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Leave the Internet alone!

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012

* I won’t be joining this protest in deed, but I will be with them in spirit

Wikipedia, the popular community-edited online encyclopedia, will black out its English-language site for 24 hours to seek support against proposed U.S. anti-piracy legislation that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said threatens the future of the Internet.

The U.S. service will be the highest profile name to join a growing campaign starting at midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday that will see it black out its page so that visitors will only see information about the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

* More

The SOPA legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives aims to crack down on online sales of pirated American movies, music or other goods by forcing Internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates U.S. copyright laws. Supporters argue the bill is unlikely to have an impact on U.S.-based websites.

U.S. advertising networks could also be required to stop online ads, and search engines would be barred from directly linking to websites found to be distributing pirated goods.

* But there does seem to be a rewrite ahead

Three key section of the existing legislation seem likely to remain, a person familiar with the matter says. They comprise provisions aimed at getting search engines to disable links to foreign infringing sites; provisions that cut off advertising services to those sites; and provisions that cut off payment processing.

But critical provisions that would require Internet service providers such as Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp. to cut off infringing sites through a technology known as DNS blocking are now likely to be eliminated.

Critics have said that such measures would only encourage people to navigate the web in riskier ways, with modified browsers or other tweaks that could lead to their Internet sessions getting hijacked by scammers.

Lawmakers had already been coming around to the realization they would have to hold back on the DNS-blocking provisions.

Those DNS provisions were amazingly stupid.

* And I couldn’t agree more with the American Society of News Editors’ stance against SOPA

ASNE condemns content piracy, regardless of medium. Our members consider their content to be their most valuable asset. Unauthorized use of this content has always been a problem; its impact has increased with the advent of the Internet and has certainly undercut the financial well-being of America’s news media.

However, our members use the Internet in ways that could be construed to violate SOPA, and that’s not acceptable. Whether utilizing content contributed by third parties, stepping outside the direct reporter-source interaction to acquire and use information from websites around the world, or augmenting our stories through the use of multimedia previously unavailable to print-only publications, ASNE members continue to change the way news is presented. We fear that SOPA will restrict our ability to engage in these activities and stifle our capacity to innovate when we most sorely need the freedom to do so.

Ultimately, however, it is our longstanding dedication to First Amendment rights that drives our opposition to SOPA. Navigating the balance between copyright and free speech demands precision, and in seeking to protect the interests of copyright holders, the First Amendment requires Congress to adopt the least restrictive intrusion on speech available.

SOPA fails this test. It allows individual copyright owners to effect the most onerous restriction on speech — the prior restraint — with little evidence and virtually no due process, utilizing vague and overbroad definitions in the process. While it is directed at “rogue” websites engaged in widespread piracy, the law carries the real potential to go well beyond that narrow target. Without endorsing them, we note that more narrowly tailored alternatives have already been proposed. Their existence calls into question the constitutionality of SOPA and suggests that this Committee must reject H.R. 3261 and continue to examine other, less restrictive alternatives that strike the right balance between preventing piracy and protecting free expression.

We hope you agree. Again, we support your ultimate goal of eradicating online content piracy. We simply feel that this particular formulation is not precise enough to protect legitimate free speech rights. But we believe the right balance can be struck and are committed to working with your Committee and all Members of Congress to accomplish it.

* Considering that some of the most frequent copyright violators in Illinois are Republican Party officials, perhaps this whole thing needs to be rethought. What do I mean about these violators? Well, the Illinois Republican Party posts full-length news stories on its website every day. Here’s an example. The state Senate Republicans do the same.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Esquire - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 9:51 am:


    From the title caption, I am afraid that you were going to go all Chris Crocker on us and post a video clip on You Tube. Say it ain’t so!

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 9:52 am:


    No, thank goodness.

  3. - CicularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 10:09 am:

    Funny we could only think if Gags Brady’s first event…talk about censorship.Gotta love em
    Great start tothe week

  4. - Esquire - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    That’s a relief! I did not want you to dye your hair blonde and starting crying and talking about the Internet and Brittany Spears, etc.

    This proposed legislation bears scrutiny.

  5. - JAFO - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 11:20 am:

    I’m kind of ‘meh’ on this issue.

    Everything under the sun is regulated, why not the internet?

  6. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 11:20 am:

    You are late to the party on SOPA/PIPA (SOPA is HR3261; PIPA is S968).

    Many of us have been fighting this legislation for quite a while now, because it’s really stupid, ignorant, and extremely poorly thought out legislation.

    The really interesting part of this whole process is where the different players come down on the side of this.

    1) The big Internet (Google, Yahoo, etc.) players
    2) Most all of the blogging community.
    3) Most of the liberal activists
    4) The Tea Party activists
    5) Most of the software development community.
    6) The reps and senators with major tech centers in their areas.

    1) Big Business
    2) Content providers (Viacom, Disney, etc.)
    3) Hollyweird
    4) RIAA/MPAA
    5) Bigger Unions (suprisingly, to me)

    It’s a really interesting set of players that totally blows away political lines (when you have Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Lamar Smith on the same side in favor of, and then Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darryl Issa against) and this whole SOPA/PIPA fight has the potential to turn into a major political brawl.

    In fact, our own Sen. Durbin is in favor of SOPA/PIPA.

    He’s wrong, IMO.

  7. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    “Everything under the sun is regulated, why not the internet”

    Because their (SOPA/PIPA) version of “regulation” is to allow a content provider to make a “Copyright Infringment” claim without allowing for due process (legal review) before the federal government can force Internet providers to take down not just web domains, but also web servers (which can hold a multitude of different web domains), most of which can be innocent of any charges.

    This legislation provides established businesses with an additional tool to crush upstart businesses which are web based by filing copyright infringement claims, and have the full might of the federal government as their enforcement tool.

    All it would require is for somebody to find a posting on a website (say, Craigslist) where a seller posts a manufacturer’s link (as a reference) for additional details on a product they are trying to sell, and guess what, might be a copyright violation.

    Would it be in actuality? Who knows - let’s go to court and find out, but in the meantime, you could potentially see Craigslist being shut down.

    It’s not regulation at play here, it’s OPPRESSION.

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 11:43 am:

    ===You are late to the party===

    True, but I try not to get involved with national issues. Plus, I wanted to see how it played out a bit before saying anything.

  9. - JAFO - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    Judgement - is that really how it is going to work in practice? Someone files a complaint, then the plug automatically gets pulled with no oversight, adherence to precedent, etc?

    This sounds like FUD…

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 12:27 pm:

    The assault on liberty since 9/11 has been alarming. We live in a time now where the president of the United States can order the assassination of U.S. citizens and no one says boo.

    Those whack jobs with box cutters have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

  11. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 12:55 pm:

    Can I look up the details on the shutdown on Wikipedia?

  12. - JAFO - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 3:06 pm:

    “Those whack jobs with box cutters have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. ”

    The US government did it to the US people, Word. Only Americans can take freedom away from Americans.

    Make you wonder who the whack jobs really are…

  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 3:10 pm:

    JAFO, pick a new screen name, please. Thanks.

  14. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 3:16 pm:


    “Judgement - is that really how it is going to work in practice? Someone files a complaint, then the plug automatically gets pulled with no oversight, adherence to precedent, etc?

    This sounds like FUD…”

    I wish it was FUD…

    Here’s why it’s probably (notice, I said “probably”) not.

    A number of months ago, the feds took down a number of servers (seized them) with no prior notice. These servers were run by hosting services (having multiple domains on each server), and most (not all, but most) of their clients were quite innocent (small business websites).

    Everybody was going crazy trying to figure out why they all the sudden got kicked off line, and come to find out the servers were seized by the feds [ICE] (see link at

    Worked, except there as quite a bit of “collateral damage”. Oh, well…..

    SOPA/PIPA would vastly expand ICE’s powers to seize Internet domains, and then it would be up to the courts to sort it out (after the fact). But if you are a small business depending upon your website or Internet based software applications, you’re effectively out of business while the courts decide if the actions taken by ICE were justified.

    It’s great if you get proven correct (eventually), but if they deliver the verdict to you after you’ve already become an occupant of the “business graveyard”, well, it’s kind of a day late and a dollar short.

    And I’m not a big fan of letting the federal government become prosecutor, judge, and jury in technology matters, especially when SOPA/PIPA shows their overall technology knowledge base is at best “So 1990’s”.

  15. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 3:25 pm:

    “Can I look up the details on the shutdown on Wikipedia?”

    Not tomorrow….

    Seriously, SOPA/PIPA would be a very serious threat to Wikipedia. People writing entries in the Wiki’s tend to provide backup data with links and references.

    It’s real easy to inadvertently reference something that could be copyrighted (excellent example would be the CUSPID numbers which are assigned to muni bonds, which are copyrighted by the American Bankers Association).

    And they are actually fairly reasonable. Others out there, not so much. IMO, Wikipedia has a very legitimate concern.

  16. - New Name - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 4:20 pm:

    Judgement - are you referring to the November 29, 2010 seizure of domains?

    If so, they were seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for selling counterfeit goods.

    That’s hardly a knee jerk reaction lacking due process.

    I’m sure there is a wide array of legal opinions to this, but since this happened over a year ago, I am only really interested in what the courts have said about….was it deemed a legal seizure? Or did the Feds overstep their bounds?

    If the courts said it was illegal, I think you have a point. Do you know if that was the case?

  17. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 5:00 pm:

    Problem wasn’t the counterfeit goods websites (there certainly were some of those on the servers that were seized), but there were a whole host of other non-counterfeit web domains that were kicked off line when the servers were seized.

    The Feds (ICE) were eventually ‘kind’ enough to release the domains that were innocent of selling counterfeit items after several days (kind of like “Oops, sorry about that…”). They (ICE) didn’t want to hold to all of those domains and carry this whole issue into court for obvious reasons (they screwed up and would of probably got their brains beat in).

    As far as legal actions, don’t know.

    What all of us in the tech community do know is that we don’t need more federal government nonsense like that happening, and to many of us, SOPA/PIPA look like nothing more than a larger expansion of federal regulatory power designed to stifle the Internet and the use of the Internet for building new and creative business models.

    Bottom line: The feds work on “Bureaucracy Time”, we work on “Internet Time”. When you have to run 24/7/365, you can’t function on “Bureaucracy Time”.

  18. - This Little Piggy - Tuesday, Jan 17, 12 @ 5:53 pm:

    Previous poster have a point: the executive, legislative, and judicial branch all seem to be on the same page here.

    If this was such a bad deal, I would expect some dissent somewhere…checks and balances, yo.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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