SOPA will make the whole internet like WordPress.com
Readers have been emailing me about the dangers of the Stop Online
Privacy [wow, what a slip] Piracy Act but I’ve been a bit distracted. Here’s the concern from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
The “Stop Online Piracy Act”/”E-PARASITE Act” (SOPA) and “The PROTECT IP Act” (PIPA) are the latest in a series of bills which would create a procedure for creating (and censoring) a blacklist of websites. These bills are updated versions of the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), which was previously blocked in the Senate. Although the bills are ostensibly aimed at reaching foreign websites dedicated to providing illegal content, their provisions would allow for removal of enormous amounts of non-infringing content including political and other speech from the Web.
The various bills define different techniques for blocking “blacklisted” sites. Each would interfere with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which translates names like “www.eff.org” or “www.nytimes.com” into the IP addresses that computers use to communicate. SOPA would also allow rightsholders to force payment processors to cut off payments and advertising networks to cut ties with a site simply by sending a notice.
I’m not in a position to agree or disagree with the concern; I just haven’t looked into it carefully enough yet. But there are plenty of other people who are concerned, with a STOP SOPA movement growing. Instapundit has numerous links.
Concerns about Google unilaterally being able to shut down a Blogger blog was one of the motivations for me moving to a self-hosted platform.
Now WordPress.com has pulled the plug on BareNakedIslam blog under pressure from CAIR. (Note, although Legal Insurrection uses WordPress software, this blog is not hosted on WordPress.com.)
If the claims about SOPA are accurate, then the entire internet will be like being hosted at WordPress.com, leaving politically incorrect blogs like Legal Insurrection at risk. There will be nowhere to run.
So out of an abundance of caution, consider me part of STOP SOPA.
Update: BareNakedIslam has been turned back on, Instapundit has the letter from WordPress.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Abso-FLUCKING-lootly, Prof. Bad law, which will be perversely applied. See EPA; see also NLRB, etc.
I think this is one of the most basic positions you can take as someone who runs any sort of website. From what I’ve seen/read about SOPA, basically ANY site could be taken down and ANYBODY sent to prison for several years.
Thank Professor, we are not exactly nerds but we are fans of Leo Laporte and TWIT tv and the tech tv community is horrified regarding SOPA and PIPA. More gov control and Hollywood lobbying which leaves bloggers exposed to all kinds of censure. BNI is just the tip of the iceberg. And by the way, why does CAIR have any right to compel WordPress to take down anyone?
I see the potential hazard: the question is what the legislation actually says.
And, of course, there is always that little problem about “Congress shall make no law….”
I’m not in a position to agree or disagree with the concern; I just haven’t looked into it carefully enough yet…If the claims about SOPA are accurate, then the entire internet will be like being hosted at WordPress.com, leaving politically incorrect blogs like Legal Insurrection at risk…So out of an abundance of caution, consider me part of STOP SOPA.
Me too, although IMHO a bare minimum of caution is all that’s needed.
I would appreciate your insights and suggestions after you’ve examined the issue in depth with your usual thoroughness.
I think we should simply drastically cut back on Copyright law. Create greater exemptions for noncommercial use of copyrighted material. Mandate forced licencing on a “most favored status” much like song writers currently must do. Reduce terms to something more manageable like 14 years. Place a property tax on copyrighted material with a minimal fee in exchange for protection. On the other end, make TV stations bid of the rights to the spectrum while opening up the bidding to other technologies like cell phones. Then and only then will we be able to get the corrupting influence of these parasites out of our system and force them to make an honest living.
I don’t usually expect to well up with tears when I visit LI, but the Video of the Day did it to me.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’ rendition was one of the songs my sister included on the DVD with pictures of our mother’s life we played at her memorial.
It simultaneously reminds me of my mom and the hilarious semester I had in the dorm at the University of Hawaii many years ago.
LukeHandCool (whose roomate in the dorm had an imaginary girlfriend from whom he’d type letters to himself, keeping Luke awake at night. Luke became good friends with the guy next door whose roomate had Tourette’s Syndrome, and who chewed tobacco constantly. When he talked to you, he’d spray your face with chewing tobacco whenever he yelled “First!” uncontrollably (about every five seconds). Strangers would approach Luke and his friend in the dorm cafeteria and ask them what it was like to room with the two most notorious roomates in the UH dorm system. Good times, good times).
First, the concern about the legislation is legitimate and is a classic case of a tech-illiterate Congress writing a poor piece of legislation that will morph into something far worse. Check out the articles on techcrunch.com about “Dump GoDaddy Day” — which I am in the process of doing for supporting SOPA, then refusing to oppose, and then finally opposing it once it was costing them too much money. But too late to keep my business. I encourage anyone else using GoDaddy to look at alternatives …
Second, the power of the boycott on GoDaddy is a reminder that these things *CAN WORK*. I find the WordPress censorship problematic as well, and while not familiar with the details of the case, find it troubling in general (although it is unlikely that WordPress actions alone will generate enough interest to impact them). But something to keep an eye on for future potential actions are similar censorship issues.
Third, I recommend Tech Liberation Front and Digital Liberty as two sites / twitter feeds for tracking tech issues. They do a good job of hitting on the techical idiocy of congress, TLF I find is especially good even if I don’t agree with them 100% all the time, they are directionally correct and on top of everything stupid that our Congress Critters are up to.
In particular, Republican Congress Critters are very prone to backsliding in this area.
As a lifelong technology entrepreneur, the Repubs disappoint me and by and large in this area (when they aren’t out and out worse).
[…] Blazing Cat Fur, iOwnTheWorld, American Power, 1389, Freedom Ain’t Free & Take Our Country, Gateway Pundit, The Mad Jewess, Infidel Bloggers Alliance, Pat Dollard, E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe, Macsmind, Simon Studio Analysis, The Astute Bloggers (here too), Hill Buzz (here too), Moonbattery, The Blogmocracy, Israel Matzav, Instapundit, Answering Muslims, Born Conservative, Marooned in Marin, Waznmentobe, The Lonely Conservative, Quite Normal, Common American Journal, Conscience of a Conservative (Nelson Abdullah-Oldironsides, designer of BNI’s masthead logo), Atlas Shrugs, The Right Planet, Theo Spark, Americans Stand with Israel, Legal Insurrection […]
I’m sure you could list hundreds more, thanks a lot!
In that half my income derives from contacts made through my website, I took an early interest in this. It’s a loser all around.
At its greatest reduction, SOPA employs vague language to assign great power to governments and corporations and this is never a recipe for good legislation. Politicians and lobbyist attorneys will not limit themselves to the stated intent of eliminating piracy and rights infringement from offshore internet sources. This is a clusterfark waiting to happen. Under the guise of its stated purpose,SOPA provides avenues of censorship for anyone with just about any agenda: business sharking, governmental control (and eventual taxation), corporate warfare, limiting speech (it’s hate speech, shut ’em down!), social engineering, political biasing, etc… All you do is identify your enemy websites, concoct a SOPA offense, and go after ’em. In short order, very little actual SOPA anti-pirating action will occur – it will all be hidden agenda, chaos introduced to a currently stable business environment – the internet.
From a Stop SOPA post at A List Apart:
“Under SOPA, an article on NPR’s website covering the copyright dispute between Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press could be seen as supporting copyright infringement, because the article includes a JPG of Fairey’s infringing “HOPE” poster as part of its news coverage, or because the article refers passingly to Fairey’s “fair use” defense. Under SOPA, the AP could legally block the entire NPR website in response.
But it doesn’t stop there, because this is the internet, and the internet is about connections.
Say you blog about the NPR story and include a screen capture. Under SOPA, your website could be blocked. If your blog is a subdomain of Tumblr or WordPress, all of Tumblr or WordPress could also be blocked.
Maybe you just post a link to the story on your Facebook wall. Under SOPA, all of Facebook can be blocked. To avoid this fate, Facebook would be responsible for policing the copyright status of every piece of content its users post.”
[Jeffrey Zeldman, A List Apart]
Spot on. Its a terrible piece of legislation, and by being vague, the sponsors can swear only “serious cases of obviously bad stuff” will be the target. And then, much later, a new bad administration will come in and find that it is useful for (a) political purposes, (b) shaking down corporations in novel and usual ways, and (c) causing mayhem for competitors of donors, etc.
And because it doesn’t require a court case, and in the digital era whole legitimate businesses can be shutdown, the consequences are awful and the burden is on the comp
Of course, the big boys will be OK through large contributions, etc., and a few little guys will take it on the chin in some major injustices – but since the vast majority won’t – who cares?
But thats what these laws are always about. Opening the door to crony capitalism into an industry that is still wildly free and open and major creator of growth and opportunity. The big government statists can’t stand that, and will do anything (Net Neutrality, SOPA, Internet taxation, etc.) to stop the last great mostly free market on earth. (Forget lemonade stands, they are toast already).
Boy am I glad I didn’t switch to WordPress…
Of course, if Congress passes SOPA / Protect-IP, no one will be safe. Then who will stand up for Liberty?…
Let’s see who are supporting SOPA:
Any of the large internet firms like Amazon, Ebay, or Yahoo! on that list? Nope.
Any of the people who helped create the Internet and who know what works and what does not on that list? Nope.
Is there a better alternative? Yes.
OPEN: Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act
Members of Congress Supporting the OPEN Act
Representative Darrell Issa, one of the House supporters has been using his twitter feed over the Holiday break to send out a stream of tweets with links to helpful resources to fight SOPA:
His most recent was a re-tweet:
MT @repjustinamash: #SOPA grants the federal gov’t & AG #Holder vast new powers to blacklist: http://fb.me/11Vysl4qH #OPEN #stopSOPA
In a recent blog post, Erick Erickson warned that Republicans who support SOPA, or the Senate equivalent, the Protecting IP Act will face a primary challenge in 2012.
This is an issue that has the potential to bring political activists on both sides of the aisle together to stop this proposal.
A managers amendment to SOPA was put forward by Representative Lamar Smith on December 14:
It is purportedly designed to resolve the issues surrounding SOPA.
However, in reality it does not:
An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress
It is time to stand up and say NO to SOPA and Yes to OPEN!
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
These are the most frightening words in the English language! The internet has made freedom of expression and information flow so much greater and easier in the last 15 years.
It is only natural that governments resent this and want to rein in freedom wherever it is found. This is the historical dialectic between freedom and government.
That they do so in the name of freedom is pure Orwellian “doublespeak.”
I believe there may well be a revolution against the federal government in my lifetime. Ten years ago I would have derided anyone who said that. Now, I am almost afraid to post such a thought on-line because I believe the government is watching…
IT’S TIME TO BOYCOTT THEM.
I AM DELETING ALL WORDPRESS SITES FROM MY BLOGROLL AND WON’T RELIST THE BLOGS UNTIL THEY SWITCH SERVICES.
I JUST DELETED INSTAPUNDIT, WATTS UP WITH THAT, LEGAL INSURRECTION AND SEVERAL OTHERS.
I WON’T VISIT THESE SITES AND I DEMAND THEY LEAVE WORDPRESS OR PUBLICLY DEMAND WORDPRESS REINSTATE BARE NAKED ISLAM.
Legal Insurrection isn’t on WordPress any more, he moved to his own site a few months ago. He has his own server now.
li’s webpage still says wordpres
Just so you know……
I absolutely agree with you Mr. Jacobson.. I absolutely disdain and dislike Disqus, for it’s utter incompetent software programming, but I loathe wordpress even more, for it, and it’s users technological insidious threats and current applications of free speech stifling, blacklistings, blogger targeting, adervertising targeting, in it’s many web weapons at their disposal of web blocking tools, etc, and so on..
They must be stopped, or no one will ever be free and or safe again.. as if they succeed, then we will be living in a totalitarian regime State, instead of America..
Re the WordPress/Bare Naked Islam issue; does anyone really believe the part of the letter where the author says “until today I’d never heard of CAIR”? Uh huh.