SOPA Didn't Die, It Just Emigrated
from the to-russia,-with-love dept
It's hard to believe that the heady times that saw SOPA's rise and fall are only a year and a half ago. Of course, SOPA didn't die, but was merely "delayed". But if you've ever wondered what happened to it, wonder no more; it emigrated to Russia, as TorrentFreak reports:
Aggressive new anti-piracy legislation that allows for sites to be rapidly blocked by ISPs upon allegations of copyright infringement passed through its final two readings in Russia's State Duma today. Lawmakers fast-tracked the controversial legislation despite intense opposition from Google and Yandex, Russia' biggest search engine. Following upper house and presidential approval, the law is expected to come into effect on August 1.
Its measures are extreme:
The proposals would see copyright holders filing lawsuits against sites carrying infringing content. Site owners would then be required to remove unauthorized content or links to the same within 72 hours. Failure to do so would result in their entire site being blocked by Internet service providers pending the outcome of a court hearing.
Not surprisingly, Russia's biggest Internet company, Yandex, is deeply worried by what this might mean in practice;
"This approach is technically illiterate and endangers the very existence of search engines, and any other Internet resources. This version of the bill is directed against the logic of the functioning of the Internet and will hit everyone -- not just internet users and website owners, but also the rightsholders," a spokesman for Yandex said in a statement.
That's a good summary of the problem with this and similar SOPA-like laws. Those proposing them believe, incorrectly, that it is possible to stop people sharing files online if the measures are harsh enough. At the most, that will simply encourage people to swap files on new sites still under the radar, or to exchange them in person using portable hard drives or high-capacity USBs.
But the collateral damage is serious: entire sites can be shut down because of one or two infringements, causing large numbers of people to lose access to their personal files; at the same time, startups will struggle with the disproportionate burden of policing their users, and high-tech investments will fall, put off by the unfavorable market conditions. Bringing in these kind of laws certainly won't get rid of infringing content online, but is likely to impoverish the online landscape in Russia, which is bad for Internet users, bad for Internet companies -- and bad for the whole economy there.