Mar 12, 2012
We have talked extensively about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its brother the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and seen them as potentially being able to abuse the free speech rights of Americans.
It is important to note that SOPA and PIPA are built on the framework of the existing Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows the copyright holders of intellectual properties to issue “take down notices” when the owner believes their copyright has been violated.
As one might expect, there are abuses in the system – the same type of abuses that would occur under the SOPA and PIPA bills. Techdirt.com reports:
We’ve talked a lot about how copyright law and the DMCA can be abused to take down legitimate, non-infringing content, interfering with one’s free speech rights. And we’re always brushed off by copyright maximalists, who insist that any complaints about taking down legitimate speech are overblown.
So isn’t it interesting that we’ve just discovered that our own key anti-SOPA blog post and discussion… have been blocked thanks to a bogus DMCA takedown?
Last November, in the heat of the SOPA fight, I wrote a blog post, where I tried to pull together a bunch of the different reasons why SOPA and PIPA were really bad ideas. It was a very popular post for us, and I heard directly from many people that it was quite helpful in getting them to understand the real problems of these two bills.
Jan 21, 2012
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:
Jan 19, 2012
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:
Jan 16, 2012
Another set of strange twists has occurred in the SOPA saga. SOPA, (Stop Online Piracy Act) has been generally derided and opposed by many of the leading technical companies in the world. That hasn’t stopped the bill from moving forward pushed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA. We’ve documented the hypocrisy of these groups who actually are guilty of stealing copyrighted material themselves. We’ve also shown how Congress, who is trying to make this monstrosity a law, is guilty of stealing copyrighted material. The Department of Homeland Security, the government agency tasked with enforcing online piracy, was caught with their hands in the “piracy cookie jar as well.
In the latest episode, the cable and communication company Comcast may be afoul of provisions of SOPA as well if the bill passes.
Comcast recently installed new technology which prevents the routing of DNS rerouting and blocking. The new technology, called Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), is an upgrade from Comcast’s own DNS forwarding technology.
As SOPA requires internet service providers (ISP) such as Comcast to reroute customers from what the government deems are illegal sites, Comcast’s installation of technology which prevents such rerouting is contrary to the provisions of the bill.
The basic plan for domains and sites that the government feels (without having to prove) are infringing upon intellectual property under SOPA is two-fold. If the site is hosted within the United States, the government will simply seize the domain. If the site is located outside of the US, the bill requires ISP’s to reroute the customer to a different site and away from the alleged infringing site.
“Rerouting” is one way hackers and malware get information and data from users. You may want to go to the site of your bank, but a virus or malware will actually send you to an identical looking site where you enter your information thinking you are going to the site you want, but are in fact giving your confidential information to thieves.
Jan 6, 2012
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:
Dec 30, 2011
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:
Dec 29, 2011
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.
Dec 21, 2011
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 CNet.com: