Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More regarding the SOPA protest

The Democracy Now interview above with Corynne McSherry is from Tuesday: 'Wikipedia, Reddit to shut down sites Wednesday to protest SOPA'

Presently the Obama administration is making vague noises against SOPA and PIPA, but their track record suggests the president will eventually sign a bill that's substantially the same as what they're looking at now, as he did with NDAA.

Technorati: List of sites going dark today

Google re sopa

Below, NO SOPA: 'American Censorship Day'
Uploaded by The AlyonaShow on Nov 16, 2011

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on their version of the bill known as SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act. The Protect IP Act would allow the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites they see as engaging in infringing activities, to be blocked by ISP providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks all without a court hearing or trial. Numerous groups have come out against it but will Congress listen. O'Reilly Media's Alexander Howard discusses.

Per Rob Payne's suggestion, here's what I wrote in comments yesterday:

As is so often the case, the devil is in the details. In practical terms, SOPA and PIPA negate the rights of the accused, and create a set of conditions which privilege larger corporations over smaller ones, and the more politically connected over the less powerful, whenever there might be a copyright dispute.

SOPA allows a complaining party to have content they don't care for removed from a website and the web site shut down, just based on filing a complaint, skipping court hearings and trials and such.

Part of the problem is the real-world selective nature of enforcement. In all likelihood most people have potentially illegally obtained copyrighted material in their possession, in negligible quantities. Most blogs that feature quotations or images from elsewhere probably are in violation of copyright, at least in a small way, even if they don't actually cause any tangible harm to the copyright holder, and the copyright holder is generally unlikely to go after you are me or your pal Digby, etc.

But imagine if, for example, a copyright holder can shut you down outright, without providing proof.

Presently the complainant(if that's the right word) has to ask a court to compel you to remove the offending material, which might just be a few lines of text or an image on one article at a blog, out of dozens or hundreds of posts, and usually demonstrate that they've been harmed if they also want to collect financial damages. Because of this requirement, generally big companies just send letters from their lawyers to the offending party(who may not know he's violating copyright), and the thing in question is often removed without legal proceedings, etc.

Let's say that a major establishment news portal is scooped by some small-fry blog or indie news site, like Counterpunch or Consortium News or even Free Republic, and "" decides to just ask a judge the Justice department to shut them down, alleging that they stole a story, without proof.

Or a songwriter wants to sue a major recording act, alleging that they stole an obscure song of his, and the big label turns around and makes a counter-claim, because they know they don't have to prove anything, and the judge is more likely to favor the better known and therefore more respectable party.

(Actually, SOPA borrows a page from the war on drugs in that respect, because it creates an incentive to shut people down so you can take their stuff, or at least eliminate the competition.)

I wish I could post an image of the KFO-signal, a lá a certain old time comic book superhero, and then maybe he could better evaluate the scenarios I offer regarding SOPA, but naturally I don't want DC comics to get on my case.

And finally, Hitler reacts to SOPA.

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