NYTimes & LA Times Come Out Against PROTECT IP Act As Written

from the good-for-them dept

Well this is a surprise. The NY Times, which had generally (but not entirely) aligned itself with those who seek greater enforcement of copyright laws, has just put out an editorial arguing against passing the PROTECT IP Act, noting that its “broad definitions” are a serious problem and very likely to be abused — especially since the bill includes a private right to action:

The broadness of the definition is particularly worrisome because private companies are given a right to take action under the bill. In one notorious case, a record label demanded that YouTube take down a home video of a toddler jiggling in the kitchen to a tune by Prince, claiming it violated copyright law. Allowing firms to go after a Web site that ?facilitates? intellectual property theft might encourage that kind of overreaching — and allow the government to black out a site.

Some of the remedies are problematic. A group of Internet safety experts cautioned that the procedure to redirect Internet traffic from offending Web sites would mimic what hackers do when they take over a domain. If it occurred on a large enough scale it could impair efforts to enhance the safety of the domain name system.

This kind of blocking is unlikely to be very effective. Users could reach offending Web sites simply by writing the numerical I.P. address in the navigator box, rather than the URL. The Web sites could distribute free plug-ins to translate addresses into numbers automatically.

The NY Times suggests that a rewrite of the bill might make it okay, and does support the general idea of the bill, but worries greatly about the broadness of the bill today.

They’re not the only one. The LA Times — who almost always supports everything that Hollywood supports, on the legislative front — has published a similar editorial, warning that PROTECT IP goes too far and could break the internet. It also advises that the bill not pass as is, and that serious changes should be made.

The main problem with the bill is in its effort to render sites invisible as well as unprofitable. Once a court determines that a site is dedicated to infringing, the measure would require the companies that operate domain-name servers to steer Internet users away from it. This misdirection, however, wouldn’t stop people from going to the site, because it would still be accessible via its underlying numerical address or through overseas domain-name servers. A group of leading Internet engineers has warned that the bill’s attempt to hide piracy-oriented sites could hurt some legitimate sites because of the way domain names can be shared or have unpredictable mutual dependencies. And by encouraging Web consumers to use foreign or underground servers, the measure could undermine efforts to create a more reliable and fraud-resistant domain-name system. These risks argue for Congress to take a more measured approach to the problem of overseas rogue sites.

I have to admit I’m pretty surprised by this. By every indication, the PROTECT IP bill had pretty broad support, especially in the media. Hopefully this will at least cause some of those supporting the bill to rethink it.

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Comments on “NYTimes & LA Times Come Out Against PROTECT IP Act As Written”

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DandonTRJ (profile) says:

I’m interested to see how the MPAA and similar organizations react to this. They’ve been incredibly petulant up until now regarding any opposition to PIPA. They accused Wyden of playing cheap, underhanded political games [basically grandstanding for piracy-lovers], they accused Demand Progress of just being pirate shills — I wonder if and how they’ll try to marginalize two leading journalistic outfits’ concerns. If they use the same tact they’ve been doling out up until now, they’ll do wonders to marginalize their own voice in every similar debate going forward.

SD says:


Hopefully the bill will be rewritten to allow blocking of IP addresses as well.

Sounds like a cool way to accelerate IPv4 exhaustion but it wouldn’t stop piracy.

Site owners can get a new IP address almost as easily as they can get a new domain name.

And it will be even easier when IPv6 comes around.

You’re propping up an enforcement system that would be a complete failure.

Some Senators? says:

The tide may be turning against draconian and simplistic remedies

Some Senators?!? Try ONE Senator – Ron Wyden of Oregon – otherwise they’ve been as quiet as churchmice or loudly in favor. A few of these bozos need to be putting themselves on the line holding up this mess of legislation before we start giving them credit.

** says:


Oh yes, accelerate the exhaustion of IPv4 and speed up IPv6, I mean why don’t we just have our government throw all of our money out the window while we are at it. Ipv6 is even harder to block then just ipv6, and the pirates will still adapt. See thats a problem with businesses today. They see every innovation, or every new thing as an enemy, somthing to be exterminated. And you wanna know what will be funny? If this thing passes, Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Creative Commons wont exist anymore. it also allows for patent trolls to come in and take down sites that they dont like. Oh and what about WikiLeaks, or Wikipedia or even 4chan? What happens to Linux when this comes to? What happens to Ustream, Netflix, gamefly? All can, and potentially will be gone… And then, and only then will people be like oh,**** what have we just done.. I thought it was only for sites like TPB, and torrent reactor and sites aligned with piracy. And once the internet, the first forum of true freedom of speech is under control by the government, what goes next? Freedom of religion? Freedom of the press? Once they can take away our speech, they can take everything they want.. Its not healthy for any 1 entity to control the internet. It wasn’t made for one to control.

rxrightsadvocate (user link) says:

PROTECT IP will take away access to affordable meds

As this post and the Los Angeles Times and New York Times editorials state, if the PROTECT IP Act is enacted, it would raise technical and security concerns, not to mention free speech issues. It would also take away Americans? ability to locate safe, affordable prescription medications online–even from legitimate Canadian and other international pharmacies. Since over a million Americans rely on safe, international pharmacies to import their needed medicines at affordable prices, this bill could present a serious public health threat.

RxRights is a national coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting and protecting American consumer access to sources of safe, affordable prescription drugs. The Coalition is encouraging consumers to take action now by sending letters to President Obama and their representatives on Capitol Hill to protect their right to safe, affordable medications. Americans need to state their opposition to the PROTECT IP Act. For more information or to voice your concern, visit http://www.RxRights.org.

** says:

If all we do is fight piracy, we will always be inferior to it…. There really is no way to “stop” piracy, short of killing every inhabitant on earth. If we were to compete with piracy, using the technology that the pirates use, then the music industry who has likely paid a lot of senators off to get this bill into the senate wouldn’t be so sore, b/c there would be more legitimate content out there. I think Notch once put it best when he said “If someone pirates Minecraft instead of buying it, it means I?ve lost some ?potential? revenue. Not actual revenue, as I can never go into debt by people pirating the game too much, but I might?ve made even more if that person had bought the game instead. But what if that person likes that game, talks about it to his or her friends, and then I manage to convince three of them to buy the game? I?d make three actual sales instead of blocking out the potentially missed sale of the original person which never cost me any money in the first case.”

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