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SOPA / PROTECT-IP Updates!

There is good news on the SOPA / Pritect IP Acts fronts today.

According to CNet.com, a Senate vote on the Protect-IP Act, which was scheduled for Tuesday has been put on hold.

A statement by Harry Reid reads, in part:

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.

In response to the Senate’s actions, CNet.com, is also reporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has officially been put on hold by the House of Representatives.

A statement by Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee reads, in part:
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Share the Hoecakes

Site Blackouts and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Yesterday, a good portion of the major players on the internet and thousands of smaller sites went “dark” or “blackout” over the SOPA and Protect IP bills in Congress. We have covered the issue here at Raised on Hoecakes rather extensively and support the effort to stop these bills from being passed.

PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting “creativity”. The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites– they just have to convince a judge that the site is “dedicated to copyright infringement.”

The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future.

Also yesterday we received a mass email from the US Chamber of Commerce advocating and giving their support to SOPA and Protect IP. The text of the email read, in part:
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Piracy By The Numbers.

We have been writing somewhat extensively about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act that are both making their ways through the House of Representatives and the Congress.

There are a lot of flaws with these bills, including the fact it will turn private ISP’s into police for the government, only these “police” won’t be required to have warrants or court orders to monitor your surfing habits.

Another problem with the bills is Committees in both Houses of Congress have accepted the number of dollars being lost supplied by the MPAA and the RIAA as gospel. This despite the fact the data for the studies the groups use is not published for independent groups to review. In addition, the Government Accounting Office says the numbers presented cannot be verified as being truthful.

Enter into the fray one Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute.

Sanchez has written an article that is so devastating to the numbers spewed forth by the RIAA and the MPAA one would hope members of Congress will listen. At the very least, it is an article that all should read.

First, he starts with the numbers the supporters of SOPA and Protect IP are using:

The Motion Picture Association of America cites figures saying that piracy costs the United States $58 billion annually. Mark Elliot, an executive from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a letter to The New York Times that such piracy threatened 19 million American jobs

There is no doubt that $58 billion is a good hunk of change. The question is then “where did that figure come from?”

It turns out the groups are using “multipliers” to get to the $58 billion. As Sanchez explains:
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Circumventing SOPA is Against SOPA.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” and the corresponding “Protect IP” Act have been getting a lot of posts around here and rightfully so. Both bills are serious threats to free speech and due process afforded to all Americans under the Constitution.

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post has an excellent article on the two bills. Everything You Need to Know About Congress’s Online Piracy Bills, In One Post is something that everyone should read.

Some of the highlights in the post include the idea that while groups such as the MPAA and the RIAA make outlandish claims of how much piracy costs them, there is no solid study or evidence to back up those claims.

Are online piracy and copyright infringement hurting the economy? It’s always been hard to find solid evidence on this score. The copyright industry — record companies, movie studios, software makers — is always citing reports suggesting that IP infringement is destroying 750,000 jobs per year or costing U.S. companies $200 billion. But as the Government Accountability Office found last year, most of these claims “cannot be substantiated.”

And now, as Nate Anderson reports at Ars Technica, the International Intellectual Property Alliance is taking a brand new tack, arguing in its latest annual report that “piracy inhibits [our] growth in the US and around the world.” But as Anderson observes, the actual numbers in the report don’t seem bear this out. Since 2007, businesses based on copyright have been growing faster than the economy as a whole by a full percentage point. What’s more, the “core” copyright industries (sound recording, movies, TV, software, publishing) are thriving, shedding fewer jobs than the economy as a whole and earning record profits overseas, where piracy is even more rampant.

This means the whole premise of the SOPA and the Protect IP Act is somewhat fundamentally flawed. No one disputes there is intellectual piracy on the internet. The question is “are the two proposed bills using a cannon to kill a flea?”

Major groups have written and appeared before Congress telling representatives their approach will not work and will in fact harm innovation and economic growth, but officials have turned a deaf ear to groups and instead have listened to those groups that support them financially through contributions.

As a practical matter, seizing and blocking domain names, as the bill allows, is a technical nightmare. Both bills advocate the same type of censorship techniques used in China and other oppressive regimes. (That is a good feeling, isn’t it?)

In response to the proposed domain seizures, the group MafiaaFire and an individual who codes under the name of “Tamer Rizk” have both come up with extensions for the Firefox Browser that will allow people to circumvent the domain seizures and blocks if a website moves offshore and out of the United States.

The reason for Tamer Rizk in writing his extension called “DeSOPA” is given as:
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Laws Apply to Thee and Not to Me…… SOPA and the House of Representatives.

We have previously posted about the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and the “Protect IP” Act that are backed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA.

The bills basically allow for the government to require ISP’s to monitor your surfing habits and report any suspicious activity to the government. In doing so, the ISP’s become agents of the state, but without the need for a warrant or judicial oversight. In addition, the bill allows the government to seize domains that may have copyrighted material or even link to copyrighted material. The domains can be seized without any type due process.

Clearly the bills, while good intentioned, are so far out of Constitutional protection they must be stopped. (HINT: Contact your representatives!)

We also covered how the RIAA and the Department of Homeland Security have been caught with their hands in the proverbial “piracy cookie jar.” In the case of the DHS, more than 900 unique IP addresses have been caught downloading illegal content.

And these are the people that are charged with enforcing the proposed legislation.

Enter now into the madness is the House of Representatives. BoingBoing.net is reporting over 800 unique IP addresses assigned to the United States House of Representatives have downloaded illegal content via Bit Torrent.
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SOPA And Protect-IP Laws Must Be Stopped.

There is an important bit of legislation that is working its way through the Senate and the House of Representatives that authors claim will help prevent piracy and theft if intellectual property (IP).

Instead, the bills are a serious threat to freedom of speech, due process, and oddly, intellectual property.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) (introduced in the House of Representatives) and the “Protect-IP” (introduced in the Senate) bills would allow the government to seize without warning, a hearing or judicial review a website that is deemed to be hosting or linking to copyrighted material.

The “linking to copyrighted material” is problamatic. Imagine, if you will, a blogger such as us, who quotes a small portion of an article for the purpose of comment or education, giving the article proper attribution. In today’s world, that is known as “fair use.”

SOPA and the PROTECT-IP bills would change that.

A copyright holder could present a claim against our site saying we had used “copyrighted material.” Without a hearing, judicial review or a chance to respond, the government could step in, seize our domain and its contents. In other words, in the name of copyright protection, the government could seize material that is copyrighted to us and our intellectual property.

The proposed law requires Internet Service Providers to monitor websites and your online activities for copyrighted material and report violations. The effect is companies like Google, Yahoo! and YourTube become agents of the government without restrictions promised under the 4th Amendment.

At the same time, if a domain is hosted overseas, the government would require Internet Service Providers to block sites that are merely accused of hosting or linking to copyrighted material. The technology used to accomplish this would be similar to that used in China and other oppressive regimes.

Isn’t it nice to know the US government is following the lead of China?

A coalition of software and internet developers wrote a letter condemn both bills.
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