US Chamber Of Commerce Appears To Argue That SOPA & PIPA Apply To NO Websites At All

from the figure-that-one-out dept

Yesterday, I was on a "panel" discussion at the Congressional Internet Caucus's "State of the Net" event. At some point, I believe we'll have some video of that, which we can post. However, at one point, moderator Tim Lordan asked panelist Steve Tepp, from the US Chamber of Commerce, about the claims that SOPA/PIPA only impact "foreign" sites, and argued that under the definitions in the bill sites like Google.ca or Amazon.co.uk would be subject to the bills, and thus they would effect the American companies who run them. Tepp insisted this wasn't true, because the bill only applies to "US-directed sites" and a site that is a .ca or .co.uk wouldn't be considered US-directed. However, First Amendment lawyer Marvin Ammori sensed a pretty obvious problem with that. If what Tepp argues is true, he's basically saying that SOPA and PIPA apply to no websites at all. Remember, supporters of the bills insist that they don't apply to .coms or .orgs or any other site using a TLD controlled by a US register. So that wipes out that batch of domains. But, here, Tepp now seems to be claiming that it also doesn't apply to any site with a country specific TLD... because those aren't US-directed. So... um... what's left?

First, the bills define US-directed site to mean almost any site that you can access in the US. PIPA does not have a definitive test, but it lets courts determine which sites are directed to the US based on several indicia, including whether the “Internet site has reasonable measures in place to prevent such goods and services from being accessed from or delivered to the United States.” (PIPA, page 48.) Meaning, if the site hasn’t blocked American users from accessing the site, then it’s US-directed. The whole point of the Internet, though, is that sites are globally available, and not blocked for particular countries. SOPA, on the House side, merely requires “minimum contacts” sufficient for personal jurisdiction, which is a very low standard that would touch most sites–as any law student would learn after reading the International Shoe case in the second week of Civil Procedure. (See SOPA, page 9).

Second, this argument is unconvincing because it suggests that the bills would cover zero sites in the whole world. If Amazon.co.uk and Google.ca are exempt from the bill, then so are ThePirateBay.co.uk or ThePirateBay.ca. The point of SOPA and PIPA, in theory, is to target foreign sites, who are defined based on having foreign domain names. So, the Chamber is saying, “Don’t worry Google.com won’t be subject to the bills because that’s not a foreign site.” Now it says, “Don’t worry, Google.ca won’t be subject to the bills because it’s not a US-directed site.” Does that mean neither MegaUpload.com or MegaUpload.ca is subject to the bill? By my count then, the bills don’t apply to any sites that have a domestic domain name nor do they apply to any sites that have a foreign domain name.

The Chamber is trying to convince us that the bills apply to zero websites and companies? They wouldn’t apply to MegaUpload.com or MegaUpload.ca, Google.com or  Google.ca, ThePirateBay.org or ThePirateBay.fr?

This doesn’t strike me as highly convincing.Why would studios and labels spend millions trying to pass a bill that affects zero websites and companies?

Indeed. It's this kind of duplicity that has people so fed up with the lobbyist/politician lies being spread about this bill by supporters. The language was written purposely, so that they could insist it won't actually do any of the awful things the bill clearly allows... while knowing full well that's exactly how the bill will be used (regularly) after it passes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

    Logic 101:

    If SOPA & PIPA apply to no foreign websites and no domestic websites then passing it and not passing are synonymous acts.

    That being said, let's then take the lazy road and not pass it--seeing as it's all the same anyhow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    TheNutman69321 (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    My head hurts from reading the crazy shit pro SOPA people keep saying.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Logic 101:

    Congress has been arguing that we have too many laws already, if we can not pass it or pass it and have the same result, might as well not add to the problem.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    A Monkey with Atitude, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    Where are all the PRO-SOPA/PIPA people

    Seriously, for many many months now we have been treated to vitriol and rhetoric the likes Pol-Pot would be proud of. How if we don't like the bill we are thieves and gangsters. Over and over they said DON'T FIGHT YOU CANT WIN! we have already kicked your technology loving / thief / pirate ass's off the interwebs... DON'T TRY AND FIGHT... Now that the USS SOPA/PIPA ship is being torpedoed and cruising head long into the iceberg.. where are they, the ones with the PROOF Mike, and all the rest of us are EVIL Pirates...

    It proves they have been scared of us all along and knew if we fought we would win ! Its not over yet, and we all need to keep standing and keep fighting, but i hope we all remember the next time a Copy-tard comes calling... Meaningful debate, no problem... Shilltard propaganda...GTFO

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    At least show some sympathy, imagine how they must feel.

     

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  6.  
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    TheNutman69321 (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re:

    I imagine it's something like taking to much acid, barely hanging onto reality.

     

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  7.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re:

    Just queue up the Benny Hill Theme while you read this stuff. At least you will laugh.

     

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  8.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Where are all the PRO-SOPA/PIPA people

    Ooooh!
    Proof they're paid shills, perhaps?

    They're all away from their computers and doing their lobbying duties rather than trolling hard here on techdirt.

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Where are all the PRO-SOPA/PIPA people

    "How if we don't like the bill we are thieves and gangsters."

    You are either with us...

    Where have we heard that before.

    Brought to you by propaganda. No longer just for dictators of third world nations.

     

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  10.  
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    Tech42 (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Where are all the PRO-SOPA/PIPA people

    How do you arrive at "No longer just for dictators of third world nations"?

    Who else is making that statement?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    lets face it the white house is full of big over paid racist cunts who are happy to pass any piece of shit that gets sent there way aslong as there is money for them!!! Btw do any of you know how to get intouch with hackers?!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    demented, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    And Congress wonders why the entire country hates them.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Logic 101:

    Not getting anything done is what Congress does best.

    Wait a second...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    "Some" video?

    Why not all? The whole thing was videotaped.

    Post the whole thing.

    Don't censor out parts of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Mothringer, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Where are all the PRO-SOPA/PIPA people

    The previous POTUS for a start.

     

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  16.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:31pm

    This is how low the standard is in SOPA specifically:
    (23) U.S.-DIRECTED SITE- The term `U.S.-directed site' means an Internet site or portion thereof that is used to conduct business directed to residents of the United States, or that otherwise demonstrates the existence of minimum contacts sufficient for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the owner or operator of the Internet site consistent with the Constitution of the United States, based on relevant evidence that may include whether--

    [...]

    (D) any prices for goods and services are indicated or billed in the currency of the United States.

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261:

    When pirate sites start simply listing prices in euros or pounds, does that mean we'll have to blocking currency converters? Will Google be forced to make its currency converter not list dollars any more?

    After all, U.S. pirates can't buy things like the freetards they are if they can't convert from euros.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    Did they even read the bills?

    Based on the comments and statements from pro-sopers I've read, and especially from watching the vids of Richard Cotton et al "debating" this subject, it's obvious that supporters of these bills NEVER expected to engage the public in discussion - all they ever had were talking points tailored for politicians.

    Their hostile, whiny reactions to the mildest questions demonstrate a profound lack of thinking.

     

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  18.  
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    ervserver (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:39pm

    re

    US Chamber Of Commerce is a bunch of over paid people sitting around in offices all day trying to think up ways to be relevant

     

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  19.  
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    loaderboy (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm sure that's copywronged, you'll just have to hum it to yourself.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 4:05pm

    Quote:
    SOPA only applies to foreign websites it would never be applied to domestic websites!


    Chris Dodd: Define foreign website as anything that is on the internet, problem solved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 4:28pm

    The definitions are not the only problem with those bills, there is much, much more, anyone who read it and has a passing knowledge of how the law works can see how it will be used(abused).

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 4:32pm

    Re:

    You seem to assume the usage of "some" to mean "some portion of a greater amount of footage." While its possible this was the intended meaning, it can also mean, "footage of an amount, regardless of whether its edited or not." Maybe the video that was taken only covered some of the event and there isn't video available of every moment. Maybe Mike wasn't the one who captured the video and can't dictate what amount of the footage he gets from the videographer.

    Even if your assumed meaning turns out to be accurate, why would you equate editing with censorship? You don't know what is being left out, so you just jumped to the conclusion that something important is being left out instead of dead air time that people with ADD aren't going to want to sit through or meaningless moments that have nothing to do with the topic of the article?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    confused, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 4:55pm

    why don't they just call china and tell them they want a copy of the great firewall of china, as that is where they are heading.

     

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  24.  
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    MahaliaShere (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 5:04pm

    I got it!

    The bills apply only to alien-hosted websites. As in, sites hosted in outer space!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 7:31pm

    Here is my guess:

    They are saying the bill does not target domestic TLDs by domestic owners because they can go after them with dubious, due processes-free ICE Operation In Our Sites-style takedowns.

    They are saying it will not affect foreign TLD by domestic owners because they can go after their hosting if it is domestic or their money under some other law using tortured logic and hide it under national security.

    Foreign TLD that is US-directed are not targeted so bit.ly is in the clear according the the US.

    They are saying it will not affect domestic TLD or domestic payment processing, and domestic ad networks owned by foreign owners because the FBI can just take down their hosting under some other law using tortured logic and hide it under national security.

    Of course, the elephant in the room is that US companies need to comply.

    What all of this says to foreigners: investment in going after the US market, using US based payment processing, hosting, and ad networks is risky and at the whim of a bunch of incompetent bureaucrats using SOPA. Don't try to do business in the US unless you are a member of some international trade org. What a bunch of jingoist crap!

    If you want your site to be bulletproof from all possible future US legislation, do everything: domain TLD, hosting, payment, ad network outside the US. Go USA!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Truth Defender, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

    Pawn

    Masnick, you are a pawn. Everyone knows that this bill has no claws, it was just here to distract you whilst our public domain got swindled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    tsavory, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 8:11pm

    Re:

    I must be reading this all wrong here lets take the section you just posted

    (23) U.S.-DIRECTED SITE- The term `U.S.-directed site' means an Internet site or portion thereof that is used to conduct business directed to residents of the United States, or that otherwise demonstrates the existence of minimum contacts sufficient for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the owner or operator of the Internet site consistent with the Constitution of the United States, based on relevant evidence that may include whether--

    [...]

    (D) any prices for goods and services are indicated or billed in the currency of the United States.


    Then follow it up with

    SEC. 102. ACTION BY ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT U.S. CUSTOMERS AND PREVENT U.S. SUPPORT OF FOREIGN INFRINGING SITES.

    (a) Definition- For purposes of this section, a foreign Internet site or portion thereof is a `foreign infringing site' if--

    (1) the Internet site or portion thereof is a U.S.-directed site and is used by users in the United States;



    Does that not break down to all sites that conduct business directed to residents of the United States a U.S.-directed site and there for a foreign Internet site. In which case any infringement for on it then becomes a `foreign infringing site' making any site able to have SOPA applied to it foreign or domestic?

    Please someone school me in this that's my reading but I am not great on following all jargon. And we was told it only would affect Foreign Sites then we are being told it would not apply to any site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    VMax, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

    Wait, this would be a good law

    OK, hear me out.
    If anyone can find a bit of a film that even "sort of" infringes, or a song that "kind of" sounds like something not owned by the studio, they could file. Universal, EMI, etc. would have to have all of their web sites offline. Showing their movies, playing their songs would be a violation. As long as the case stays in court, they wouldn't get a dime. They all have foreign distributors, so they are in play. Death by a thousand paper cuts. Let them have their law and bury them with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:01am

    Re: Pawn

    You mean, as in the article he wrote directly below the one you're commenting on?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re:

    That's pretty much one the reasons why this bill is so bad. The definitions aren't based in any sensible reality, they're based on:

    1) A domain name being registered in a TLD (.co.uk for example) that isn't controlled by a U.S. entity

    2) A site being accessible and usable by U.S. Citizens.

    This is the point made in the article, and the point several of us made to an AC troll. If you argue it can't be used against certain "foreign sites" like google.co.uk, then what is it about them that is in any way immunised against SOPA? Because the standards in SOPA do not distinguish between sites hosted and owned in the U.S. that use a "foreign" domain name and sites outside the country that use a foreign domain name, which is also part of the reason the likes of thepiratebay.org doesn't come under SOPA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    John Stag, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 5:58am

    Pirate Bay

    Does the pirate bay offer any deliverable goods or services? Does it display any prices?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    tsavory (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ok so I was reading it right that had been bugging me and I had wanted to make sure I was not mistaken before using as talking points. I am not a lawyer, they use so much double talk its a pain to make out what they are talking about.
    I have said from the first time I saw it that it was written so badly and broadly that nothing is immune from it no matter what they try to say. If it is not written clear and concise with no room for misinterpretation then it will be abused.
    Scrap them and focus on the counterfeiting with clear and concise language, as that is something that has potential to harm U.S. citizens.
    Innovate to cut back on infringement you will never remove it, so make it so easy, reasonably priced, and able to use when and where your customers want it legally that its point less to hunt down the infringing content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Loki, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: Logic 101:

    When you weigh the pros and cons, progress is often impaired by Congress.

    Personally I'd like to point them to the egress and tell them it's the computer lab.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    .........., Jan 20th, 2012 @ 12:43am

    something tells me people who attempt to pass these laws just sit at their offices and do crack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    The Luke Witnesser, Jan 20th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJIuYgIvKsc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzS5rSvZXe8

    The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

    Hint: can you say, do as I say so I can crush you under heel?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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