyrighted material.
  • Order payment processors like PayPal and ad services like Google AdSense to cease doing business with foreign websites that illegally host copyrighted content.

To read this opinion piece by Joi Ito and Ethan Zuckerman on the Al Jazeera website in full, see:
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/2012115121928594335.html

Also see:

A Close Look at SOPA by Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Alicia Solow-Niederman
This document is a guide to the Stop Online Piracy Act as proposed in the United States House of Representatives. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261, 112th Cong. (2011). It represents our notes as we sought to understand exactly what it does and how it does it -- along with our corresponding sense for why its principal mechanisms make for poor law. Our aim is for this analysis to be useful to anyone wanting to understand the Act -- whatever his or her point of view may be on technology or intellectual property policy.

According to its advocates, SOPA will strengthen copyright in the United States by establishing a number of public and private tools to hinder infringement by international "rogue" sites previously unreachable by U.S. law. The Act also includes a number of independent provisions targeting the sale and dissemination of prescription drugs and military materials and equipment.
futureoftheinternet.org/reading-sopa
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/20121169929629872.html

Internet-Wide Protests Against the Blacklist Legislation: Join EFF and websites across the world in protesting the dangerous censorship legislation currently pending in Congress [news release]
On January 18th, EFF will join websites across the world in standing up against the proposed blacklist bills (SOPA in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate). EFF is calling on websites to be part of the protest by blacking out their logos, posting statements opposing the bills, and linking to our action center. Websites are also encouraged to follow the powerful examples of Reddit, Wikipedia and others by "blacking out" their entire site for a day. If you do choose to take down your website in protest, please be sure to post a message about why you oppose the blacklist bills and consider linking to the EFF action center so site visitors can take the next step and contact Congress.

On the 18th, EFF will censor our banner logo and black out the background of eff.org. We've also created a new activism platform at http://blacklist.eff.org. Sites are encouraged to direct traffic here so users can contact Congress to make their voices heard in opposition to this misguided censorship legislation.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/january-18-internet-wide-protests-against-blacklist-legislation

Protest on Web Uses Shutdown to Take On Two Piracy Bills
With a Web-wide protest on Wednesday that includes a 24-hour shutdown of the English-language Wikipedia, the legislative battle over two Internet piracy bills has reached an extraordinary moment -- a political coming of age for a relatively young and disorganized industry that has largely steered clear of lobbying and other political games in Washington.

The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate, are backed by major media companies and are mostly intended to curtail the illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies online. But the tech industry fears that, among other things, they will give media companies too much power to shut down sites that they say are abusing copyrights.
...
Opponents of the legislation have clearly seized the momentum in the debate. Their protests have gained traction in that key provisions were stripped out of one bill and the Obama administration has raised concerns. Legislators have already agreed to delay or drop one ire-inducing component of the bills, Domain Name System blocking, which would prevent access to sites that were found to have illegal content.
www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/technology/web-wide-protest-over-two-antipiracy-bills.html

Wikipedia joins blackout protest at US anti-piracy moves
Wikipedia has taken its English-language site offline as part of protests against proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.

Users attempting to access the site see a black screen and a political statement: "Imagine a world without free knowledge."

The user-generated news site Reddit and the blog Boing Boing are also taking part in the "blackout".

However, Twitter has declined to join the shutdown.
www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16590585

Web Piracy Bill Faces Fiercer Fight: Media Companies Lose Ground as White House Sides With Internet Firms; Wikipedia Plans Protest
Supporters of controversial antipiracy legislation face a struggle to regain momentum after the White House sided with irate Internet companies and users over the weekend and complained that the proposal could hurt innocent companies and undermine cybersecurity.

On Saturday, the White House outlined its opposition to two similar bills pending in the House and Senate that would crack down on the sale of pirated American movies, music and other goods on foreign-based websites. The bills would require Internet companies to hobble access to foreign pirate websites, bar search engines from linking to them and prevent U.S. companies from placing ads on them.
www.wallstreetjournal.de/article/SB10001424052970203735304577165081404005466.html

White House Blasts Internet Blacklisting Bills
The Obama administration said Saturday that it would not support legislation mandating changes to internet infrastructure to fight online copyright and trademark infringement.

"Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security," the administration said in a statement. "Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk."
www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/white-house-blasts-internet-blacklisting-bills/

SOPA lives -- and MPAA calls protests an "abuse of power"
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has looked at tomorrow's "Internet blackout" in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) -- and it sees only a "gimmick," a "stunt," "hyperbole," "a dangerous and troubling development," an "irresponsible response," and an "abuse of power."

Wikipedia, reddit, and others are going dark to protest the legislation, while sites like Scribd and Google will also protest. In response, MPAA chief Chris Dodd wheeled out the big guns and started firing the rhetoric machine-gun style. His statement feels unusually angry for the normally unruffled trade group, but the MPAA has long asserted that Google simply wants to profit from piratical ad money.
arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/sopa-livesand-mpaa-calls-protests-an-abuse-of-power.ars

Online Piracy Bill Supporters Criticize Website Blackout
Supporters of legislation that seeks to curb piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites Tuesday assailed opponents who have pledged to shutter their websites in protest of the measures.

Thousands of websites including Wikipedia and the social news site Reddit have said they will go dark Wednesday to protest the House bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and a similar Senate bill called the Protect IP Act. The legislation is opposed by leading tech firms including Facebook, Google and Yahoo, as well as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, civil libertarians and a growing chorus of Internet activists. The Senate is set to vote on Protect IP next week.
techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2012/01/online-piracy-bill-supporters.php

Stop Sopa or the web really will go dark
As thousands of websites, including the English version of Wikipedia, prepare to "go dark" Wednesday in protest against internet censorship, a new explanation is emerging for the would-be censors' acts: they simply don't understand how the internet works. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Search on the these terms - "don't understand" Sopa Congress - and you'll find a lots of blogposts and news stories making this point. Sopa, of course, stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, which may or may not be stalled at the moment.
www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/17/stop-sopa-or-web-will-go-dark

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