A Look At Three Popular Sites That May Be In Trouble Under SOPA

from the collateral-damage dept

The EFF is taking a look at some websites that may face serious legal questions and liability should SOPA become law, specifically looking at Etsy, Flickr and Vimeo. These are three extremely popular and useful sites, which most people certainly believe are and should be perfectly legal. But under SOPA, they could be declared “dedicated to theft of US property,” thanks to the broad definitions under the law. Take Etsy, for example:

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods, where users can set up a storefront and create listings for things they?ve made.  There are over 800,000 active ?shops? filled with these handmade goods ? far too many for Etsy to monitor manually. Further, because of the eclectic nature of goods listed, it?s difficult to technically filter through the objects listed.

All that means that it?s not feasible for Etsy to proactively prevent listings that may be perceived to violate US copyright or trademark law.  That?s a problem, because  under SOPA, anybody who is a ?holder of an intellectual property right harmed by the activities? of even a portion of the site, could serve Etsy?s payment processors with a notice that would require them to suspend Etsy?s service within 5 days. That means that a trademark violation in one of the storefronts could lead to payment suspension across the entire site. Unlike DMCA notices, which should be targeted to specific infringements, payment provider suspensions will likely target entire accounts.  And even if Etsy protests, the bill’s vigilante provisions, which grant them immunity for choking off a site if they have a “reasonable” belief that a portion of a site enable infringement, give the payment processors a strong incentive to cut them off anyway.

The SOPA defenders in our comments will insist that Etsy should have picked a business model that doesn’t rely on infringement. Kinda shows the disconnect here, doesn’t it? Etsy’s business model has nothing to do with infringement… and that’s the problem with SOPA.

Flickr, of course, is one of the most popular photo hosting sites. But under SOPA, it’s at risk:

Like Etsy, Flickr takes copyright issues seriously, and complies with DMCA safe harbor requirements by taking down photos when it gets a valid complaint, establishing a repeat infringer policy, etc.. But it doesn?t proactively monitor its user-generated content for copyright infringement. The language of SOPA is vague enough that an individual or corporate rightsholder could claim this lack of monitoring as ?taking ? deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the ? site to carry out acts that constitute a violation.? Flickr uses an ad network to place advertisements, and accepts payments for premium accounts. Both of those revenue streams could be suspended in a matter of days by a single complaint, and the process of reactivating them could be long and complex.

Vimeo is a really interesting one, since that company was sued by EMI for “inducing” infringement by having popularized “lipdub” videos. As EFF points out, that’s more than enough to have them completely shut down under SOPA.

Of course, it’s unlikely that rightsholders will go after any of these sites now under SOPA. They’re all big enough — and can afford lawyers. But there’s a real fear that the next generation of such sites will get shut down… or, worse, won’t even start up at all, due to the massive potential liability.

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Companies: etsy, flickr, vimeo

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Comments on “A Look At Three Popular Sites That May Be In Trouble Under SOPA”

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xenomancer (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

We’ll start with numbers that take a little less bending the fabric of space-time to make sense:

It turns out 800000 is a great number to get a sense of the ridiculous burden of liability SOPA will create. Supposing, for sake of because I can, that each store places exactly one infringing piece of work up for sale per day and it takes exactly one hour to locate and verify the infringing status of said work, knowing exactly which store it is likely located in, there now exists exactly 800000 man-hours of new work that Etsy has to perform per day to ensure that no single complaint ruins their entire website. That’s (800000 hours) / (24 hours/day) / (365.25 days/year) ~= 91.262 man-years of new labor the website would need per day. Or, put another way, that’s (800000 hours) / (8 hours/employee) = 100000 employees needed to come in 7 days a week, every day of the year, for 8 hours. Now, those numbers say two things to me. The first is that maybe SOPA can create a whole new industry of staring blankly at a computer monitor looking for infringement because, as everyone knows, “you just know it when you see it.” The other is that the new liability introduced, using those bogus numbers as a far-fetched proxy, will bring the internet to a screeching halt in the name of a few incompetent and lazy middlemen seeking to place the burden of proof on the wrong side of a table yanked out of the rightful setting of the courtroom. Copyright and patent infringement take an adversarial trial to determine, and that is all there is too it.

But, wait, let’s look at the numbers again… 800000 new court cases per day from one company might actually get something done right since the people who actually committed the infringement would get punished instead of the platform in similarly idealistic circumstances. That, and it might alert congress to the widespread abuses and problems with the current system, and how cranky judges get after witnessing a groundhogs day moment once too often before age 65. It is the copyright owner’s right to the rights provided by copyright and it is also the copyright owner’s burden to defend said rights. I could see why the MAFIAA gets so up set since they are in a somewhat similar position with their large catalog of weaslingly pilfered copyrights to scour the universe with, looking for revenue. And let’s be honest about it, the MPAA and RIAA care about artists and the supporting staff only as far the copyright can pay over time. And they’ve been demonstrating less than even that low bar of loyalty lately.

out_of_the_blue says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

Worrying us with what MIGHT happen, while ignoring the overwhelming facts of what Rapidshare and dozens of other sites DO every day (and that’s limiting it to the realm of copyright infringement: horrors abound). You don’t give any solution for actual infringement, just yell of what MIGHT if the actual is attempted to be remedied.

Here you’re like the neo-cons and their “mushroom cloud” scenarios, and since you generally favor their crypto-fascist corporatism, I think you are a neo-con, trained at Ivy League school to manage for the 1%.

lfroen (profile) says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

>> crypto-fascist
Well, I heard a lot of stuff with “…-fascist”: like “neo-fascist”, “right-fascist” and so on, but “crypto”? What the hell this even supposed to mean?

>> what Rapidshare and dozens of other sites DO every day
Pray tell us, what is this oh-so-horrible thing they do? But – don’t worry, Rapidshare is in Germany, and I’m not in US, so – sucks to be American these days, ah?

TasMot (profile) says:

And a fourth site that could be in trouble

I think Twitter could end up in trouble too. I mean according to AP, quoting more than 4 words without permission and payment means a copyright violation. All someone has to do is quote an AP headline in a tweet and AP can shut down all of Twitter on an accusation. Just because somebody wanted to share a headline.

Mark Harrill (profile) says:


So I’ve bought stuff from etsy and follow a couple of artists that use it on twitter or facebook. Every now and then they popup with a story about how some chain retailer has taken one of their designs and started to mass produce it. So if SOPA passes, does this mean someone on Etsy can trademark and/or copyright their designs, wait for the knockoff to appear at the chain retailer and take down the “rogue site” for “theft” of their intellectual property?

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Any time you get a significant amount of human activity in one area you will have someone doing something illegal. It may be intentional or unintentional, but most likely there is some of both.

On top of that, SOPA uses incredibly broad definitions to define what is illegal. And all that is needed is a suspicion of illegal activity. In fact all that is really required is an IP owner who is afraid of what is going on.

This means that it is going to be almost impossible for any business to operate on the Internet unless it has a powerful team of lawyers, and even that might not be enough to keep a lot of businesses operating. Even the major media companies themselves may be vulnerable. Movie studios are constantly being threatened by legal action from people who claim their script was stolen. Record labels constantly face claims that new songs have stolen old songs. And that doesn’t even cover the situations where the major IP gateholders have themselves really broken copyright law.

I can’t imagine a law better designed to kill innovation and destroy jobs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just one SOPA post today please...

…Mike, while I’m just as worried about SOPA as you are, repeatedly producing stories about it will actually make matters worse. People get tired of repetition and then any emotion that might have been generated just turns to numbness. Any one reading your TD right now probably have a ton of other media sources that we read/watch/listen to and we’re hearing the same thing over and over. There’s still a ton of other stories out there so let’s see some of them.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Just one SOPA post today please...

This is the third story of the day and the first one about SOPA. Mike made no promises yesterday that he wouldn’t be posting any more SOPA stories, he siply said he would be posting more non-SOPA stories. I think a 2:1 ratio is pretty good for the morning.

Now, I am very interested in the impact SOPA will have and look forward to hearing more stories on the subject. Why? Because the issue is of the very utmost importance. There area lot of people who will simply forget about the issue until it is too late if they are not reminded. So let’s make sure they don’t forget.

anonymous says:

regardless of how good a product might be or even is at the moment, regardless of the benefits it may or already brings to people, to the economy of the US and perhaps the world in general, if the burden placed on those providing or developing that product (or service) is so great because the ‘possible infringement’ bar is so low, those products and services will cease. the only time it will be recognised is when it impacts on the government (or those in government) directly. by then it will be too late. they have all been warned countless times but chose to ignore the warnings. it’s gonna get very interesting, very quickly, once SOPA and any similar Bill is introduced. saying that the companies more than likely wont be affected doesn’t mean they wont. some prick, somewhere, will do something stupid, just because they can. wont take many before things get nasty!

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s be honest for a moment. We all know who will be targeted by SOPA accusations. You listing “possible” targets who we all know won’t be targeted is pointless. You know the first target will be TPB. Torrent link sites will be next. Closing services that infringe or provide links to infringing content on massive scales will be the target of this bill. They aren’t going to go after a site because of a single violation, it would be a public relations nightmare for them. They WILL go after the sites whose primary USE is to infringe content. Notice I said USE, not intended purpose. Some sites that were created for legitimate purposes (USENET for example) have been overrun by pirates. If you can’t police yourself and keep the piracy from your site, your service will be shut down.

sftsc (profile) says:



Of course, it’s unlikely that rightsholders will go after any of these sites now under SOPA. They’re all big enough — and can afford lawyers. But there’s a real fear that the next generation of such sites will get shut down… or, worse, won’t even start up at all, due to the massive potential liability.

replace sopa with dmca, etc… its not in their interest to act now, that would be too much work. sopa gives them the tool to do more damage in the future under the guise of law.

deadzone (profile) says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

I respectfully request a “Report dumbass comment” button be added alongside the “Insightful” “Funny” and “Report” buttons.

Blue you are a fool. The unintended consequences and collateral damage that this bill would bring if passed are far too numerous to count and if you don’t know this or worse, don’t care. Then I have no sympathy at all for any of you when it all comes crashing down on you.

nasch (profile) says:


So if SOPA passes, does this mean someone on Etsy can trademark and/or copyright their designs, wait for the knockoff to appear at the chain retailer and take down the “rogue site” for “theft” of their intellectual property?

Theoretically. I imagine complaints against big companies will get some extra scrutiny while complaints by big rights holders against little guys are just executed immediately.

Anonymous Coward says:

“They WILL go after the sites whose primary USE is to infringe content. Notice I said USE, not intended purpose.”

Unfortunately your immense trust in the “THEY” ignores that what the “THEY” consider as a site whose primary USE is to infringe content can and will be different from your own.
It is the historical truth of the “THEY”; that is why people came up with courts, judges, juries and all kinds of things including carefully phrased non-ambiguous laws in an attempt to put some controls on the “THEY” which the “THEY” are currently being quite successful in circumventing with, apparently, your full approval.

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Amusing story, but one that is easily avoided.

First off, if they take the time up front to “know their customer”, and to structure their service so that they aren’t anything but a pure host, they won’t have as many issues.

In other words, if they don’t do anonymous, and they make sure they know who they are dealing with, then they have showed the sort of good faith in actions that gives them space to work.

Further, they could easily write a small bot to check all pages for certain phrases or words, and investigate those pages and flag them good or bad. So rather than checking 800,000 pages, they would be looking at maybe a few dozen a day. Sort of changes everything

The scale of complying isn’t as the EFF tries to paint it. Scaremongering is apparently their best service, they do it very well!

Vincent Clement (profile) says:


But shouldn’t the site be found guilty of IP infringement by a court before having it’s payment system killed or web site removed?

Could artists that are owed royalties by record companies, file notices to remove or block the record companies website from the internet? After all they could argue that as the ?holder of an intellectual property right” they are being “harmed by the activities? of the record company?

MAC says:


Seriously, SOPA is a nightmare of immense proportions.

Take something as innocuous as Wikipedia. There are plenty of quotes and material in the site that will fall under SOPA jurisdiction.

Forget the un-imaginable value that this site provides, especially for students.

The lawyers will get hold of it, shake it down, strip it to the bare bones and then bury it.

And this will repeat over and over and over again until only the big players are left.

Do you see what’s happening? It’s not about infringement; it’s about control. If you control the information that people have access to then you control them.

This is one of the primary goals of any tyrant.

There setting us up…

Anonymous Coward says:


First things to do when SOPA passes:

For Viacom:
Step One: Drop Lawsuit against Youtube.
Step Two: File SOPA claims against Youtube.

For UMG:
Step One: Drop Lawsuit against Grooveshark.
Step Two: File SOPA claims against Grooveshark.

For Tiffany or L’Oreal or Autodesk:
Step One: Drop lawsuit against EBay.
Step Two: File SOPA claims against EBay.

Of course, we could just trust they will not use SOPA against companies such as Grooveshark, Ebay, and Youtube. They will simply continue to spend money on lawyers and lawsuits to … uh. What?

anonymous says:


to AC post #22

so you can categorically state, without fear of contradiction that no site is going to be taken down unintentionally, purposefully or with any sort of self-interest in mind, can you? i say to you ‘BOLLOCKS’! you’re living in cloud cuckoo land! what better way is there to eliminate competition than getting your competitor removed? no fight, no costs to you, only to the defendant (if there is sufficient money available), no need to upgrade your business model, business strategy or even your product! win-win situation for the backward and gutless!

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Wow, you don’t live in the real world, do you?

The law creates all sorts of responsiblities for you, some you may like, some you may not. Example, on your car, you are required to have working brake lights. Now, if those brake lights fail, you can get a ticket. So you end up self policing, checking your brake lights from time to time to make sure they work.

If you want to be in a retail business, you need to make sure your products are legal, or face liablity issues and potentially criminal charges. You have to “self police”, you don’t get to just keep selling them until someone catches you, say “oops”, and just stop with no harm no foul. real life says you must be responsible for your own actions.

Dry hosting companies will never have an issue. The sites that will have an issue are ones that take anonymous user submissions, and front them as part of their sites. Those people are in serious trouble – as well they should be. I couldn’t run that type of business in the real world, why should I be able to run it online?

Jon Bains (user link) says:

How I learned to stop worrying and LOVE SOPA

I’ve had at attitude readjustment, I’m going to go with the flow and embrace what i just realised is the future of business models for the content world.

You see the the anti-SOPA lobby (most of us here) have assumed that the MPAA / RIAA (collectively known as the MAFIAA) weren’t willing to adapt and viewed folk like Anonymous as a threat. That sending letters to individuals a-la ACS-LAW wasn’t a viable strategy. Turns out we were wrong. They actually saw an opportunity. They watched, they learned and are proposing a new model even more impressive than the good old ‘Denial of Service’ attack the hackers use.

(Denial of Safe Harbour)

This new ‘model’ is fantastic especially as ?you need virtually NO technical, creative or legal skills to play. It’s truly open and democratic.

Here’s how it works and how I plan to make millions! (so don’t tell anyone!)


  1. Create some ‘music’. Highly recommend GarageBand autoplay instruments. Since a 4 year old can use it, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make a tune.
  2. For a one time fee of $35 dollars register your opus with copyright.gov – you can do it online so no need to move off the couch/stool.
  3. Go to Tunecore and get it popped on iTunes for 99c . Make sure you come up with a cool sounding name for your band and label – I’m going with ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ for the band and ‘RogueDoSHRecords’ – am thinking my first track will be ‘Legalise Extortion’ again please don’t steal it as I haven’t registered it yet.
  4. Go to WordPress (if it still exists) and create your label site – to be honest you don’t have to do much more than say ‘welcome to… XX records home of YY’ and pop some copyright notices everywhere and a link to iTunes.
  5. Have a cocktail ?- you are now in that elite group – the Content Owner!
  6. Enlist some friends to help out and repeat 1-5 ?with them – I’m guessing 10 mates/labels would be enough for most situations – a mini Anonymous if you will.
  7. At this point you *could* try and get folk to buy your tune but frankly it isn’t worth the effort instead each of you upload the others tracks to YouTube and/or create some torrents.
  8. So far I reckon they should have taken about a day of ‘real’ time, some hangover recovery time plus however long it takes to get the copyright approved.

STAGE 2 – Exercise your Rights

  1. All you have to do is find a bunch of blogs ( any site on any subject will do these days that allow comments) and get your mates to pop some links to your track on YouTube or to the torrent.
  2. Send the site owner an email accusing them of being ‘Dedicated to infringement’ – and that you will NOT report them to their ISP, payment partner etc if they hand over I dunno – $1000 bucks sounds fair.
  3. Now at this point you would expect the site owner to take it down, if they do just pop it up again ( or even better pop one of your mates tracks up to confuse them. )
  4. After you’ve done this a few times you announce that you have got a some class-action from a bunch of legacy sounding labels including ‘Phonographic Memories’, ‘The Long Tail Players’, ‘8 Track Marks ‘, ‘Tape me up, Tape me down’, ‘Cassette My Ass’ and of course the hip-hop label ‘MP3some’.
  5. Give them one last chance to pay up (it’s going to cost them $5k now btw)
  6. If they DO pay up – wait a couple of days /weeks and repeat with some new labels until they just give up and shut down
  7. If they DON’T pay up shop them to their ISP and Payment partner who are so inundated with these claims that they’ll have no choice but to close the infringing scum down, just in case it’s legit. Don’t worry about needing legalese I’m sure you will be able to find a form letter online to help you out – no lawyers required!
  8. Repeat on as many sites as you feel like, the smaller the better of course. I’m thinking of going for gardening blogs myself – the poor dears won’t know what hit them.

I imagine a motivated team of ten could manage a few dozen each a day while sitting in the pub. Even with a 10% conversion rate you’ll make a load of cash, secure in the knowledge that those who didn’t play ball won’t be able to make any money for themselves! Win Win!

You can of course do this with anything that can be copyrighted so feel free to ?make some films of you and your mates celebrating in the pub (Dogma movies are due for a resurgence anyway) and copyright them – go for it! You’ve even got the soundtracks ready made so you can pop a compilation out. Even Better! You are now ‘Multimedia Copyright Owner’ – diversification is everything in this day and age.

And there you have it – as far as I can tell under SOPA its totally legal – we as Copyright Owners and we are entitled to get paid without having to sell even ONE bit of content, attract ONE fan or play ONE gig. Superb. We truly have entered The Golden Age of Copyright.

If anybody says ‘Conspiracy to defraud’ just say ‘The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing’ or better yet ‘the tea-boy is going to lose his job UNLESS we do it’.

Go on – try this at home!
the business model for the post-modern creative!

And that’s why I’ve learned to stop worrying and love ?SOPA, it’s going to make things soo much better.

Colin says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

“First off, if they take the time up front to “know their customer”, and to structure their service so that they aren’t anything but a pure host, they won’t have as many issues. “

If content producers “knew their customers” and didn’t provide content to those who will make it available to others illegally, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. That’s just as reasonable, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Eejit, the problem is that all of these business models (youtube, flickr, whatever) are based on a sing clause in legislation.

If DMCA was repealed tomorrow and nothing put in it’s place, these sites would still all be illegal, and they would be directly open for all the liablity in the world. This is the simple fact nobody is talking about. No need for the question of third party liablity, because they would be first party, publishing content directly on their domain. Nothing more complex. Only DMCA created this horribly weak “service provider” clause that all of these companies have used to create business models that would otherwise be entirely illegal under every other existing law.

SOPA seeks to redress that issue, and also moves to make it easier to cut off the supply of money and services to websites / companies that are actively promoting infringement.

That isn’t anything to do with legislatively fixing a business model, it’s all about trying to make the online world come more in line with the real world.

PaulT (profile) says:

A quick story to help clarify for those non-trolls who don’t get it:

The only thing I’ve ever bought from Etsy is a decal sticker for my Macbook. The sticker was based on a Street Fighter 2 image, so it’s technically infringing. An original work, but it’s clearly based on copyrighted/trademarked images.

In a normal world, this isn’t really a problem. Capcom don’t sell nor licence Macbook decal stickers (to the best of my knowledge), so we have something that’s realistically harmless, and even positive. A 3rd party is making money, yes, but there’s no lost sale (since an equivalent official product is not available) and the decal itself can act as an advertisement for the 1st party product. Legal tools are available, but these are directed solely at the artist/seller, not Etsy.

In a world with over-eager protections, this becomes a problem but Etsy are still OK. They neither created nor approved the product, simply gave its seller some space. A DMCA takedown notice or some other order from the copyright/trademark holder can force Etsy to take down the product. So long as they comply, Etsy are OK, although they could choose overzealous protections (such as removing a seller or a class of product). Again, Etsy are safe so long as they comply, although the artist/seller can still be targeted directly (though they’re often not since they don’t the deep pockets preferred).

In a world with SOPA, nobody’s safe. Etsy can be taken down completely at the whim of a copyright holder because a few of its sellers choose to sell potentially infringing products. Oh sure, you can say all they have to do is remove obviously infringing product but something *will* get through. At that point, an artist who feels that another artist has ripped him off can get the company shut down, without due process.

The trolls can claim it won’t be used like this all they want, but we have prior examples of misuse and overzealous attacks using every previous legal measure from libel claims to DMCA takedowns to civil lawsuits. Your answer to concerns is “trust us” or to claim everybody who opposes is a pirate? Please…

Anonymous Coward says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

Except that copyright law is wrong, there is nothing illegal about copying or sharing information.

Back in the real world nobody is called a criminal for copying a recipe, copying a chair, or sharing anything only in the fantasy land of copyrights that is something horrible, which you idiot can’t even show financial harm since, the same people who claim ownership are still able to sell whatever is that they try to sell.

Anonymous Coward says:


Good luck.

For Viacom and L’Oreal, they have all lost lawsuits on this subject already, and would find themselves having to fight uphill – and taking considerable risk of putting themselves in a bad position. I highly doubt they will be at the front of the line on this stuff.

Why do you think they would just go “hey great, we lost all the copyright lawsuits before, so let’s make a claim that will likely be called false, and put ourselves at great risk, all for nothing?”

Further, let’s make it clear, there are provisions inside SOPA (that nobody here seems to want to talk about) that address issues like good faith and such. I think you guys are working yourselves up into a lather without understand all of the implications. EFF (and Mike) are trying to scare the piss out of you. Mike’s case seems to be mostly because his treasured business models and ideas fail if you cannot easily pirate everything without risks.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think that the one thing that people are ignoring about this piece of legislation is that it won’t work. The pro-SOPA side has been pointing out that the unintended consequences aren’t really all that bad, the anti-SOPA side has been pointing out that they are. The one thing that noone seems to be mentioning is that this simply will not work. DNS blockades have already been tried and haven’t done a bit of good. Cutting off funding to sites has also been attempted in limited circumstances and the targeted material is still easily available. I honestly think I might support these measures, including the unintended consequences, if there was a reasonable possibility that online piracy would be curtailed in a meaningful way, but that just won’t happen. People who choose to will still have easy access to all the content they could possibly want, with at best the minor inconvenience of having to download a browser extension, and the majority of people in the USA will continue to pay for their content like they always have, so this bill will change nothing, fix nothing, and the only actual effects will be those that the people pushing it through Congress are trying to minimize.

I’m surprised that noone seems to be mentioning this, but this piece of legislation, just like the DMCA before it, will do nothing whatsoever to stop the wanton infringement of intellectual property, and of course nothing to bring copyright law in line with reality, so the only things to support or oppose about this bill are the unintended consequences which will see political speech censored, innovative content platforms shut down, and socially awkward academics wringing their hands about whether or not their esoteric area of research might be legally questionable today where it wasn’t yesterday.

The only good side of this legislation is that, as with the DMCA, it will hopefully take the vested interests a decade or so to realize that they have gotten nothing out of this entire process. It would almost be worth it to stop fighting against this, just to get that decade-long rest before they realize that people are still downloading free stuff from the internet as frantically as ever and cuddling up to Congress once again.

MrWilson says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

This whole “DMCA safe harbors created otherwise illegal business models” is a myth. There were mass hosting sites before the DMCA and a judge could have declared the hosts not liable in individual cases. Where were all the big lawsuits that took down GeoCities for hosting illegal content? Oh right – they never happened.

Anon27 says:

Let's talk about baking instead

I dunno about you guys, but I’m not really a fan of nuts in cookies (the baked kind, not the interwebs kind, just to clear up any confusion right off the bat). Maybe it’s because I’m not huge on nuts in general, but I’ve yet to find a cookie recipe including nuts that isn’t vastly improved by the removal of those nuts, both in texture and in taste. That just me?

I do love a good chocolate chip cookie. The thing is, the ratio of chips to cookie has to be just right; too high and all you taste is the chocolate (granted, that’s probably a positive for some people), too low and the overall cookie can turn out more of a cake-like consistency. Anyone have any tips on keeping a good cookie consistency even when you don’t want a lot of chips? And don’t say nuts. Don’t you dare say nuts. Did you not even read the first paragraph? I’m thinking it might help to chop the chips a bit before adding them, so they’re a bit smaller and more spread out, but that’s a lot of effort for something I”m not even sure will work. Surely someone around here has some experience on this? I can’t be the only one with a crossover of interests in tech and baking, right?

Dave (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

First off, if they take the time up front to “know their customer”,

This is idiotic. Completely and utterly. Do you even comprehend the scale involved? Are you one of those tribesmen from South America whose native language only included words for the numbers ‘one’, ‘two’, and ‘many’? Absolutely unworkable. It also presents a burden not required in the physical world for 3rd party services. Go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.

Gordon (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

-The scale of complying isn’t as the EFF tries to paint it. Scaremongering is apparently their best service, they do it very well!-
The scale of loss isn’t as the movie and recording industries try to paint it. Scaremongering is apparently their best service, they do it well. There fixed that for you.

To the rest of your drivel, So you people basically want the rest of us to First give you virtually a never ending copyright (sort of completely goes against what the Framers had in mind), then pay you all for each instance of the content on whatever platform we may use. Then of course pay it over and over again, all the while being told we’re criminals (FBI warnings) after we just gave you our fucking money (NOT stealing).
Then to top it all off you want US to do YOUR work protecting that copyright.

Oh yeah, that works.

RD says:

And a fourth site that could be in trouble

“Does SOPA stop people making fraudulent claims? Anyone know? “

Not one bit, not even a little bit. There is ZERO accountability unless the accused accepts and mounts a full trial in their defense. Other than that, there is NOT A SINGLE BIT of reprecussions for incorrect, false or outright fradulent takedowns with this law.

Gordon (profile) says:


–Let’s be honest for a moment. We all know who will be targeted by SOPA accusations. You listing “possible” targets who we all know won’t be targeted is pointless.–

No we don’t ALL know who will be targeted SOPA. And listing possible targets who you keep saying won’t be targeted is in fact necessary.
Just because the content folks SAY it’ll only be used one way doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth.
These are legitimate questions that need to be asked and weren’t by legislators (well not all legislators).

Rights holders have proven over and over again they they can’t even tell what’s infringing and what isn’t. They’ve also downright lied about what they actually hold the rights over in a DMCA notice. Why the fuck should we believe they won’t abuse this.

I’m sorry the evidence just doesn’t stack up in their favor.

hothmonster says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

“take the time up front to “know their customer”

Agreed, and while we are at it can we shut down the postal service for all that anthrax they shipped and fed-ex and UPS for all the drugs they ship. Really they should just get to know their customers, stop over for dinner and make sure they don’t intend to ship anything illegal

Fickelbra (profile) says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

“What sites like Rapidshare DO every day” …police their own site? I can think of many many times I’ve reached a screen saying “This content has been removed by the admins at Rapidshare” (I’m paraphrasing their message).

So your suggestion is that Rapidshare, a site that allows users to share files instantaneously with relatively little web knowledge, is a bad thing because some people use it illegally, which Rapidshare actively cracks down against.

“You don’t give a solution for actual infringement”

There isn’t one. Tis’ the way of the web. It is human nature to share ideas and experience, and any attempt to squash that will always fail.

hothmonster says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

“If you want to be in a retail business, you need to make sure your products are legal”

The product they are selling is legal, it is just being misused. Like spray paint becoming graffiti or nyquil getting people high or stabbing someone with a knife. The store that sells those products isn’t liable for their misuse, the end user is. Why should it be different because a computer is involved?

“I couldn’t run that type of business in the real world, why should I be able to run it online?”

You can’t run a business in the real world in which you provide a service for anonymous clients? You mean like any place that accepts cash as a payment? Should hardware stores be responsible for people who buy tools and use them to hurt/kill people? Should the USPS be responsible for shipping anthrax/bombs/deaththreats? Should Walgreens be responsible if someone ODs on over the counter meds? Should gas stations be responsible for misuse of gasoline? Again, no 3rd party liability for all types of services in the real world but involve a computer and you want detailed records of every customer and a face to face interview at sign-up and personal visits daily to make sure they are using the product legally?

“Wow, you don’t live in the real world, do you?”

Apparently, no you!

nasch (profile) says:


Further, let’s make it clear, there are provisions inside SOPA (that nobody here seems to want to talk about) that address issues like good faith and such.

We are just assuming the penalties will be enforced as often as they are for the DMCA. In other words, there is realistically no risk (at least to the major players) to issuing any kind of complaint, legitimate or otherwise.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Your analogy is flawed. Most people do not self police their brake lights. Those that do will find these issues periodically, but most rely on feedback from others to inform them of this issue. Furthermore, if the self policing doesn’t occur and feedback is not provided, the driver is pulled over and issued a warning or at worst repair citation to have the issue corrected (kinda like DMCA). They do not have their car impounded or become blacklisted to become prohibited from using gas stations (kinda like SOPA).

Care to try again?

hothmonster says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

“Further, they could easily write a small bot to check all pages for certain phrases or words, and investigate those pages and flag them good or bad. So rather than checking 800,000 pages, they would be looking at maybe a few dozen a day. Sort of changes everything”

Right no one ever figures out what a bot is looking for and adjusts their tactics, by the way would you like to buy some V1@gr@ or P3n15 enl@rg1ng supplements?

But even still what keywords does you bot look for that will help it determine if any type of infringing material has been placed on it? Also will the bot look at pictures and have a database of every picture under copyright? Also what type of space-magic do I need to make this unicorn wake up?

nasch (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Do you even comprehend the scale involved?

Of course he does. What they want is to remove anonymity and instate 3rd-party liability. This has two effects, one is it will have a chilling effect on users posting any content, whether infringing or not. I’m not sure which they’re afraid of more. Second, it will make it much more expensive for service providers to accept content. This means they would have to stop accepting it, or accept so few users and so little content that they become irrelevant, or charge a bunch of money for services that have been free until now and go out of business.

The actual effect will be everything moves off shore or underground (assuming this pile of vomit passes).

Anonymous Coward says:

You've become sheerly fear-monger, Mike.

Explain to me how SOPA will stop me from copying anything.

I can rip DVD’s, Blurays and CD’s, I can still use emails to transfer data, I can still use encryption, I can still find tones of software that have build-in search capabilities meaning it won’t stop me from finding anything.

So what in that dreadful piece of crap bill will stop piracy?
Answer it won’t, but it will give a-holes the power to harm business, that is all it does.

Want me to prove it to you right now?


There stupid, I can post that in any forum anywhere, including on the blogs of the RIAA and the MPAA.

How are you going to starve me financially?
How are you going to find me?

Stupid moronic shill.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:


How about coupons.com shutting down DealIdeal.com and thecouponqueen.net because they allowed a guy to post information on how to print out lots of coupons. Sure, they lost that case, and even lost when trying to reopen the case. But had SOPA been around at the time, there wouldn’t have been a trial. There would have been a letter to DealIdeal.com’s payment processor, and then poof goes that website.

Jay (profile) says:

And a fourth site that could be in trouble

Actually, this exposes the problem in the system. This points out the points of failure in the internet system:

What SOPA does is to make sure that the net and sharing can?t coexist with Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. This means that only the stronger of the two groups will survive, and the copyright industry has their perception of the strength balance entirely wrong. The net and the human characteristic of sharing culture and knowledge are immensely stronger.

SOPA will neither kill the net nor the sharing of culture and knowledge. But it would kill Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, and it would kill centralized breakable DNS.

?But could this really happen??, I hear people ask in scepticism. ?Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are everywhere! Everywhere!? Yeah. They are. So were Gopher and GIF.

That’s why Mastercard and Visa are scared. They stand to lose relevance in the digital world if this gets pushed through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Yes, the EFF and everyone else is getting the word out very well about SOPA, not fearmongering, but just plain factual education.

Getting scared, are we?

The sleeping Internet giant has been awakened from its’ slumber, it is not happy, and it is making its displeasure clear to its’ elected representatives.

This is what democracy looks like, shill.

gorehound (profile) says:

Just one SOPA post today please...

I have been telling as many people as I can possibly tell to protest this SOPA BILL.SOPA will definately hurt my ART and the ART of tens of thousands of small DIY Bands/Artists who freely share their music on Public Trackers.I am seeding 6 albums of music at 320k which are my music.I get fan mail from folks who download and give everyone the right to share my tunes.
SOPA = Corruption of Government by Big Money
SOPA = The beginning of a Censored USA and once they open up that SOPA Door it will just get worse and worse as we slowly slide downwards to a police state.
FUCK YOU SOPA !!! I will fight you.

Anon27 says:

Let's talk about baking instead

Not really. A chocolate chip cookie uses very different ratios of flour/sugar/egg/etc than a simple sugar cookie does, along with adding brown sugar into the equation. To use an imperfect analogy, it’s sort of like expanding the window of a cabin until you get a greenhouse; there are intrinsic design differences to take into account.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

1) What does it mean for them to “know their customer”? I can send them my SSN/passport/criminal history (don’t have one myself)/any other relevant documents, but how does that help? Given that they have 800,000 shops, that’s a lot of people to “know”.
2) Your suggestion about a bot is stupid. Let me repeat that. S-T-U-P-I-D. Warner Bros. used exactly that on Hotfile and it was reported last week that they took down innocent files (they searched for the words “The Box” and anything that included those words was taken down as well, even if WB didn’t have their copyrights). Do you actually think Etsy shops are going to have the words “Extremely Illegal Counterfeit Dangerous Stuff 4 Sale!”?

I have heard this type of comment before, about how if only there was no anonymity, things would be better. I suggest you research Silence Dogood. I’m not an American, but even I’ve heard about that. Research the positives that anonymity gives you and they vastly outweigh any negatives there are.

Rikuo (profile) says:

How I learned to stop worrying and LOVE SOPA

Excellent. I’ve made this point myself several times, that nowadays, the fossilized copyright industry prefers to take money from everyone rather than concentrate on actually selling something (e.g., the recent GEMA controversy).
You certainly deserve to be number one at both the funny and insightful list at the end of the week!

Rikuo (profile) says:

How I learned to stop worrying and LOVE SOPA

Viacom did this. They uploaded videos to Youtube using accounts purposefully made to look like they were just your average citizen (i.e., made to not look like there’s a connection with Viacom), and then sued Youtube over it.
There’s only two possibilities. Either Viacom did this deliberately, knowing all the while they’re suing Youtube for something THEY did, or they didn’t know about the videos, which is just as bad (and proves the point that Mike and others have been making all along, that its practically impossible to police effectively for infringement online).

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Yes, there were mass hosting sites before DMCA, and many of them survived only because of the undeveloped nature of the internet. You are only looking at a very narrow windows (1994 to 1998) that the internet operated without DMCA. Further, and just as important, the widespread piracy of music and movies wasn’t even a consideration at this point, so the big players in IP were not even in the game.

It’s hard to compare those times to today. Most of the players didn’t even have websites at the time, streaming was mostly a pipe dream, and so on.

So the big lawsuits never happened because nobody realized how big this thing would get one day – and DMCA came along and pretty much made it moot.

Jon Bains (user link) says:

How I learned to stop worrying and LOVE SOPA

What keeps coming up over and over again is that the ONE good thing about the big guys is that they are largely operating in public. The world I suggested where anybody with a wee bit of nonce can shut down a site, whilst potentially a doomsday scenario is way way worse. Patent trolls are bad enough and then with righthaven, acslaw and the rest – expensive hobbies however, under SOPA it’s right back to the witch trials in Salem – ‘A witch!’ trial by drowning making a comeback!

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Sorry, cyber-freaks, but the rule of law applies in cyberspace with equal force.

I agree…it should be that way. Therefore we really don’t need DMCA or SOPA, because existing Copyright laws already cover infringement and the penalties already exist. And say goodbye to any hopes of getting more money from internet radio, because existing laws already cover licensing of radio. I love how the industry says “rule of law applies in cyberspace with existing force,” and then pretends that they need new laws to cover the internet.

You don’t need new laws to cover cyberspace. Learn to use the existing laws you already have!

xenomancer (profile) says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

Amusing story, but one that is easily avoided.

Yes, many of my stories are amusing. But, I find it awkward that you keep running into so many since (taking this one as your identified example) they are easily avoided.

First off, if they take the time up front to “know their customer”

Clearly, you must not be paying much attention to the MPAA or RIAA. Ya know, the ones paying for SOPA to pass into law.

and to structure their service so that they aren’t anything but a pure host

Under laws like SOPA, even ISPs and hosting services are screwed. Besides, if every single business is simply selling hosting, who the hell is gonna sell me anything besides some redundant overpriced server space?

they won’t have as many issues.

Clearly, this is not the case.

In other words, if they don’t do anonymous

HILARIOUS coming from an anonymous coward. See how being anonymous is keeping myself and others from lending you sufficient individual credence to warrant acquainting ourselves with your personal and professional capacity to entertain any of the thought being discussed? Its like being anonymous is somehow protecting you from having to have balls…

and they make sure they know who they are dealing with

I don’t know about you, but I certainly have a spare five minutes each day to regularly kick back and hangout out individually with 800,000 different people.

then they have showed the sort of good faith in actions that gives them space to work.

How’s that change working out for ya. If having a recognized, legitimate name and being elected to the highest position in this country (President Obama, if you missed the bitter humor) can not guarantee event the flimsiest levels of true customer confidence (which alludes to his wonderful whistle blower policy for those of us looking at the two way street), how can you possibly invest any time entertaining the (VERY APPARENT) logical fallacy that a registered pseudonym (linked to some form of verifiable identity) somehow magically grants a user with any form of trustworthiness beyond anonymity without consulting a user’s actions? With widespread acceptance of such poor judgement, you end up with book burnings and witch hunts.

Further, they could easily write a small bot to check all pages for certain phrases or words

WMG, hotfile, failure.

and investigate those pages and flag them good or bad.

I flag your haircut bad, because my pattern recognition software (brain –> arbitrary word association) says that’s what crazy people look like.

So rather than checking 800,000 pages, they would be looking at maybe a few dozen a day.

Because only a few dozen would be left.

Sort of changes everything

Yes it does. Destruction is a form of change we can believe in.

The scale of complying isn’t as the EFF tries to paint it.

I believe they used words and consistent logical conclusions from historical facts. I suppose that shade of paint is pretty expensive nowadays.

Scaremongering is apparently their best service

No, they make great waffles. Scaremongering is a side hobby that came about when their standup comedy scene lapsed during a heckling incident involving a sea of live ferrets and a misplaced hamburger.

they do it very well!

Its kind of you to pat them on the back after whipping it.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Cutting off the financial institutions for these sites wont do anything

Many of the “Rogue” sites, even ones that I’ve seen that really are dedicated to infringement, are often hosted on college networks (massive amounts of free bandwidth), Their hosting is free, its some box in a kids dorm room. the ads are only there to make an extra buck, pay for some beer, but even without making money from the sites, they are still going to run them. plan on blocking a whole block of IP addresses…. Lets see how MIT / RIT feel about their interwebs being taken away.

Anonymous Coward says:


In addition, there will be some time in between the submission of “potentially infringing” product(s) and the discovery of said product(s) and its removal. All we need is an overzealous copyright maximist to fish around blindly and claim that no immediate attempt was made to remove the product, and wham. Not everyone has ContentID, or a similar database that can be constantly updated to list all possible IP that can be infringed upon.

Paul says:

I'm sick

I heard too many good replies to bad ones but no matter how good the reply is there is an idiot who thinks different an the only way to show this idiots the wall is by banging their head on int. I wish this law passes then I will make a personal hobby of taking down sites that can fall under this law. I will ask friends to upload copyright material and I will file complains, why? because I can. I will get a god like feeling I can chose my victims, chose my tools then sit back and watch.

Oh.. and the beauty… haking a website jut got better insted of taking the thing down and hope that it will lose some money in the mean time just post copyrighted material to look legit and then file a complain…. not only that I’m taking it down I’m cutting its money supply too.
By by competition… hahaha

So if you own a blog like this one you should have as much content on it as you can read every day… you might not now when you find some content that you didn’t write…

Doonk says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

If you want to be in a retail business, you need to make sure your products are legal, or face liablity issues and potentially criminal charges. You have to “self police”, you don’t get to just keep selling them until someone catches you, say “oops”, and just stop with no harm no foul. real life says you must be responsible for your own actions.

You see – you’re thinking like them: we’ve got this amazing new technology, but you want things to still work like they always used to. That sort of mindset is putting brakes on progress.

Anonymous Coward says:

Doing the Math for Etsy, MPAA/RIAA Style

The point is that even in your example, we “self-police” together to avoid problems, we don’t just wait for the ticket or the lawsuit when we cause an accident.

The driver could lose their life, their savings, their car… all because they don’t self police.

Since SOPA does none of the things you are suggesting, I would say you pretty much missed the point.

Anonymous Coward says:

And a fourth site that could be in trouble

Jay, the problem you will see is almost every other “alternate payment system” is hinged on one of the two major card companies providing payment systems.

Even those wonderful debit card companies have to get them issued by either visa, mastercard, or an acquiring bank. They cannot just “skip out of the system”. Further, any alternate payment system would be subject to SOPA (if used at all in the US), so you would be no further ahead.

All the squirming going on here is amusing. I think you guys woke up and realizes that many of your favorite hangouts and sources for illegal content are looking like they might either get shut down or lose the ability to pay for themselves, effectively shutting them down. I know that sucks for you, but hey… the free lunch couldn’t last all the way to dinner time, could it?

Nathanael says:

In fact, business will simply leave the US.

If the Internet Censorship By Private Companies Bill (SOPA) is passed, all these businesses *will* start up….

…but they’ll start up *outside the US*. Etsy, Flickr, Google, every last one will move its entire operations overseas.

This has happened before on a smaller scale; insane US regulations about cryptography mean that *every* cryptography company is located outside the US.

This would be bigger, though. I really do believe that Google, unless it managed to kill the law in the courts, would pull up stakes and move its entire operation overseas, lock stock and barrel.

Nathanael says:

Regarding the payment system

If SOPA passes and makes it impossible for any website to use a US-based payment system (like Mastercard or VISA)….

…then it’s pretty trivial for one of the “minor” European credit card operators to make itself into the dominant payment system in the world. One of the European countries will seize the opportunity and make it legal for them to provide credit cards to Americans.

The US government, if it’s still run by *idiots*, might retaliate by making it illegal for Americans to get foreign credit cards. Of course that would be entirely unenforceable. It would be the final, unstoppable step in the permanent disintegration of the American government’s power, and the collapse of the American economy, though. Everyone in the US would get “illegal” foreign bank accounts in order to use the Internet, and pretty quickly American law would become a widely-ignored irrelevance, as *every* business would be run from outside the US.

I think the US government is not run by people quite that stupid, so eventually they will realize that the MPAA/RIAA types need to be shot (metaphorically, of course) in order to ensure the survival of every other American business.

Sholum says:

Next up on the agenda

Let’s make alcohol illegal because drunks cause too many problems… Oh yeah, we already tried that. It’s basically the same thing; make something (in this case content hosts) illegal in order to prevent possible abuse. While it doesn’t actually outlaw content hosts, it makes them almost impossible to run.

A more graphic, less realistic analogy being; shooting bird shot into a crowded bank to get one robber. You will maim or kill innocents while trying to take down one bad guy. Of course, all the next baddy has to do is wear light body armor (which you can make at home) as bird shot does not have the impact to decisively end every robber under every circumstance.

Basically, it will cause a ton of problems for the normal user and the pirates will continue to pirate. More hackers will turn into crackers and may/will eventually lead to large scale organized cyber-crime. Just think, in the near future you maybe a cyber-mafia member or a cyber-moonshiner, running your contraband through a network of makeshift servers that are completely separated from the rest of the internet.

As for those of you who think SOPA will not be abused, I will give you the words “McDonald’s” and “coffee”, tell me idiotic story comes to mind.

As a closing note, some philosophy:
Without law, no one is a criminal. Without criminals, there is no point to law.
Think on that and tell me what the purpose of law really is. Hint: “Stamping out crime without regard to the negative impact it may cause.” is not the answer.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Don't Kid Yourself, Etsy Encourages Violations!

Etsy actually encouraging people to make licensed items.

For THAT, they deserve to fry under this new rule.

So by “licensed items” I assume you mean “unlicensed items”? Because if it’s licensed, then there’s no problem because it’s done with the permission of the trademark owner.

mustafa says:

Protest against Etsy

Hello to all,

I have started an online petition againt Etsy Marketplace Integrity team to change the ways they determine whether an item is vintage/handmade or not. They are doing this quietly and we must make our voices heard.

Please raise your voice and sign here: https://www.change.org/p/etsy-marketplace-integrity-team-to-change-the-way-they-determine-the-age-of-a-vintage-item-sold-in-their-marketplace-by-etsy-shop-owners-even-items-without-written-date-label-tag-should-be-considered-vintage

Fiona Smith (profile) says:

with respect to sopa

hosting business is the most crucial domain, I mean to say most of the business are either strong or vulnerable enough due to hosting providers, Few Year back I bout a cheap hosting by using a coupon collected @ COUPON FOND
I think I have bought a shared plan of GoDaddy and It works very much fine for my architect business portfolio. Never Ignore the edge of SSL ON YOUR PAGES.

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