SOPA Is Not About Copyright, It's About Regulating The Internet

from the let's-be-honest dept

Nancy Scola, over at Salon, has an excellent article about SOPA, which notes that it really is not a copyright bill at all, but about trying to regulate the internet:

Congress, the political press and lobbyists for the entertainment industries like to frame this fight as one between giants. In one corner, the MPAA, RIAA and others decrying the ?lawlessness? of the Internet and in the other, Google, Facebook and other big tech firms defending their business. But SOPA isn?t just about corporate battles. For all the the rhetoric, this isn?t even really about copyright. This is about the Internet ? and more to the point, the infrastructure and operations of the Internet that make the Internet the Internet. SOPA targets search engines, Internet service providers, ad networks and payment networks precisely because those components are so central to the functioning of the Internet. Those are digital forces that should be messed with only with the greatest of care.

She also notes that being against this bill doesn’t mean being against copyright (as some SOPA defenders like to smear anyone who complains about the bill):

When it comes to talking about SOPA, it is important to remember this: You can think that ?intellectual property? infringement (not only of movies and music, but knockoff Nikes sold online) is bad for the American economy and still think the legislation is a disaster. Not only would the bill likely do little to address the problem of online content fraud and counterfeiting, but it takes aim at the core features of the Internet that have contributed a great deal to the American economy.

Just because a bill in Congress claims it’s going to do something doesn’t mean it will. It’s unfortunate that while some people are focused on debating the actual impact of the bill, many simply insist that what’s on the label is what’s in the can. That’s clearly not the case with SOPA. The bill is designed to do much more, and it would represent a massive change to the way the internet functions.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “SOPA Is Not About Copyright, It's About Regulating The Internet”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
gorehound (profile) says:

Protest this shameful Censorship

We are supposed to be a free Country but if SOPA/PIPA pass it will mean opening the door to Censorship.We do not do this !
We must get rid of these GOP & Democrats and put into office only those who will not take the big money.The current government is all for taking money and buying stocks in ways illegal to us.60 minutes did a segment on their “stock buying” the other week.We all know Corporations are now people just like you or I.
MPAA & RIAA Should be completely boycotted.WE must re-do this Government before it truly is to late for all of us.We are slowly but surely sinking lower and lower Economically and in the eyes of other Countries.This can not go on.
2012 we should all spread the word to vote only for those who want to truly Represent the People.Preferably not a Democrat or Republican.The two main parties really deserves to be taught a lesson they will never forget.Vote these assholes out of office and onto the streets where they belong.
2012: The Apocalypse is Coming for Washington DC.Just keep pushing us more and more and you dicks in Washington are in for a big surprise.SOPA the biggest piece of shit to be forced on us in many years and maybe it is the ultimate worst ever law you might say.
I simply say, “FUCK YOU & LICK MY DOG’S ASS”
And to all of you keep calling up and emailing government and signing petitions and in 2012 use your brain when you vote.If this Country works a bit together we can change Washington for good.

Maximus Aurelius says:

What's in a Name?

It’s unfortunate that while some people are focused on debating the actual impact of the bill, many simply insist that what’s on the label is what’s in the can.

Let’s take a step back here. I mean, look at the PATRIOT Act. Good name, who could be against that? And what a great success it has turned out to be! Like a good patriot, the act has done
nothing short of solidifying the rights, freedoms, and civil liberties we Americans can now take for granted.

[for those with Internet Asbergers, above is intended as pure sarcastic jest].

The Logician says:

Protest this shameful Censorship

Unfortunately, gorehound, our votes no longer carry any meaning. That entire process has been co-opted by those we would remove, so that they and those like them will always remain in power. They use every means possible to stack the voting in their favor, including bribes, reprogramming the voting machines, deliberately allowing votes to be miscounted, counting votes that would otherwise not exist, and purchasing votes. Therefore, I believe the only option available to us is to act from outside the system.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

This is exactly what I’ve been saying for a while now… SOPA and ACTA and the likes have never really been about stopping copyright infringement, but about trying to control the internet.
They (labels, movie studios, book publishers) were the gatekeepers, they could say what was shown to the people and what wasn’t.

And those independent artists barely got a chance. Maybe they’d get famous locally, but not internationally.

But now with the Internet, they suddenly found out that their role as gatekeeper is over. Suddenly the independents have equal access. No longer can the labels and the publishers and the film studios dictate what goes and what doesn’t. And they are scared, that’s what this was all about.

They don’t understand this new tech, and they are scared that they are fast becoming obsolete. And with the lack of power also comes the less funds for them. More people buying from other sources, supporting artists directly instead of going through many middlemen.

DinDaddy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I haven’t read all the stories and posts on Techdirt lately, but I am surprised to not see more discussion of the implications of your first sentence.

And not specifically in terms of the content industry, but rather the USGov itself probably being very keen on having a means of quickly killing sites it doesn’t like. Wikileaks comes to mind.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


Well, the DMCA has been used to censor people’s speech. Just count the number of videos with “Happy Birthday” in it that have been removed from Youtube due to a DMCA violation.

DMCA turned the whole burden of proof around. Suddenly any jackbooted RIAA-like thug could complain about a DMCA violation, and you, the original uploader, have to prove you have the right to upload that video/song/book/picture/painting.

Ikarushka (profile) says:


That’s another, frequently overseen, problem with SOPA: it shifted the debate from the problems with current copyright laws farther from the common sense: suddenly many bright heads discuss how to make SOPA better (by narrowing its impact etc.). SOPA, even if it would fail eventually, has already inflicted tremendous harm by poisoning the debate, by planting a “consensus” that something should be done into otherwise reasonable people’s heads.

Hothmonster says:

Re: Re:

” Pepper Spray would make a mess, and what happens when the monitor runs out?”

Well you filthy infringes can deal with the mess, your already filthy. When the monitor runs out of spray the joint MPAA/RIAA IP-EYE-Deterrent-Enforcement-Inspection-Team (EYE-DEIT) is alerted and comes to your house to fill it and issues you a mandatory 2,000,000 bill for the pepper-spray

Anonymous Coward says:

Protest this shameful Censorship

Actually the US was a “Free Country” for the wealthy 1% all along and never for the working classes.

The only way to truly change is a shift to socialism and finally communism (which the internet is the closest example of socialism which is why our capitalist society is trying to rather privatize it from everyone else) because capitalism is a system that cannot be changed since it always benefits a wealthier few at the expense of others.

Unfortunately I don’t see that happening due to false consciousnesses that is rapid here.

Rikuo (profile) says:


1) No, we-re not. More and more people are coming out against SOPA.

2) Yes, the DMCA is censorship, but of a weaker degree. You can go to any site, file a copyright infringement letter and just wait for the content to be taken down, even though you don’t the copyrights.

3) New models? I’m sorry, but I could have sworn that SOPA is written in such a way that new models are prevented. Imagine if SOPA had been enforced ten years ago. Youtube/Facebook and others simply would not exist, as the first complaint would have blocked them from their payment processors. So basically, the whole Web 2.0 model would have died in its infancy.

4) What does the internet getting stagnant mean and what does it have to do with anything? If anything, its the complete opposite.

Loki says:

She also notes that being against this bill doesn’t mean being against copyright (as some SOPA defenders like to smear anyone who complains about the bill):

What supporters of this bill completely fail to comprehend, is that people are increasingly against copyright BECAUSE of the existence of this bill (and others like it).

Respect is a two way street.

The general argument seems to be “it is OK to ignore the ‘rights’ of ‘pirates’ because they ignore our ‘rights’.”

However, when one’s intellectual dishonesty extends to the point of having no conscience about trampling the “rights” of the very people you rely on for your survival, it should come as absolutely no surprise when those people also ignore yours in turn.

SOPA doesn’t just trample the “rights” of “pirates”, it tramples a lot of other people’s “rights” as well.

By their own argument, since SOPA ignores many of my “rights”, I am therefore free from the obligation of having to respect copyright. Should SOPA pass, an increasing number of people (myself included) very well may start doing so.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


Loopholes in the DMCA are being used to protect tens of thousands of acts of copyright infringement every day.

It’s not a loophole to properly apply liability to the correct party.

On the other hand, it has been used to censor legal and legitimate speech. There are hundreds and thousands of documented examples. It has been used to jail legitimate software developers (remember Dmitry Sklyarov?).

If you want to ignore the mountains of evidence, that’s your choice, just don’t expect anyone else to accept your bullshit.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:


Loopholes in the DMCA are being used to protect tens of thousands of acts of copyright infringement every day.

Not true. Those who did the actual infringing are still liable for it. Don’t blame the law because you’re too lazy to go after the actual infringers, but instead pretend some 3rd party should magically know who’s infringing.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: SOPA

So what is it, the DMCA is not strict enough or just strict enough?
You claim that people go through loopholes in the DMCA, we call you out on your lie, and you say: “No shit, Sherlock.” So which is it. The DMCA is riddled with loopholes OR it is strict enough for your purposes and you don’t need a SOPA law, it just needs you to get off your lazy ass.

Besides all of which, the burden of proof should be on the side of the accuser, not on the side of a third party.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...