SOPA: war on the internet continues

SOPA: war on the internet continues

Summary: The US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is more than just the latest skirmish in the battle against online copyright infringement. It's another episode in the war on the internet itself.

TOPICS: Piracy, Security

The US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is more than just the latest skirmish in the battle against online copyright infringement. It's another episode in the war on the internet itself.

SOPA, also known as HR3261, was introduced into the US House of Representatives on 26 October, and is intended to extend the power of law enforcement and copyright owners to better combat piracy. But its opponents say that it's censorship, that it'll "break the internet" and could even cost jobs.

If SOPA becomes law, it would give the courts the power to order PayPal to stop processing transactions intended for the allegedly infringing sites, for example. Search engines could be prevented from indexing the sites, and internet service providers prevented from connecting to them.

On this week's Patch Monday podcast, CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh outlines the controversy surrounding SOPA, and Crikey's Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane positions SOPA as yet another example of what amounts to a war on the internet — a war waged by governments and corporations for a variety of agendas.

"What they have in common, though, is an ability to understand or a refusal to deal with the impacts of the internet in relation to either their specific business model ... or their position of power," Keane said.

"I call these entities 'gatekeepers' because [of] what they have in common ... is that prior to the internet, in the analog era, they made a plot of money or based their power on controlling the flow of information or sitting at the nodes within the networks that used to exist."

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian or phone (02) 8011 3733.

Running time: 47 minutes, 47 seconds

Topics: Piracy, Security


Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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  • It seems that despots always hate the thought of any information flow that they can't control and/or use for their own purposes.
  • Business isn't about providing the best service, it's about providing the only service. This law creates a new age internet control monopoly, locking in only players who meet big brothers rules and excluding all others. Intellectual property is a law made monopoly, there is no natural law that governs the ability to make money from ideas, because ideas are free. Owning ideas that then become fundamental to a modern automated society have the ability to create law made monopolies in conflict with anti-trust. I suspect in the US, anti-trust is the poor cousin of copyright/patent who can afford the best lobbyists and lawyers and pretend that IP monopoly is in the public interest. Just look at health care in the US to see how corporations can screw up the balance of society in order to make money, protected by bad federal law.