View Full Version : Is sopa silly?

January 18th, 2012, 12:37 PM
Stop SOPA Silliness
It didn't work with music: The music industry killed Napster and sued 16-year-olds to protect their dying business model of selling "albums" via top 40 radio. Instead of understanding the immense power of social media like YouTube as a marketing tool to sell single songs (iTunes) and streaming subscriptions (Spotify), the music industry honchos preferred to destroy in a ridiculous attempt to save the status-quo. Listened to top 40 radio recently?It didn't work with email: I get many times more unsolicited (and illegal) email than I did prior to CAN-SPAM (http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business). Tons of it from legitimate companies that should know better (http://www.webinknow.com/2011/11/is-bmw-an-email-spammer.html). How's that email legislation working for you?It's not going to work for movies: Now the silly politicians who wouldn't know a social network if it bit them in the ass are at it again with SOPA & PIPA that are trying to legislate "protection" for their friends in the movie industry.

January 18th, 2012, 01:59 PM
Silly? Not the word I'd use for it. Most of the attempts you talk about create a mandate without a mechanism to enforce it. SOPA is all about mechanism. If you can block stuff at the ISP/DNS/search engine levels you have much more control.

January 18th, 2012, 03:06 PM
January 18, 2012

Web Protests Piracy Bills, and Senators Change Course


WASHINGTON — Internet protests on Wednesday quickly cut into Congressional support for anti-Web piracy measures as lawmakers abandoned and rethought their backing for legislation that pitted new media interests against some of the most powerful old-line (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/technology/web-wide-protest-over-two-antipiracy-bills.html) commercial interests in Washington.

A freshman senator, Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, was first out of the starting gate Wednesday morning with his announcement that he would no longer back anti-Internet piracy legislation he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure that had been set for a test vote next week.

Mr. Cornyn posted on his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/Sen.JohnCornyn/posts/10150528053654424) that it was “better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the Internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.”

Their decisions came after some Web pages were shut down Wednesday to protest two separate bills, the Stop On-line Piracy Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261:) in the House, written by Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.968:), drafted by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Members of Congress, many of whom are grappling with the issues posed by the explosion in new media and social Web sites, appeared caught off guard by the backlash to what had been a relatively obscure piece of legislation to many of them. The Internet sensibility of the Senate was represented a few years ago in remarks by the late Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, who called the Internet “not a big truck” but a “series of tubes” — an observation enshrined in the Net Hall of Shame (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/17/business/media/17stevens.html).

The backlash to the pending legislation had caused the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to go dark. Google’s home page had a black banner across its home page that leads to pointed information blasting the bills.

Such new-media lobbying was having an impact.

“As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs ,Florida jobs,” Mr. Rubio wrote on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SenatorMarcoRubio/posts/340889625936408). “However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.”

Mr. Rubio has outsized influence for a junior senator entering his second year in Congress. He is considered a top contender for the vice presidential ticket of his party’s White House nominee this year, and is being groomed by the Republican leadership to be the face of his party — with Hispanics and beyond.
The moves on Capitol Hill came after the White House over the weekend also backed off (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/14/obama-administration-responds-we-people-petitions-sopa-and-online-piracy) the legislative effort.

“While we believe that online piracy by foreign Web sites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” White House officials said. With the growing reservations, a bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy may be in serious trouble without significant changes. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader and Democrat of Nevada, has scheduled a procedural vote on the Leahy version for early next week, but unless negotiators can alter it to satisfy the outraged online world, no one expects it to get 60 votes.

“I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor,” Mr. Rubio wrote. “Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

Another co-sponsor of the Senate bill, Roy Blunt of Missouri, withdrew his support Wednesday afternoon. Other senators who issued concerns about the legislation as written included Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, had said on Tuesday that he would vote against the measure.

Mr. DeMint called the proposed legislation “misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.”

In seeking to protect intellectual property rights, we must ensure that we do not undermine free speech, threaten economic growth, or impose burdensome regulations,” he said in a statement.

The content industry, everyone from Hollywood studios to book publishers, have been pushing for a legislative response to Internet piracy for some time. Groups like the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, as well as giants like News Corp., are practiced at old-time lobbying — hiring big-name Washington personalities like the former senator, Christopher J. Dodd, and salting campaign funds with contributions.

Mr. Dodd, who is now chairman and chief executive of the motion picture association (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/business/02dodd.html), forcefully denounced the shutdowns (http://www.mpaa.org/resources/c4c3712a-7b9f-4be8-bd70-25527d5dfad8.pdf) in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging,” he said.

In the Tea Party (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/t/tea_party_movement/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) era of grass-roots muscle, though, the old school was taken to school, Congressional aides and media lobbyists agree.

“The problem for the content industry is they just don’t know how to mobilize people,” said John P. Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide and executive at the motion picture lobby. “They have a small group of content makers, a few unions, whereas the Internet world, the social media world especially, has a tremendous reach. They can reach people in ways we never dreamed of before.

“This has been a real learning experience for the content world,” Mr. Feehery added.


January 18th, 2012, 04:48 PM
Other than my libertarian political leanings, it is the 'chiller affect' that most concerns me about SOPA.

January 18th, 2012, 04:59 PM
It gave the power of enforcement w/o proof.

It also held unreasonable requirements of overseeing for these sites. Simply posting a link to an illegal site or other asset on a bulletin board (such as, someone here posting a DL link to The Dragon Tatoo) would give grounds for someone to say "Hey!" and have the site shut down until it could prove non-compliance with the poster and removal of the link.

Backwards law.

January 18th, 2012, 05:00 PM
Chilling the net - http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-270.html

January 18th, 2012, 10:55 PM
This could have ramifications for the way we post here at WNY. Especially if somebody got a bug up their arse ...

The cost of fighting back against a questionable charge could be the death of many sites.

January 19th, 2012, 08:32 AM
"The cost of fighting back against a questionable charge could be the death of many sites."

Exactly my point - that is the (intended) 'chiller effect'. BIG government does not want 'free speech' ; well, not too much free speech anyway. LOL

January 19th, 2012, 09:24 AM
It is like that woman (I forget who) that filed lawsuits against all of her neighbors to get her way on everything.

It took too much money to fight, so things like a basketball net in the neighbors driveway had to be removed, etc etc.

Now laws were broken, but you had to spend money to fight the charges. this law would just make it easier to throw legal flak at any internet site in a manner similarly available in the "real world".

January 22nd, 2012, 02:00 AM
As is society's wont, SOPA would only address the symptoms of the problem and not cause if, indeed, it actually achieved anything at all.

If all the supporters of SOPA were to clear their eyes of dollar signs, they may see the light.

As I posted on Twitter:

Hear! Hear! http://on.mash.to/wEist6 (http://t.co/vo4NmUIJ) "Stop looking at infringers as pirates or criminals and instead look at them as potential customers." #SOPA (https://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23SOPA)

Who's really responsible? Well, it ain't the pirates.

\/ Key words:

new business model

SOPA: Who's really responsible?

By Stewart Wolpin

Over the New Year's weekend, I was reminded of an old comedy record called The First Family, a hilarious and enormously popular spoof of the Kennedy administration from the early 1960s, pulled from circulation after JFK's assassination in 1963.

A friend in my age demographic had never heard of it. So I attached an MP3 file of one of the tracks I had made from my CD copy and emailed it to him.

In the wake of all the SOPA brouhaha, I got to thinking about this exchange. I wasn't selling the track or album to him; I didn't send him the entire album; I didn't post it anywhere where someone else might listen to it for nothing (though someone has, but I'm not telling you where).

But I felt dirty nonetheless.

And suddenly I understood the urge that led lawmakers to create the Frankenstein monster that is SOPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act) and its evil spawn PIPA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act).

While my First Family transgressions were relatively innocent, the interwebs are filled with files uploaded and downloaded with no regard to their copyrighted origins. Rich superstars comprise only a tiny fraction of media creators out there, and all the others involved, who eke out a living selling their creations, are already getting screwed by their Big Media corporate overlords.
Whether we like it or not, uploading or downloading a movie or a record album or a video game or software without paying for it is stealing just as much as strolling into a Wal-Mart, stuffing DVDs and CDs into your pants and strolling out without paying is.

The Age of Innocence

Back in the day, record companies and artists sort of shrugged their shoulders at the whole High Fidelity idea of mix tape phenomena. They figured the person receiving said mix tape was never going to buy the album or CD in question anyway and, now exposed to the artist's music, they might be a customer at some point.

Plus, the frequency of this mix-tape making wasn't high enough to seriously impact record sales. Making a mix tape, or even a tape copy of an entire album, required some technical legerdemain, several pieces of expensive equipment and serious spare time — the creation time of a mix tape was longer than the time of the music copied (cuing up a record to the right spot to create only a one- or two-second gap between tracks on a mix tape was an art).

And in the CD era, the aural quality of the analog mix tape wasn't exactly stellar. If those at the mix-tape-receiving-end liked the music contained therein, they ended up buying the CD.

Flash forward to the age of Napster and the Internet. No longer were we making mix tapes only occasionally for that special someone. No longer did copying require some technical legerdemain, several pieces of equipment and real time. And no longer were copies inferior to the originals.

And so it is no wonder movie studios and record companies stopped simply shrugging their shoulders. Occasional copying of music, movies, games and software had morphed into industrialized mass production on a massive international scale and billions of dollars in losses to not only Big Media (boo hoo!) but to struggling artists and anyone associated with the creation of a copyrighted work.

I Am A Content Creator

Let me assert my opposition to SOPA and PIPA. Both acts were clearly written by nincompoops who wouldn't know a domain from lo mein. News Corp ogre Rupert Murdoch clearly missed the irony as he tweeted on how President Obama was in the sway of his Silicon Valley paymasters when supporters of SOPA and PIPA are so obviously in the sway of his and other Big Media paymasters.

On the other hand, I also am a book author, and I'd be really REALLY REALLY pissed off if I found someone had posted my modest opus online and made it available for free.

And there are a lot more minor content creators like me out there than there are Lady Gagas and Drakes.

Now that I think on it, forget my aforementioned Wal-Mart shoplifting analogy. Uploading and downloading copyrighted content for free access and making money on advertising revenue is akin to you walking into my home, stealing my book, then selling copies of it.

It's just that simple.

Rules of The Road

But I also recognize most of us don't know what is legal (or moral) behavior — often called "fair usage" — and what is illegal (or immoral) behavior. Plus, the Web and digital technology makes copying copyrighted content so damned easy that we all do it without thinking.

For instance, in one of the really great ironies of this whole SOPA/PIPA brouhaha, SOPA's author, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tex), apparently was in violation of his own law. As a background for his Web site (http://www.texansforlamarsmith.com/), he used a copyrighted photo from one DJ Schulte — without permission or attribution. (It's been changed to a plain gray background once this ironic story broke.)

Some of this copyright copying is taken to the ridiculous extreme, especially by content crooks operating sites and servers in China and Russia beyond the reach of American jurisprudence (hence the uselessness of current intellectual property laws).

SOPA and PIPA are ham-fisted attempts to stem this flaunting foreign tide. While SOPA's solutions are insane, it is clear something needs to be done.

So Congress will go back and try again. The Consumer Electronics Association (the folks who run CES) urge support and passage of the shockingly bi-partisan Digital Trade (OPEN) Act (http://keepthewebopen.com/), which purports to more surgically target rogue foreign Web sites than employ the blunt punitive instruments wielded by SOPA or PIPA.

But at the same time, all interested parties — Silicon Valley, Congress, Big Media, artists, the Justice Department — need to change hearts and minds, to help us understand what behaviors are legal and illegal or even just hurtful to struggling artists and authors, to help us recognize infringing sites, and to make stealing digital content as socially unacceptable as pissing on the carpet (unless possessed).

So, yes, it's easy and fun to blame stupid Congress and the over-reaching Justice Department and greedy movie studios and record companies for SOPA and PIPA. But first we better look in the mirror. As Pogo used to say, "We have met the enemy, and he is us (http://www.igopogo.com/we_have_met.htm)."

From the Comments:

xdeathknightx on Jan 21, 2012 04:20 PM

I read this article and was immediately reminded of something Neil Gaiman said in a video about a year ago (before the whole SOPA/PIPA thing). Here he tells how he used to get grumpy about having his work pirated. Until he noticed that in the areas that the piracy was most prevalent, he was starting to sell more books. And that after giving out American Gods for free on his publisher's website he sold a lot more books in the months after that.
He also talks about how he believes that you aren't losing sales because your book is out there. Look for Gaiman on Copyright Piracy and the Web

And this is also evident with music and to some degree even games. It has enabled bands to get a bigger audience and maybe get a record deal or in some cases even get rid of the record companies and do it all themselves.

Same goes for indie developers, in the past few years you've really seen a rise of indie developers again because they have more platforms they can reach and through the internet a bigger audience they can reach.

I can understand that it feels bad when you see your work out there but the thing is with piracy that it can either get you new sales because people become familiar with your work or want a real copy, or it most likely wouldn't have mattered anyway. A lot of people who pirate it weren't interested in buying your product anyway. Fans of your work would go through the trouble of buying it.

It is funny you are trying to keep the emphasis on the "minor content creator" while SOPA/PIPA was mostly for the big corporations that are quickly losing power and don't want to give it up. These are exciting times for the "minor content creator" because they can get their work out there without having to rely on one of these institutions that want a large part of the profit. They can reach crowds they couldn't before.

I am not saying all piracy is good, but I am saying that instead of trying to stop it with blunt force it would be a better idea to look how you can get it to work for you. Itunes has shown that people are not against paying for music. They just don't want to pay like 15 bucks for a cd with only one or two songs that they like and for which the artist sees little to no money. I see more and more initiatives sprouting up where you can buy indie games for a small amount of money that are a huge success. They might not get the amount they would normally get but with a cheap bundle they are reaching a lot of people who might just buy more of their stuff or their future games. And that is my problem with the legislations and this article. Don't fight it but see how it might work for you. It has worked out for quite a few people.

Gyakusetsu on Jan 21, 2012 05:49 PM

Exactly. Artists and multimedia creators cannot be stuck in the past with an obsolete business model in a new era of freely traded data. The fact that people still cling to the past so much is almost humorous to me. If you truly deserve to make money off something that can be distributed online, you will.... there are still countless individuals that can make their livings doing nothing but posting comics online and selling shirts about 'em or something.

The ubiquity of digital media has devalued it significantly. Physical goods are the only real money making entities in the world, and all those big-name corporations just need to figure out how they can market off it. Offer free digital music and get your revinue form ads. If iTunes did this, they wouldn't lose money, they would gain exposure and make everyone happier for not having to pay with their wallets but with their time and monitor space.



January 22nd, 2012, 09:41 AM
To quote Bill Gates "Information WANTS to be FREE". The conventional connotation of the word 'property' has to do with tangibility, substance, physicality: something that occupies a particular place, at a particular time.

The very term 'intellectual property' is an oxymoron (a self contradictory statement) like 'Jumbo Shrimp' or 'Good Grief'.

Information, on the other hand, is abstract: 'it is both everywhere and nowhere' - in a word it is ubiquitous. Hence, the quote "information wants to be free" - good luck trying to make human LAWS to contain it, for you are only contravening the LAWS of 'nature'.

January 23rd, 2012, 10:51 AM
Bottom line is simple.

Information and media monopoly is not as ubiquitous as it used to be.

It is relatively cheap to produce a record. The only thing that genuinely costs money is pushing it on the public. the double irony being that while viral distribution of a track, short film or game may hurt the profit margin for a piece, it also does the advertising much more efficiently than TV ads and other media.

The recording industry has to look to find a way to give the people what they want inexpensively. The nerve of them charging the same price for a CD that I would download from their site at sub-standard bitrates as I would for the actual material article is shameless. $16 for an album download at 128kBps? (That is what they tried to do at the start).


The problem is, they are finding it cheaper to brib... I mean SUPPORT our congressmen into obscure legislation (like the RIAA using things from the Patriot and other "anti terrorism" acts to catch downloaders more than what we have used it to catch who it was intended for in the first place)., than it is for them to make a viable inexpensive internet distribution model.

And until the back-pressure gets too hard to handle, they will continue to push the vinyl until the needle breaks.

January 23rd, 2012, 12:54 PM
"The cost of fighting back against a questionable charge could be the death of many sites."

Exactly my point - that is the (intended) 'chiller effect'. BIG government does not want 'free speech' ; well, not too much free speech anyway. LOL

And small government does? The initial proponents of this legistation were as much conservatives (such as Rubio who sponsored the bill), as they were liberals and moderates. In other words anyone with an affiliation for the Chamber of Commerce or, old media, and big business lobby groups

January 23rd, 2012, 02:34 PM
Anonymous - message to the American People.

January 25th, 2012, 04:00 AM
If the feds can shut down Megaupload, why do we need SOPA?

By Timothy B. Lee

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 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.

Diplomatic pressure

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.

http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/if_the_feds_can_shut_down_megaupload_why_do_we_nee d_sopa

January 25th, 2012, 09:08 AM
They say "millions of dollars of assets", but they neglect to mention that is probably all computer hardware that will be worth $25K in a year... ;)