First Amendment Expert Floyd Abrams Admits SOPA Would Censor Protected Speech, But Thinks It's Okay Collateral Damage

from the not-really dept

Supporters of SOPA/PROTECT IP have been going absolutely nuts in pushing the claim that famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams has said SOPA does not violate the First Amendment. This wasn’t a surprise. First of all, the MPAA is a client of Abrams, as are various other Hollywood trade groups. He didn’t write the letter on his own behalf, but was paid by these groups to write the letter. As such, he’s speaking as a paid advocate for them, not as an objective independent observer. Given that, it’s really quite incredible how timid the letter actually is. The fact that it takes fourteen pages to hem, haw and equivocate away the clear problems of SOPA is quite telling.

While the argument goes on for a while, the really telling part is late in the letter, where Abrams actually admits that SOPA would result in the censorship of protected speech, something that can’t be denied, but which many supporters of the bill have refused to admit:

Regardless of the particular standard or definition of foreign infringing sites, court-approved remedies under the Stop Online Piracy Act may result in the blockage or disruption of some protected speech. As discussed above, the bill provides a range of injunctive relief is available, with a court making the final determination as to whether and how to craft relief against a website operator or owner or third party intermediaries. When injunctive relief includes blocking domain names, the blockage of non-infringing or protected content may result.

Setting aside the odd sentence construction (“the bill provides a range of injunctive relief is available”), this really is the key point. Abrams then spends another couple pages trying to explain why it’s okay to block protected speech, properly noting that caselaw has said it’s okay when that speech is “incidental.” What he fails to do is explain how the speech blocked here would be “incidental.” And that’s really the whole crux of the matter. The exceptionally broad definitions in the bill mean that it won’t block just incidental free speech, but wide open forums of free speech. Again, remember that under this bill, it’s likely that YouTube would not exist because Viacom sees it as “dedicated to theft of US property” under the definitions in the bill. And under the law Universal Music would make the case that the Internet Archive and a variety of blogs and forums are “dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” This would be about shutting down huge forums of free speech, not just incidental free speech.

Abrams ignores all of that.

The letter also presents a long argument about how laws apply on the internet. Well, duh. That’s just sleight of hand. It’s a favorite bogus talking point of the industry: that those who are worried about overreaching laws really believe that there should be no rule of law online. Everyone agrees that our laws apply online. What we question is how they’re applied in an overly broad manner that conflicts with free speech rights. Narrowly targeted laws that seek to stop actually illegal content — libel or infringement — are reasonable. Broad legislation that will take down significant non-infringing speech is where we have a problem. Unfortunately, Abrams sullies his distinguished legacy in the space, by more or less brushing aside such concerns in favor of his big clients.

Abrams is also somewhat selective and misleading in his choice of citations. For example, as “evidence” of the right to completely shut down websites over copyright claims, he “cites” the first of ICE’s domain seizure “cases,” a couple times. While he eventually notes that the legality of these seizures is currently being litigated, he doesn’t mention that until after he’s brought it up a couple times, and leaves out the fact that the citations he notes in support of such a right refer to a one-sided (and error-filled) affidavit presented by ICE and rubber-stamped by a magistrate judge — rather than a ruling in any sort of adversarial hearing. Again, this is not a balanced letter on his viewpoints, but a lawyer advocating for some of his biggest clients.

In discussing the specifics of SOPA, Abrams is careful to point to the letter of the law, refusing to acknowledge the actual impact of the law. For example, he notes that “the bill neither compels nor prohibits speech or communication by the four entities regarding any measures they take.” This is technically true, but misleading in the extreme. While it does not specifically prohibit speech directly, it is set up in a way that the only way to avoid liability is to massively prohibit non-infringing speech. That’s the issue, one totally ignored by Abrams. The vague standards for liability — the equivalent of how the Great Firewall of China works — makes it such that in order to avoid liability sites will certainly overblock. While Abrams can brush this off because the law does not directly compel a site to block speech, he’s not being intellectually honest in pretending that the actual impact will not block speech.

It’s no surprise that the MPAA and its supporters are waving this flag around — it’s about the only serious legal support they’ve got on this issue. And Abrams is a big and respected name — but his own letter seems to indicate the failings of his own argument, and the complete avoidance of even digging into the massive expansion of what is dubbed “dedicated to theft,” shows why this bill is problematic. When even your biggest “supporter” has to skirt around the issue, admit that the bill would suppress protected speech, and then try to hand-wave it away… you know the bill is bad, bad news. Either way this seems like a sad move by Abrams, who has been taking a number of missteps after a long and distinguished career. Between supporting this and his oddly ill-informed attack on Wikileaks (in which he insisted Wikileaks had done things it had not done), Abrams seems to be putting his legacy at risk.

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Comments on “First Amendment Expert Floyd Abrams Admits SOPA Would Censor Protected Speech, But Thinks It's Okay Collateral Damage”

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108 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“rather than a ruling in any sort of adversarial hearing”

So far, all the hearings has pretty much told the plaintiffs to pound sand (Roja case).

The courts have long held that some protected speech may be lost or blocked when “illegal speech” is stopped. In part, I think it stops websites in this case from using protected speech as a form of human shield for their illegal activities.

As for the internet archive, it’s just like a library – if they have books that are illegal, they need to remove them or face the consequences of their actions. The internet archive is something that relies on everyone turning a blind eye to their copying of everything on the internet without permission, and as such, they have what is a pretty bad business model. It’s not their fault that all of these illegal sites have sucked all the goodwill out of content owners hearts. They may way to try blaming the people who have screwed it up for them.

I suspect that they may end up getting a “delete” list, and just remove those sites who are no longer available in the US, thus resolving the issue.

Further, I wouldn’t take anything from Torrentfreak at face value, they are worse than you when it comes to telling only one side of a story.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

if they have books that are illegal, they need to remove them or face the consequences of their actions

The DMCA takedown process already allows this, so pretending like we need SOPA to do it is just more misdirection.

The internet archive is something that relies on everyone turning a blind eye to their copying of everything on the internet without permission

Well, at least you admit it rather than argue that such a scenario is “FUD”. I guess that’s progress.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The DMCA takedown process already allows this, so pretending like we need SOPA to do it is just more misdirection.”

No, DMCA works only if the copyright holder actively searches and complains – and even then, they get no other satisfaction than seeing the content removed that might have been up for years.

The internet archive, like other sites, will have to deal with what is and what is not legal in the US – it’s the nature of the game.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, DMCA works only if the copyright holder actively searches and complains – and even then, they get no other satisfaction than seeing the content removed that might have been up for years.

You mean botnet and bully? The process for a DMCA takedown usually doesn’t have human intervention.

The internet archive, like other sites, will have to deal with what is and what is not legal in the US – it’s the nature of the game.

I have a hard time figuring out why the Internet Archive has been such a target…

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, DMCA works only if the copyright holder actively searches and complains – and even then, they get no other satisfaction than seeing the content removed that might have been up for years.

Because the library, in this hypothetical, has no way of knowing which books are authorized and which are illegal copies, and the new rule, rather than attempt to solve this conundrum in any reasonable manner, will allow private companies to bully said library into bankruptcy if they even have an inkling that one of the books might be an illegitimate copy.

And if it turns out that the book was placed there by the rights-holder itself? Well, if you’re going to prop up the profits of Big Content, gotta break a few eggs, I guess.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“will allow private companies to bully said library into bankruptcy if they even have an inkling that one of the books might be an illegitimate copy.”

Thanks to the pathetic way in which laws have been enforced thus far (e.g. when was the last time someone received the perjury penalty under the DMCA for falsely claiming ownership), they probably don’t even have to have that. They just have to decide they don’t like an outlet, even if (like archive.org) they put a lot of effort into ensuring compliance. They can simply be destroyed without any kind of due process.

Anonymous Coward says:

The DMCA showed everyone that laws like that will be abused there are no safeguards in place and no tracking system and so content owners which could mean anyone really can just start doing whatever they want, there is not even punishment for bad behaviour which compounds the problem and any court oversight is just for window dressing since I doubt any Judge will take a look in depth on a list with hundreds or thousands of entries which is another door for abuse since you just keep putting the names of the places you don’t like in there and claim ignorance or incompetence and try to get a away free.

Thousands of small business will be threatened only really big players that can afford costly litigation will be the ones trying to counter sue others, for most people it will be time to pack up and go find another place, which may not be that bad, it could become another Gopher fiasco, with people going to internet 2.0 sooner rather than later.

It will however harm business everywhere since those deeply depend on government to exist, they can’t just pack up and leave, only those who can afford to create endless LLC’s will be able to cope with such an environment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

After you bought it second hand, please rip it to a 2 TB HDD and distribute that to everyone you know.

200 DVD’s for free, without having to wait days to download from the internet.

Particularly I prefer to rent it for $1 and rip it, it is cheaper meaning they get less money, every cent counts, every cent hurts.

out_of_the_blue says:

"equivalent of how the Great Firewall of China works"

That’s inherent in the DNS system, nothing to do with SOPA.

“As such, he’s speaking as a paid advocate for them, not as an objective independent observer.” — Justifying questions about WHO funded your DC trip, Mike. It’s beyond belief that you’re so exercised about SOPA as to spend thousands of your own on a futile trip.

“Setting aside the odd sentence construction (“the bill provides a range of injunctive relief is available”),” — is easily understood by inserting “that” after “provides”. You’ve justified all my carping on your howlingly bad grammar.

As for the rest: to avoid “collateral damage” to your free speech, avoid sites / domains that promote infringement. You can’t reasonably NO consequence.

Anonymous Coward says:

if they have books that are illegal, they need to remove them or face the consequences of their actions
The DMCA takedown process already allows this, so pretending like we need SOPA to do it is just more misdirection.
The internet archive is something that relies on everyone turning a blind eye to their copying of everything on the internet without permission
Well, at least you admit it rather than argue that such a scenario is “FUD”. I guess that’s progress.

So explain the step the rights holder takes after tvshack.bz laughs away the takedown notice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yup, and that injuction is totally powerless under the DMCA against sites that operate outside of the US and have beneficial owners outside the US.

SOPA on the other hand would at least make it impossible for that site to be seen directly in the US. A small victory, perhaps, but a step in the right direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Umm, it doesn’t export US copyright law – it makes it so that US copyright law applies starting at the US border. How hard is that to understand? What is legal in one country may not be legal in another, and it’s that country’s right to control what is made available in their country.

LyleD says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

As a foreigner, all I can say is good job! Now your fellow US citizens can have a taste of what it’s like to be a foreigner and denied access to content just because it’s overseas..

As a Netizen though, I hope you succeed with your censorship plans.. The sooner you break it the sooner we’ll have workarounds that remove more of you influence on this world ๐Ÿ™‚

Sarah says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Excuse me, LyleD but do you really think that Americans don’t get denied access? Well, we do; if you’re on a short-from blogging site (like Tumblr) you’ll know that those that do live in the US are always scrambling to find their favorite overseas programs livesteams whenever they’re on. Don’t assume that you’re the only one who can’t see what you want, it works on both sides of the coin.

LyleD says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I’m sure you do, what with the over-emphasis on regional monopolies nowadays..

The point I was making however is that if SOPA goes through, you’ll be missing a lot more overseas content than you are now.

The USA will become a toxic workspace for internet content companies. Not only will established players be put out of business but new players wont even bother setting up there. A boon for us foreigners, but not so great for you behind the Great US Firewall…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“SOPA on the other hand would at least make it impossible for that site to be seen directly in the US. A small victory, perhaps, but a step in the right direction.”

Which continues to make no sense. Why should we export US copyright law to another sovereign nation?

Jay, any orders are enforced on US-based payment processors, ad networks, ISP’s and search engines. Note the term “US-based”. That means not foreign. The offender is free to infringe away. Just without using US assets to do it. Tough shit.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Note: You’re going to make Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and any other US based payment processors very weak and irrelevant.

I won’t be too surprised that a lot of websites will pull their money from these services and find a number of route arounds to it. I can see that a TON of people would be more than willing to give up Paypal if given half a chance. This is going to make that choice 10x easier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Note: You’re going to make Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and any other US based payment processors very weak and irrelevant.

I won’t be too surprised that a lot of websites will pull their money from these services and find a number of route arounds to it. I can see that a TON of people would be more than willing to give up Paypal if given half a chance. This is going to make that choice 10x easier.

You should read up on international banking law Jay. No entity who seeks to also handle legitimate money will touch it because they’ll be frozen out. Any entity that exists for the sole purpose of processing unlawful transactions will largely be viewed as inherently sleazy and untrustworthy as their business model is funding criminal activity. It will only be a matter of time that their money gets frozen by one country or another. MAybe Bitcoin will be your savior.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You should read up on international banking law Jay.

Funny, alternatives are appearing and you seem to think that all of them will be centered around a singular distribution model (ie bank-bank). That’s not the case. Odds are, people are going to make workarounds, which won’t be affected by this bill. You can’t really take away the Flatr option, and this will only spur the creation of more anonymized ways to make money.

MAybe Bitcoin will be your savior

You seem to love that idea, and yet you continue to ignore other options. Fascinating…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“You should read up on international banking law Jay.”

Funny, alternatives are appearing and you seem to think that all of them will be centered around a singular distribution model (ie bank-bank). That’s not the case. Odds are, people are going to make workarounds, which won’t be affected by this bill. You can’t really take away the Flatr option, and this will only spur the creation of more anonymized ways to make money.

Jay consider the impact of pirate site losing access to Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Paypal, etc in one fell swoop.

How many of the millions of people who use those processors to pay for infringing material will migrate to alternates? How long will any of the pirate sites be able to survive during the migration? At some point these processors will have to deal with bank clearinghouses. Those clearinghouses (if themselves legit) won’t get mixed up with them. And finally, how long do you think it will take to pressure foreign governments to seize payment processors that exist for the purpose of promoting unlawful activity?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“how long do you think it will take to pressure foreign governments

QFT

As a foreigner, why don’t you mind your own fucking business.

Seeing that you have a name I can pronounce, I’d guess your country wouldn’t require any pressure at all. In fact they probably already have adequate laws on the books. Thanks for playing, though.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Jay consider the impact of pirate site losing access to Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Paypal, etc in one fell swoop.

Congratulations, you’ve given every incentive for every other country to make an alternative service that does not cater to the US based service requirement of US law. That’s the very definition of short sighted. Do you really believe that after a year of the takedowns, this law is going to make a dent in piracy?

You must be pretty adept at selling sand to a man in the desert.

How many of the millions of people who use those processors to pay for infringing material will migrate to alternates?

You don’t get it… The system will route around the damage caused by this. Why do you think Adobe is discontinuing flash support? Why do you think people stopped using Netscape back in the day? Why do you think people won’t find legal alternatives to what SOPA will do? This is anathema to what you’re even hoping to accomplish. It’s not going to stop piracy, it’s going to make those services weaker and it just enforces the idea of newer alternatives into the market. Sure, you get a few people. But are you going to arrest them all, bring them to the US at great expense, and jail them for being dirty pirates? You’re going to make it so that those people will look at SOPA, find newer ways to make money, and say “to hell with US law” in the interim.

And finally, how long do you think it will take to pressure foreign governments to seize payment processors that exist for the purpose of promoting unlawful activity?

And how many more will pop up that are less legitimate? You seem to have this idea in your head that every person this legislation is some criminal mastermind automatically. I find that an amazingly limited viewpoint. Litigation won’t help your cause. It won’t make the RIAA or the MPAA more money, and they’ll be bleeding. While they’re having the US government fight for them domestically, they’ll be trying to make piracy more difficult abroad but all they’re doing is entrenching themselves in a weaker position. How long until people find and make the workarounds to the DNS hacks that this instills on the system? How long until new payment processors spring to the fore? How long until people in Europe and Asia refuse these American processors and use the ones made in their country? It’s like you’re instituting a virus into the system, but the antibodies that are produced will make it stronger and more resistant to the litigious route.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Jay,

This is no silver bullet, What percentage of the population that currently infringes will adopt these workaround solutions that you cite? I doubt more than 20%. Thats a pretty good dent. And its a pretty small market space for a rogue payment processor to operate given what it would need to do to capture the market and fend off regulatory attacks. Keep dreaming the dream though.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“What percentage of the population that currently infringes will adopt these workaround solutions that you cite?”

What percentage of people would pay for more legal content if the content providers stopped enforcing unworkable DRM, regional and other restrictions to try and sell their products as though it was still 1998?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Yet another tactic you seem to love using…

What percentage of the population that currently infringes will adopt these workaround solutions that you cite? I doubt more than 20%.

How much piracy actually goes on right now? How much will it increase from this bad legislation?

And its a pretty small market space for a rogue payment processor to operate given what it would need to do to capture the market and fend off regulatory attacks.

And let’s play “dodge all the inquiries given to make up a random number and minimize the points said”. You get an A+ for not understanding what’s going to happen and ignoring basic economic principles. Good job. Keep dreaming that this will put any kind of dent in piracy though.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Actually, that’s what happens in Russia to minimize raid damage. You’ll have groups band together in LLCs. When one part of it is raided by cops, there’s nothing the cops can do to get the other businesses attached. All of this relates to piracy raids that our AC friend believes litigation will stop. I’ve yet to see him really advocate a good plan from SOPA.

Here’s the steps to SOPA enforcement:

1) Take away US processors
2) ???

4) Piracy eliminated (PROFIT!)

As you can see, there IS no step 3.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

True pirates will survive no matter what you think, they don’t do it for money stupid.

Now a lot of colateral innocent business will suffer, SOPA is not a bill that allow anyone to say no, if the content owner wants to put you there in the middle of thousands of entries in a list you are just screwed and there is nothing you can do about it.

Well I guess when other countries start passing the same laws and using them as an excuse to block, Facebook, Google, Youtube and others that will just be all well and dandy, you see China will not have a problem with that, Brazil will not have a problem with that, Japan will not have a problem with that, France would love to screw American companies and they already convicted several executives from Warner Bros didn’t they?

This will end up a mess I am sure, but who cares about business right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

“How many of the millions of people who use those processors to pay for infringing material “

Wait, pirates are paying for content? But I thought all this piracy was a problem because “you can’t compete with free.”

Go ahead and pretend that pirate sites don’t monetize themselves with donations, subscription fees and enhancements. Talk about willfully stupid.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Citation on the “millions of people” paying for these services via donations, etc., I believe.

Anyway, at least be consistent. Either the pirates are only successful because they’re free, or you admit that people are willing to pay for the better service they get from the pirates – and thus the legal owners can compete by offering a similar service (no DRM, no regional controls, no windowing, etc.).

You can’t have both arguments if and when they suit you. Pick one.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

As I’ve said many times, I’m willing to pay for Netflix and/or Hulu. In fact, I’m willing to pay double the US prices for each service. Guess who’s stopping that from happening? Not the pirates. Apparently, because I sit on the wrong patch of dirt, I’m not allowed to purchase a legal service… Hell, I’d frequent Hulu all the damn time if I was allowed to _ during recent week in NY, I watched numerous documentaries and TV shows free of charge, perfectly legally. I’m just not allowed to where I’m sitting now.

The pirates may fill a gap in the market, but it’s not directly because of them that said gap exists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You can’t really take away the Flatr option,

Why is that? How does serving an order on Visa prohibiting it from funding tvshack.bz differ from serving the same order on flattr?

The only difference I see is that if you hit the button on 10 sites and 4 websites declared dedicated to infringing, your monthly tithe would be whacked up 6 ways instead of 10. Did I miss something? It’s a dot com, so why would it be exempt?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Impossible to you fat ass pencil pusher to the rest of us, that would not be a problem since people just need to use a DNS server outside the US to regain access to it.

But really it would be better to just go to a new internet overlay where you retarded don’t have control and can’t censor anything.

I2P, TOR are but 2 examples of it, there are more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

At that point, the site has lost its safe harbor status and an injunction can be sought in court.

For someone who claims to know the ends and outs of copyright law, you sure don’t know much when it counts.

Looks like the constitutional law firm of Masnick, Knight & Douchenozzle has really brought out the bigs guns here. So tell me Professor Knight, how does that US injunction get served and enforced on a pirate site located in Myanmar?
You’re a fucking dunce. BTW, you really ought to should reconsider that goatee. It looks like an asshole with dentures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here you are pontificating on legal theory and suggesting the country’s foremost First Amendment scholar sold out his worldwide reputation and the respect of the legal community for whatever he was paid to conduct this analysis. Masnick, you couldn’t carry Abrams briefcase. Not that it matters, but your analysis here will probably be even less meaningful than everything else you’ve done in your futile attempts to stop the bill.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yup. Further, I don’t think the courts would end up looking very highly at sites who try to use protected speech as a sort of human shield for illegal activities. It’s one of the reasons why SOPA is likely to survive constitutional challenges, because it has allowance for the idea that sites may have some legal and some illegal material.

Sarah says:

Re:

Excuse me, LyleD but do you really think that Americans don’t get denied access? Well, we do; if you’re on a short-from blogging site (like Tumblr) you’ll know that those that do live in the US are always scrambling to find their favorite overseas programs livesteams whenever they’re on. Don’t assume that you’re the only one who can’t see what you want, it works on both sides of the coin.

A Guy (profile) says:

He’s old… it’s not surprising he doesn’t understand the internet.

In his mind, internet sites should work like a publication such as a newspaper or magazine. Every detail reviewed by multiple editors and every line checked for factual accuracy and copyright concerns.

With lower barriers to entry in the internet age comes pesky little annoyances like more democracy where before there were tyrannical filters (editors, publishers, lawyers ect) and a near instantaneous pace where before there was a slow methodical crafting of the publication.

You cannot blame a doddering old man for not understanding how modern technology works or the monumental (and politically impossible task) that his clients propose.

Or, maybe he does understand. Maybe he’s old enough that he just wants to cash out and retire. Either way, the young will choose how we move forward and the old will fade away, as is only natural.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re:

They’re willing to destroy home businesses and/or businesses that allow public access based on an accusations without due process or legal defence. They also model their business as if physical borders are relevant online, and refuse to adequately service large parts of the globe in pursuit of higher profits.

The fact that they’re willing to destroy international business communication as well is not a particularly big surprise.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re:

fair market value

I don’t think this term means what you think it means. You seem to be under the idea that it means retail or asking price, in other words, what the seller wants to sell it at.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_market_value

“Fair market value (FMV) is an estimate of the market value of a property, based on what a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured buyer would probably pay to a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured seller in the market.”

You see that part about what the buyer is willing to pay?

Please, take a basic economics class before you try to post on this stuff.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re:

No, DMCA works only if the copyright holder actively searches and complains – and even then, they get no other satisfaction than seeing the content removed that might have been up for years.

Ah, so you admit this is all about making the copyright holders happy, and nothing to do with fairness, justice, or the public weal.

The internet archive, like other sites, will have to deal with what is and what is not legal in the US – it’s the nature of the game.

Ah, so it’s not about making laws that are fair and just. It’s about using the US legal system to beat up people for their lunch money.

So all you have to do is pass a bunch of egregious laws and then frame all arguments in the context of what’s legal, and you figure you’ve won all the arguments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“How many of the millions of people who use those processors to pay for infringing material will migrate to alternates? How long will any of the pirate sites be able to survive during the migration? At some point these processors will have to deal with bank clearinghouses. Those clearinghouses (if themselves legit) won’t get mixed up with them. And finally, how long do you think it will take to pressure foreign governments to seize payment processors that exist for the purpose of promoting unlawful activity?”

Please – it happened with gopher, gif and it almost happened to mp3 if Fraunhofer Society had closed it down. It WILL happen to Visa, Mastercard, Paypal if it becomes hard to use their services.

“The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” —> this works while people aren’t brainwashed (China, Japan, Korea, Denmark, USA, etc…) and while there are people like Mike, it will work in the future – we will make it work. I for one will use my experience to help coding projects that make all these laughable “Acts” irrelevant.

Degrin says:

The problem with IP is that protections last too long. In a world where you can create something and replicate it millions of times over in a matter of minutes, the need for long lasting IP protections is misguided. IP in the computer/internet world can be turned over for profit exponentially quicker than if someone patents a tool or design and has to mass produce and sell it in markets.

Additionally, most piracy cost estimates are way overbloated because they overestimate the number of people that would have purchased the IP if they hadn’t pirated it. If someone downloads a shitty movie or song that they weren’t going to buy regardless of circumstances, that does NOT count as a loss to the author.

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