SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is an ineffective, and unconstitutional act which is being actively pushed through congress by the entertainment industry. (RIAA, MPAA, etc etc) They claim that the tools currently available are not effective enough to fight Intellectual Property and Trademark infringement, and they need this law “to provide more jobs” and various other good causes. The problem with this act is that it has several major side effects which have been downplayed by its backers. Take some facts:
- The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) currently provides what is called a ‘safe harbor’ for web site operators, (eg: Youtube, facebook, etc) not holding them liable for user generated content on their sites so long as they provide a way for the copyright owners to issue a takedown request upon discovery of copyrighted materials. SOPA removes these protections, going so far as to seize/censor entire web sites due to user generated content, all as a part of allegations of rights holders. One of the goals of SOPA is to remove these safe harbor protections, exposing site owners to liability for user generated content.
Side note: It is not unknown for copyright holders to overstep and abuse the system as it currently stands:
Warner Brothers abuses DMCA and takes down files hosted by hotfile
Government seizes and censors a domain for a year, denies due process, all on the word of an RIAA official:
- Due Process: The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” (Fifth Amendment)
Allowing the seizure of a domain name constitutes as deprivation of property, and as such, allowing rights holders to initiate a seizure against said domain name without offering the owner a chance to appear in court is a blatant violation of our Constitution.
- Freedom of Speech: Seizing/blocking a domain based on its contents is also a form of censorship. Per the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,”
- Under SOPA, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) may be required to block certain domain names which threatens DNS (Domain Name System) security, aka DNSSEC. In lieu of describing the technical details, read this link. This is a problem because SOPA compliance may actually aid criminals in hijacking domain names as it will conflict with the goals of DNSSEC.
- The hearings for SOPA have been strongly stacked in its favor.
“The five “pro” speakers are the Register of Copryights, someone from the MPAA, someone from Pfizer, someone from MasterCard, and someone from the AFL-CIO. The choice of MasterCard is deliberate, since Visa is against the bill — because Visa recognizes that supporting a bill that requires them to cut off customers based on accusations of infringement is going to be a huge burden, and one that isn’t good for their own customers.”
In summary, SOPA is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation which is being actively promoted by self interest groups interested in solely in attaining more power at the expense of our personal freedoms. Piracy and trademark infringement still exists on the internet, however SOPA and its broad range of power is not the solution. SOPA violates at least two core components of our Constitution, threatens the very security of the internet, and gives entirely too much power to very large interest groups who have already demonstrated that they have no problems abusing the existing systems for financial gain. Do we really want to allow this sort of power to be used by corporations who have demonstrated that they will bend and violate the existing laws for their own interests?
General discussion with many useful links:
SOPA really doesn’t do anything effective:
The founders of the internet warn that it would break security as we know it:
Some of the largest players in the industry warn that it’s bad news:
Constitutional scholars warn that it threatens freedom of speech and due process: (2 pdf links in the first paragraph)
SOPA is broad enough that it will likely be used to ban TOR, (The Onion Router) which has been long touted as an effective tool for facilitating communications for individuals in repressive regimes. (Aka, circumventing censorship)
Reddit response to migrate domains away from godaddy in response to their support of SOPA: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/nmnie/godaddy_supports_sopa_im_transferring_51_domains/
(I recommend internet.bs personally)