SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

Summary: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) raises a ruckus as the Internet wakes up to realize that this nutty copyright bill could actually pass.


The Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial nutty, delusional and shortsighted bill created by people who could be construed as idiots, is hitting a buzzsaw of Internet opposition. Large companies are also starting to tabulate their potential compliance costs too.

On the surface, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) sounds reasonable. All the legislation wants to do is stop online copyright infringement. The rub is that anyone can complain and have sites taken down and cut off from their revenue sources. Yes, you can be a rogue site too.

SOPA was introduced Oct. 26 and despite some initial outcry largely went unnoticed. A hearing with a arguably loaded deck in favor of SOPA was met by late inning resistance from AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo! and Zynga.

In a nutshell, SOPA kills the safe harbor in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So long safe harbor and hello U.S. Attorney General.

Related: CNET: MPAA's SOPA testimony links job loss to piracy | CNET: Copyright Office will endorse SOPA anti-piracy bill | New House of Representatives bill may strangle the Internet or nerf the First Amendment | Techmeme

How would this work in practice?

A reader of CNET News' Declan McCullagh's story about SOPA sums it up nicely.

I've e-mailed C|Net to notify them that that you post was plagiarized from a satire blog post of a local comedy troupe. I've asked that they ban your user ID and IP from C|Net and their affiliates (CBS Interactive,, CBS sports, ZDnet, Chow, Clicker, GameSpot, metacritic, TechRepublic, etc.) and turn over your IP and identifying info over to the troupe so that they can sue. $150,000 isn't much, but it'll go a long way in fixing up their venue.

Thanks for playing. Credit to FellowConspirator for the witty rebuttal.

In other words, you allege and we take sites down.

Given that reality it's no surprise that legislators are playing a bit of defense. Mozilla is urging folks to write their Congresspeople. Others call SOPA an Internet blacklist bill. The Electronic Freedom Foundation calls SOPA a disaster.

But hey don't believe the Internet guys. MasterCard's Linda Kirkpatrick, group head of customer performance integrity, outlined how SOPA will make her company's costs surge. In her testimony, Kirkpatrick said that the time frames between an allegation and actual response are unrealistic. Kirkpatrick also has a beef with MasterCard being a copyright monitoring outpost of the U.S. Copyright Office. She said:

As the Committee moves forward with legislation to address the sale of infringing products or services over the Internet, MasterCard believes it is essential to ensure that any obligations imposed on payment systems are capable of being readily implemented through reasonable policies and procedures, and that payment systems be shielded from litigation and liability when acting in accordance with the bill’s requirements.

Just what the U.S. economy needs more acronyms to distract us from doing real work.

Topics: Banking, Browser, Enterprise Software

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  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    Today, 11/16/2011 is American Censorship day. Today, Congress holds hearings on the first American Internet censorship system.This bill can pass. If it does the Internet and free speech will never be the same.

    POLL: Do you Support American Censorship Day?
  • Land of the What and Home of the Who...?

    ..soon it's going to be time to revise that ol' national anthem of yours!
    • It should have been revised in the 1900's

      @daftkey That's when the really big changes were made.
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    This bill is backed by the MPAA & RIAA and their doing everything they can to get it passed. My cousin is one of the lawyers for the MPAA and he told me about this a couple of months back. I told him that this bill would be violating the first amendment among other things and that it would still not stop piracy in this country, people will always find away around it. Plus it will probably windup in front of the Supreme Court for violating peoples consatutional rights.
  • Possible SOPA irony...

    Would be very ironic if SOPA passes (into law) and take down notices hit both the RIAA and MPAA sites (or form greater irony, the US Senate and other government sites).
  • The law as written doesn't seem to allow what you say.

    [q]In other words, you allege and we take sites down.[/q]

    If you read the law, you see a very detailed legal process involving the Attorney General contacting site owners, getting court orders, etc. You make it sound like simply registering a complaint will automatically flip a switch and sites will simply disappear from the Internet.

    My misgivings about the law center around the fact that the technical means for proscription described in the law aren't sufficient to stop infringers from putting illegal content online. The flimsy correspondence between DNS domains, IP addresses and websites seems to elude whomever wrote this law.
    • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw


      Yes, but what you have in that detailed process is simply government tyrrany. There is no problem at all with the attorney general supporting takedown requests intended to support unpopular (to the Attorney General) sites, e.g., supporting the Arizona immigration law or OWS.

      It may be more than "automatically flip a switch" but not a whole lot more, unless you are one of the people buying influence in Washington.
    • This is so easy and clear

      You're forgetting that the people executing the court orders might be government employees. Like the FBI agents who, in order to "shut down a web site," confiscated three enclosures full of servers and shut them down. How many sites do you suppose there might be on a rack full of VPS machines? How many lawyers do you think could tell you the difference between a web site, a rack, a VPS, and a parking lot?
      Robert Hahn
    • House or Senate

      Maybe you should read both versions.....
      One lends to your description, the ther not.


      [i]Maybe you should read both versions.....
      One lends to your description, the ther not.[/i]

      I have read them both. SOPA (House bill) and PROTECT IP Act (Senate bill) are essentially identical in the legal processes they describe.


      [i]Yes, but what you have in that detailed process is simply government tyrrany.[/i]

      I suspect you would categorize any government authority to take down websites illegally serving copyrighted content as "tyrrany". It's due process of law. The Attorney General has to open a case. A judge has to give a court order for a takedown to occur. No one person or organization has the power to take anything down. How is that tyrannical?
  • Writing your congressman will do nothing.

    Congressmen like Lamar Smith are so heavily bribed by the MPAA and RIAA that nothing you could write would make a difference. And he's nowhere near Hollywood, he has a safely conservative district in Central Texas. The media cartels make a point of choosing politicians in safe districts that can do whatever bidding they care to without worry about angry voters. Fritz Hollings pioneered the scam, now many others are stepping up to line their pockets from it.

    The biggest effect will be to push many online companies overseas and away from the ridiculous legal threats, costing even more American jobs in the process. Will it stop piracy? No. It will create several new cottage industries on how to defeat the new restrictions. Visa and Mastercard have special reasons to be worried: there is the real possibility that new payment systems will take hold and flourish, not under their control or under the thumb of the US government.

    One interesting marketplace has sprung up using a unique "currency": $10 and $50 iTunes gift cards. You don't need the actual card itself, just the number. It makes it quite simple to buy cards at the local Target then enter their numbers at the paysite. It's quite ironic when you think about it ...
    terry flores
  • I'm actually afraid of this.

    This bill has a good chance of passing. One may look at our lines and see Google, Facebook, etc theoretically on this side of the fence. But they are not putting anyhere near as much money on this as Hollywood, MPAA, RIAA. They're unlikely to be "investing" on any representative, because it doesn't really affect them in terms of profit.
  • Great Wall

    Nice - a bill that depending on which version; House or Senate; goes through, we now have our very own national firewall administered by the MPAA and RIAA.

    Holy Crap!!!!!!! :O
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    As a developer & owner of a future media aggregation site. This scares me while I support the basic idea behind this. I feel there are better ways to implement this without going oh great firewall and place you on the chopping block. While I beleive in basic IP controls, this has gotten WAY out of hand. These are not a bill to protect the people, they are bills to protect IP.
  • dbbsdmk 67 voc

    ewptny,yyiqddtn06, owzak.
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    Just like how taking down Napster only increased the interest in peer-to-peer file sharing, this bill is only going to motivate people to use their technologocial smarts and find workarounds. Already they're saying you can get around the website blocks by simply entering the website's IP address into the bar instead of its URL. I can see it now, entire sites dedicated to just listing off blocked site's IP addresses.

    I love how the bill is worded to make it sound like it promotes prosperity and protects jobs. If enacted as is, it will not only cripple the internet but it will BRUTALLY MASSACRE most internet-related jobs. It will force companies to outsource at an even higher rate and it will kill even more jobs. I can't imagine why people wouldn't be rioting in the streets about this. This bill could destroy the very lively hood we've come to love and depend on. And they think we're going to buy movies after this? We're going to boycott every industry involved in this for even having the audacity to come up with such a crude bill!

    If this passes, nobody wins and everybody loses, even the very industries that proposed and backed this bill could be crippled by it. =(

    I've heard of bringing about your own demise but damn they are fighting tooth and nail to kill their own industries. I almost feel sorry for them, but no, when this blows up in their faces, I will laugh.
  • Vote: ALL Incumbents out in 2012 - send a clear message to Congress...

    This is just another example of big business buying off our congressman. It is time to "Throw the baby out with the bath water" - it makes sense today. We need a new breed of leaders to save our country from destruction.
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    I'm glad I live in Canada - although we have our own version of Bush Lite here in Stephen Harper - he may be asking now "how quickly do you want identical Canadian legislation?"
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    I'm glad I live in Canada - although we have our own version of Bush Lite here in Stephen Harper - he may be asking now "how quickly do you want identical Canadian legislation?"
  • RE: SOPA, pols run into Internet buzz saw

    i will be turning my internet off for good if this bill passess