The Return Of COICA; Because Censorship Is Cool Again

from the it's-baaaack dept

As expected, Congress is holding hearings as it prepares to reintroduce COICA, a horribly written piece of legislation that effectively gives the US government more powers to censor websites (even beyond the Homeland Security domain seizures) by forcing companies to block the site, turn off hosting or refuse to provide other services to the site — and this can be done with little or no due process, in violation of the basic principles of the Constitution. At least the hearings aren’t totally one-sided. Sherwin Siy is presenting an excellent speech that warns how such a law may sound good on a first pass, but has a ton of unintended consequences. There are serious questions about stifling not just plenty of non-infringing speech, but also harming innovation:

In regulating copyright, the law is regulating a form of speech. Addressing these issues in the context of the Internet–a potent outlet for free speech of all sorts–adds additional delicacy to these undertakings. Any technical mechanism that can be used to remove infringing content can be abused to remove disfavored, but constitutionally protected, speech. Any legal remedy that can enjoin the distribution of content can be misapplied or misused in the restraint of speech. This means that both technical and legal measures must be narrowly tailored both in their defined targets for action, and in the scope of the effects of their remedies.

Proposed remedies against online infringers must also take into account the evolving nature of the Internet and the businesses that rely upon it. Overbroad mechanisms can chill not only speech, but also investment in new distributed technologies.

Meanwhile, the EFF is noting that the massive mistakes highlighted in the recent Homeland Security domain seizures should act as a warning sign for politicians supporting COICA.

Criminal copyright infringement is infringement committed ?willfully? and in the context of various specific circumstances. Significantly, the websites targeted in the most recent ICE action appear to have merely linked to infringing content. That is, they did not themselves violate any of the exclusive rights of copyright owners that would constitute direct infringement. The ICE agent who signed the affidavit explicitly states that the ten seized domains point to what he calls ?linking? websites?i.e., websites that contain ?links to files on third party websites that contain illegal copies of copyrighted content.? (He also points out that these linking sites ?are popular because they allow users to quickly browse content and locate illegal streams that would otherwise be more difficult to find.? Sound like any search engines you know?)

Hopefully Congress realizes what a mistake COICA would be, but we keep hearing from people saying that the entertainment industry has put a huge effort behind COICA and getting it passed as quickly as possible.

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Comments on “The Return Of COICA; Because Censorship Is Cool Again”

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Anonymous Coward says:

EFF continues to dance on the head of a pin on this one. They are smart enough to know that people are putting stuff on free hosting to avoid bandwidth and liablity, while still profiting from the infringing material by including it as part of their websites. There should be no simple escape hatch allowing this site to go “we didn’t host it” and come off clean, even as they profit from the very infringement.

On this particular point, EFF is defending criminals, which is a really bad idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“But… but… censorship! LMFAO!”

yes, first amendment rights are exactly the same as the bastardized travesty of itself that modern intellectual property has become.

“but…but… you won’t jump through hoops to give us ten times what our content is worth and get an inferior product compared to what you would have gotten if you had just googled it”


Lee Litchfield says:


Like all drastic remedies for illegal activities, it needs to be carefully thought out. This is kind of like me getting arrested for soliciting for collecting and posting phone numbers of whorehouses and hookers. I’m not committing a crime, but the way this is being enforced I would be sent to jail anyway. Using this method, cops could just walk into a bank that was being robbed and shoot everyone in sight on the pretense that they might be involved in criminal activity and therefore have no rights. Complete hogwash. We need to have some way to police the internet, but shutting down innocent websites and domains is not the way to accomplish this, and flies in the face of constitutional law. Only the Supreme court has the authority to establish what is and is not covered in that case, not joe blow schmoe from! People on the net or off of it have a right to due process, and the way COICA is set up you can shut anyone down on just a suspicion of wrong doing, no proof required. How would you feel if the police broke into your house late one night and threw you into a cell for six months because your neighbors are breaking the law and their thinking that you live so close you are probably guilty too. Absurd, maybe, but not too far from how they will use COICA to mess with folks on the WWW.

average_joe says:

So Sly’s argument is that since COICA could be abused, we shouldn’t have COICA? Couldn’t you make that argument about any power?

The EFF quote is silly. They gloss over the fact that the domain names were seized because they were property used to commit criminal copyright infringement. Whether or not the underlying sites are direct infringers is completely irrelevant. The FUD at the end about google being a possible target is priceless.

You lefties can spread all the FUD you want, but I’m pretty sure COICA and a bunch of other tools for rights holders are coming soon to an internet near you.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“You don’t think torrent-finder was set up for the express purpose of facilitating infringement?”

Wait, the purpose of the creators of the tool is what’s important now? Before it was how the site was used. This is new. And what about the legitimate uses for a torrent search engine? What if I want a copy of OC ReMix’s “Voices of the Lifestream” album, chiefly made available by the creators of the work via bittorrent. Are you saying that torrent-finder wouldn’t turn that up in a search?

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

By your logic, nobody should have those. Guns can kill people, as can drugs. They also posses legitimate purposes such as self-defense and hunting or treating medical conditions. If we can have guns and narcotics, we should be able to use torrents. Hell, I could kill someone with a hammer if I had a mind to, but we still have hammers easily accessible because they do serve a useful purpose.

COICA, on the other hand, is harmful in a different way. It ignores constitutional rights and due process to protect the interests of one group of people.

velox says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“I’m a gun enthusiast, and my wife’s a doctor. Hence the guns and the drugs, all for legitimate purposes. The difference with sites like torrent-finder is their primary purpose is illegitimate. I’m not sure what the confusion is.”

The primary purpose of guns is to kill other human beings. How many legitimate opportunities to use your guns for their intended purpose have you had.
Perhaps you are ready to admit that if you are deprived of your guns by the rule of law, that it’s all for the best?

I think not.

AJ — are you amendment choosy? as in —> ‘Give me some of the 2nd one, but I’ll pass on the 1st and 4th.’

average_joe says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

All but one of my guns is for shooting animals or targets. I like to hunt, and I like to compete in target shooting competitions. I have one gun meant for killing humans, and I keep it loaded with one in the chamber next to my bed in a combination gun safe. Its purpose is self-defense.

I’m all for the 1st and 4th Amendments. I just don’t see how COICA violates either one of them.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Just because something can have a legitimate use doesn’t negate all of its illegitimate uses.

Yes!! Like hammers! They have SO MANY illegal uses it isn’t funny! Does anybody even believe the whole “I need to hammer in a nail” crap? Obviously anybody buying a hammer is intending to use it for murder, or breaking-and-entering, or deviant sexual purposes; there are very few legitimate uses of a hammer, and hundreds of ways one can break the law with it. Obviously hammers should be outlawed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Wait, the purpose of the creators of the tool is what’s important now?

It’s always been important. It’s called intent. It figures very heavily into how judges make their opinions.

Before it was how the site was used.

Obviously that’s important too.

I think what I’m seeing is a desire by you folks to try and pretend that Torrent Finder is the same as Google.

Go type in “burger recipe” at Torrent Finder.

Google, by and large, does not discriminate. It tries to take the biggest picture of the web it can.

Torrent Finder will only search torrents, so it is discriminating. And it is discriminating towards something that in 90+% of instances is illegal.

By and large, torrent usually = illegal. Sorry, but it’s a fact.

And those are the facts a judge would base their decision on.

This really isn’t difficult at all.

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

A point I’ve tried to make, Google even have a page specifically for torrent searches, they even give you links to embed it into other sites… does any of the “but…but… bittorrent = bad” people respond? No, because they can’t, by having that specific page using their own logic Google must be guilty of inducing copyright infringment along the same lines of torrent-finder!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

All of those (and bit torrent) were allowed into the marketplace.


Only one has been shown to be used 90+ percent of the time for illegal.

No, every single one was initially used *more* than 90% of the time for illegal activities. Every single one.

Anyway, there’s no discussion of banning bit torrent, so your statement makes no sense. You must be confused.

But there was talk of banning all those other things. Which is the point. The one that you missed. Again.

By the way, I’m surprised you still haven’t taken me up on my offer to help your failing band.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

No, every single one was initially used *more* than 90% of the time for illegal activities. Every single one.

you’ve lost me on that one I’m afraid.

By the way, I’m surprised you still haven’t taken me up on my offer to help your failing band.

ahahaha, really? You’re surprised? yes um, well I’m gonna need little more evidence of your success rate and musical acumen before that happens…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What it’s purpose or motive is sounds like an issue for a court to decide. I have not seen, nor has torrent-finder had a chance to present evidence regarding its motives.

However I find Mr. Hart’s comments regarding torrent search engines extremely troubling:
“a much higher level of due diligence is required to remain legitimate. Simply responding to DMCA takedown notices as they arrive when faced with such widespread, apparent infringement is not enough to qualify such a service for safe harbor”

Where is this magical line of sufficient due-diligence defined? Mr Hart doesn’t say what he would require. Is the answer simply, More? Is there any government regulations defining this level? Does the ICE follow any guidelines in this matter? Do they even know or ask what due diligence is being performed by the sites? Is there any chance in court to show evidence of one’s level of due diligence?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Mr. Hart echoes your blurry line:

Courts have applied this ?all reasonable means? standard in a subjective way: what is reasonable from the perspective of the owner in his specific circumstances, not what a judge would consider reasonable. ?A property owner is not required to take heroic or vigilante measures to rid his or her property? of illegal activity.22 But the owner must do something, and at least one court has held that being aware of suspicious facts regarding the use of property triggers the duty to act.23

Do we know (Does ICE know?) what owners have done? Has ICE or any court asked them? Is what they’ve done reasonable “from the perspective of the owner in his specific circumstances, not what a judge would consider reasonable”?

As you say, “You have to look at the totality of the circumstances”. Has anyone looked at the totality of the circumstances? Or have they only looked at that portion of the circumstances provided by the copyright holders?

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

If you’d read the subpoenas, you’d know that it was two radar-fart level federal employees that supposedly “look[ed] at the totality of the circumstances” and came up with the “exact definition” of criminal copyright infringement (through some severely flawed reasoning and a huge lack of technological savvy).

Ok, that was a bit much sarcasm.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What it’s purpose or motive is sounds like an issue for a court to decide. I have not seen, nor has torrent-finder had a chance to present evidence regarding its motives.

that’s the problem with courts, they keep not convicting people. or they rule stuff unconstitutional, or they dismiss things.

draconian laws make it nice and clear that the world needs to stop using the internet and go back to buying CD’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s not what I said, but good dodging effort, as usual.

Under Terry’s analysis and yours too, evidently), if I were to go out right now and create a website named TorrentSearch that did absolutely nothing but index all the torrents available on the internet, that site would be illegal simply because there is some magic number (of course) of torrents that contain unauthorized material.

Do you not see the insanity of that logic? Following it along, Google (or any search engine or content aggregator or indexer or whatever) could be 100% legal one day, then an explosion of “illegal” material could appear on the internet, and Google would be 100% illegal the next day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You don’t think torrent-finder was set up for the express purpose of facilitating infringement?

No, it was set up for the express purpose of finding torrents. Not all torrents are infringing. In fact many creators of open source and freeware encourage torrenting their work because it saves them bandwidth.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Terry Hart does a great job proving the stupidity of the law, actually. Under his interpretation, all torrent search engines are illegal because…they search torrents.

Not only that, but Terry’s reasoning could have been used to ban radio, cable TV, the VCR, the photocopier, the MP3 and lots of other technologies that are now considered legit, but when introduced were derided as tools dedicated to infringement.

That’s what most troubling about folks who make these claims about how torrents = piracy. They have no knowledge of history.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The technology isn’t being banned. It’s the use of the technology that is the issue. The fact is that bittorrent is primarily used to infringe.

I must admire you weaseling, it is quite deft. Do you have trouble backing any single argument for longer than it takes to type it? Do you have any legitimate arguments, or only a series of statements which sound like justifications when taken out of context but entirely lack cohesion when examined in their entirety?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Being accused of being primarily used for infringement, and actually being proven as primarily being used for infringement, are two different things.

And they can not be conflated.

The vast majority of bit torrent traffic has been proven to be illegal.

Now does that mean we’re going to outlaw bit torrent? Of course not. But it allows us a bias when making judgments- a bias that keeps us from being considered willfully blind.

Remember this: if the VCR had actually ended up being primarily used for infringement instead of time shifting, it still wouldn’t have been banned. But law enforcement and the courts would have been allowed a bias in how they viewed it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Remember this: if the VCR had actually ended up being primarily used for infringement instead of time shifting, it still wouldn’t have been banned. But law enforcement and the courts would have been allowed a bias in how they viewed it.

C’mon the Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. ruling was the only thing that stood in the face of prohibition of that technology for normal people to use it and would in a de facto manner have stalled the production of any equipment that could record anything. Instead of a VCR people would have a VCP – Video Cassette Player.

But there is another face to this I want to see the U.S. government use any of that logic to seize assets and stop Chinese, Indian, Brazilian and others from doing anything, I want to see them try to enforce COICA in a global scale and see what the rest of the world will do to them.

The first Indian pharma that gets hit by the U.S. will be the time you will see laws go up and American companies get smacked around the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Seriously, AJ? You’re advocating for an absurd situation where no new or innovative distribution technology can get off the ground without being sued into oblivion (or shut down via law).

BitTorrent is “primarily used to infringe.” So what, when it gets to 50.1% legal usage the technology everything is suddenly okay because the users are using it differently? What happens if two months later it drifts back across your arbitrary line? Using the technology is suddenly illegal again and all the sites making use of it should be shut down?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I won’t make it to 50.1% any time soon. Last graphic I saw has legit traffic at about 2%. Almost everything else was pirated whatever. The only thing propping up the 2% was Wolrd of Warcrack stuff. Otherwise, there isn’t much legal P2P action going on at all.

89-90% of torrents infringe, and something like 98% of the traffic is infringing material. You have to be willfully blind not to know what it is used for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

People use HDD’s too to that purpose, also ISP’s are being used primarily for that purpose or not?

Because a dedicate search engine for torrents brings up mostly illegal things it doesn’t make them criminals, because if that is true Google can do the same thing and so do Bing and Yahoo, Baidu is even more accomodating to find video and sounds, will the U.S. seize Baidu domain name? I dare the U.S. government have the balls to takedown Baidu assets in the U.S. LoL

Derek Bredensteiner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Indeed, that sounds like his point. Studies show the majority (~89%?) of torrents infringe copyrights, therefore anything that searches exclusively torrents has a “substantial connection” to the crime of copyright infringement. Doesn’t sound like he’s relying on the old inducement thing, just the presence of a “substantial connection.”

I really don’t follow his logic at all though on why this applies to a torrent search, but not to a Google Search. If anything, Google links to more torrents than these other guys do (pretty much by definition as it aggregates most everyone). Isn’t that a more substantial connection by his own argument?

I mean even his own examples of Wal-Mart being held liable for crimes of others using some tiny part of their stock (ammunition), or crimes committed on their property, seems to support the idea that our current system has no qualms about placing liability on a party such as Google, however insane that notion may be to a rational person.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I really don’t follow his logic at all though on why this applies to a torrent search, but not to a Google Search. If anything, Google links to more torrents than these other guys do (pretty much by definition as it aggregates most everyone). Isn’t that a more substantial connection by his own argument?

why is that hard to follow?

fact: google is a publicly traded company located in the united states.

fact: the pirate bay has a pirate ship for a logo.

clearly google never does anything criminal and sites that let you search for torrents are always illegal.

the logic is completely bullet proof.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

While all of this is interesting to read, what isn’t being addressed is how a judge would look at it.

Quite simply, a judge will look at intent.

So when you’re wondering which way a decision would go, ask yourself honestly how a judge would see it. And remember that willful blindness or willful ignorance is a big no-no in court.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well therein lies a problem because judges are incompetent to look at technology and how it works.

A torrent search engine will always find illegal items and so do any other search engine.

Will a judge try to forbid torrents from existence?

Besides there is those other cases where Judges simply fail to follow protocol and really doing their jobs because it is so overwhelming they cheat by rubber stamping things without second thought and try to deal with things in court if it ever comes to that. How else someone can explain that websites where seized that contained no infringing material or just pointed to something, if indexing is a crime then every search engine out there is criminal, because they all have infra-structure to let me fine tune my search and torrents are just a filetype to them and I will get the exact same results us a dedicated torrent search engine would.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Well therein lies a problem because judges are incompetent to look at technology and how it works.

I think you’re being way too tough on them. From my view, the vast majority have gotten it right when it comes to these issues. The instance I can think of where it was screwy, was the first part of Viacom v YouTube. The judge in that case was old and I have doubts whether he understood what he was ruling on.

A torrent search engine will always find illegal items and so do any other search engine.

However, as I wrote above, a torrent search engine discriminates by only searching for a certain file type; one whose vast usage is illicit. I know you guys don’t want to admit it, but the vast amount of bit torrent traffic is illegal. And trying to ignore that in court would result in the judge simply assuming you were being willfully blind.

A very big no-no. Judges get very angry when you think they are stupid and try to pull one over on them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:


What is the difference from Google using:

“The Green Hornet” filetype:torrent

Resulting in about 396,000 results (0.22 seconds).

That is Google being instrumental in finding illegal material. The same thing can be done on Bing, Yahoo and Baidu.

Where is the different mate?

Judges are mostly incompetent to judge technology and they do judge technology often without consulting anyone about it.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I know you guys don’t want to admit it, but the vast amount of bit torrent traffic is illegal.

it sure is. and the vast majority of that traffic is completely unstoppable, which is something the other side doesn’t want to admit either.

the only way to stop unauthorized file sharing is to shut down the internet.

the only way to catch file sharers in significant numbers for it to serve as a deterrent is to do away with everyone’s civil liberties.

what judge in his or her right mind would allow such things to occur?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I doubt sneakernet could be stopped, but then again, that type of activity has existed for decades, and doesn’t really dent much.

The sites can (and apparently will) be neutered; then there is the question of pure P2P. If more draconian law is enacted regarding encryption, the pirates will have brought that on themselves. And for what? An insatiable and delusional quest to destroy record labels?

Having just gone through a horrible national recession, and gone through and survived the worst of the piracy problem, it seems the amount of dead major record labels has hit its bottom and there will be at least 3, and probably 4 that will survive and continue on.

Not that there was ever a chance of corporations like Sony and Universal ever going away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Also note that if file types are enough to conclude anything all search engines are criminal because they allow you to find all those pirated PDF’s, AVI, WMV, MOV, MKV, FLV, DOC, TXT, JPG, PNG, PNM and so forth.

The dominance of pirate material is a reflection on poor business practices and not a problem with the technology so going after people who index torrents should not be a reflection on the intent of others but a direct result of market forces, would any judge try to make a torrent file type illegal? why are they assuming a torrent indexer is immediately something illegal?

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Also note that if file types are enough to conclude anything all search engines are criminal because they allow you to find all those pirated PDF’s, AVI, WMV, MOV, MKV, FLV, DOC, TXT, JPG, PNG, PNM and so forth.

for me the new hotness in piracy is .epub and i lean on google way more than any tracker for epub torrents because they aren’t really that popular on torrent trackers yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Terry Hart is an idiot.

First, I don?t think there is a substantial connection between the Google domain name and links to infringing content that may appear in search results. Google?s search engine is designed to return results from as much of the web as it can scan, whether these results are links to html pages, documents, video, or audio, etc. Any links to infringing content appear only to the extent they exist. Displaying these links is only incidental to Google?s service.

Typing this on Google:
“Iron Man” filetype:torrent
Gives you about 248,000 results (0.41 seconds) all torrent files.

Source: 12 Quick Tips To Search Google Like An Expert

Only torrent files are listed, most of them illegal by the looks of it.

Oops there goes the incidental and fortuitous and now Google is a instrument used to commit a crime.

But of course people would like to selectively apply the law, which comes on the side of justice for all should be equal or there should be no law.

Those laws will be used as leverage to force compliance, will be abused and everyone can see that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Since when pointing to anything is a crime?

And it is not FUD if linking is a crime so every search engine is a criminal now, if that gets passed you are criminalizing search engines of any kind because be it that one only indexes torrents and another indexes everything it still points to infringing material, the fact that congress seems to think that they can selectively tell anyone what to seize or not is just troublesome, if the law is to be applied only to selective targets that are approved sounds a lot like authoritarian rule this is no different from Iran or Venezuela making ridiculous laws and claiming they are enforcing them only on people they don’t like.

This is also what the U.S. keeps complaining about China.

Have you no shame?

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s by Google, on Google, you do understand URLs don’t you? They are to blame. It is a specific page whose only purpose is to search for torrents on torrent sites (like Torrent-Finder), you know torrents? for bittorrent, you know the sharing thing that over 80% is infringing? and here we have the largest search engine in the world facilitating that infringement, with its own purpose built torrent search engine and the links to have it on your own page! PLEASE… will someone not think of the children! It’s known throughout the world that people sho share the latest Justin Beiber CD via bittorrent are also the same people who support terrorism through the paedophile subscriptions!! Why oh why won’t someone get ICE to seize the Google domain!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So if I flood google with indexes so that the majority of content to points to is “illegal” or violates someone’s copyright, then google is a criminal. I mean imagine all that microsoft or yahoo have to do is abuse google to index infringing material to get them out of the market. Or say there is an opensource tracker/site that allows uploading/linking of torrents, should they be held liable for what their users posted (assuming they adhere to section 230)?

rangda (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So if I understand your thinking correctly you’ve decided that:

1. Torrents are ‘mostly’ used for infringement and should therefore be illegal.
2. Any tool that is used to ‘primarily’ search torrents should be illegal as it is used for ‘mostly’ infringing (see #1)
3. You have no data to back any of this up (if you’ve made citations I’ve missed them) so it’s all based on fuzzy lines drawn in the imaginary sand in your head.

Where’s the line drawn? 50%? 80%? 20%? Would you find it acceptable if someone drew the line at a different place than you do? Or do we all have to agree on the same line? Would you agree with COICA if it caused google to be shut down? (I’m guessing no.) Shutting google down would use logic identical to yours, the only difference is the line would be drawn someplace where you (presumably) consider it unreasonable.

Let’s take the logic to a ludicrous extreme. People commit all sorts of illegal acts. People infringe, buy drugs, steal, murder, assault, even (gasp) produce child pornography. (If you listen to big content a pretty sizable portion of the populate infringe.) This is all illegal, if you just kill everyone who commits any of these acts you’ll have zero repeat offenders. But why wait, that 12 year old could be a future infringer or drug consumer. Kill him now before he commits that future crime. Even better just kill the entire human race, then you’ve got zero crime. Problem solved.

Some of the things you say seem as silly to many of the techdirt readers as the above probably sounds to you.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Search

> There’s a difference between a search
> engine that points to what is mostly
> infringing material, and one that points
> to everything on the internet

Search engines point to whatever the people who use them ask them to point to.

Someone could use Google 100% of the time to search for infringing material, just as someone else could search torrents 100% of the time for legal material.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Couldn’t you make that argument about any power?”

Which is why you shouldn’t go about arbitrarily adding powers that satisfy no necessities and only serve to protect outdated and ineffective business models. ie: the rich buying laws that can only detriment everyone else. If artificial scarcity is the only hope for our economy, we’re doomed.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“””So Sly’s argument is that since COICA could be abused, we shouldn’t have COICA?”””

Not because it could be abused. We should not have COICA because it WOULD be abused. Immediately. And frightfully.

“””Couldn’t you make that argument about any power?”””

Finally average_joe sees reason! Hell yes you could and should make that argument about any power! Let’s start with the Patriot Act. Then let’s move on to the DMCA. Then let’s look at wiretapping laws used to prosecute people for recording police in the line of duty. Then let’s look at …

antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They gloss over the fact that the domain names were seized because they were property used to commit criminal copyright infringement.”

According to who, exactly? You? Some random judge? Certainly not a jury.

Look, I have exactly zero problems with taking sites offline that are breaking the law. I think it’s a stupid waste of money and time on the part of the content creators and the government, but if they’re breaking the law they have no defense. People will argue that this is a slippery slope, and it is, but at some point, in some way, the law must be enforced.

But that’s not what’s happening here. In the US we have a very well established, time tested, Constitutionally provided way of determining who is breaking the law. It’s called a jury trial. Until these sites have gone through a jury trial they haven’t been proven to be breaking the law, and I cannot accept property seizures before proof of law breaking. The ability for the government to seize private property at will is a giant step towards tyranny. The fact that private businesses, with no avenue for public oversight, are directing the seizures is 10 times worse.

Have a trial, prove their guilt, then deal with them as the law sees fit. That’s how it’s done. You can’t just skip to “deal with them”. I don’t see why this is so hard to understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unintended consequences???

HA! I’m sure they will be quickly papered over with even more forward thinking legislation in the future! What could go wrong?? If it’s one thing we know, it’s FORESIGHT. We’ll get those terrorist, whoops I mean pirates, and their WMDs, whoops, I mean their deceptive profiting schemes based on linking through torrents (or something like that…???).

TheStupidOne says:

What is BitTorrent

Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and look at the actual technology being accused by so many people of only being used to infringe …

BitTorrent is a technology enabling the distributed distribution of large files. The primary objective of this technology is to enable anyone to distribute any file to as large an audience as possible without incurring the traditional server and bandwidth costs required to do large scale file distribution.

It was adopted by people engaged in copyright infringement because it enabled them to share video files quickly, easily, and cheaply. As the technology had matured it has been used as the core technology for legal live video broadcasts on the internet, distribution of video games and video game updates, distribution of promotional and marketing material, distribution of free open source programs, along with many other legal uses of the technology. Some of these legitimate uses are built into proprietary software (like WoW) while others make use of trackers available for download from websites similar to

This may be a waste of time and space, but often times people just don’t know what they are talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

It is becoming increasingly obvious that online business is no longer desired long-term within the United States.

The liability is now too great. If Amazon can/will take down a hosted paid service on a whim, why do business with any corporate presence in the United States? Why would you set up shop period in the U.S.?

This law is yet another spark in the eventual evolution of of alternate name resolution services.

How many layers of the Internet will we need to go through before censorship is laughed upon by those with the technology?

KC (profile) says:

Let's Talk About Piracy

Hello! This is my first post as a registered member of TechDirt. I’m known on here as KC as I don’t fancy giving out my full name, even though I don’t even use my real name online. I am here tonight to talk about piracy on the internet and why it is sometimes a good thing for the end user.

First of all, a little bit about me. I am an internet pirate. I upload music and TV shows (occasionally movies and comic books) to the internet for people to download or stream. I make no money for what I do. In fact, it sometimes costs me money – hard drives ain’t free, you know! I’d like to know how come people here keep claiming that internet pirates are making heaps of money. If I got paid for everything I uploaded, I’d be rich. But I don’t get any financial gain at all whatsoever.

Now, you may call me a pirate if you like. I just told you I am. You can call me a theif if you must, although I am yet to steal any physical item and I have no intention of doing so ever. Heck, I even pay for my pay TV! But please don’t call me a Freetard as I am not of the opinion that everything should be given away free. More on that soon.

Getting down to the first item in my post: COICA. Sounds like a word a two year old would make up. Anyway, let’s look at what it stands for: Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfieting Act. Well, the name is fine. But the way in which it does the combatting is going to do absolutely nothing to stop the online infringing and counterfieting part of the act.

A website – say it’s called – gets the URL taken away by ICE and PayPal is forbidden to work with them and ISP’s are forbidden to resolve the DNS. So what? It changes it’s name to and uses a different payment system to get donations. PayPal is not the only one out there you know. Meanwhile, the site, after a change of .com to .something-not-controlled-by-the-US and a few confused users, carries on as normal as all of the actual site is still there.

So all of the arguments about COICA censoring free speech aside, there’s no way COICA is going to be effective at all anyway. Seriously, just ask any internet pirate. There is a workaround (or crack, if you will) for everything.

Next topic: YouTube. As has been mentioned here at TechDirt, if COICA had existed in 2005 then Viacom could have had it removed as having no purpose other than hosting infringing content. Now nobody is going to deny that there is infringing content on YouTube. Heck, I’ve put some of it on there myself! But, like with bit-torrent, CD-R’s, VCR’s, photocopiers, etc, etc, YouTube has many legitimate uses. And many people use it for legitimate purposes. But if you listened to Viacom, it is ONLY used for copyright infringement.

With that in mind, I begin my demonstrations on how internet piracy can be beneficial to both users and content creators and content owners. Myself, I have uploaded many kid’s and teen-targeted TV shows to my YouTube account. Some of the shows are not available to purchase anywhere in any format and thus fans are now able to watch them again. Other shows are on DVD and people are watching them, having a memory jog of that they did (or did not) like that show and are seeking out the DVD. One show from Canada was cancelled mid-season in the US and fans of the show in the US are now happy that they have been able to see the rest of the series.

Copyright infringement on YouTube has also allowed people, myself included, to discover many things long forgotten, including TV shows, movies and music. Some of it is on DVD or CD or availeble to purchase as a download. Some people then go and seek out a copy to buy. Those who don’t never would have anyway, in spite of what the major corporation copyright holders would have you believe.

YouTube is just one part of the picture, however. There’s also the collector’s market. As has been pointed out numerous times at TechDirt (as well as elsewhere), many people do actually strive to own a real copy of something if they have a counterfiet copy. Incidentally, counterfiet handbags and watches and the like used to be called imitations, but that doesn’t sound as evil.

Let’s look firstly at the OOP scenario: Out Of Print. Recently I went to buy a DVD and found out it was deleted. Hitting up the second hand market, I found a copy at Amazon UK for one hundred pounds. That DVD is not worth one hundred pounds to me. So I found a rental copy and copied it. An act of piracy. Would I have bought that DVD if I was able to buy it? Of course. I did make it clear that I wanted to buy it at the start of this paragraph.

Now those who would like to label me a Freetard will at this point say that I was able to buy a legitimate copy as I had found one at Amazon UK for sale. This is true. I found it available at what I consider to be a very unreasonable price. What is a reasonable price? I would like to think that the original retail price was reasonable. I do know that when it was out in Australia it cost AU$35. Would I be willing to pay that? Yes. When it came out, I could not afford AU$35. I did not copy it then. But now that I can afford to buy it at AU$35, I cannot find it at that price. Of course, because it is now a scarce item, I do expect the price of it to increase. However, I do have a cut off point where how much I am willing to pay for something relates to how much enjoyment I will get from owning that item. In this case, the enjoyment factor did not equal the price, by a long way.

On to music, I have a friend with a collection of over 4,000 CD’s. He is attempting to collect every song that was in the Top 40 from 1970 to 2000. However, he is now at the stage where there are some CD’s that he simply cannot buy as they are deleted. There are also quite a few CD’s that he can only purchase as an import, where he only wants the CD for one song or a particular version. One CD, he downloaded because the last time it was available on eBay, it was Buy It Now for 700 Euros. You read that right. Not seventy. Seven hundred. Other times, he has found a CD that he can buy and might want. He has then looked for a free download copy of it, a pirate copy. He listens to the download and, if he finds that the CD has the right song or version on it, he proceeds to buy the CD.

Did you know that you can download comic books? They are purchased, scanned and put online. Many long out of print comics are available if you know where to look. I can tell you now, as soon as I found that out, I immediately downloaded many comics that I could not find or were way to expensive for me to purchase. One of my first downloads was “Detective Comics” issue 800 from January 2005. I had tried to purchase it as it wrapped up a story I had been reading. Unfortunately my local comic store was unable to obtain even one copy. To buy it at my local store would have cost AU$6. To import a copy from America would have cost me over AU$20 by the time shipping and currency conversion was added. A very unreasonable price for what was, at the time, last month’s issue.

I can tell you now: A comic book on the computer screen comes nowhere near the experience of holding that paper in your hand and reading it. Not at all. So why do it? It is a brilliant way to obtain old comics. I have read comics from the 1940’s through to the 1980’s that I have either not been able to find or have not been able to afford. I would much rather buy and have the real thing. But I am not always able to do so, be it for financial reasons or for scarcity reasons.

Again, for those who wish to label me a Freetard, I would like to point out that I have no porblem with scarcity. I understand that the old comics I have read on my computer are worth a lot of many because they are scarce. That is fair enough. All I wanted to do is read them. I would like to own them but I can’t find them and when they do turn up I often can’t afford them. I thank the people who took the time to scan these valuable comics and put them online. I have now been able to read them. Financial gain to me: Zero. Enrichment of life expereince: Priceless.

But doesn’t this devalue the comics or CD’s or DVD’s that are out of print? Not in the least. Why pay for it if you can get it for free? People who want and can afford to buy the genuine article will buy the genuine article. In the meantime, they can still experience seeing, hearing or reading the object they desire. And having an imitation object, such as a scanned comic or a ripped CD, does not diminish the desire to get the real thing. For some people it does. For most it does not.

But if there was no piracy of any kind, wouldn’t that mean you always get the genuine item? Not necesarily. My friend who buys CD’s after making sure it has the right song on there would not have bought at least twenty CD’s that I know he has bought in the last three months if he had not been able to listen first. My uploading includes many out of print CD’s containing songs that are hard to find at the best of times. People are able to still listen to and enjoy them until they can find a legal copy to buy. I was able to read the old comics that I am now more determined to buy and hope that one day I can afford to.

Now think about this as well: Kids around the world enjoy the shows that I put on YouTube that they can’t buy and, for whatever reason, were unable to record them off television themselves – something which these days is also called piracy. However, as they look at all the other shows I have uploaded as well as the ones they already like, they have a chance to find another show they might like and, if available, purchase. Thus my piracy is actually leading to an increase in each person’s experience and enrichment. It may also lead to more sales if the show in question is available on DVD or for purchased download.

Take away online piracy and you take away not only sales found through previewing, you also take away the enrichment that everybody enjoys in the meantime. And that is something that money can not buy.

Of course, all the copyright defenders will say it is theft. In case you haven’t noticed, I have not at any point in this post said it is not theft. For those who wish to call it theft, though, I pose a few questions and points to ponder upon.

An illegal download is considered theft as it equates to a lost sale. If something is out of print and unavailable, does that still mean an illegal download of it is a lost sale? And, if so, who is losing the sale? Certainly not the copyright holder.

Maybe illegal downloading is theft. Locking the world’s culture in a vualt and not letting it be easily accessable is also theft. It is theft of the enrichment and experience that people can get from reading the book, seeing the film or video, hearing the song and enjoying the art.

Digital Rights Management is also theft. It is the teft of rights from the consumer to use what they have purchased as they desire. When a DVD won’t play in a player due to the player being incompatible with the disc’s copy protection, that is theft of the content of the disc from the consumer by the company who produced the disc. When Amazon remove a book from somebody’s Kindle, even if a refund is granted, that is theft of the Kindle owner’s enjoyment, experience and enrichement from the book. When Sony removed the ability of the PlayStation 3 to run Limux, that was theft of the PlayStation 3’s owner’s right to install Linux if they wanted to.

There are many examples of theft by content creators and copyright holders who are also large corporations, especially in the movie and music industries. Theft of income and royalties from actors, musicians and so on, has been well documented.

So to all the copyright defenders who will say that THEFT IS THEFT and STEALING IS STEALING, you are right: THEFT IS THEFT and STEALING IS STEALING, no matter WHO does it.

Greevar (profile) says:

The one glaring point that gets glossed over by those that defend the creator side of the debate is that it doesn’t matter if it’s illegal or not. The fact of the matter is, it can and does happen regardless of legality. There’s nothing that can stop it. The corporate government can pile all sorts of protective legislation for the purpose of keeping what has already been lost, but it doesn’t stop it from happening. It doesn’t even slow it down. They should start looking for solutions that don’t induce conflict between content producers and content viewers.

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