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Tell The White House To Stop Illegally Seizing & Shutting Down Websites

from the censorship dept

While the public got reasonably upset about SOPA's overreach, and the possibility that it would be used to shut down websites with no due process, what they miss is that the federal government has been pretending that it already has that right under the last change to copyright law -- the ProIP Act (not the same as the Protect IP Act, which was the Senate's counterpart to SOPA). The ProIP Act was filled with a ton of bad ideas. An outcry (much smaller than SOPA) at least stopped some of the very very worst parts of the original ProIP Act from being enacted, but there were still plenty of "easter eggs" from the entertainment industry. One of them was the expansion of "civil forfeiture proceedings," to also cover:
(1) CIVIL FORFEITURE PROCEEDINGS-
(A) The following property is subject to forfeiture to the United States:
' (i) Any copies or phonorecords manufactured, reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise used, intended for use, or possessed with intent to use in violation of section 506(a) of title 17, any plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be made, and any electronic, mechanical, or other devices for manufacturing, reproducing, or assembling such copies or phonorecords.

`(ii) Any property constituting or derived from any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of a violation of section 506(a) of title 17.

`(iii) Any property used, or intended to be used, to commit or facilitate the commission of a violation of section 506(a) of title 17 that is owned or predominantly controlled by the violator or by a person conspiring with or aiding and abetting the violator in committing the violation, except that property is subject to forfeiture under this clause only if the Government establishes that there was a substantial connection between the property and the violation of section 506(a) of title 17.
`(B) The provisions of chapter 46 relating to civil forfeitures shall extend to any seizure or civil forfeiture under this section.
This was tucked in at the very end of the bill, and it's almost too clever for its own good. Notice how part (i) talks about "phonorecords" and them being "manufactured" and such. That quickly gets people thinking that this is merely about extending seizure and forfeiture laws to things like CD and DVD burners. In fact, when I asked about this particular section back in 2007, I was told exactly that: that it had little to do with the internet, but was really about seizing disc burners. The only areas where they were talking about the internet was in cases involving hard drives full of infringing material.

The only person I saw actually highlight just how worried people should be about this section was famed copyright legal scholar, William Patry, who explained just how "gluttonous" this move was by the entertainment industry:
The idea that criminal forfeiture provisions, drafted to reach major drug traffickers like the Columbian cartels, should be inserted into civil copyright tort provisions with a preponderance of the evidence burden, is mind-blowing. The capacity – if not intent – of these provisions for profound mischievousness is obvious: in addition to the gluttonous statutory damages that would be available, content owners now want to defendants to forfeit their computers, their cars, and their homes: all of these can be said to have been used in the commission of infringement (say defendant uses his phone to call someone else involved in the infringement and says “meet me at 11 at Moe’s).

But the bill goes even further: it is not only property actually used that is subject to forfeiture, property that wasn’t used but was “intended to be used” can also be seized. Say, a defendant intended to use his car to transport a computer used in connection with infringement, civil infringement, but decided to take his wife’s car instead. Under the bill, both cars, the computer, and the house where the cars and the computer are stored can be forfeited. But there is more: the bill also includes property “derived from any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly” as result of civil infringement. A television, children’s toy, anything that a defendant owns could fall within this: how could one disprove that any property purchased in the relevant time period was not indirectly derived from infringement. Is even gluttony enough to describe this?
But here's the thing: Patry underestimated how this would be used. He expected it would be used to harass people by seizing other physical property. He never imagined that it would be used to censor websites by "seizing" their domains. No one discussed that at all. In retrospect, however, it now seems clear that this was the intent all along. This little section was a big part of why the entertainment industry wanted ProIP so badly -- and it likely put in some of the other ridiculous ideas to throw people off the scent. If so, it worked.

Not long after ProIP was officially signed into law, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Justice Department, began one of the most shameful operations by the US government: a widespread campaign to seize and censor websites, pointing to this clause as the "legal cover," despite the fact that such censorship is almost certainly a violation of both the 1st and 5th Amendments. Called "Operation in Our Sites," ICE has been seizing (and in some cases forfeiting -- which, in this context, means keeping, as "seizure" is supposed to be a temporary process) website URLs on very little legal basis, without any adversarial hearing -- indeed, without even providing notice to those who own the sites often until weeks or months later. This began in June of 2010, with ICE announcing its first round of illegal seizures directly from Disney's headquarters, not even trying to hide that they were censoring websites at the urging of Hollywood. As we said at the time, imagine the outcry if the FTC announced Google antitrust charges from Microsoft's headquarters. People would go nuts.

Of course, as we've since learned, the whole process was corrupt. In one case, that of hiphop blog Dajaz1, the Justice Department refused to let the site have its day in court, passing a series of totally secret "extensions" while waiting for the RIAA to provide "evidence" it never could provide (because it didn't exist). Eventually, after having shut down and censored a publication for over a year, the government quietly just handed the domain back without even so much as an apology. To this day, the Justice Department has been dodging questions about this domain.

And while Dajaz1 gets most of the attention, it's worth remembering that over 700 websites have been illegally censored in this manner, and we don't know how many of them are trying to get their domains back, because the government continues this very secretive process. In fact, from what we do know, two other websites that were seized in the same round as Dajaz1 and have been trying to get their domains back ever since are still being held hostage by the government. Yes, these sites have been censored for over a year and a half now.

For all the talk and worries about SOPA, it's important to realize that the thing people were most scared about -- that the law would be used to censor websites the entertainment industry just doesn't like -- is already a reality, and it came via ProIP and is happening now under the name "Operation In Our Sites."

Last week, a White House petition was set up, calling for the White House to put an end to Operation In Our Sites. To date, the administration has done everything possible to hide from the fact that it's censoring websites, while playing up claims that it's "stopping piracy." This needs to stop. Signing the petition is one step in making that happen, along with actually holding the White House responsible for the fact that it is censoring and shutting down websites, even while it's telling the rest of the world that they need to stop censoring the web.

Please pass the story around to others, so that they recognize what's already being done by the US government to censor websites under the guise of copyright law.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    what needs to happen even more so is the government bending over and grabbing it's ankles while some entertainment industry exec sticks one up it. until those who keep pretending that there is nothing more important that those industries and the people in charge of them, no progress will ever be made.

    bit strange that no one can sign the petition (or any other one) without creating an account. seems to me that being able to track those that sign is more important than the signing itself. i wonder what repercussions will be taken and by whom, against those that do sign? bit worrying really

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    Signing a petition won't do anything. The government doesn't care about us or what is best for the population. Just have to be patient until their ponzi system collapses and people wake up and uprise.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    Re: bit strange that no one can sign the petition (or any other one) without creating an account.

    You on list, you name names.

     

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    The eejit (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    You'd probably get your house seized for its illegally signing a petition to the White House.

    Well, either that or making a paifully unfunny joke of yourself.

     

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    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    but it's not illegal because it's concerning copyright infringement

    when someone claims copyright infringement they can shut down any site they want for as long as they want and its perfectly legal even if the site is not infringing. they can take their time and investigate for as long as they want, a year or whatever, like with dajaz1. had the site not been potentially infringing it would not have been shut down. probable cause does not really apply to infringement cases, sites that don't want to get shut down shouldn't be potentially infringing. it's piracy and piracy must be stopped at all costs, even if compliant sites are taken down for a year without probable cause.

     

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  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    bob, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Let's say you have a foreign web site that largely traffics in copyrighted material distributed without a good license. These exist and there are plenty of them. Indeed, the claim around here is that they'll just pop up like weeds.

    Let's assume that they're behavior is illegal under US law. We've certainly seen these websites out there. Again, the claim around here is that they just appear naturally like weeds and no amount of weeding will get rid of them. So let's not debate whether infringing web sites exist.


    How many legal hoops should the government jump through before you're happy? Should a web site owner be forced to travel to the United States, hire a lawyer and defend themselves? That's certainly what every other criminal needs to do. But somehow I feel that Mike & Co. won't be happy with inconveniencing the law breakers.

    What level of evidence would you be happy with? If there's one legit file, should the person get off the hook?

    So let's hear it. Or if you can't come up with a legit mechanism, you should just be honest and say, "We don't want ANY prosecution for infringement." This kind of arguing over nits is just a waste. You continue to find fault with any potential infringement. Why don't you step forward and explain exactly how it SHOULD be done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    Re:

    @ 5

    so you would lock someone up because they were potentially a bank robber, a rapist, a murderer or even a jay walker? good call!

     

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    The Spork (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    1) The government has ruled that Corporations are people and money is "speech"
    2) corporations have enormous sums of money to bribe officials
    3) Entrenched two-party system prevents any viable third-party candidate for election
    4) Any attempts at peaceful protest are put down by the Pinkerton/Police
    5) any attempts of trying to overthrow the government to start a "clean Slate" will be immediately quashed by the Military's near unlimited supply of weapons

     

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    Cory of PC (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    OK, how about you explain how things should be done? I know I can't do it because I lack any experience with laws and such, but there are people who are better than me who can kindly discuss their thoughts to you.

    Look, all I want is simple: your evidence in all of this. Explain to us how this is really done and maybe we might believe you. Still, it's not like it's going to happen anytime soon...

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:02am

    Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    If they want to kill Americans on our own soil then let them try. We will defend and fight back.

     

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    The Spork (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    It would be suicide.they got friggin TANKS! last time I checked, Shotguns and rifles cannot beat tanks, aircraft carriers, and bombers.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "How many legal hoops should the government jump through before you're happy?"
    At least the current ones. Due process and all that.

    Why don't you step forward and explain exactly how it SHOULD be done. - Id love to:
    1. Suspected copyright is brought to attention of law enforcement. (Direct links to infringement)
    2. Law enforcement goes to a judge with evidence of infringement. Gets injunction to shut site down.
    3. Speedy trial to determine if infringement actually occurred.

    No, not waiting for the MPAA boys for over a year boB. Not the way it works... boB. Love ya... boB.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:10am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "a foreign web site that largely traffics in copyrighted material distributed without a good license...Let's assume that they're behavior is illegal under US law."

    There's your first problem. Foreign websites are outside US law by definition of them being foreign, therefore, it's irrelevant whether or not their behavior is illegal under US law. US law does not apply outside our borders. The internet is not within our borders. Sue them or get them charged with criminal activity in their country of residence. That you even think that this is something that the US Government needs to deal with is a significant part of the problem and inherently imperialist in nature.

    "Should a web site owner be forced to travel to the United States, hire a lawyer and defend themselves? That's certainly what every other criminal needs to do."

    They're not criminals until convicted of a crime. They're not necessarily committing acts that are considered criminal in their own country. Why would they need to come to the US at all? I can draw silly pictures of Muhammed all I like in the US and I don't need to go to Iran to defend myself against criminal charges because my actions are illegal in Iran. What part of "US law doesn't apply outside of the US don't you understand?"

    But beyond all this, Dajaz1 isn't a foreign site and wasn't a criminal site. So until you can ensure that innocent sites aren't illegally seized and censored, violating their 1st Amendment rights, I'm not willing to hear your proposals about what to do about people who are violating copyrights.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    And the other problem is that a bunch of rednecks in whose interests in would be to start a revolution would fight against leftist rebels because they've been brainwashed in the false dichotomy of left vs right instead of rich/powerful vs everybody else, so they'd patriotically fight for the corrupt American government against the "communists" trying to take their guns and beer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    @ 7: Precedent

    so you would lock someone up because they were potentially a bank robber, a rapist, a murderer or even a jay walker? good call!

    What's your problem with that? The current "president" orders the execution of people, including native citizens of the USA (as per the laws the so-called "government" had changed) for being near suspected "terrorists" (ie, anyone who gives a finger to the USA) and just calls them "enemy combatants".

    What you say seems trivial in comparison.

     

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    Haywood (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    We really are doomed. If you are afraid of what will happen if you sign a petition, we might as well pack it in right now.
    Play taps for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Should a web site owner be forced to travel to the United States, hire a lawyer and defend themselves?

    Why should a foreign website owner be subject to US laws, or the possibility of the US government seizing their domain name? Just having a .com domain absolutely should not bind someone elsewhere into the laws of a country on the other side of the world.

    More generally to your question - the government should stay the hell away from anything to do with copyright infringement - it is a civil dispute between a copyright holder and the alleged infringer.

     

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  18.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    Beware FBI informants bearing gifts...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    It's a small percentage of people. Totally doable.

     

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  20.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    Re: @ 7: Precedent

    That's right, infringement is the worst crime in the world, even worse than murder, and anyone even remotely suspected should be locked up for years pending investigation.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    Maybe because the WH wants to respond to voters from this country.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:27am

    Petition Not there

    The petition is there if I follow your link, but it's not there if I go directly to the WhiteHouse.gov web site and view petitions.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    How will you enjoin a website that is foreign-owned and registered?

     

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    The Cardinal, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    Are you serious? So-called legitimate websites such as Fox News, the Washington Post, etc... have and do "infinge" frequent enough that they get called on it right here, and no one is pushing for those websites to be seized.

    Get real...when the "fix" is worse than the alleged crime, then we're just creating another of idiotic laws that have absolutely no positive impact on the alleged crimes they are supposed to punish (see the silly-a.., draconian drug and prostitution laws in this country as an perfect examples).

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    Shotguns and rifles cannot beat tanks, aircraft carriers, and bombers.

    This country was formed by a rebellion that was outmatched, outgunned, and outmanned by the British armies and navies.

    How many US soldiers were killed in Iraq fighting insurgents with little more than rifles and improvised explosives?

    Libya's revolution was kicked off by one guy setting himself on fire - and there were tanks and aircraft on the other side. Egpyt's regime was brought down by a mostly peaceful protest against the side with all the tanks and guns.

    History is littered with countries, empires, and regimes that were brought down by internal dissent.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:33am

    Or repeal the Pro IP Act passed in 2008 because not too many people were paying attention like they did with SOPA.

    Repeal that and you will stop the seizures.

     

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  27.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:35am

    Re: Petition Not there

    You need a certain number of signatures before appearing on that view.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Why should a foreign website owner be subject to US laws, or the possibility of the US government seizing their domain name? Just having a .com domain absolutely should not bind someone elsewhere into the laws of a country on the other side of the world.

    The way the law works is that if a criminal website targets US consumers then it's subject to US jurisdiction. Come on, these websites located in Eastern Europe are in English and their offerings are denominated in US dollars. It's not like they're targeting Latvia. You can't believe that is it fair to compete in the US market and not be subject to the same rules as everyone else do you?

    As far as the .com issue, that's pretty well settled. If you use a US based registry then you're subject to US law.

     

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  29.  
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    Ruben, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    As I've pointed out before. There's nothing legal about seizing websites hosted outside the US.

    However, you can certainly bring suit against people using these sites within the US.

    Individual accountability does not seem to be a concept IP rights holders embrace, or even acknowledge. Why is that? Does it have anything to do with the ridiculousness of the length of copyright term? How about the fact that you'd be criminalizing large swathes of your customer base?

    And don't forget about the fact that proving stuff is hard. God forbid you have to substantiate your claims. Hence $150,000 statutory damages. Just pay us the maximum, because we say so.

    Because we say so. Seems to be the maxim by which Hollywood and their ilk justify the continual eroding of civil liberties.

     

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    Coises (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Bob says:
    So let's hear it. Or if you can't come up with a legit mechanism, you should just be honest and say, "We don't want ANY prosecution for infringement." This kind of arguing over nits is just a waste.

    Speaking only for myself:

    Yes, I want us to give up the idea of supporting the creative industries by trying to make it very difficult and dangerous for people to obtain copies and derivatives of published works that are not authorized by their creators (or subsequent copyright holders).

    This notion used to work. It doesn’t work anymore, because it is too fundamentally inconsistent with the nature of digital media, ubiquitous general-purpose computers and the Internet. The damage caused by this “war on reality” is too great to be justified just to protect the current way of doing business in certain industries.

    And that’s all it’s protecting. Arts and sciences existed long before copyright, and they will exist long after it. How to integrate that with the business world is a job for business people... generally very inventive sorts, when not lulled into complacency by successful bids for protectionism. Copyright and patent worked for a while; now it’s time for those laws to get out of the way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    How many legal hoops should the government jump through before you're happy?


    Just the whole "due process" thing you guys seem to hate. Assuming, of course, that the crime and people committing the crime are actually in the jurisdiction of America.

    You know, those whole pesky "hoops" that the whole judicial system was founded on.

     

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    The Cardinal, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Dude or dudette, there are an awful lot of things in life that can't be fixed regardless of how many laws you pass, and all the laws in the world have not, will not, and cannot change that. The real issue is whether or not infringement has occurred simply because you or someone like you says it has? THAT's the problem with these arbitrary and capricious seizure laws - you or the government say infringement, I say it's not, but the government seizes my property without due process because of laws that go against everything our criminal justice system is supposed to be about.

    I saw this coming years ago when the Supreme Court bent over backwards to make so-called drug or prostitution related property seizures prior to adjudication in a court of law legal. And that's the real problem here...I say you've done this unspeakable infringing act and report it to the authorities. The authorities simply take my word for it and instead of treating it as most other alleged crimes, they become judge and jury on the spot, and the fools, idiots, and morons that many of us are don't seem to have a problem with this despite the fact even alleged murderers, rapists, Wall Street bandits, etc... are entitled to due process under our Constitution.

     

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  33.  
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    Ruben, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    What do you do when a site is hosted on a domain which isn't controlled by the US? thepiratebay.se? what.cd?

    ...they just appear naturally like weeds and no amount of weeding will get rid of them.


    Ever heard of the Hydra? Cut off one head and 2 more appear. Good luck with your game whack-a-mole. I predict frustration and anger. Followed by despair.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Signing a petition won't do anything. The government doesn't care about us or what is best for the population. Just have to be patient until their ponzi system collapses and people wake up and uprise.

    The thing is, with these WH petitions, if it gets enough signatures, the WH is required to at least reply. To date, they've ignored the issue entirely. Raising awareness is the first step. Will it make them drop the program? Probably not, but it can start the process.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "You can't believe that is it fair to compete in the US market and not be subject to the same rules as everyone else do you?"

    I don't believe it's fair that monopolists get to collude to keep prices high and keep competitors out of the market, but what you or I think is fair has nothing to do with the law.

    Would you think it's fair for the US to extradite Americans to Muslim countries to be put on trial for blasphemy for drawing Muhammed? Then why does the US get to prosecute foreigners for breaking laws and violating the sanctity of our religion (The Church of Greed)?

     

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    cjstg (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    so mike why is there no mike m or michael m who has signed the petition? seems like if you are going to be asking us to do this, you should at a minimum support it.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    any attempts of trying to overthrow the government to start a "clean Slate" will be immediately quashed by the Military's near unlimited supply of weapons

    Don't be so sure of that one. Government likes to wave its sticks around sure, but don't forget the basic component of the military. All the services are traditions of the people in the U.S. Its just as likely they'd turn on their handlers in a popular uprising if the government were so foolish as to try and deploy them. Not a *great example, but as the U.S. Civil War broke out, all the services basically split, and that was before it became known as a war to end slavery.

    Anyway... #5 is just a "maybe".

     

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  38.  
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    Mason Wheeler, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

    It still won't do anything, because the Obama administration is firmly, squarely on the entertainment industry's side. Every time we hear about a new one of these issues, the administration, particularly Joe Biden, is standing behind it. Asking them to stop is a little like asking GM to please stop producing automobiles.

     

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    Mason Wheeler, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    In their own country, that's how.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Inform them that they are inviolation of US law and their site will be blocked from US internet users unless they respond by X date and explain why Y content isn't in violation of Z law.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "their offerings are denominated in US dollars"

    We are talking about piracy sites not sites that actual sell physical goods. Piracy sites don't list denominations in US dollars because pirates don't sell shit.

    Counterfeiters should not be mixed with pirates for this very reason. If you sell physical products inside the US that is one thing. If your free digital content happens to be visible to people in the US that is another thing entirely.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    No but tanks, aircraft and bombers are pretty useless when the men that control them refuse to fire on their countrymen.

    Some 18 year old from Texas probably wouldn't be too keen to go roll a tank down mainstreet in Alabama.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    The Cardinal, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's not just the Obama administration - every administration before this one supported "traditional" entertainment and news media protectionist legislation that was proposed at the time, and regardless of who or what party is in office, I'll betcha a dozen donuts this will always be the case because that's the nature of "the establishment" - you're either part of it and play by the unspoken rules, or you risk ticking them off and losing any possibility of their support.

    In general, politicians - regardless of party affiliation - initially tend to support traditional groups and lobbyists because it's politically safe (initially, at least) to do so. Only when non-traditional groups and lobbyists are able to generate momentum and noise will most politicians begin to even consider the non-traditional point of view.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm actually very curious about this inquiry as well. There must be some reason you have not signed it.

     

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  45.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Easy. Just say Kim Dotcom is playing with it.

     

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  46.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    So, instead of killing all the lawyers, you kill The Pentagon?

    ....seems like a plan to me. :p

     

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  47.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    No, repeal Imaginary Property laws and then we can start from the beginning.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Yup, applying US laws to foreign websites.

    And who controls the Internet? You talking about that "kill switch" Biden wanted so badly??

    I refuse to be in lock step with you and yours. I notice it didn't go so well for some famous German.

     

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  49.  
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    hmm (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    the future

    Ever get the feeling that we're headed to a future where people are going to start actively attacking RIAA members etc?

    Thats the point they're trying to drive the public to, where someone literally loses EVERYTHING...meaning they lose custody of their kids (no house, no job, no money) and with nothing left to lose they borrow a neighbours shotgun and go after those that "ruined my life".....

     

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  50.  
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    hmm (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    not long

    As we know the RIAA hates techdirt and views Mike as "the enemy".

    Whats the bet within 24hrs of such a law passing that they claim techdirt (and by extension everything Mike owns) is related to "infringement" and abuses the law to try to shut down dissent....

     

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  51.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    The way the law works is that if a criminal website targets US consumers then it's subject to US jurisdiction.

    Please explain how this applies to Rojadirecta.

    Come on, these websites located in Eastern Europe are in English and their offerings are denominated in US dollars. It's not like they're targeting Latvia.

    You have no idea what you're talking about.

    Some (not all) of the sites are in English because much of the world speaks it - so instead of trying to put a site together with 6 different languages, it is easier to do it in English. Many international businesses do meetings in English for the same reason, even if it is not the primary language of any of the participants.

    Same with US dollars - and most sites I've seen have prices in both Euros and USD. Of course, I thought we were talking about pirate sites which gave stuff away for free. Which is it?

    You can't believe that is it fair to compete in the US market and not be subject to the same rules as everyone else do you?

    Interesting comment coming from someone who seems to be on the side that doesn't think the laws of economics apply to them.

    As far as the .com issue, that's pretty well settled. If you use a US based registry then you're subject to US law.

    If you're going to go and make a wild claim that this is settled law, you better be able to site some cases and precedents.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'd guess it'd because the puppet masters don't want to be seen by Washington as being among the "crazies" or "zealots" of IP. They like to maintain a distance for the purpose of preserving the illusion that they are reasonable. I'll bet the people who work for Public Knowledge, EFF, etc don't sign either.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It'll be interesting if Romney wins. The Chamber of Commerce is way up his ass and are squarely for more restrictive IP law. If the R's win the House and Senate you can bet IP legislation will be hot on the heels of the trifecta.

     

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  54.  
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    Mr. Oizo, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Logged in but can't sign...

    "Our Apologies. This Section of our site is currently undergoing maintenance We appreciate your patience while we make some improvements Please check back shortly"

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    This was tucked in at the very end of the bill, and it's almost too clever for its own good. Notice how part (i) talks about "phonorecords" and them being "manufactured" and such. That quickly gets people thinking that this is merely about extending seizure and forfeiture laws to things like CD and DVD burners.


    Mike, the language you site (that talks about plates, molds, matrices etc.) was in the House version of the bill, introduced in December 2007. But it wasn't "tucked in at the very end of the bill." It was in Section 201, in the first half of the bill. But more importantly, the "plates, molds, matrices..." language was taken from the law as it already existed at the time. The Senate version of the bill was worded more generically, and didn't use the archaic references to things like master tapes. And it was the Senate version of this language that eventually became law.

    Patry was prescient in worrying about this language, but I don't think it involved the sort of trick you're suggesting. The references to old-fashioned sorts of physical objects were taken from the old statute, and they were discarded in an effort to make the forfeiture language the same for trademark, copyright, and every other crime classified as "intellectual property" (except the DMCA for some reason - which you may want to mull). When the Senate bill was being discussed, people certainly seemed to be aware it could be used to go after web/net sites.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 3:07pm

    Re:

    ...the people wake up and uprise? In what alternate universe version of America?

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Hey White House, fuck you!

     

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  58.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Let's deal with the weeds observation first, ok?

    I'm going to assume, for the moment that your talking about licensing these sites as vendors when you talk about a license without one. What we're talking about here are sites that, by an large, point to torrent seeds or sites that host their own infringing material. At ;east those suppositions fit in with your view of the world if not mine.

    In the case of Dajaz1 in spite of waiting for a year no RIAA member company could come forth any such thing which means a year of playing around with due process and never allowing Dajaz1 the chance to defend itself in the closed court proceedings no infringing material appeared on the evidence.

    What and how many legal hoops should the US government have to go through before bringing a case to trial? I'll start at the evidence. That they actually have enough evidence to convince a jury to convict the site owner(s) beyond a reasonable doubt if the intent is to bring them to a criminal trial such as they likely will do with Megaupload. Or at least enough to convince a judge and/or judge and jury on balance of probability that the site exists solely for the sake of trafficking in infringing material or piracy.

    They should hold open hearings where the defendant is present or represented by a lawyer or two instead of behind closed doors hearings where the defendant is denied the right to hear the charged against them which is applicable to both civil and criminal cases. Not once but on a number of occasions which now has all the appearance of someone with no case because there was no evidence. Just because law enforcement says there is and says so-and-so is doing something nefarious doesn't always mean that they are.

    If the web site's servers and domain registration have taken place outside the United States I'd say the US has no business seizing the domain name or the data on the servers without first jumping through the hoops in the country which has jurisdiction. That kind of thing leads to violation of the sovereignty of the country it takes place in. Most countries, including the United States, take that sort of thing very, very seriously. And we'd do well to remember that until there is a ruling from a court charges of trafficking in infringing material aren't proven.

    In short, the United States would be expected to follow the normal rules of law, jurisprudence and evidence and all the rest of that untidy stuff that would lead to an accurate and fair result. It's all time consuming, involved things the those bringing the allegations would rather not do unless their case is airtight and a long list of uncomfortable things for both sides.

    The problem is that following the law and jurisprudence in the open and in open court works most of the time. Kangaroo courts which settle such things on rumour and innuendo don't work.

    If there's one legit file? Of course there will be so the question alone is a distraction rather than informing. Particularly in the case of file lockers and other versions of cloud computing and storage.

    The argument has never been about no consequences for infringement its been about the RIAA/MPAA dragging themselves into the 21st Century and providing content in ways that consumers will pay for, with rules consumers can buy into such as book loaning and so on that exist now but copyright holders want to eliminate before they make the jump to digital. (Human habits of thousands of years don't change overnight if they change at all.)

    How it should be done is to follow the rules of the laws laid out, the processes and procedures of the courts without gaming them by entering voire dire (closed door) hearings every time out and follow the laws as they is written and most importantly the court processes as they have evolved over time.

    Whether it's The Poacher's Cove or the Government of the United States we are states of Law which apply to everyone from the top to the bottom. Laws govern us not the wishes of the entertainment business. They govern what the President of the United States can and cannot do just as they do the homeless guy sleeping on the bench in the park across from the White House.

    At least they're supposed to. If they don't and favour a select few then that's called tyranny. I don't think even you want that end of the deal, bob.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: bit strange that no one can sign the petition (or any other one) without creating an account.

    The MAFFIA will come after you

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:04pm

    When are you going to register as a lobbyist Mike? When are you going to officially open your PAC?

    It's getting a little silly, really.

     

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  61.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    So... This ProIP wants to seize not only the item used to direct/indirect infringement but also whatever material means with it?

    Even items or objects that complete off topic?


    Seems to me... these guys want to turn already dis-formed social class triangle, an hybrid shape of a triangle and an hourglass, and squeeze more of it into a funnel neck-hourglass with a small top but a almost flat bottom social class...

    The wonder of Humanity's greed never stop surprising me.

    what next? once all those poor-of-the-poors to high middle class are reduced to almost slave/beggar class, we'll be having the mafia fight between the high classes, doing whatever it means to drain the other bank account till there's one high class and around 6 billion people starving, rioting, killing each other just to survive?

    And if you're asking where's the rest of the human population in this scenario? They're dead, from overworking at their work/profession, dying due to lack of medical aid, killed themselves due to pressure and problems and the others are already six-feet under or even more.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    When are you going to stop trolling AC? When are you going to officially leave this site? When are you going to reveal your secret love for Mike?

    It's getting a little silly, really.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "There's your first problem. Foreign websites are outside US law by definition of them being foreign, therefore, it's irrelevant whether or not their behavior is illegal under US law. US law does not apply outside our borders. The internet is not within our borders."

    Wrong. It was decieded that if a site had US customers (or audience), then the US can claim jurisdiction. This goes way back. I'm not a lawyer to remember the exact decision but it's been awhile. That's why the file host's (I guess "cyverlockers") closed to US addresses.

    Most sites depend on some revenue provided with a credit card. Visa has the bulk of US credit cards -if they pull support for a site (which they are happy to do) usually the site cannot last a month. Online tobacco sales to avoid state taxes was one of the first times it was used. Now credit cards -Visa- just reports sales to state tax offices. Soon they will be reporting all credit card sales to states for taxes.

    There is very little difference between coorporation and government with the same people running both; extreme capitalism or a form of faciscm.

    Hollywood is the last major donor to Obama and the Democrat's left in this election year. The fact they are pulling this makes the party nearly indefensable. But don't get fooled, when these bills go up for a vote, the GOP is 100% with them. They will do even more for their paymasters per the economic meltdown as an example.

    This is an issue where no one is on the side of the average american.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "There's your first problem. Foreign websites are outside US law by definition of them being foreign, therefore, it's irrelevant whether or not their behavior is illegal under US law. US law does not apply outside our borders. The internet is not within our borders."

    Wrong. It was decieded that if a site had US customers (or audience), then the US can claim jurisdiction. This goes way back. I'm not a lawyer to remember the exact decision but it's been awhile. That's why the file host's (I guess "cyverlockers") closed to US addresses.

    Most sites depend on some revenue provided with a credit card. Visa has the bulk of US credit cards -if they pull support for a site (which they are happy to do) usually the site cannot last a month. Online tobacco sales to avoid state taxes was one of the first times it was used. Now credit cards -Visa- just reports sales to state tax offices. Soon they will be reporting all credit card sales to states for taxes.

    There is very little difference between coorporation and government with the same people running both; extreme capitalism or a form of faciscm.

    Hollywood is the last major donor to Obama and the Democrat's left in this election year. The fact they are pulling this makes the party nearly indefensable. But don't get fooled, when these bills go up for a vote, the GOP is 100% with them. They will do even more for their paymasters per the economic meltdown as an example.

    This is an issue where no one is on the side of the average american.

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    The fact that these sites are in english has been used as evidence that their target is US consumers. At the time this was decided it was considered "consumer protection" against fraud (illegal prescribtions, tobacco, knock-offs, poorly made dvd's, etc).

    Snooze and ya' loose. This has been going on for more than a decade. That makes it "well-decieded". We (the US through congress) would need to pass a new law to change it. The chances of it changing through the court system is remote.

    Add Citizen's United to the mix and you've got a bloodless coop.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Very important concept that seems to escape many; When a law is passed making one sector a target (pirates in this case) at some point in time, it will be used against others. The "paper's please" law and "stand your ground" laws could be viewed from that perspective as well.

    NM's govenor (6th generation) won't go to Az because he risks being deported. Not many natural citizens carry thier papers or birth certificates around. In the southeast many didn't even have birth certifiates issued until after the 70's. Even now it's possible.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    "What do you do when a site is hosted on a domain which isn't controlled by the US? thepiratebay.se? what.cd?"

    That's why they need the ISP providers. Most areas only have one or two (if that). There is a new project for domains outside of ICANN. I don't know how long it will last but it's indexed by Open DNS. If you haven't redirected your DNS to them, you can't see the websites on it.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    They should hold open hearings where the defendant is present or represented by a lawyer or two instead of behind closed doors hearings where the defendant is denied the right to hear the charged against them which is applicable to both civil and criminal cases. Not once but on a number of occasions which now has all the appearance of someone with no case because there was no evidence. Just because law enforcement says there is and says so-and-so is doing something nefarious doesn't always mean that they are.

    Funny, SOPA would have afforded foreign websites just that remedy. Unfortunately it got shouted down. Now you've got an expanded ProIP Act and prosecutors pressing the statutory limits of jurisdiction instead. Quit crying, killed SOPA now deal with the fallout.

     

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  69.  
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    NeoHazard, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    Bodog

    Its not just "copyright sights" that this operation is going after. A fairly well know Canadian online betting site Bodog.com was taking by this same operation. This was a site hosted and operating in Canada with a disclaimer that it was not to be used by Americans. However it became a target and was taken down just because Verisign was in the US. This operation is a joke the internet is not the US' to rule

     

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  70.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    When are you going to register as a lobbyist Mike? When are you going to officially open your PAC?

    Your misguided belief that only lobbyists and PACs can have valid political opinions frightens me.

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re:

    I think individuals can have plenty of political opinions. Most of them don't address hundreds of thousands of people a day from a bully pulpit like Techdirt.

    What would you say if every day, CNN ran a piece that said "TELL WASHINGTON TO DO THIS"? Do you think it would be fair? Would you consider it reasonable that every day, your local network TV affiliate let a member of the Republican party come on the air and tell you that you must tell Obama what to do?

    Do you think it's fair to do this stuff without openly discussing your political affiliations, party membership, and importantly, your sources of funding?

    I doubt that Mike is doing any of this for free.

     

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  72.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    Re:

    When the Senate bill was being discussed, people certainly seemed to be aware it could be used to go after web/net sites.

    Here's a site that has the legislative history of the bill:
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:S3325:

    I've searched through there, and try as I might, I could not ever find one reference to the ex parte seizing of domain names.

     

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  73.  
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    [citation needed or GTFO], Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:04pm

    Re: not long

    I'd take that bet because we all know that Mike is just as stubborn as the IP extremists that troll these comment sections. =P

     

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  74.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:45pm

    Re: not long (that long)

    With bob leading the way when bob-law gets to replace due process and all that messy kind of stuff. One day techdirt is here, the next day it's bobdirt cheering on the virtues of eternal copyright and patents and the RIAA and MPAA logos plastered all over the background of the site!

     

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  75.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Wrong. It was decieded that if a site had US customers (or audience), then the US can claim jurisdiction. This goes way back. I'm not a lawyer to remember the exact decision but it's been awhile. That's why the file host's (I guess "cyverlockers") closed to US addresses.

    Actually that's not correct at all.

    What has occurred is that the USG has wiped out centuries of Reciprocity agreements under civil laws by stating that the USA laws and statutes are above anyone else, but when a US citizen or corporation runs afoul of foreign laws then that same entity is absolutely protected because they are US and not a dirty foreigner.

    That's the essence of it. Look at the extradition laws: NO US citizen can be extradited from US soil for any reason whatsoever to stand trial in any foreign court.

    You're correct when no one is on the side of America, though reasonable people in foreign jurisdictions do understand it is not the average American to blame, it's the system of political and corporate excesses you have allowed by apathy, fear, intent, or all three that is instead the problem. Ever since the late 1920's America has been very provincial and very egoistic with the basic premise of "what we want we get by any means, what you want we don't care about".

    Happily, the 95% of the world that is NOT America and is a HUGE market (with over 50% untapped) has become to understand that if the USA wants to close itself to the rest of the world (that is beginning to be more free than even the USA) then no one will really care any more. Spain & Greece are no beginning to understand this economically. Brazil, Chile, Russia and China always have understood this and it's been most likely a major part of China's 100yr plan to destroy America from inside out (your doing it already) so that China can awake from it's 100yr slumber.

     

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  76.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Just because a site uses English in no way means they are targeting US markets. You see the 5% of the world population (ie: AMERICA) barely speaks proper English to begin with, and the rest of the English speaking world.

    In fact by all estimates and reports there are more English speakers in India than there are in the whole USA.

    Also all Europeans learn English as a second language at school (where they actually study it in more depth than America ever will) and can speak it fluently. It's also the language of Science, Aviation, and a multitude of professions world wide.

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2012 @ 10:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    So instead of a few sites that have been taken down, you'd rather have a system that legitimises more sites getting taken down on the basis that it's written in law and therefore it's written in stone.

    Your insistence that SOPA would have given people more freedoms is a joke, just like how CEOs claimed that SOPA was needed as a legitimate way to take down sites that criticise them.

     

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  78.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 11th, 2012 @ 11:58pm

    Re: Re:

    ... think you're a bit late for that one...

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think it's hilarious that you consider Techdirt to have an audience the size of CNN, but more importantly, you seem to like cooking the numbers whenever it suits you much like the RIAA. Wasn't it you shills who insisted that Techdirt has the minority opinion and the majority of people were in favour of SOPA? Now you're throwing a tantrum because a nobody site-owner has possible political inclinations. So which is it, or are you trying to have things both ways?

     

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  80.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 12th, 2012 @ 1:10am

    Re:

    When are you going to register as a lobbyist Mike? When are you going to officially open your PAC?

    It's getting a little silly, really.


    Of all your idiotic claims over the years, I have to admit that this is my favorite, because it shows not just how ignorant you are, but also how desperate.

    Just for fun, you might want to look up what it means to be a registered lobbyist -- because it's obvious you haven't the slightest clue. I'd like to see you explain how I meet any of the criteria. Even just a single one.

    I'll wait.

     

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  81.  
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    indieThing, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    You're obviously not well travelled in that part of the world then - a large proportion of the economy there is transactions made in US dollars. For some weird reason the people prefer them to the official local currency !

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 2:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    >The fact that these sites are in english has been used as evidence that their target is US consumers

    So the UK consumers don't matter?

     

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

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    or Australians?

    Or Canadians?

    Or Indians?

    Or any of the other people of the world who speak English not because they want to make life more convenient for American tourists, but because it is the language they use to communicate within their community??

    the arrogance of merkins sometimes beggars belief!

     

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

  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 3:55am

    Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    I rated you insightful.

    but, I would have rated you 'most insightful' if you'd stopped at 1)

     

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

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What would be an appropriate mechanism?

    Yes, but not so for electronic transactions such as credit card payments used online.

     

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

  86.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Jun 12th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think individuals can have plenty of political opinions. Most of them don't address hundreds of thousands of people a day from a bully pulpit like Techdirt.


    Really? What would those opinion pages I see in my daily newspaper be then?

    The only difference here is that Mike provides his own platform instead of relying on some newspaper publisher.

     

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

  87.  
    icon
    Scott (profile), Jun 12th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    I signed

    ...but there are only 385 others who signed as of now. Seems like more people would sign it, especially if they read it here

     

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

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Reasons why we are doomed as a country

    "But who police the police when they/ Beat brothers to the ground, like, every day?/ What I'm sayin' what if people start shootin' 'em back?/ Spit caps outta gats till the beast collapse." -PARIS

     

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

  89.  
    icon
    cjstg (profile), Jun 13th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re:

    great, crickets.

     

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


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