The Senators Who Say Merely Linking To Certain Sites Should Be A Felony

from the oh-come-on dept

I wrote earlier about how the new PROTECT IP Act guts parts of the DMCA, but as you dig deeper, it’s looking even worse. The original (and now updated) article focused on the use of the term “interactive computer service,” which was in a draft copy of the bill. At the last minute, that was changed instead to be “information location tool.” While, at first, this may seem to be a narrower definition, there are some serious concerns that this effectively makes it illegal to link to any website that is accused of being “dedicated to infringing purposes.” That’s because an “information location tool” is defined under current law to be: a “directory, index, reference, pointer, or hypertext link.”

Yes, you read that correctly: a link is an “information location tool” and such tools may be barred from pointing to sites deemed “dedicated to infringing” purposes. That seems like a massive breach of the First Amendment. If there is relevant information, as someone covering the news, why should I be prevented from linking?

Making matters even worse is a companion bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Christopher Coons, which would ratchet up charges for sites that stream infringing works to a felony. The specific text of the bill is not yet public, and it’s likely that it just extends the “public performance” rights to section 506a of the Copyright Act (which only covers distribution and reproduction rights today). But, that leaves open a huge question of what is considered a “public performance” and how you define “streaming” in relation to a public performance. I can see it reasonably applying to a site hosting the content and streaming it… but what about an embed or a link, in which the content never touches the site in question at all? Tragically, we’ve already seen that the feds consider merely linking or embedding to be a form of a felony — so it appears this bill is designed to make that even clearer, and that is really dangerous.

Put it all together, and our elected officials are now claiming that linking to something can be a felony. Yeah. Scary.

It seems that we really should highlight the list of Senators who have sponsored these bills, and who are telling you that linking to content should be considered a felony. The first bill is sponsored by:

  • Patrick Leahy
  • Orrin Hatch
  • Chuck Grassley
  • Charles Schumer
  • Dianne Feinstein
  • Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Herb Kohl
  • Chris Coons
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Al Franken <-- Updated to include, missed him on the first pass

The latter bill is

  • Amy Klobuchar
  • John Cornyn
  • Chris Coons, who has the distinction of sponsoring both dreadful bills

So, there you go. The Senators who think it’s okay for the government to put people in jail for linking.

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Comments on “The Senators Who Say Merely Linking To Certain Sites Should Be A Felony”

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Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Is this why...

Why go after the messenger when it’s the author who should be held accountable.

I’m all for accountability. However, in this case, they aren’t acting as mere messengers. They are saying they support this bill. They are the ones with the power to make laws. Not the third parties that might have actually written them.

Anyone should be free to write whatever bills they want. I could write a bill that declares me the newly appointed King of the USA, but the idiot congress critter(s) that introduce and pass that bill should be held responsible for making me king.

Disclaimer: If I were to become king, I would not hold them responsible. Pardon me while I write some letters to my esteemed congress person.

David Locke says:

Re: Is this why...

Since all bills are written by lobbyists. These lobbyist firms clearly demonstrate how “free markets” can’t regulate. There isn’t anything you can do to stop them.

You can stop politicians. That stopping might happen after the fact, but they can be stopped. The cost of lobbying can be kept high by ensuring turnover. Cornyn is particularly immune since Texas has been gerrymanders so that liberal cannot vote. The republicans have locked the state in, so it is very hard to get rid of them, or prevent them from getting elected in the first place.

GOP candidates are required to do what the ideological institutions insist on, otherwise the Tea Party, the enforcement arm of the GOP) comes in votes them out. Why we keep electing these people is beyond me. The right wants to impose a theocracy, so this isn’t just about copyright law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Linking is especially troubling b/c the material linked to is not static. What is hosted at a web address can change frequently and without notice. I can link to a location today that is perfectly legal, and the host can change what is on the page and I become a felon by association and by no fault of my own.

Danny (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Was thinking the same thing. More than content just being dynamic, it can link to other sites (ad infinitum) that have dynamic content.

So, is the crime only for linking to an offending page, or would I have responsibility for all of that page’s links (down through all the turtles, if you get my drift)?

And am I expected to monitor changes to the directly linked URL (or the full tree of URL links) forever? Do I have to sit and monitor 24/7, or would there be a reasonable grace period after a change to find the offending content?

And, pray tell, how am I supposed to know which content infringes or does not? (Granted, some is obvious, but a lot isn’t.)

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, you can’t know who owns every work out there and all the contracts they have signed.

And on top of that, you can’t know how your audience plans on using that information you provide as a link. The audience might have authorization or be engaging in legal fair use or some other legal use.

In short, that abridgment of free speech does not pass Constitutional muster.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re:

The thing that infuriates me about this is that we should install a law that in order to run for political office on a national level, you MUST be computer literate!

Anyone who has ever played around on the Internet knows that links can change at the drop of a hat. You can be linked to something and an hour later it can be completely different. Who monitors every single link on their website? Is the government going to provide me with link-checking software that I can add to my websites so they won’t link (unintentionally) to illegal content? I doubt that. Besides, that’s a violation of freedom of speech. If I want to tell someone about something, I should be able to do so. Pointing someone to the door is not the same as pushing them out it.

Every search engine out there links to illegal content. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the way it is… it is the very nature of the Internet. If you try to block all of that, you’re going to destroy the very fabric of the Internet… the way it works. You would destroy the usefulness of the Internet — the greatest tool and invention of our time.

You know what kills the Internet speed? All of these extra things they want to impose that don’t need to be there in the first place. I suppose they want to put more checks and balances and limit more people’s freedoms.

Let’s look at it this way… if I walk into a mall and go into a store and the clerk points me to a rack of clothes and I steal them — the illegal act is ME stealing them. The clerk pointing to the clothes isn’t committing a felony. The person who downloads the illegal information is committing the felony, not someone who pointed to it and said, “there’s illegal content over there.”

This would also mean that a newspaper couldn’t post a news story about illegal content and give proof via links as to what they’re referring to. Newspapers must cite sources in order to be credible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’ll keep it short and sweet, Windows is becoming obsolete, most stick with it because its all they know.
Windows is insecure, slow, ugly & lacks customization (when compared to several other OS’s), all it has going is comparability (which is matched by most other OS’s) and ease of use (also matched by most other OS’s)
To be quite frank if I knew enough Linux based operating systems, I’d take my pick and throw windows 7 in the bin.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not all torrents are illegal material.

Some torrents are items that are in the public domain.

Some torrents are put up by the actual copyright owner in order to gain publicity.

Let’s not use generalizations. Just because murder is a crime doesn’t mean that all deaths are criminal. If so, wars would be illegal, the death penalty would be illegal, we wouldn’t be able to pull the plug on suffering loved ones with no hope of recovery, millions of doctors would be in jail for their failures, and so much more.

RobShaver (profile) says:

Re: Re: Using your logic ...

85% of all crime is facilitate by the use of automobiles. Twenty thousand people are killed by automobiles every year.

It is clear that automobiles=crime therefor we must outlaw them.

If you’re in favor of automobiles then you are in favor of crime and senseless death.

This follows from your logic, but I think you know that. I think you just want attention but are afraid to sign your name to such stupid statements.

Go in peace and think no more.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, because since the internet was invented all copyright law is now null and void.


Good luck with that.

You’re addicted to the major media companies’ content. That’s why you’re pissed. If you weren’t addicted to it, you wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t affect you.

IOW, tough for you. Deal with it.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If you weren’t addicted to it, you wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t affect you.”

A law that can make simply linking to a work that infringes upon someone’s copyright affects everyone, not just those who want the major media companies’ content.

What if I linked to an article here on Techdirt, and it was later found to have infringed upon someone’s copyright? These laws would make me legally liable for copyright infringement, even though I did not technically produce the infringing work.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, because since the internet was invented all copyright law is now null and void.

While that sounds absurd, in reality that is exactly what has happened.

Copyright laws are effectively unenforceable on the internet. No amount of tweaking to existing copyright laws will change that fact. Ratcheting up draconian penalties will not deter more than a tiny subset of people.

The only way to dent copyright infringement is to completely destroy the usefulness of the internet as a communication platform.

I’m putting my bets on the internet’s continued existence. Where are yours?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Ratcheting up draconian penalties will not deter more than a tiny subset of people.”

That tiny subset of people is …

80+ percent of 14-30 year olds.
50 percent of the united states that owns computers.
65+ percent of spains population.
Do not even get me started on china or south korea.

oh it’s also the 75 year old lady down the street from me who sits on her porch dressed in frilly dresses downloading music through “LOL limewire”.

It’s unwinable from the content side.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I’m putting my bets on the internet’s continued existence.”

Law enforcement and big content have a conundrum at this point. Neither is willing to talk about copyright infrinement in the open. They hide what they are doing from public view. They do not allow these acts-laws to be mentioned on TV, the radio, or newspapers. You have laws that hardly anyone knows about, and they expect people to follow them.

What do you think is going to happen when this actually makes it into mainstream news? When people actually take notice…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know you’re on your usual troll moron trip, but…

“If you weren’t addicted to it, you wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t affect you. “

I’m affected because my civil liberties are being eroded in the hopes of protecting their content. I’m affected because they try to demand royalties from outlets that don’t carry or broadcast major label content, often making it difficult for independent services to operate. I’m affected because innovative new services they try to block aren’t able to service me. I’m affected because I can still get sued for violating their copyright, even if I haven’t, because they use flimsy evidence for their lawsuits.

Please stop being an asshole and recognise that we’re all affected here, “pirate” or not, major content consumer or not.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That’s not the point. AS written, the PROTECT IP Bill has this gigantic loophole in. For a bunch of people suppposedly legally savvy, wouldn’t it be egregious, if not downright insulting, to leave a loophole the size of Texas in the law?

It’s almost akin to having a law that legalised people shooting Iowans in Philadelphia, provided it was with an arrow from a longbow from a distance of 30 yards and the bow was painted neon pink with yellow spots. IT makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

This a thousand times.

They’ve tried to do it to every new technology that’s come along. Player Pianos, VCRS, tapes, you name it.

Only, after some time goes by they usually find that the very technology they tried to make illegal has become their prime revenue stream because they’ve figured it out.

It’s all happening again.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

No, piracy is the only method for saving the US economy. Because, and this might be hard for you, the many billions that flow out of the US economy from the filming of Hollywood films in foreign nations, such as New Zealand and Tunisia would stop, or at thew very least, be reduced fromt he collapse of Big Media.

IT’s almost ironic how the same people behind the Tea Party movement only want small government when it suits them, isn’t it? Funny, then, that the movement is almost entirely funded by Big Media and Big Finance, who absolutely would love less government intervention.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let’s say you have a website, and it links to content you like from across the Internet.

Now, let’s say one of those pieces of content is found to be infringing upon someone’s copyright.

Not only is the infringer on the hook, but under these laws, you would be legally liable for the same act of copyright infringement despite not actually having a hand with the production or publication of the infringing content.

This would make for a huge chilling effect for speech on the Internet, since linking to other content IS the backbone of the Internet.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Donald Trump could buy up thousands of major websites that are already linked to by millions of other websites and then he could put up illegal content on those sites… he could get the majority of US citizens put in jail by doing so. Not that Mr. Trump would do such a thing… but he COULD. If he did, the current jail overcrowding would seem extremely light in comparison. Then, the government would have to spend a trillion dollars to build new prisons in every county to lock up all of us evil-doers for posting a link to a website that used to be normal.

Now, does that seem fair?

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Don’t you mean the WORLD WIDE WEB? Meaning the nature of the internet would have to change everywhere, in every single country on the planet, in order to reflect an AMERICAN law that makes very little sense for a lot of reasons.

The copyright trolls haven’t made a single argument here yet that supports the whole idea of making linking a felony in a logical, reasoned manner. They have interjected numerous times in an attempt to get everyone off track though, and the constant repetition of name calling proves it.

Abusive? Spam? Trollish? Inappropriate? If you ever answer yes to any of those, then press the report button in the upper right of each comment. If the trolls can’t debate in a civil manner, they deserve to have their comment marked so that they’re hidden from view.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m going to give you a very plausible example. Please address my legitimate concerns.

BTW, I hope you stamp out all piracy on the entire planet! I really do! (I’m not going to explain why, for now.)

Today: you link to a page about something innocent. Let’s say, knitting. Let’s say it’s a URL like:

Tomorrow: owner of site changes the page (or ownership of site or domain name changes) and the link now points to infringing content.

Poof! You just became a felon without doing anything wrong. Go directly to jail.

Now what do you think about that? Please explain.

rooben (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you retweet a link to a picture that someone else took, you can go to jail, if the person didnt get copyright clearance, whether you knew about it or not.
If you link to an article in another blog, then that person is found to have plagarized portions of the article, you can go to jail.

If you send an email with a link to your grandma’s facebook account, and she posted a picture of herself that she got taken by a studio without permisson, you have committed a felony.

Understand the slippery slope? Do any of those activities sohnd like something an OMGPIRATE would do, or something an average person would find themselves doing with no idea that anything is wrong.
Cant have an expectation to perform full copyright checks on every rticle, picture, tweet, etc that you might reference.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What differences should someone like me who doesn’t pirate stuff be worried about?

It doesn’t matter if you “pirate” stuff or not. If, say, you put up a link to a YouTube video that you didn’t know is infringing, you are now liable under this bill.

Furthermore, if private entities have the ability to put you on the blacklist (as is apparently in the bill now), you don’t have to be infringing at all – just accused of it.

Then there are the parts that encourage ISP’s to disable your website simply because they think you might be infringing, and are legally exonerated of any liability if they’re wrong.

“Breaking the backbone of the entire internet” is not really such a stretch. But honestly, it won’t do that – it will just encourage internet-based companies who might ever be accused of infringing (i.e. all of them) to move outside of U.S. jurisdictions. No, I don’t meant The Pirate Bay, I mean ICANN and Google.

And after all this, the legacy content industries will still fail. That’s another sad part of this whole mess. We’re stifling the fastest-growing part of our economy for the sake of a minor part of our economy that will fail in any case.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why does anyone give a crap what Anonymous Coward has to say? He/she is obviously a person who doesn’t understand anything about the way the Internet works or about the law. He/she constantly makes broad generalizations that make no point and solve nothing. Arguing with him/her is like arguing with a 2-year-old about why they should eat nutritious food.

If we all ignore it, maybe it will go away like most other trolls.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

Are you for real? You deserve an award for self-parody.

By the way, I’m not sure what you’re hoping to accomplish by comments like this. If it’s your (and the others like you) goal to convence people that your point of view is correct then name calling, absurd rhetorical questions, middle-school taunting is pretty ineffective.

Can you seriously imagine someone reading your comment and changing their mind about these issues?

Or are you just trolling the Internets, trying to get a rise our of people?

Anon says:

Re: @Anonymous Coward

Well, tell me, wiseguy, what’s the difference between one person buying a DVD, making an ISO (it’s legal), GIVING it to someone else, that person makes an ISO, repeat ad eternum, to torrenting a file? If the sharing is NON-COMMERCIAL, no harm no foul, despite claims from the Big Entertainment industry mafia (yes, it’s getting to that level).
They may get their way for now, but this WILL blow up in their face.

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 @Anonymous Coward

If you sell or give away the original DVD, any copies you made of it must be destroyed/deleted most likely. Of course, this all depends on the country you live in. I’m sure there are places where the law doesn’t care one iota what you do with your DVD, preferring to instead focus their attention and limited resources on stopping real crime, like rape and murder.

Jay says:

Re: Why ask why?

Why does Anon hate freedom so much? Go live in Libya if you don’t like basic freedoms of speech and enjoy the muted Firewall of government in all parts of your life. Freedom is worth far more than any level of entertainment could ever provide. It’s all a question of values. Anon obviously values his media and imaginary possessions- most others value freedom more then make believe objects of possession…

Chris Tolles (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Jesus. What is up with the “lawbreakers” tag here, anonymous coward? Linking should never be actionable N-E-V-E-R. You are *referring* to something. What, do I not have the right to refer to something, no matter how illegal? Why is the linker guilty?

Now, I do hope the Internet is gutting whatever business that you are in, because people like you are what’s wrong with America ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

this article is not about piracy

its about being deemed a 3rd party criminal for posting a link to a website deemed infringing
what if you dont know that a site is breaking the law?

and from what i have read in other articules accused sites cant appeal untill the damage is done to their reputation or their small bisnesses just because they have been accused

innocent untill proven guilty mean anything here?

Spencer Abraham the 31st says:

whoa nelly

Google and Youtube would be completely illegal due to this bill. There is so much infringing content on youtube that you’d have to take the site offline completely. Google also links to every type of content.

If you are going to make a bill like this, better go after Google first and set an example!

DannyB (profile) says:

Why it is important to make linking illegal

The reason why they want this is simple.


If an innocent party is linking to infringing content, why not go after the infringing content directly? Then you’ve taken down the source of the problem. (If 100 sites link to a host with pirated content, taking down the host with the content automatically makes the 100 sites with links completely irrelevant.)

Therefore, the only motive for the “pro-IP” people to so forcefully defend this is to enable censorship. If you’re linking to a wrong-thinking idea or an improper political viewpoint, then eliminating the link and your description and/or comment on the offensive idea eliminates the problem, or so they think. The improper idea may still exist somewhere outside US borders. It may be impossible to use “piracy” as an excuse to shut down those wrong-thinking ideas, but if The Great Firewall of the US can prevent linking, then we can eliminate all thoughtcrime.

If it were about piracy, you would just use the laws in place to get the site shut down — even in other countries.

Oath Keeper says:

Re: Why it is important to make linking illegal

The feds are trying to clamp down on your 1st Amendment, if you and I give into this, you will forfeit it for ever. The founders warned us about run away governments and gave us (you and I) the 2nd Amendment to protect the first.

As we can see now there is no difference between parties, they all want power and money and we the people need to stand up to the government and let them know that they are treading on being dragged into the streets and made example out of. If you people can not see what is going on, shame on you!

This is a attack on you 1st Amendment rights, there is another story where in a Judge ruled that you have no right to protect yourself if the cops make an illegal entry to your home, here is the link “”
opps I better watch out for the Internet cops

DannyB (profile) says:


Your definition of enabling or facilitating is flawed. You try to make it apply to innocent parties that did nothing wrong.

That’s the problem.

Be as careful as you want, but you can still magically become a felon. You link to a site about butterflies today. ( Tomorrow the owner of that page changes the content to host pirated material.

Poof! You’re now a felon! Go directly to jail.

Please explain why you think this is a good thing?

I am not getting any free lunch, and am not in favor of piracy. Go after the pirates. Please do! I truly hope you can wipe all piracy off the entire planet! (No, really, I sincerely do!)

Why can’t you address the real concerns expressed here instead of engaging in juvenile name calling?

Another Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Think of the artists!” is as tired and worn as “Think of the children!”. You don’t care about the artists at all, only the money that can line your own pockets. The news about how the RIAA plans to spend it’s Limewire settlement has proven this beyond any shadow of a doubt. Don’t bother replying because I already know everything you’re going to say.

duffmeister (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Sometimes we see some wisdom from the trolls (not by their purpose of course) and can use it to better refine our own points. We can also learn a lot from how those on the other side see the argument so that when it gets down to a debate that matters we seem well informed, calm, collected, and reasonable.

Also it is fun.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I agree that I’ve learned a lot from arguments here over the years. I also agree that this idiot is pretty pathetic – there’s nothing to learn from him, since he refuses to accept the realities of what his opponents actually think.

But, for me, there’s a solid reason why it’s worth lowering myself into arguing with him – his arguments, while often pathetic, might be persuasive to new readers unfamiliar with the actual arguments made on this site (as opposed to the half-assed strawmen he tends to attack). For this alone, it’s worth responding, even if it can derail threads.

duffmeister (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Do you check everything you have ever linked to ever constantly to ensure that 100% is not infringing? How does a party other than the content creator even know what is infringing, it normally takes a court to make the final decision in these cases? How does it help artists to eliminate any and all viral spread of their works? How does giving away copyright to a gatekeeper and then never linking to that content in any way help those artists? How does this help anyone, even the gatekeepers of content will not be immune?

rooben (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Out of the goodness of the prosecutors heart? How about when you get sued by someone looking for a payout?
Why make this a law at all, if you think it wont be enforced?

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for copyright and piracy laws. I find it funny that there is always a small army unleashed on this board to blindly defend all legislation, and everyone against it must be a pirate and wants to steal content.
How about people like many here who believe that piracy is bad, but overreaching, moronic laws can be much worse?

Simple thing, this is too broad, and can incur unintended consequences. Lawmakers really need to hire more widely education tech consultants, and not just the onse sent by their major campaing contributors.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Please explain what rights you are talking about?

Because “artists” have no more or less rights than anybody else.

Though my right to not have to listen to fools and sycophants is most likely being violated by yourself

What right is this you ask? Oh I just invented can’t have you having the monopoly on creating new things out of thin air can we

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Under communication law, regarding privacy, artists (if they can be legally defined as “public figures”) have less rights than average citizens. Their lives are more open and they have less expectation of privacy. In addition, when it comes to lawsuits regarding libel and slander, public figures must go one extra step in that the burden to prove that someone made false accusations in an attempt to hurt their career or reputation relies with the public figure. In that too they have less rights than an average citizen.

Yes, I realize this has nothing to do with copyright law. Just making a point about rights.

btr1701 (profile) says:


> Yes, you read that correctly: a link is an
> “information location tool” and such tools
> may be barred from pointing to sites deemed
> “dedicated to infringing” purposes.

It would be bad enough if just that much were true, but a site doesn’t even have to be “deemed” (whatever that means) as infringing. All it has to be is accused for this to apply.

A felony for linking to a site which hasn’t been adjudicted in any meaningful way as illegal. All someone has to do is make an accusation and they can throw anyone in prison who links to it?

And this is America?

Mike42 (profile) says:

Nation of Jailbirds

Seeing as how we have the largest number of inmates per capita of any industrialized nation:
It’s got to be a great idea to make a common thing like linking illegal! Just make sure that everythings a felony, because felon’s can’t vote…

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Re: Nation of Jailbirds

I had, a long time ago and it’s one of the reasons why I push for felons (even murders, child forcible rapists, etc.) to have the right to vote.

The fact is that they are PART OF THIS SOCIETY whether we like it or not, whether they have done things that society dislikes or not. They SHOULD have the right to vote on things that affect them just as much as they affect everyone else.

DannyB (profile) says:


I disagree.

I think the alternative explanation is that they are extremely aware of what they are doing. They understand precisely that they are systematically taking away people’s rights and freedom. (And I’m not talking about piracy.)

Why do I think this? Because they don’t even make a pretense of trying to address people’s legitimate concerns. They just spout personal attacks. You’re a pirate. You must love piracy (I wish I ). You are addicted to major media content (I couldn’t care less).

Raphael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s something I’ve thought about, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me suspects that the opposition still honestly thinks they’re up against a bunch of college kids who’ll come back to the reservation if they build a big enough fence around it. (I know that doesn’t make logical sense, and thus I think it’s an accurate model of what’s going on).

But my larger uncertainty is that, if they realized that what they’re actually up against is a growing group of increasingly capable technologists bent on restoring some fairness to the global system of distribution, would they be putting the proverbial boots on the ground with a little more urgency?

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So… either they KNOW what they’re doing and are purposefully violating our First Amendment rights… which means we should immediately remove them from office…

Or… they’re morons who don’t understand technology and are letting big media control their actions (instead of listening to the voice of their constituents, who elected them)… which means we should immediately remove them from office…

Either way, we have bad political leaders.

M Hazen says:

Hmmm…Now suppose I was a big media apologist and I wanted to make them aware of an infringing link…how do you suppose I would tell them about it? hand waving?

“Officer, I know of a drug dealer in this city”
“Oh where?”
“I cant tell you because I would be arrested and charged with a felony for giving directions to a drug dealer. But he’s there. Trust me”

Anonymous Coward says:

get off my lawn you dang kids!!!

they should just retire. like they’ve done anything for this country in the last 5 years anyways. hell, as any politician done a single thing for the common man/women that a lobbyist didn’t shove down their throat? yup.. none.

what was that battle cry again.. oh yea.. ‘taxation w/o representation’….

its hard to make laws in a world that you no longer live in (re: politicians and their cozy lifestyles, etc)

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re:


Which is why I personally believe that as a PUBLIC SERVANT, no elected official should receive a salary greater than the AVERAGE salary of the constituent that they represent. Furthermore, campaign contributions and lobbying should be ILLEGAL. Neither should our political leaders be allowed to accept ANY freebies… not even a free cup of coffee. Nothing should be allowed to sway their opinion except for the wishes of the constituents who elected them. The ONLY opinions they should be concerned with are those they represent.

We should set aside tax dollars for political campaigns so that those who run do not have to be the rich and wealthy. And all campaign dollars spent have a CAP.

Of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not of the people, by the people, and for the corporations.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

For the first time I understand that famous quote about the Generation Gap:

“Don’t trust anyone over 30.”

Being 32 myself I’d like to up the age floor to 45, but the reason is clear. Right now laws are being drafted to hobble a new and rapidly changing technology for IMO, no other reason than:

1. The technology is disruptive to the past way of doing things, and they don’t understand the disruption is just the growing pains of the technology’s vast potential.

2. They don’t understand how the technology works at all.

I can chalk it up to nothing more than the fear and resistance to change that comes with age and establishment. If we’re all cynical (and possibly right) enough to think that media associations like the MPAA or RIAA are behind the bill, well, you don’t get much older or more established than those guys.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

1. The law is disruptive to the past way of doing things, and pirates don’t understand the disruption is just the growing pains of the law’s vast potential.

2. They don’t understand how the law works at all.

I can chalk it up to nothing more than the fear and resistance to change that comes with age and establishment. If we’re all cynical (and possibly right) enough to think that media associations like the EFF or Techdirt are behind resistance to the bill, well, you don’t get much older or more established than those guys.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Not really.

Comparing the EFF to the MPAA as an old and well established interest is like comparing me to to Senator Schumer. And to be honest it would take some elevation to take me up to the level of the EFF*.

*Maybe an honorary degree in the sciences from a notable university, or an OBE might do the trick. Right now I don’t even rate as high as some reality show jerk.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If I were to open a shop that sold coal oil lamps and the fuel for them, would I be justified in trying to get protectionist legislation to protect my rights to do business?

Or should I wake up, and realize I blew it by not investing in electric lights?

If everyone thought the way you seem to, we’d still be using tallow-dipped reeds for light, because oil lamps infringe on the rights of the torch makers to make a profit.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Correction: Don’t trust anyone over 30 who has not kept up with technological progress and still talks fondly about the days when “MILK COST A NICKLE A GALLON!” like my uncle does.

I finally got testy with my uncle the other week when he was spouting that, and told him “UNCLE! SHUT UP! Those days are GONE FOREVER! Stop referring to them like they were better than today! They weren’t!”

androidhelpersdotcom (profile) says:

All I’m going to say, it there is a civil war coming, and the rich won’t win. Blood will be shed, and it will be all their fault if laws like this continue to be passed.

If this law passes, it effectively makes anyone who access and uses the follow sites a Felon, under the law:

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Myspace, Lifehacker, Techdirt, YouTube, Sugarsync, Dropbox, AOL, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, (get it yet??)

Vic says:

Remember Lily Allen? She kept her remix tapes on EMI servers, right? Oh, no more linking to EMI, those damn pirates!

Remember the story about Fox News censoring it’s own video as “infringing”? Huh, no more linking to Fox, or you go to jail!

Remember all those countless politicians who did not clear all the necessary licenses for their big TV ads? Down the drain!

Don’t we all love unintended consequences?

Anonymous Coward says:

More and more purposed laws without a clue what they are legislating for and against.

At some point this little ball of snakes will come back to bite them and us in the ass.

All these trade agreements are fine and dandy until the day that the US is no longer top dog. At that point, it will be other countries saying we can’t do that because our own laws prevent it.

Josh Taylor says:

DRM Thought Police Chips is coming soon

Senator Leahy: Hey I got an Idea. While we’re at it passing Protect-IP, let’s make it mandatory to implant DRM chips into the human brain just in case he/she attempts to sing, think of, quote, hum to, or remember a song, TV show, or movie.

Obama: Good Idea, you introduce, pass that bill and I’ll sign it.

Person: (attempts to sing with the DRM chip in his head) This old…. (bzzzt)… What the? This old…. (bzzzt)…. Hey!….. (bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt)

Michael Martinez (profile) says:

Referring to infringing sites

Sounds to me like you would not even be able to legally name the Website (the URL, at least) as that would be a reference.

Still, why should you care about linking to Websites that are designed to break the law? The public interest is not being served by promoting criminal activity.

You might as well complain about not being able to link to child pornography, sites that advocate murder, and sites that teach children how to make explosive devices to use in school.

Why do you draw the line at theft of intellectual property rights and say that organized criminal activity that defrauds investors and rights owners of millions or billions of dollars in owed value should be exempted from the law?

Why do you want to see the 1st Amendment used to protect and enable the activities of criminals?

There is nothing in that point of view for the benefit of John Q. Public. What’s in it for you? More illegal downloads because you’re too cheap to pay for songs and movies?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Referring to infringing sites

As other people have pointed out in other posts, the actual content any given link points to on a site is the sole discretion of the person who controls the site. might today be an article about cute kittens. And tomorrow, the site owner changes it to offer bootleg music, pornographic images of children and a directory of warez sites. With that new anti-link law, you are now instantly guilty of a felony, despite a total lack of intent to commit one, or even knowledge you had taken the action that made you a felon. Your site hosts a link to a copyright violation, and that’s all that is required under the proposed law to send you to prison.

I hope you don’t own guns, since felons aren’t allowed to own them. I hope you don’t have children, work or live near a school, since a felony conviction that is at all related to child pornography almost invariably results in a sex offender registration.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Referring to infringing sites

Or… someone else could be posting stuff to your website via forums or bulletin board systems…

I had to completely disable anyone from joining by bbs forums because I kept getting spammers posting porn to it. I tried everything to block those spammers but it didn’t help. They infringed on my rights to have a science fiction and fantasy discussion board by posting garbage that wasn’t welcome. The ONLY way I could stop it was to disable the ability for ANYONE to join the site.

Laws like this eventually disable the entire Internet and make the US no longer compatible online with the rest of the world.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Referring to infringing sites

Child Pornography, Murder, and Explosive devices all deal with in its basic form “assault against the person”

They have NOTHING to do with civil laws (or even dumb criminal law) on intangible property.

Your sophistic analogy is not just specious but denigrates the victims of the above assaults

Do you feel proud now?

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Referring to infringing sites

Still, why should you care about linking to Websites that are designed to break the law? The public interest is not being served by promoting criminal activity.

The public interest in an promoting free speech, and preventing the government from encroaching upon it, usually trumps the public interest in preventing speech that promotes “criminal activity” (a deceptive phrase in this case, since infringement usually isn’t criminal).

You might as well complain about not being able to link to child pornography, sites that advocate murder, and sites that teach children how to make explosive devices to use in school.

Depending upon the law, I would complain loudly and often. Luckily, I don’t have to – because those laws must pass First Amendment scruitny.


child pornography

A law nearly identical to this one, except dealing with child pornography, was found to be unconstitutional. CDT v. Pappert.

sites that advocate murder

Advocating violence, in general, is protected by the First Amendment. See Brandenburg v. Ohio.

how to make explosive devices

…wasn’t unlawful until 1997 (with the passage of SP 419), and is not now unlawful unless it is intended to be used specifically to commit a criminal offense. Meaning, the Anarchist Cookbook is still protected speech.

And, certainly, linking to sites that advocate these things is perfectly legal.

So, the question is, why do you believe infringement is more dangerous to society than child pornography, sites that advocate murder, or sites that tell you how to make explosive devices?

Why do you draw the line at theft of intellectual property rights and say that organized criminal activity that defrauds investors and rights owners of millions or billions of dollars in owed value should be exempted from the law?

Copyright infringement is not “theft,” and it is not even close to being “fraud.” The actual damages from non-commercial infringement have never been adequately calculated, but it’s unlikely to be in the high millions, much less billions.

Alex Angelico (profile) says:

Many of you probably never new, but when the issue about torture at GITMO was know, “CNN en espanol” transmited that in LatinAmerica 2 weeks (let me say that again) TWO WEEKS before it was transmited in the USA.

Yes, there is a lot of censorship going on in USA. And now, after WikiLeaks, there are some people afraid the people know things they “shouldn’t” know. Internet is TOO DAMN PUBLIC AND FREE for them.

duffmeister (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The concept of a torrent is also the basis for some of the could technology being developed today. (We all share in the network, cpu time, and storage) So they must not want the cloud to succeed either. Now here is an interesting question, what if I took the concept of randomly stored bits of data on a local machine and kept a meta data index of that data and used this to generate more content than is actually there? Does this mean I have infringed copyright? If you think this is a fantasy look at how such systems as Dropbox or even a Data Domain deduplicating filer head work.

Anonymous Coward says:

The internet was designed by geeks and is run by geeks. It was and is a place where free exchange of ideas and information happens since it began. Only after the economic potential of the Internet became obvious did the corporations move in. And now that they are here, they suddenly believe that they own it and that they can control it. All they say i:

Block this.
Hide that.
Take this site offline.
Forbid this protocol.

It’s a bunch of bla bla bla. They don’t know how to run it. They don’t understand the implications and they don’t know how to pull it off. But the geeks do. And if the geeks could come up with internet 1, they can damn as well come up with internet 2.

It’s just a matter of time. The internet sees damage and routes around it. You can plug all of the holes you want, but in the end, your measures will be bypassed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t forget that they try to impose international borders on it… I say this often, but I swear that half the industry’s problems would be solved if they didn’t restrict the most useful services (Hulu, Pandora, Netflix, etc.) to one part of the world. Of course, that would involve rearranging their licensing structures, which is one thing they *should* have been doing over the last decade rather than trying to sue their own customers.

This has been obvious to me since at least 1998. I’ve said so many times, yet I’m still barred from buying digital music from Amazon (where I can happily buy a CD if I want to wait 2 weeks for delivery…).

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Actually… I thought the Internet was created by the U.S. military back in the ’60s.

Or was it Al Gore at the bright age of… what… 6? I always get those two mixed up. *chuckle*

Seriously, the Internet was around a LONG time before geeks took it over. But… geeks did popularize it and bring it into its heyday. I remember when dial-up first became available here locally (in about 1994) and I was the ONLY person in my family to be on the Internet and for years, they always asked what I did on the Internet all the time and what was it all about. Now, every relative and person I know has Internet on their smart phones, laptops and desktops.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re:

I would not be surprised if Hatch doesn’t know how to use email. I can see his staffers presenting him with a big pile of email they’ve printed out at the beginning of the day. Then, and the end of the day, they take them and type in the replies he’s scrawled on them with a pencil.

The lack of understanding by lawmakers of the very things they write laws about is a huge problem.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the copyright lobby is more than happy to explain it to them in this case.

Bergman (profile) says:

That companion bill...

is scary, if coupled to BMI’s claim about private streaming to a single listener from that listener’s private music locker equals a public performance. It’s a very short step from there to claiming that listening to any music you own, no matter how you store it, is a public performance.

We could very quickly wind up with it being illegal to listen to music, except as a one-time stream from the copyright owner, on a pay-per-listen basis.

jakerome (profile) says:

Letter to my Senator Dianne Feinstein

In regards to the PROTECT IP act. I am a lifelong Democrat and have contributed to several candidates, always Democrats, in several election cycles.

However, if you continue to sponsor & vote for the First Amendment violating PROTECT IP act, which essentially seeks to build an American version of the Great Firewall of China, not only will I vote against you but I will dig deep and donate to any Democrat or Republican that runs against you. This bill represents a massive erosion in civil liberties of Americans all in the name of subsidizing existing business models for industries that have failed to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities created by the internet. This bill will give well-connected media corporations tools that erode the rights of citizens as a new censorship regime.

I hope you reconsider your sponsorship on this dangerous legislation. If not, I look forward to campaigning against you in your next election.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Re: Letter to my Senator Dianne Feinstein

not one to usually point out.. wait yes I am.

Your flawed logic in casting a vote just because there doing A to vote either y or z. Look for the X factor and attempt a third. A bit of a suggestion taking a look on Libertarian.

Somebody really needs to go Hacker (the challenges) on these guys, including my own Hatch.

alex (profile) says:

I think people should be responsible for the content of their websites (including links).

If Google are linking to sites which violate others’ copyrights, they will remove the links if requested. Similar requests to the Pirate Bay to remove links are ignored. That’s not really ok.

I appreciate that this is a big can-o-worms, but the “we don’t host it, we just link to it” argument needs to be looked at somehow.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“the “we don’t host it, we just link to it” argument needs to be looked at somehow.”

Not really. Sites that don’t actually infringe but just point to those who do…. don’t infringe. They’re doing nothing wrong, although they can tell you who is. That should be a tool for law enforcement, but they’re still not doing anything fundamentally wrong as there’s many other ways to find infringing content.

Go after those who are infringing by any means, but the can of worms is trying to go after those who just link. Criminalising links themselves has a far more negative effect than TPB ever could. Besides, there’s still the argument about whether or not TPB are actually doing anything wrong – e.g. what they have been doing has largely been legal under Swedish law, even if it can be used to break US law. The fact that the US has been able to enforce their will on Sweden in this case is troubling at best, since they were, you know, based in Sweden.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They’re doing nothing wrong, although they can tell you who is.

Well this is the argument I’m talking about which I don’t necessarily agree with. Of course, it’s down to context, but providing a link to download unauthorised material is wrong.

Where that content is hosted doesn’t really make any difference.
Whether there are other ways to find that content doesn’t either.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“providing a link to download unauthorised material is wrong”

Except, of course, there’s a great many situations where it’s not as easy as that. For example:

– Linking to something that was not infringing at the time, but now is infringing (links can be altered, and often are).
– Linking to something that’s believed to be under public domain, but that’s disputed (there’s a thread on right now about a DMCA notice being received for a movie that’s POD as far as anyone can see).
– Linking to content with the permission of the content owner, but that content ownership later comes under dispute from a 3rd party.
– Linking to something you have every reason to believe is legal, but later turns out to be under dispute.

If the world was as black and white as you seem to view it, your points may have some weight. It isn’t, however….

alex (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I completely accept that there are exceptions (which is why I said it’s all down to context). Would you agree that the following example is wrong, or is this acceptable?

posted on a blog:
“We’ve managed to get hold of the new XX album. You can grab it here.”

Note: the link points to a one-click hosting site (like megaupload or rapidshare) so the file isn’t hosted on the blog.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In that case, there would be:

a) an admission of guilt in the original post (they said “we managed to get it”)
b) corroborating evidence in the sense that the poster’s account on either site would have been used
c) actual inducement as they said, almost quite literally, download this album.

Nothing in that would need new laws, nor the criminalisation of links themselves. Law enforcement can quite easily go after those responsible for infringement without attacking all links, or making megaupload/rapidshare responsible themselves. That’s the way it should be.

Again, I have no issue with them going after those actually committing copyright infringement. What I have a problem with is broad attacks that have a chilling effect on free speech and innovation in order to appease an industry who haven’t bothered joining the 21st century.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re coming at it from the wrong angle.

While comparisons to physical situations are always imperfect, a link to infringing content is the equivalent of saying “yeah, that guy over there might be able to give you a pirated CD/DVD”. In the physical world, I would be very uncomfortable about that person – who has done nothing wrong himself – being prosecuted. The person who should be prosecuted is the guy selling pirated content.

So it is on the internet. Doubly so, in fact, as linking to other sites is an extremely important aspect of the internet’s content. As ever, the best tactics for the industry is to embrace the positive aspects of the internet (easy access to content, no international or format borders, cheap distribution and advertising costs) rather than try to retain the aspects of the industry that happened to work 20 years ago. Killing the internet will not work, and is not acceptable.

alex (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

You don’t think there’s anything wrong with going around introducing people to a guy selling pirate dvds?

I guess my only point here is that I think people should be responsible for the web content they publish. We can’t publish certain texts or images (fair use cases excepted) without infringing on rights so I don’t get why links are different.

You start to get into grey areas if you separate different methods of publishing content. Is a plain text url better than an html hyperlink? Is a link to a one-click host better than one you can just right click and save as…? What about embedding content in a flash movie or iframe? Is that acceptable as long as it’s hosted elsewhere?

I should probably say that I haven’t read the proposals in these bills, so my comments are more general than specific.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Morally and ethically wrong? Yes.

Legally wrong? No.

Just pointing to something that is illegal and saying it’s over there is not a criminal act. All you did was share knowledge. Why should knowledge be illegal?

If I call the police and tell them where illegal activity is going on, will I get arrested for that? Of course not. They likely would appreciate the assistance.

Websites are public knowledge… out there for all to see, good and bad alike.

I do not condone illegal downloading, nor would I intentionally recommend someone to do so.

The issue is that they’re trying to kill the messenger instead of killing the message. The message, being the source of the illegal material.

I really love “Don’t Download This Song” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. He’s a professional parody artist who knows and respects the First Amendment. He offered the song free on his website, MySpace, etc. as a promotional tool. (He has offered other songs for free download as well.)

Lyrics from “Don’t Download This Song,” quoted to make a point under “Fair Use”:

“Don?t take away money
From artists just like me
How else can I afford another solid gold Humvee
And diamond-studded swimming pools
These things don?t grow on trees
So all I ask is everybody Please

Don?t Download This Song (Don?t do it No No)
Even Lars Urlich Know it?s wrong (You could just ask him)
Go and buy the CD like you know that you should (You Really Should)
Oh Don?t Download This Song.”

And another snippit from the song:

“Oh you don?t want to mess
With the RIAA
They?ll sue you if you burn that CDR.
It doesn?t matter if you?re a grandma
Or a 7-year-old girl
They?ll treat you like the evil hard-bitten criminal scum you are.”

“Weird Al” really gets the whole Internet thing — other artists and the record labels and movie industry should take a look at how he handles things. He is embracing change.

If you don’t embrace change, you will die like a dinosaur.

The same thing is happening broad spectrum in the publishing industry. Book publishers are buying less and less books for printed publication but are releasing more and more e-books. Celebrated New York Times bestselling authors (like Tracy Hickman and Michael Stackpole) who have published hundreds of books are being forced to self-publish because their ideas no longer fit into the criteria set by the small and unchanging (dinosaur-like) minds of publishing industry leaders. These authors too are embracing the change.

Artists make more money by performing than they do from albums (which the recording industry reaps most of the rewards for).

Edgar Allen Poe made more money from reciting “The Raven” than he ever did by having it published.

The job of an entertainer is to entertain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Morals, ethics and the law is too much for my brain on a Monday morning! =]

Interesting you give Weird Al as an example. He’s obviously a well known artist that made his money through selling his music under traditional copyright. He also always asks for permission from the copyright owners before making one of his parodies. He’s not exactly pushing boundaries of new ways to release music by making a song about file-sharing and giving it away for free.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

posted on a blog:
“We’ve managed to get hold of the new XX album. You can grab it here.”

Alex: since the blog owner was also the uploader, they would be infringing.

Compare that with:
“Some guy we’ve never met uploaded the new XX album. You can grab it here.”

“Some user uploaded a file to Megaupload or Rapidshare, so financial institutions are not allowed to do business with Megaupload or Rapidshare.”

The bill makes all three statements true.

thewizord says:

I think that the TechDirt editors should also know that a large portion of these senators are also running the committee hearings for the AT&T T-mobile merger. They are on one hand pretending to be looking out for the welfare of American’s yet advancing bills and legislative ideas like this that say other-wise. This should be alarming, it means the probability of a shady AT&T duopoly with Verizon is merely on the horizon and the Senate committee is there mostly to appease the masses.

Jeni (profile) says:

Don't take this lightly

This isn’t funny, this isn’t something to be scoffed at. This is something that needs to be taken VERY seriously because it’s very real. I’m so sorry to see people here acting like this is just “nothing” and that others are “being paranoid”.

Bear with me and allow me to share a story from 3-1/2 years ago where I was under threat of being arrested for a link…will try to keep it as short as possible.

Late 2007, just starting up a web design service – I wanted to offer local businesses and non profit’s an opportunity to have a web presence w/o exorbitant costs. I wanted to help my local community, in other words.

Back then, links pages were all the rage so I put one up to “local resources”. One of those resources was the local police dept. web site. Now this is far more complex but I’ll just jump ahead – the [THEN] mayor sent me a cease and desist to “REMOVE THE LINK” and then had the police start an investigation on me and my “Link”.

I had to get a lawyer and sue to stop the harassment – oh then the police started their cover-up tracks and fast and made it sound like “oh no, we weren’t investigating YOU” – but oh yes, they were going to and I’ve got the voice mail to prove it.

Don’t believe me? I’ve nothing to hide, look up Reisinger vs. Perez.

And please you naysayers, don’t be fools. If it happened to you, you’d be singing on hell of a different tune ,I assure you.

This nonsense has to be stopped. A link does not a criminal make!!

mh says:

I can't believe...

…this is a democratic sponsored bill. A friend showed me the information regarding this bill the other day, and as I glanced over it, I chuckled and shook my head. It didn’t seem that far off from the great republican over-reaches regarding abortion law and voter registration rights that are going on in state legislatures, so I just figured this was backed by republicans. Later of course, I noticed it is a democrat who is sponsoring this bill.

It’s lovely to see both sides of the isle don’t give a flying fuck about who elected them.

Long live the corporations, apparently! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anonymous Coward says:

Is there any way that this could be used to prove that the transitive closure of links to the infringing material is infringing? Basically, the whole Internet could be affected by a single claim, in that case.

Let alone the problem that in practice URLs are not references to content (no matter that they *should* be in many cases), but to some mutable end point.

Frank Zappa says:

Might Verses Masses

None of this is surprising; however this is pivotable not for it’s content but for what the reaction will be from hackers and intellectuals. We have namecoin; it is a simple step to decentralize indexing. As for references, pointers and hyperlinks; as we understand there legal interpretation then designs will be updated to ensure a loop hole is used. As the corporations and governments spend billions of dollars to censor the internet the masses will spend billions of hours mitigating it will cleaver software. But keep in mind there is a new hacker born every day yet their money is not limitless.

Darryl says:

Who cares ?? it's only the US

You think they are the centre of the world, when really no one cares what a few unknown politicans vote for or not.

But its nice to see the “name and shame” techniques Mike employes.

Trouble is Mike, you think you are allways right and that the rest of the world are wrong.

If you do not like a law or a rule you fight against it, and you believe EVERYONE thinks just like you do.

Obviously if you really felt strongly about these issues you would run for office yourself, or actually make constructive comments, and be objective.

But that appears beyond you.

I would think ‘naming and shaming’ is really a last resort of the desperate.

There is no reason why you should not be responsible for what you post, all that you post, including links. It’s not that hard to act responsibily.

Just because you do not like a certain law does not mean you are exempt from that law.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘first amendment’ rights, that relate to free speech and peaceful protest against the Government.

T. Rob Brown (user link) says:

Internet = press

First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Press refers to the public trade of information. You can’t take it literally or else TV and radio wouldn’t be included. You must also then extend that to the Internet. It is another source of information shared by all people. The Internet is too massive for anyone to censor. It is too massive to traverse without a guide. Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. are our guide to finding information on the Internet. If we cannot use these tools, we cannot properly use the Internet. If no one can use links, then we cannot use indexing tools, and as a result, not be able to use the Internet.

Yes, this is a first amendment issue.

Anonymoose Custard says:

Hmmm. Maybe I should support this bill.

Giving it some thought, I came to a realization:

The PROTECT IP bill states that “provided that there is no objectively reasonable interpretation of an express license between the owner or operator of such Internet site and the copyright owner or trademark owner or an agent thereof that authorizes the activities,” that any site which facilitates reproduction or offers reproductions for sale is a site “dedicated to infringement.” I find this interesting since it is so difficult, even for attorneys, to come up with objectively reasonable interpretations of the “copyright owner’s” licenses. Therefore, the inescapable conclusion is that even linking to legitimate content is a crime if there is any ambiguity at all in the express license.

For linking to be legal, the license must be explicitly expressed and be clear and understandable to all who read it. Since this is so rare for a license, it’s all but impossible for any site to meet this requirement.

It follows, then, that even RIAA- and MPAA-backed websites are criminal infringers under this law, as are their agents and customers.

Continuing this line of thought, it is therefore a Federal Crime to consume any Copyrighted or Trademarked content.

Wow. This bill single-handedly criminalizes the entire creative “industry” and makes a felon anyone who is associated with it, including its executives and supporters.

Kasia says:

These bills are drafted by corporations who then give them to Republicans (whom they also provided funds and various kick backs to) and then the bills are made into laws as a return to the favours provided earlier. This is how conservative capitalism has operated for centuries. Why anyone would not vote for the most left candidate is beyond me.

Ryan says:

What a shame

Forgive my youthful ignorance, but I forgot that China annexed us and we have absolutely no rights anymore.

US politicians aren’t even with this century. They don’t understand that these sites have rights to free speech. They also don’t even realize that a lot of these sites are run in other countries and they are over-extending their jurisdiction.

I forgot the Constitution was optional to follow and that citizens’ rights are really not too important. It’s not like we pay their salaries or anything with our tax money.

America’s going to the dogs because our politicians are idiots. The Founding Fathers would kill themselves if they were alive today because the beautiful land they risked their lives for is now censored.

Slim934 says:

Is this why...

Are you serious? They are only the “messengers”?

I’ll be the first to admit that almost all legislative action is really done at the behest of special interests and not for the genuine benefit of voters, but this statement is just absurd.

THESE PEOPLE are the ones who actually vote it into law. You can bet your ass that makes them a hell of a lot more culpable than messengers. They are the enablers, the only party by which these “authors” have any real power. We should definitely be throwing ire at them.

Although it would be nice to know the authors, because that would allow criticism of the bill along the lines of it clearly being a protectionist tool for big media.

Karl Jackson (user link) says:

Create Political Impeachment Sites

Here is how to Stop incompetent politicians who infringe on Free Speech and attempt to create bills and laws that are dangerous to America’s freedoms.

Let’s put up sites everywhere / make them viral that contain the names of specific politicians who attempt or pass laws that are not only ignorant of today’s technology but in most cases dangerous. The internet is waaay more powerful than the politicians realize and this is how to stop their b.s. once and for all. Lastly, now will linking to them be considered a crime? AMEN

linkhoarder (profile) says:

Is this why...

GOP candidates are required to do what the ideological institutions insist on, otherwise the Tea Party, the enforcement arm of the GOP) comes in votes them out. Why we keep electing these people is beyond me. The right wants to impose a theocracy, so this isn’t just about copyright law.

They are re-elected because we have become a nation of intellectual
cowards, afraid of the increased freedom made possible by technological advances. A historical analogy is the Protestant revolution which was only made possible and facilitated by the newly invented printing press. Nothing less than the power to suppress ideas and maintain the status quo for profit is what this congressional tong and its constituency is after. The world is headed for sharper division into free and slave zones and the US still has its slavers. It won’t be easy to enforce the spirit of the constitution with the spineless supremes now playing mind games like carefree trolls. In
the very long term the forces of suppression will be defeated again, that is the sense of history.

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