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:

Update! RIAA Responds to Copyright Violations Accusations. Laughter Ensues.

As we reported the other day, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) seems to have been caught being hypocritical in demanding others stop participating in online piracy, yet at least 6 IP addresses assigned to the RIAA have engaged in illegal downloads of copyrighted property.

An RIAA spokesman disputes the claim.

But RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy disputed the report. “This is inaccurate,” he said in a statement provided to CNET via e-mail. “We checked the block of IP addresses allocated to RIAA staff to access the Internet and no RIAA employee was responsible for this alleged use of bittorrent.”

Lamy had an explanation for that that implies that a third-party vendor was responsible for the downloads. “Those partial IP addresses are similar to block addresses assigned to RIAA. However, those addresses are used by a third party vendor to serve up our public Web site,” he said. “As I said earlier, they are not used by RIAA staff to access the Internet.”

TorrentFreak, the site that originally outed the RIAA shows the fallacy of the RIAA’s statement:

Don’t Do As We Do, Do As We Legislate!

As we noted last week, the House and Senate are looking to pass the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or “SOPA” which will is a direct assault on the freedoms of speech and association in the United States.

You know it is a bad bill when people across the political spectrum are against this monstrosity. Essentially, the bill demands Internet Service Providers become government agents, watching what where you go and what you download on the internet. If you link to a YouTube video on your blog or website and that YouTube video is declared copyrighted material, the government without a warrant, hearing, trial or notice can seize your domain.

The bill is being pushed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA who claim they are losing billions in revenues without ever being able to prove the allegation.

This past Monday, we saw how the copyright laws are now being applied in the case of Gilberto Sanchez. Sanchez admitted to buying a pre-theatrical, unfinished version of the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine on a street corner in the Bronx, New York. He then posted the raw, unfinished video on a file sharing site and posted links to the video in several forums.

For his actions, Sanchez was sentenced to one year in federal prison.

“The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates,” U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation.”

Think about that for a moment. One year in Federal prison for a movie that grossed $343 million worldwide and the government could not prove the release of raw movie damaged the movie’s gross. All they could prove was the infringement occurred.

We believe the punishment is draconian and if the SOPA passes, such punishments will become commonplace.

Unless, of course, you happen to work at the RIAA or the Department of Homeland Security.

According to

They’re Watching Out for You – And That is NOT a Good Thing

On Thursday, July7, 2011, major internet service providers (ISP’s) such as Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable announced they had reached an agreement with copyright holders represented by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for the ISP’s to monitor and issue warnings for users suspected of violating copyrights.

Leaders from the movie, television, music and Internet service provider communities today announced a landmark agreement on a common framework for ‘Copyright Alerts,'” the parties said today in a statement. Copyright Alerts “will educate and notify Internet subscribers when their Internet service accounts possibly are being misused for online content theft. This voluntary landmark collaboration will educate subscribers about content theft on their Internet accounts, benefiting consumers and copyright holders alike.”

The agreed system will implement a series of “warnings” to the ISP subscriber if the ISP suspects the subscriber is downloading or streaming illegal content.

Those ISPs that have partnered with the music and film sectors have the option of issuing six warnings to a subscriber before moving to the “mitigation” stage. Way down in the press release announcing the agreement is the bit about how the ISPs will hobble the connection speeds of those accused of multiple offenses or completely cut off their Web connection until they stop infringing intellectual property.

The ISPs dread spooking subscribers, or to appear to be spying on them. It’s possible the agreement would have never been completed had U.S. President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who got involved in the negotiations as early as 2007, not pressured both sides to cut a deal.

Of course the ISP’s dread “spooking subscribers, or to appear to be spying on them,” but that is exactly what they are doing.

Government Lies and Thievery

The graphic to the left is a screen capture of a “seized domain” notice.  This is a notice that the government puts up on a site when they seize a domain because they suspect it is involved with piracy of intellectual property.  (Click here or on the image for a larger, clearer view of the graphic.) The key word is “suspect,” because the government only has to waltz into the chambers of a judge, say “we think this is happening,” and they can take the domain.

There is no notice to the domain owner.  There is no chance for the domain owner to rebut the accusation.  There is no due process. One day your domain and all the supporting files belong to you and the next day they do not.

While this may or may not bother you, it should. There is no difference between the government seizing an domain without due process than if you woke up one day to find your car had been seized because you were suspected of speeding.

Using your tax dollars, the government has now produced the following video it places on the seized domain instead of the seized notice.