Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop The Censorship - SOPA = CRAPA!

If you haven't heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) - then listen up, people!
It's basically a bill (you can read it for yourself here) that allows any intellectual property holder to shut down any website's online advertising and block credit card payments - all without the need for that whole "due process of law" thingie getting in the way.

It works sort of like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) "takedown notices". You know - the ones where someone can claim copyright on a YouTube video and they pull it?

In this case, if this thing passes (and it looks like it very well might), the people who own the intellectual property only have to file some "specific facts" (yeah, really - that's what it says) to back up their claim that a site stole their property - and the payment and ad networks have five days to cutoff all contact with the accused site.

Well at least they can't take the site down completely... right?


BUT - they don't have to - because then the US Federal Government will have the right to file an injunction against any site with a hearing with a judge. If it gets the injunction, the US Government has the right to block all US access to said site - at the DNS level!

It also means that search engines have to be careful - because they could get into trouble because they have the duty to prevent the site in question "from being served as a direct hypertext link."

Let's not forget all the ad networks and payment processors that also have a duty to cut the site off.

Oh yeah, and there's one more thing: Internet service providers and payment processors can simply block access to sites based solely on the belief that the site(s) are "dedicated to the theft of US property". Oh, and the ISPs and payment folks can't be sued, either.


Listen, I'm no fan of priracy in any form - whether the intellectual property owner is American or not. It is a big problem. It is a legitimate problem. However, censorship legislation is NOT the answer. There are definitely "rogue" sites out there that are making money from what amounts to "stolen [IP] goods". Fine, go after them. Shut them down.

It's bad enough that ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) can seize domains at will and have, in fact, wrongly shut down 84,000 subdomains of just last year.

One can only imagine the chaos and confusion, incorrect claims of ownership, cost, complexity, and general cluster this bill would cause.

SOPA: The evil act of censorship is alive and well in the US!


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