COICA Censorship Bill Shelved… For Now

from the but-like-a-zombie,-it'll-be-back dept

While there had been plans to move forward with a markup on the COICA censorship bill this week, it appears that those plans have been delayed, effectively shelving the bill for the time being. This should keep it off the agenda at least until after the elections, but you can expect it to come back before too long. From what’s been discussed, it sounds as if those backing the bill really hoped to push it through before any opposition actually recognized what was in the bill and could mobilize protests — but that didn’t work. So, next time it comes around, those who feel pretty strongly that our gov’t shouldn’t be in the business of censoring websites without due process will be better prepared as well. It certainly doesn’t mean that this fight is over. You can bet that supporters of the bill will put forth a much stronger media campaign as well. But, at least this dreadfully bad piece of legislation didn’t just get rushed through.

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Comments on “COICA Censorship Bill Shelved… For Now”

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84 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

They're amending it

They’re removing the controversial AG’s extra-judicial public blacklist, but adding immunity for registrars to voluntarily cut off service to sites that the registrar suspects of infringement (translation – that the government/media companies secretly persuades them to). The amended bill may be trading a public blacklist for a secret private one.

The amended bill can be found here:
http://judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/upload/COICA-ManagersAmendment.pdf

Article about it here:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9188780/Outcry_prompts_amendments_to_online_IP_protection_bill?taxonomyId=71

The Rust Belt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Did you fools protest child porn sites being blocked too?”

Dunno, has there been articles on TD about child pornography?

“You’re all a bunch of liars.”

Where?

“You just want to be able to continue your taking of music and movies for free.”

Funny thing, I am downloading gigabytes of music every week. For free. Legally. Yes, I would like to continue, why?

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:

You just want to be able to continue your anonymous posting, freedom to speak your mind, and other legal activities for free.

Fixed that for you. And yes. Yes, we do.

Do you really think this is about JUST child porn, or JUST piracy? This is about the freedom of information, legit or not. This is about the freedom to speak our minds without fear of the government shutting a site down because it disagrees with what we’re saying.

Censorship is never about taking down something illegal. It’s about taking something legal and making it illegal on the basis of morals or “feelings”. Taking down child porn isn’t censorship, it’s the removal of illegal and horrifying content. Stopping piracy (if you can) isn’t censorship, it’s the prevention of an illegal act.

Taking down a website without due process for either the site’s owners, the service provider/hosting company, or those who created content on/for the site just because they’re “subversive” or “not what we approve of” or “morally wrong” is censorship.

If COICA had gone through, and a website I own/run was censored/removed because I said “Fuck Barack Obama”, would you really call that a victory for free speech? Or would you say it’s a “necessary precaution” or some other such easily-seen-through smokescreen fearmongering bullshit?

This is about censorship. This is about free speech. This is about your inalienable right to speak your mind without the government coming in and saying you can’t because they don’t like what you’re saying. Disguising the issue behind fearmongering tactics like “I bet you want child porn on the Net” is a smokescreen to get people to avoid the real issue and get riled up about a wholly different matter.

Don’t pretend this isn’t about free speech, and I won’t treat you like you’re a goddamned bookburner.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Censorship is never about taking down something illegal. It’s about taking something legal and making it illegal on the basis of morals or “feelings”. Taking down child porn isn’t censorship, it’s the removal of illegal and horrifying content. Stopping piracy (if you can) isn’t censorship, it’s the prevention of an illegal act.

there’s also the fact that a blacklist, public or secret, won’t have much effect on file sharing.

RD says:

Re: Re:

“You just want to be able to continue your taking of music and movies for free.”

Fuck you shithole. I pay $9 a month for netflix, which has streaming movies and DVD by mail. Perhaps you have heard of them. I watch all I want, LEGALLY, and I PAY for it because they BUILT A GOOD SYSTEM AT A FAIR PRICE. The problem with the bill isnt about that, its about being able to ACCUSE someone so their site or speech are removed off the net without any oversight, recourse, or due process. So you can shove your “you just want to pirate stuff” up your cornhole until you bleed. Jerkwad.

mike allen (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I love free music creative commons is great but i guess you are against that to. when it comes to commercial music here in the UK Spotify is great for that. But then i also get sent loads of tracks in my work from artists and yes i will continue whatever the U.S gov say. and i will say what i know to be right regardless of you or any government. trol.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Obvious coward won’t admit his obvious love of taking music for free.

Paul, I think the problem is that most of us receive free music through legal methods (the musician gives them out for free or the musician makes them available through services where we can pull them down for practically free.) So, yes, we love us the free music and we are freely admit it. However, it is legally free, so even though the Boy Scouts have a problem with this, most of the world doesn’t because it is free and legal.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need to be better prepared too

We need to be better prepared too. First, someone who is from the US should set up a real-time monitoring system to quickly find out whenever another bill like this appears, even if it is disguised as a rider.

Second, we can prepare a media campaign as well, kept hidden but ready to be launched in an instant whenever needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To gain “immunity” everyone should voluntarily censor the websites first.

Where in there is accountability?

We all know it is easy to accuse others and don’t have to prove anything that is why people are pushing for it, what if the things was in reverse, people had to have strong proof that the site was infringing, would they want to do it then?

Somehow I doubt it.

The censorship happens by inertia, most people want defend against it because they can’t or don’t feel the need to and that hurts democracy and freedom of speech putting a high bar to gain the right to say things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What my fear mongering is not good enough but yours is?

COICA will in no uncertain terms be used to stiffle not only free speech but competition and innovation.

All the law passed before this one have the same MO and you don’t think it is proof enough?

Well then I’m sorry, and I want to see you prove that it will have due process, it won’t get expanded beyond its original intent and that it will not harm free speech can you provide the proof for it?

Because I can point to others laws that had that effect like the DMCA can you point to one that didn’t affect free speech or was not abused?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So where’s the 1st amendment problem?

First of all, the bill is a classic case of “prior restraint.” It seeks to block sites from being reachable by the public.

Second, even beyond the prior restraint issue, it uses a sledge hammer to block access to an entire site, rather than targeting specifically infringing material (and, most of the sites it’s actually targeting don’t actually host any infringing material themselves anyway). That’s a key First Amendment problem.

I have a hard time believing the bill would pass a First Amendment challenge.

Where’s the lack of due process?

(j)(1) and (j)(2) describe a list that the AG can put together *without* prior judicial review, and then gives ISPs and registrars immunity if they block access to those sites, despite the lack of judicial review.

It does allow for post hoc judicial review, but that’s not how due process works. It’s backwards.

That’s the key concern, though thanks to people speaking out about it, it appears that part was changed slightly last night.

As for the list that does include judicial review, note that it is not a trial, but simply the AG going to a judge. That’s not due process

If you can’t spell this out, then you don’t have a leg to stand on.

And now that we have spelled it out?

No one is going to listen to abstract fear mongering when it comes time to vote on this.

And that’s why we provide specifics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/censorship-internet-takes-center-stage-online

It was answered already, you just don’t want to hear about it LoL

The law will take down the entire domain even if legitimate uses are found inside indiscriminately, which will be used to stifle free speech, the law doesn’t mention the need to prove anything so any website can be deemed infringing and be taken down by this law how is that not a free speech issue can you tell us how it is not?

Youtube could be deemed a infringing site God knows many in the industry want to see Youtube go away, how taking away a popular platform helps combat piracy?

https://www.eff.org/pages/sites-coica-may-take-offline-and-why

How long until sites like the Pirate Party that is a legitimate political party start getting censored?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I read it did you?

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.3804:

You COICAsucker who gets to decide what is the primary use of a website?

There is no guidance to what is and what is not, they let that to AG’s who we all know like to go that extra mile to be wrong, now imagine if they got the power to define what is good and what is bad are you stupid or something?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Did you read the law?

It says very clearly that the definition will be left to the AG those same AG that threatened Craiglist for not doing something. Now you will let those same people decide what is and what is not primarily something?

Are you stupid?

Here read the f’ing law proposal.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.3804:

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: AG

> It says very clearly that the definition will be
> left to the AG those same AG that threatened
> Craiglist for not doing something.

Actually, it’s not the same person who threatened Craigslist. Craigslist was threatened by the attorneys-general of a handful of states. This bill would vest the power to decide if a website is infringing with the U.S. Attorney General at the federal level.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: AG

And he is different from the other ones how?

Is he immune to political pressure? Is he immune to lobbying? Is he immune to piss contests? Is he immune from the courts? Is he immune from the president? Is he immune from congress?

Besides he will take his cues from whom? I’m sure it is not the public, because if it was the RIAA and MPAA would be all over it condemning that piece of planed legislation.

cc (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let me put it in simple words for you to understand.

– The introduction of web censorship under whatever pretext will inevitably lead to more censorship. It has happened in other “western” countries that have tried it (Sweden, Finland, and Australia off the top of my head) and the same will happen in the US. It’s human nature — the block list *will* be abused for other purposes than copyright in the grand scheme of things. Like the wiretapping laws are abused, like the terrorism laws are abused, like the DMCA law is abused, and so on.

– The suggested block list is at DNS level. The US has been *entrusted* with the DNS for the *entire world*, so tampering with it is clearly abusing that position to impose your political and economic beliefs/problems on everyone else. This makes you look like complete assholes (do you care at this point?), and means only one thing: the US will lose control of the DNS, or the rest of the world will set up its own DNS registry, thus fragmenting the DNS. Fragmented DNS means the same URL may resolve to a different IP address in different countries (that brings problems of its own, including a lot of very confused routers).

– Anyone can set up his own DNS server, so the censorship will be ineffective against anyone who takes ten seconds to change a couple of settings in her browser!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You Tube’s primary MO isn’t infringement.

That’s not what Viacom claimed for YouTube’s first 3 years of existence.

“Fostering and countenancing this piracy were central to YouTube’s economic business
model.”

And:

“Defendants are liable under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd.,
545 U.S. 913 (2005), because they operated YouTube with the unlawful objective of profiting
from (to use their phrase) “truckloads” of infringing videos that flooded the site. YouTube’s
founders single-mindedly focused on geometrically increasing the number of YouTube users to
maximize its commercial value.”

If COICA had been in place 5 years ago, YouTube would probably not exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You didn’t answer the question of who gets to decide what is primarily being used to infringe or not.

If you ask the RIAA and the MPAA they all will say youtube is a haven for pirates and so the AG will act upon that?

Did the AG not go after Craiglists without any power to do so?

Imagine what those stupid people would do with real power granted to them.

LZ7 says:

Re: Re:

dude… you’re obviously not going to call someone into a fight here. This was an egregious bill that had little chance from the word go. Only the greedy, corrupt minority supported it. It’s wildly unpopular with the people, who naturally, don’t want to censor the only outlet that we can get actual news from…. do you get that? I don’t know what else to say if you don’t, It’s pretty damn cut and dry Mr. Anonymous…. if that is indeed your real name mmmmhimmmm

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

See? None of you bozos can defend your position.

I did.

This bill protects artists.

How? Seriously. What in this bill helps artists? How will it help them embrace new business models? How will it help them get people to spend money?

And you don’t want to lose your free music lunch.

I don’t use any file sharing programs. I don’t download unauthorized music. I buy my music (CDs mostly, but sometimes Amazon, CDBaby or Bandcamp downloads). Why throw out false claims you can’t back up?

It isn’t censorship. And you’re fear mongers.

I explained above why it absolutely is censorship. If you believe that there is infringing content, there are already laws in place to deal with that. But this is not about that. This is about blocking entire sites, without a trial. That’s the very definition of censorship, not fear mongering.

The Rust Belt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“This bill protects artists.

By blocking access to the websites on which they are promoted only because somebody somewhere deemed an unrelated parts of them as being helpful to infringing activities?

“And you don’t want to lose your free music lunch.”

Well, I don’t want to loose mine. And mine is perfectly legal and free at the same time. All you have are baseless accusations and lack of understanding of the problem. It’s people like you who are real fear mongers.

Child pornography is already mentioned in this thread in the most ridiculous way possible. Stealing cars, too. Now to terrorism! I am really surprised nobody’s talking about terrorism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I can do that, I can piss 4 ft away, how further can you LoL

A law that give the power to people who have a proven record of misguided actions like the AG’s should be the first big red flag, not counting the input from an industry that is known worldwide for its lies and fake reports, that is another red flag and then comes the fact that those laws get expanded and keep going underground so people can’t see what it is in them is another giant red flag.

So what we have here is basically a political motivated bill that will give power to known abusers of the law to abuse it against people they don’t like, that is not fear mongering is just the reality of it and everybody knows it except apparently the shills from the industry.

Besides there is no indication that this extreme measure will help combat piracy at any level, you think people need the internet to do it? Flash news for ya, HDD docks cost $50 bucks and a terabyte HDD costs $100 bucks, that is a thousand DVD’s right there, people can swap huge amounts of data today and the internet is not the best way to do it, I’m waiting for the law that will make it illegal to send HDD to people around the world, will the post office be forced to monitor what it is traveling on their routes? will this law help with IM(instant messengers) clients that have the ability to transfer files? Will this law prevent the network overlays that don’t care about the underlying structure and implement their own?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My right to steal a car is being stopped! Censorship! Censorship!

Of course, this bill has nothing to do with stopping theft. You seem to be very confused about basic definitions.

Stopping someone from stealing a car is not censorship.

Prosecuting actual infringement is not censorship.

But forcing third parties to block entire websites, based on claims of a biased Justice Department that those sites *might* help *others* to infringe — and doing so without a trial? That is censorship.

I’m sorry you don’t seem to understand basic First Amendment concepts, but it would help if you want people to take you seriously.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Now COICAsucker explain to everybody here, why such a law that could have tremendous bad consequences to free speech, competition and innovation should be passed when it doesn’t even do what it is suppose to do and that is stop piracy, not even a little dude.

Did you read the law COICAsucker? I bet not because it shows very clearly that the interpretation of what is “primary” will be left to people known to exaggerations, political pressure and self interests, how can that be good COICAsucker tell us please because I want to laugh at your feeble excuses LoL

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Control over what we create is an utterly basic human right that is granted both by English common law and by the U.S. constitution.

For the purpose of “promoting the progress.” If it does not do that, then it is not sanctioned by the Constitution.

And it’s not a “basic human right,” at all. In fact, the founders were pretty clear that it was a *limited time* gov’t granted monopoly *privilege*. And only for the purpose of *expanding the public domain* and improving knowledge and learning. In fact, most entertainment content was not initially considered for copyright. It was added later.

A basic human right is not “for a limited time.” A gov’t granted monopoly is.

Separately, however, this particular bill has nothing to do with control over what you create. We already have copyright law that grants an exorbitant amount of control over what you create. This law, however, has nothing to do with providing more control. It merely seeks to allow the gov’t to order third parties to censor websites without a trial. That provides you no greater control.

Anonymous Coward says:

Steve Tepp, Senior Director of Internet Counterfeiting and Piracy for the U.S. Chamber?s Global Intellectual Property Center, has now responded to this criticism in oddly worded response.

?Online counterfeiting and piracy is a destructive force that hurts the American economy, and the Leahy-Hatch bill addresses this illegal behavior by targeting the worst of the worst counterfeiters and copyright pirates online,? he says. ?The assertion that this legislation equates to foreign political censorship is erroneous and does not accurately reflect this bill. Effective action against criminals whose products can kill and whose illicit profits steal American jobs is vastly different from foreign political censorship.?

http://www.zeropaid.com/news/90904/us-chamber-of-commerce-censorin-foreign-p2p-sites-not-censorship/

Right now people are already talking about expanding the COICA, why else would they be talking about drug counterfeiting that is not even covered by copyrights.

This will be used to stop competition, this is not about piracy is about making legal things into something illegal to justify anti-competitive behavior with the added benefit of being useful to go after critics.

Tom Keane says:

There isn’t anything odd about Tepp’s response; phony pharm drugs are being sold on the net and there have numerous instances of health problems as a result.

Prior restraint is not an issue with this law; there is no restriction of expression occuring.

Also, going before a judge is due process.

This is a commerce issue.

Carry on 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The potential to close down entire platforms with legal content is not prior restraint?

Going before a judge that have no obligations and apparently just need to sit there and do nothing since nothing is expected from him/her is due process?

Yah right.

About right you are right it is a commerce issue and should never be a political or judicial problem, the industry should find ways to coupe with their problems and resolve them by themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Funny use of the name Tom Keane the same Tom Keane that sits in numerous board one of them being UnitedHealth Group which only adds to the fact that COICA is just the foot in the door.

What happened to informing the public and working to gain their trust?

Instead people think that forcing others to fallow them is the best solution, it is not, people lost already respect for the law in this instance and the little respect the government has is eroding fast and this legislation is just the tip of the iceberg.

Why not make a silly website that list all approved and safe websites out there?

Let people choose and if they choose wrong they should get bitten, not this “we will do it for you” crap. People would respect more something like that and doesn’t involve giving proven irresponsible people more power to be more irresponsible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Were are the f’ing penalties for abuse of laws like COICA?

There are no penalties for being dishonest using them are there.

There is no balance on this proposal, there is no safety measures and it will be abused there is no question about it.

And COICAsuckers want to make believe that it is ok, they say “trust us” when every time people trusted them they were let down by those same people.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s amazing how dishonest you people are.

Everyone KNOWS how much music is illegally downloaded.

It has devastated the ability for artists to pursue creation to their fullest ability.

Yet you guys continue to try and spin things into something they’re not.

I think everyone is starting to understand who the real greedy pigs are.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s amazing how dishonest you people are.

Everyone KNOWS this law doesn’t target the actual people who are illegally offering music for download.

It is being passed due to pressure from major labels, who have devastated the ability for artists to pursue creation to their fullest ability.

Yet you guys continue to try and spin things into something they’re not.

I think everyone is starting to understand who the real greedy pigs are.

Todd says:

Re: Re: Re:

Really? So having more money will lead to a greater level of artistic expression…. ok…. or maybe… just maybe, having all that money will lead to a potential satisfaction of said artist. Guess your haven’t heard, but satisfaction is the death of desire.

btw, even with all the infringement activity, the artists who will actually be protected by this bill have a far greater income than the majority of middle class people in America.

This will censor illegal things as it should, but also things it shouldn’t, and that will be infringing on the constitution.

we can be more like socialist societies though – execute 10 men just to get 1 criminal…. hmmmmmm 9/10 were innocent though. eh…. i guess it’s worth it, right?

Steven (user link) says:

USA Internet blacklist bill being voted on 11/18/2010
I am posting this here because it affects ALL USA users and it needs to be where they can see it. Site admins may want to consider making this a sticky on top of ALL forums.

The buzz I have been hearing are that this bill is very likely to pass. Obama supports it.

For those not aware here’s a summary courtesy of demandprogress.org:

What exactly does it do?

The bill creates a blacklists of Internet domain names which the Attorney General can add to with a court order. Internet service providers, financial transaction providers, and online ad vendors (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block any domains on the list.

(The bill used to also have a second list that the AG could add to without a court order, but public pressure has gotten it removed.)

What kind of domains can go on the list?

The list is for domains “dedicated to infringing activity,” which is defined very broadly ? any site where counterfeit goods or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site” would be blocked.

What’s so bad about that?

Well, it means sites like YouTube could get censored in the US. Copyright holders like Viacom argue that copyrighted material is central to activity of YouTube. But under current US law, YouTube is perfectly legal as long as they take down copyrighted material when they’re informed about it — which is why Viacom lost their case in court. If this bill passes, Viacom doesn’t even need to prove YouTube is doing anything illegal — as long as they can persuade a court that enough other people are using it for copyright infringement, that’s enough to get the whole site censored.
–>

Isn’t the word censored a little overheated?

Not at all. In the US, the way things work is that if you’re using the Internet to do something illegal, you’re brought to court and the courts can shut you down. This bill would bypass that whole system by forcing Internet service providers to block access to sites that are otherwise up. People in other countries could still get to them, but Internet users in the US would be blocked. This kind of Internet censorship is exactly the sort of thing the US government has been criticizing China and Iran for — just the other day, Obama told the UN that “We will support a free and open Internet.” Now it turns out we’re going to start censoring the Internet ourselves.

But it’s just limited to copyright!

How long do you think that will last? Once the Attorney General has a system set up for censoring the Internet, everyone who has a problem with a website will want to get in on it. How long before it’s expanded to block Wikileaks, pornography, gambling, anarchists, supposed terrorists, and anybody else the Attorney General doesn’t like that day? If people are doing something illegal, the government should take them to court and shut them down — not try to bypass due process by blocking their domain name.

Won’t Internet users just work around the blacklist?

Yes — at the cost of a major blow to the United States. Currently the United States is the global hub of Internet traffic, but if this law passes Internet traffic will be reconfigured to route around it. Companies will move their US servers and domain names overseas, Internet users will route their traffic through other countries (just like Chinese citizens have to do now!), and software will have to be reconfigured to no longer trust answers from American servers.

What can I do to stop this?

The first step is signing our petition then we’ll give you the tools to share it with your friends and call your senator.

The petition in question can be found here:
http://demandprogress.org/blacklist/

This bill sounds absolutely horrible and, if passed, will potentially (and very likely) ruin the internet. If the US passes this, I’m sure countries like the UK, Sweden, France and the Netherlands will be very eager to follow.

Also, let us not overlook that Facebook and every other site that contains any infringement on copyright is subjected to this. So, if you see a pic or video that is copyrighted and place it on your site, you could face penalties from your IPS.

Once again egocentric idiots on capitol hill trying to gain even more power over businesses to force their hand and rein supreme over freedom of speech, censorship and due process.

This is almost as bad as Bush Jr. allowing a terrorist attack on our country having foreknowledge that the attacks would take place, then, implementing new laws that walk all over our civil liberties like the Patriot Act. There’s NOTHING patriotic about it, yet it is now a law that any governmental enforcement agency can without a warrant can tap your phone and do illegal search and seizures!!

If WE don’t raise our voices and try to make efforts to quash these tyrants from stripping our civil rights yet again, then we have no excuse when these laws are put in place, meaning, do something other than just reading these posts.

Sign the petition, email your senator and demand that this bill never see the light of day again as it’s imperative for all Americans to safeguard our constitution and civil liberties allowing no power hungry congressman to slip this kind of harmful bill and legal threat to OUR RIGHTS.

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