General Discussion

Have YOU tried to save the internet today?
NickyP at 1:03AM, Dec. 16, 2011
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http://americancensorship.org/
If not, and you live in the US, you damn well should. A bill is in Congress that could enable private corporations to blacklist internet websites it deems is “distributing copyrighted material.” These blacklisted sites would be shut down and unavailable to all US internet servers.
Under these horrifically ambiguous definitions, you and I could be put in jail* for linking to a sprite site. Or a youtube video that is a song with lyrics. Or even clips from old movies. Hollywood and the music industry is pushing this bill with all their might; because they know they would never win a day in court over something like this. So, they're trying to get rid of the middleman; remove due process, your constitutional right to defend yourself in court, and they can have their way much easier. That's what this is all about.
Fight the Stop Online Piracy Act, and save the internet! Unless, of course, you wouldn't mind having internet like China and Iran… heavily monitored, heavily censored.
* The bill would make it a felony to be linking to a website that is deemed “distributing copyrighted material.” Yes, you could be put in jail for over a year, just for linking somewhere.
This video, while meant for comedic purposes, explains the situation perfectly: http://boingboing.net/2011/12/02/stephen-colbert-explains-sopa.html
last edited on Dec. 16, 2011 1:27AM
Genejoke at 1:42AM, Dec. 16, 2011
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I can't even watch the video. but as a non us resident I can't do much, so all you yabkees should.  first there then everywhere.
El Cid at 8:00PM, Dec. 16, 2011
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That's a bit of an alarmist assessment, but I can't blame you because it's hard to find non-opinionated info on the bill. Having been a frequent victim of IP theft, and having gone through the hassle of trying to get pirated versions of my stuff taken down before, my sympathies tend to lie more with the entertainment industry (the people being robbed) than the folks who profit from this environment of casual theft we've become accustomed to. Copyright infringement is not protected speech and never has been.
 
Anyone who's interested in finding out about the Stop Online Piracy Act, I'd recommend that you seek out some unbiased information on it. Wikipedia has a good article on it, and you can read the full text of the bill here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3261
 
Personally, while I do see that it's important to protect intellectual property, I'm skeptical as to whether the bill can accomplish much. I expect it will pan out the way all prohibition-oriented endeavors do. The really bad apples out there are going to find workarounds in no time, while it's more legitimate sites (like Drunk Duck) that are most vulnerable. So the tools being used can't get at the real problem. But somehow I doubt anyone's going to be shutting down the Duck because it has comics where Mega Man snorts coke and goes on acid trips (which is at least arguably protected speech anyway, because it's a parody). In the end, I don't think it'll amount to much when it passes. It's not going to be “the end of the Internet as we know it,” as some folks are suggesting. People said the same thing about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the sky never did fall.
NickyP at 12:48AM, Dec. 17, 2011
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Never, ever, underestimate the level of nonsense that the United States legal system is capable of. One need only remember that merely 50 years ago, people with dark skin weren't even allowed in the same bathroom as caucasians. “Alarmist” nothing; this is a legitimate threat to internet freedom. Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch all agree (among many others).
 
Yes, online piracy is a bad thing. Yes, some steps should be taken to combat it. But if the content industry is an unlocked house, the natural solution is to lock the door. Not burn down the surrounding neighborhoods. Under SOPA's horrifically broad language, El Cid, for example, is liable of being charged with a felony for that avatar of his. He is “willfully distributing” copyrighted material belonging to Turner Broadcasting. And, under SOPA's provisions, he could be put in prison for up to five years.
 
Fighting online piracy is merely the noble facade this bill promulgates. The clear intent is to override the Fifth Amendment and let the MPAA/RIAA have a free pass at having their way. Time and time again media corporations have fought people over internet “copyright infringement” in courts, and consistently lost. They know the judicial system will always back up the consumer; this is their way of cutting out the middleman, that annoying thing called “court.” Nothing about SOPA is aimed at helping the innovative, indie starving artists out there. This is being created to salvage a couple million dollars for an industry that's already making tens of millions of dollars.  
last edited on Dec. 17, 2011 12:56AM
El Cid at 7:38AM, Dec. 17, 2011
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Google, Yahoo, and the rest of them all profit from the illegal content, so their opinion is like asking a rapist whether “no” should mean “no.” As for the avatar thing, that's been “technically” applicable for a looooong time before this law was ever considered and nothing's ever happened, to anybody, so this is more of your Chicken Little alarmism. It has nothing to do with reality.
 
NickyP wrote:
Fighting online piracy is merely the noble facade this bill promulgates…
 
You're either delusional or just being disingenous. The Big Evil Entertainment Companies are not trying to pass some evil bill so they can sue their loyal customers for using a Power Rangers avatar in a chat room somewhere. They're trying to find a way to protect their intellectual property from foreign and domestic theft, because the current laws have not worked. Piracy has gotten to a point where anyone who buys a DVD or music is basically committing an act of charity, because the pirated version is just a Google search away. I don't think this particular bill is going to be all that effective, but they do have a perfectly legitimate concern in pursuing it.
 
And the law does not bypass the courts; it goes through the courts to pursue injunctions, so I'm not sure where you're getting that stuff about cutting out the court system. I'm not trying to being a dick, but it sounds like you're not even trying to present an honest picture of what the bill is. I hope you don't expect people to believe it just because you say it, or that these kinds of blatant misrepresentation won't affect the way people view your opinions in the future. And also, just FYI people who are stealing content online are not “consumers.” They're thieves.
PIT_FACE at 12:12PM, Dec. 17, 2011
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here's the bill itself:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c112:1:./temp/~c1129BzwSw:e0:
im still reading up on it and i think it's worth a deeper look for sure and a discussion certainly.when i get more of a grip on this ill post my 2 cents, but for anyone wanting to see the nitty gritty, thar she be.
edit: aauugghh… the link's busted up. well anyways the bills official name is 
H.R.3261
look it up and im sure you can find it.
last edited on Dec. 17, 2011 12:15PM
El Cid at 7:30PM, Dec. 17, 2011
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Yeah, reading the actual bill is probably the best thing to do. Btw
Nicky, I hope you don't feel like I was jumping on you or anything. I
actually think it's great that you're making people aware of the Stop
Online Piracy Act; I just wish you could have presented a more balanced
picture of it instead of trying to make people's minds up for them is
all. I was just trying to make sure people don't read your thread and
get only one side of the story, and I hope people who are interested do
read up on the subject, as Pit Face suggested… and… I guess that's
all I have to say…
NickyP at 7:36PM, Dec. 17, 2011
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EDIT: The following post may seem like I'm being a dick, but I'm really not. It's hard to convey someones predisposition on the internet sometimes.
 
@El Cid
 
1. Google profits off of piracy? No. That's a buzzline that US Senators use. Anyone who remotely follows politics will know that US Senators are liable to make a lot of loony assertions. This is one of them.
 
2. No other law has offered nearly as much express power to a private corporation as SOPA. The previous technical applicability that you've mentioned required the use of the court process; which in turn made it practically useless to pursue. SOPA's remedies, however, would cost nothing to the big media corporations. Obtaining a court order is a thousand times cheaper than taking someone to court.
 
3. Express court orders are bypassing the court system. In order for a private company to get a website shut down (before SOPA), they would have had to sue the webmaster of said site, and prove by greater preponderance of evidence that the website serves only to violate copyright. Almost no private company has won that battle in court. SOPA's provisions and remedies would remove the court process and achieve immediate results. SOPA allows private companies to “win” without actually fighting. That is contradictory with everything the American legal system stands for, and contradictory to the Fifth Amendment.
 
4. Your nonchalant attitude about legislation is slightly frightening. This bill will basically give big media corporations an atomic bomb and a license to use it. And you are shrugging and saying, “well, I'm sure they won't blow anyone innocent up.” Yet you call me delusional? Viacom is already abusing the existing DMCA laws, and had a court rule against them because of it: http://www.aoltv.com/2007/03/22/eff-sues-viacom-over-youtube-video-takedown/ If you honestly believe big media corporations won't abuse SOPA if it passes, you need a sincere reality check.
last edited on Dec. 17, 2011 7:53PM
Kroatz at 4:59AM, Dec. 18, 2011
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I REALLY hate the things America does to itsself.
 
All those ridiculous bills will eventually be passed and in a couple hundred years there will be no freedoms left. Does anyone know a little book called 1984? I think it's by George Orwell or some other insignificant writer. Passing this bill is yet another step to a future that is a lot like the one described in that book. Passing the bill will make it so that nobody in america will have the right to go to drunkduck because it has people on it that use copyrighted stuff.
All americans will no longer be able to visit newssites because these websites often quote media and use pictures that come from movies or plays.
Albumart is also copyrighted material, most magazines will soon be illegal.
 
Americans, they're a crazy lot. It's like the entire country is suicidal and just lets the government kill itself by passing stuff like this. I wish there were more people standing up for their right to a good life.
Comidion.deviantart.com
Tantz Aerine at 7:20AM, Dec. 18, 2011
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Obviously the way American courts work and American court due process greatly differs from what is the norm (and law) in Greece. As such, and given the fact that Nicky P IS a law student as far as I know I am inclined to take his word for it regarding issuing court orders and ‘cease and desist’ orders and the like. 

I would only like to make a few extra comments for the sake of discussion.

First off the definitions provided in the beginning of the Bill sound at times arbitrary to me: Who can be lawfully held as having ‘authority to Operate an Internet Site’? This pretty much can apply to all internet users so long as their IP is shown to have a hit on any internet site, even if that has been done unbeknownst to them.

Granted there are some other laws/ bills cited that I haven't gone to read up on where the definition may be more specific, or part legislation of court decisions might be putting some boundaries and limits to what can be considered ‘authority to operate’ but I would still consider it too vague and undefined a term to have actual legal applications. 

Also, how can one prove ‘willfulness and intent’ to commit piracy if they don't profit off the distribution of the material? The very nature of the internet is the common sharing of content, and it is up to the owners of material that is copyrighted to protect their property from those that actually try to unlawfully make a profit out of it. Would a fan video (which can be considered as advertisement, or tributing) be considered theft of music or video? How about a show that has been broadcasted over national (and international) television?

There is a part in the bill where it clearly states that it is not limiting the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, dissemination of ideas and the like if I am not mistaken- which I suppose could protect consumers that don't make an unauthorised profit using material that belongs to others, but it does seem to me that the weight of proof now is moved from the companies to the individual users, and the monetary investment necessary with it. 

One question: how is the constitutionality of the assorted bills voted in congress tested/affirmed? Is there any function that does it before it is challenged in courts between opposing parties over a lawsuit? How can a bill be rescinded?

Lastly, I have to say that Nicky P's explanations sound quite valid to me, and definitely, shrugging off any legislation with blind trust that it will be ‘justly applied’ is at least the sign of superficial thought and complete lack of inexperience on how things work in the real world.  
 
last edited on Dec. 18, 2011 7:21AM
NickyP at 12:18PM, Dec. 18, 2011
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Tantz Aerine wrote:
One question: how is the constitutionality of the assorted bills voted in congress tested/affirmed? Is there any function that does it before it is challenged in courts between opposing parties over a lawsuit? How can a bill be rescinded?
  
 
I could write a textbook explaining that one, but I can give a sufficient short answer.
 
Typically, hearings are held in congress that address the nature of the bill. These hearings will discuss the practical application of the bill and its' provisions, the long term effects of its enactment, etc. Usually there are experts who are for/against the bill that are brought in to help evaluate that. This is where the bill first gets “tested” by people who aren't politicians.
 
Bills are generally considered constitutional at face value by the time they reach congress; because if they weren't constitutional, they wouldn't be there. That sounds incredibly simplistic and shortsighted, but that's the general rule. Bills can be rescinded at this stage of the game. If in the process of the hearings, it's found to be unconstitutional, it'll (most likely) be voted down and may not come back. But bills are often amended and changed to reflect the discussion that was had, and then the whole process repeats itself.
 
I'd also like to elaborate more on express court orders. Remember that just about every aspect of the American judicial system is adversarial. Our court system is set up to decide matters for people with opposing sides. Evidence, and the burden of proof, is the backbone of our system. Without meeting that burden, the party with that burden should not have a court rule in their favor (in theory). So at every stage of the court system, both parties get to give their side of the story. It's a fair fight.
 
Express court orders take away the fight. With them, only one party gets to give their side of the story before a ruling is given. Please understand that not all express court orders are as bad as I made it sound. However, they are used in extreme sparceness. That's because the judicial system understands what great potential it has to be abused; so express court orders are given in what could be described as “emergency situations.” Let me give you a few examples.
 
The most common form of an express court order is in domestic violence and family law. Say a person is married, and their spouse seriously threatens their life. They lock them in the closet, threatened them with weapons, etc. That spouse can go to a judge and have a quick hearing to determine whether an immediate restraining order should be given. Another kind of express court order is in bankruptcy actions. When a person files for bankruptcy, an immediate stay of relief is issued to their creditors. This means that every bill collector that person has now has to completely leave that person alone until the bankruptcy proceeding is over. No phone calls, no letters, no nothing.
last edited on Dec. 18, 2011 12:21PM
El Cid at 6:23PM, Dec. 18, 2011
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Um, just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I'm “shrugging it off” or being “nonchalant.” This isn't a math problem. Different people can consider the same idea and have different opnions about it. From what I've read of your lengthy write-ups, I suspect we have very different views on a lot of fundamental moral and philosophical issues, so whether or not we're going to agree on a law being a good idea or not will hinge on a lot more than the nuts and bolts.
 
Sorry, but I disagree with your opinion about the law. If anything, it's not strong enough, because I doubt it will do much good. But I certainly could have used more tools when I tried to get my comic taken down when someone was illegally reposting it (though I know you seem fixated on representing this as a law only for big corporations… I guess that's one of your lawyer tricks?).
 
And there's no evidence of it in your posts, but I'm sure you're aware that Google is a big company as well. And unlike the entertainment companies in this case, they're actually profiting from criminal activity by serving as the middleman in millions of illegal transactions. That to me seems to be the crux of the problem: the search engines and file hosting sites are not policing themselves. And it's not a matter of them not being able to, either. The measures Google takes to keep child porn from popping up in their searches are extraordinary. They even have skin tone recognition software built in… and I have no idea how that works! To say that they can't prevent people from illegally downloading well-known movies from well-known hosting sites is a load of bull. They can, but they won't.
 
They keep out the child porn because they made the calculation that the benefits of leading people to that stuff do not outweigh the potential costs down the road. Likewise, they don't bother keeping people away from pirated material because they figure the benefits of that traffic (as well as denying that traffic to their competitors) outweighs the costs, which are effectively nonexistant. Those costs instead are shouldered by the entertainment companies, who at some point have to pass them down to the consumers.
 
I think fundamentally if you don't believe piracy is a problem, and people don't have a right to protect their intellectual property, then any measures to combat piracy are too much. I don't know if that's your standpoint (you're sure as hell not going to say it is; no good lawyer would), but if you accept that combating piracy is a worthwhile endeavor, and that current measures haven't worked (which they plainly have not), then the question is what should be done? That's not a green light to just do anything, but it leaves room to try new approaches.
last edited on Dec. 18, 2011 6:26PM
PIT_FACE at 7:47AM, Dec. 19, 2011
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i have to say, i disagree. 
ya see, not everyone who posts something on the internet that was the product of someone else is out to steal their work. im sure you know this, Cid. so, how is it not strict enough to be able to take down an entire website, and a possible prison sentance, with the use of a one sided court order in which the offender isnt able to defend themselves? 
i wonder how news sorces will fair. not to mention companies and corporations that do their business almost soley online. hey, its a great way to take a competitor out. or criple them anyways. and though it says the law isnt to be used in any way that takes away someone's freedom of speech…well….american history shows how losely that's been used before. this also isnt the only bill that has the ability to severly reprimend and criple american rights put on the table right now. 
piracy isnt right. i agree with you there. but nothing is ever 100% without fault. the internet is one of the freeist sorces we have, and there's a balance with things like this. the more open it is, the more people will take liberties with it. the more regulated it is, the more you can do things like take down content and censor, but of corse, that limits everybody in a number of ways that could also be unjust.
and what you said earlier to Tantz, it applies here too. our morals and ethics are on two different sides of the fence, i just have to ask you personally, how far would you be willing to let something like this go?
Tantz Aerine at 11:14AM, Dec. 19, 2011
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Thanks for clarifying this Nicky :) I suspected it would be like that. In Greece the logic is different at least on paper. 

The problem I see with most laws (both in Greece and in the USA and I suspect in most Western-style countries) designed to claim to fight ‘so and so problem’, especially where the problem is social/ white collar crime in nature, is that there is absolutely no clear defining line between perpetrator, victim, and nature of such victimization. This SOPA is no exception, and laws to fight anything from drug abuse to alcohol ingestion to gambling (anything that might be a social vice in our countries) aren't either. I'll explain. 

Drug control laws penalize users. Often with same or tantamount sentences as pushers, dealers, and the like that are on the street. And of course, the actual drug lords are one way or the other, barring maybe the exceptions that justify the rule, are above the law via corruption on assorted levels.

If governments really wanted to stop drug running immediately, they'd need to change the legislation so that:

1. the users are NOT penalized, and are NOT considered deviants forced to get access to the drugs via black market of any sort. Instead the one providing them with the drugs (and guaranteeing quality, sanitation and so on) should be the state. And if you REALLY want to stop drug ABUSE, there are methods to provide this to users that will completely disrupt and dismantle the elements of subculture that keep drug abuse going via social means, and in the same time you get those that use because of personal problems (or familial ones) presenting themselves for treatment.


2. the actual SUBSTANCES should not be outlawed. Rather, the methods they are rendered available should be- pretty much like alcohol and tobacco is regulated. If you make drug running non-lucrative by providing drug users with a far cheaper and safer state sanctioned function, then you hit the problem in its root, and take away the drug runners' clientele. And in the same time you pull the stigma from the users so they can be both treated AND reintegrated into society when they are drug-free.

3. you sweep the streets to pickup pushers, and you follow the money trail to the drug lords- and you do try them, but not by one 12-membered jury or some such thing, but actually the SUM of the citizens with full civil rights. It's not hard to achieve given technology today. And you make it impossible for the drug lord to corrupt an entire nation.

To make an effective law, just like when you make an effective medicinal treatment, you should not fight the symptoms, but the actual causes and roots of the problem. And SOPA does not do that at all. Instead it follows the usual method of spreading fear, uncertainty and terror in order to be able to penalize and regulate on demand whatever is occuring or might occur in the future, virtually with impunity because the loose definitions and vague descriptions are subject to ‘interpretation’. And interpretation is the loophole those that can afford shark lawyers use to oneup everyone else, or lure hapless civilians into committing crimes without even being aware of it- something they are then required to prove.

And while technically the weight of proof lies with the accuser, it is I believe common knowledge that it does not work that way.

If SOPA really wanted to stop piracy, it would need to proceed to simple steps such as the following:

1. Order that all material that is copyrighted and NOT to be distributed for profit be labelled as such clearly everywhere on the site they are legally hosted. Define profit as making money directly from the material used.

2. Regulate the concept of fanart: instead of having civilians and companies bicker over usage, profiteering and other such claims, the state should define it from the get go, and assume that fanart might and WILL create profit. Thus everything labeled fanart which brings in income, should pay a royalty to the original creator/rights holder, while the rest go to the artist that created it since the work is his/hers. Same should go for income made via traffic if the site hosts fanart.

3. Regulate the legal status for forums, large hosting sites like DD, and so on: like the neutral zones in the sea, everything there should be de facto considered the property of the respective poster, and if images and such which are labeled as in point 1. are mentioned/promoted and so on, it is de facto considered that profit made within these zones go to the respective creators/right holders. Monitoring such activity is technologically viable.

4. Propagation, promotion and dissemination of ideas should never be affected any any rights/loyalties' claims and laws and there should be a clear warning before every upload EVERYWHERE that when your work is uploaded you by default agree to allow it to be disseminated at will- profit making still will come back to you via and above channels and the like.

5. Malicious users uploading work that isn't theirs by definition will need to do that at a later date from when the original creator either made the work or uploaded it. It is easy to guard for that too by either making a law where all art you make must be scanned into a state databank the moment you make it so that you can later prove your ownership of it, if it is necessary to do so ever, or some such thing. And that is not going to be any more problematic than the IRS having your economic data on file. In fact it could be a historically complete portfolio of your artistic development among other things.

And that is just off the top of my head, I am sure if everyone sat down to think of ways that both profit and rights on works can be guaranteed for everyone the moment something enters the Internet, they'd find smart and effective ways to do it so that if someone does try to steal work, it will be shown that they took effort and INVESTED in the theft, and thus they will be found accused in a lock-and-shut case. 

And I am sure the difference between regulation, gagging and control can be seen: we can regulate the internet withut putting it in shackles or making it impossible to use without being afraid you'll wake up to a subpoena or officers wanting to arrest you.

There's no reason to keep territories undefined and turn the internet into a minefield for every single user, unless the REAL reason behind laws like that is to prevent users from using the Internet and all the benefits in information and research it readily provides…
 
last edited on Dec. 19, 2011 11:15AM
El Cid at 6:31PM, Dec. 19, 2011
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PIT_FACE wrote:
…i just have to ask you personally, how far would you be willing to let something like this go?
  
Not too much further. I think the use of express court orders is the appropriate measure, since you're essentially dealing with a crime in progress when it comes to copyright infringement. It's not an overreach at all; the only question is why we didn't already have something like that in place.
 
I'm under no illusions that such a law will not be abused. But then it's hard to think of a single law that's never been abused. That's no argument against having the rule of law. Our current anti-piracy laws are just not effective, especially when all of the major offenders are offshore sites not subject to U.S. copyright laws. You cannot have healthy commerce where people are free to steal your wares without consequence, and you have no effective legal recourse. So some strengthening of anti-piracy laws has been long overdue. Now, I'm not in favor of just passing anything and everything. That would be ridiculous. But doing nothing isn't a great alternative, either. What I'm looking for is a nice middle ground somewhere, and I think the SOPA is a step in the right direction. I don't think it goes too far, and all these horror stories people are telling us about the things that will happen when it's passed are exactly the same rubbish they gave us when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was being considered. They passed it, and the Internet didn't die. I'm willing to give SOPA a chance.
last edited on Dec. 19, 2011 6:32PM
PIT_FACE at 5:28AM, Dec. 22, 2011
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well i think Tantz's ideas above are something to consider.  because making laws more constricting is rarely effective either. i wasnt saying either that it is okay to steal . im aware of the effects that theft have on commerce. but just making the laws harsher wont do anything. 
Tantz Aerine at 5:39AM, Dec. 22, 2011
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Pit has it right. I'd also add that making harsher laws that beat the SAME dead horse (i.e. applying the same recipe that has already proven to fail in practice) is the definition of STUPIDITY, or admission that commerce works in ways that satisfy those actually in control of it. ;)
 
PIT_FACE at 6:38AM, Dec. 22, 2011
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Tantz Aerine wrote:
Pit has it right. I'd also add that making harsher laws that beat the SAME dead horse (i.e. applying the same recipe that has already proven to fail in practice) is the definition of STUPIDITY, or admission that commerce works in ways that satisfy those actually in control of it. ;)
-hits the “like” button-
ayesinback at 3:18PM, Dec. 28, 2011
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Have I tried to save the interent today?  Well, maybe just one thread in one forum on one web site.  I'll try to look into the rest later.
 
Seriously, I agree with both the El-Cid-stance of - piracy is out of hand and at least there's some effort trying to reign it in and with the NickyP-stance of - it's a poorly written bill that could create some horrible precedents.
 
My personal opinion is that I want the internet to stay free, knowing that there is always a trade-off between freedom and protection.  The US government quite frequently does Not think ahead when initiating new law, and to me this one is another case in point. 
 
What I would really like to see is some self-policing.  For example, I would like to see Google  require that a web site document that they have secured permission from all involved individuals before posting a picture, or a directory, etc.  Google can't necessarily guarantee the accuracy of such, but it begins a trail to later combat as needed. 
under new management
NickyP at 11:35AM, Jan. 17, 2012
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http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wikipedia-blackout-websites-wikipedia-reddit-dark-wednesday-protest/story?id=15373251
 
Wikipedia has pledged to temporarily shut itself down tomorrow, in protest of SOPA. While doesn't get as much traffic as say Facebook or Twitter, I'm sure this will bring in a lot more people to fight this disastrous legislation. I REALLY wish Facebook and Twitter would “black out” too, but oh well.
imshard at 4:17PM, Jan. 17, 2012
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Having followed the issue closely and as both an artist and an IT admin, I can say I am fully against the bill.
Yes stealing is wrong and creators are entitled to the boons of their efforts. Yet as much as it's sponsors would like to say so, the bill's detractors are not explicitly pro-piracy.
This bill is not the way to protect intellectual property. It reads more like an enforcement wish list than a realistic way of protecting rights. This isn't just about piracy, this was written not by a legislator, but by a corporate committee of groups that care only for their own profit.
The technical “solutions” advocated are laughably shortsighted and ineffective. Its provisions can be likened to being erased from the phone book and asking your neighbors to shun you. All because the farmer's market got mad at your kid's lemonade stand edging in on their business. It doesn't work, and it creates enormous and pointless challenges for IT departments and infrastructure managers worldwide.
There is also the question of due process. There isn't one in there, it could just as easily allow commercial competitors to attack each other as enable legitimate IP issues to press for protection. There is no burden of proof before a shutdown can be issued. Not even a notice to the offender, let alone a solicitation for defense. I cannot think of any way that can have a fair result. Legitimate artists and startups could face months of downtime and back-breaking legal fees just to resume normal operations. All based entirely on accusation. At least the Witches of Salem were entitled to a trial (rigged or not) before they were burned.
I assert that SOPA/PIPA have little to do with protecting content producers and everything to do with giving private dominion over the internet to the wrong people.
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NickyP at 9:21PM, Jan. 17, 2012
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imshard gets it completely. Couldn't have said it better (and in less words) myself.
 
In the meantime, it appears Google is also semi-protesting. Go to the main page, you'll see the logo is censored. Clicking on it will lead you to a page where you can sign their version of the anti-SOPA and PIPA petition. Good stuff!
El Cid at 5:34AM, Jan. 18, 2012
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So Nicky, you're not going to correct him? You're supposed to be our in-house legal scholar and people are trusting you to inform them on legal issues. Imshard said that there is no notice to the offender and no burden of proof. As you well know, notification to the offender is the very first step of the complaint process, and while the non-adversarial process for pursuing the court order is different from what we do now (and in my opinion a long-overdue correction), there is still a burder of proof. While I fully respect that a lot of people are against the bill, lets at least keep our objections factual, eh?
Tantz Aerine at 7:00AM, Jan. 18, 2012
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From what I have read, the burden of proof lies with the accused in this case, not the accuser as is the general approach in legal differences. 

The point that has to be made in this case (and which I tried to make in my posts) is that while stopping piracy is important (and achievable), voting a law that is clearly NOT going to even curb it but instead is going to cause a million different abuses and aberrations is not even supportive of that goal.
Instead there should be push for a law that actually warrants and validly reflects the name SOPA.  
 
RPGgrenade at 7:03AM, Jan. 18, 2012
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all I know is that google is giving out a petition on google.com for you to input your basic info (name, email and zipcode) to sign as a protest against the bill.

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PIT_FACE at 7:07AM, Jan. 18, 2012
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NickyP wrote:
imshard gets it completely. Couldn't have said it better (and in less words) myself.
 
In the meantime, it appears Google is also semi-protesting. Go to the main page, you'll see the logo is censored. Clicking on it will lead you to a page where you can sign their version of the anti-SOPA and PIPA petition. Good stuff!
oh yeah! and i did see that there was censoring on Facebook to this morning.all of the update notifications on the sidebar were blacked out.
imshard at 2:05PM, Jan. 18, 2012
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Oh no, El Cid I was quite accurate.
Allow me to quote Ars Technica:
"The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment prohibits prior
restraint—limiting access to speech before a court has provided due
process to the defendant. In particular, as a letter signed by dozens of
law professors pointed out, speakers are entitled to tell their own side of the story to the judge before
their content is taken down. And if a defendant loses, he is typically
given the opportunity to exhaust his appeals before his speech is
censored.

The sponsors of SOPA and PIPA appear to have ignored these concerns.
Both bills allow the attorney general (and, in some cases, private
parties—more on that later) to request a takedown of an overseas site
based on the legal fiction that the website, rather than its owner, is
the defendant. Because a website owner isn't technically a party to the
case, the judge can issue an injunction before he has even heard the
defendant's side of the case. And the attorney general can have the
target website cut off from access to search engines, advertising
networks, and credit card payments."
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El Cid at 5:10PM, Jan. 18, 2012
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Umm… that was some good stuff and all, but what bearing did any of that have on what I was talking about? You made the following incorrect statements: That there is no burden of proof (false. Maybe not as much as you'd like there to be, but that doesn't mean “not any”) and that there is no notification (also false. The offender has to be notified before an injunction is pursued). I've already linked directly to the full text of the actual bill and it's there for anyone to read.
 
What seems to be your (and a lot of people's) biggest point of contention is that the procedure for taking down offending content is no longer an adversarial process, where the defendant has his day in court, but instead it's basically up to the court to decide. Given the circumstances of online piracy, where the violators are usually overseas and less than cooperative, this has unfortunately become a necessary adaptation. It also better addresses the nature of IP theft by dealing with it as an ongoing offense. The more time you spend monkeying around with a pirate site, the more time they have to disseminate your content.
Tantz Aerine at 6:12PM, Jan. 18, 2012
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The points that hold for the anti-SOPA side are the following, which I feel I need to repeat, since in all the sites I have been there has been no argument able to refute it, except with feeble attempts to explain that we axiomatically ‘shouldn’t' be suspicious of corporate interests being channeled through governmental avenues:

From what I have read, the burden of proof lies with the accused in this case, not the accuser as is the general approach in legal differences.  The point that has to be made in this case (and which I tried to make in my posts) is that while stopping piracy is important (and achievable), voting a law that is clearly NOT going to even curb it but instead is going to cause a million different abuses and aberrations is not even supportive of that goal. Instead there should be push for a law that actually warrants and validly reflects the name SOPA.  

The principle of law making is to curb a criminal behavior, rather than cause havoc that will enhance it, as apparently SOPA is about to do.  
 
Tantz Aerine at 6:21PM, Jan. 18, 2012
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posts: 1,618
joined: 10-11-2006
And as an afterthought… by what sort of principle or law, does an American law stipulate indictment, punishment and penalties for offenders not on American soil and certainly NOT under the USA's jurisdiction? 
Some could take this as a far more politically significant move (regarding imperialism/globalisation/despotism) with the US Congress as the means for the entire world, than a domestic affair for the Americans.
How would you feel if the EU voted a law that punished Americans for what was not illegal in America, while they were on American soil, unaware of even having broken some European law that decided to regulate their life for the interest of the European corporations feeling the average American citizen is harming their revenue?
 
last edited on Jan. 18, 2012 6:23PM

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