MythBuster's Adam Savage: Why PROTECT IP & SOPA Could Destroy The Internet As We Know It

from the speak-up dept

One of the more interesting things that I’ve seen over the last few months as the SOPA/PIPA fight has become more involved, is that people I respect in the entertainment industry itself have been speaking out against the bill, and talking about how horrible it would be — even though they work “in the industry.” The latest is famed MythBuster’s host Adam Savage, who recently admitted that he’s a “serious copyright law geek” (in linking to Bill Patry’s excellent new book, which I’ll have a writeup on relatively soon). Savage is using his column space at Popular Mechanics to rip apart PIPA and SOPA, urging people to call their elected officials in protest of the bills, and noting that they “would be laughable if they weren’t in fact real.”

Think of all the stories you’ve read over the past 14 years of people slapping DMCA takedowns of content that they didn’t own, just because they didn’t like what it had to say. One that comes to mind is Uri Gellar, the popular psychic who performed spoon bending and other tricks on TV in the 1970s. Using a DMCA claim, he had YouTube pull videos of him being humiliated during a 1973 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, when he had no copyright claim to them at all.

This is exactly what will happen with Protect IP and SOPA. We’ve seen it again and again. Give people a club like this and you can kiss the Internet as you know it goodbye. It’s really that bad. And it’s a clear violation of our First Amendment right to free speech.

The Internet is probably the most important technological advancement of my lifetime. Its strength lies in its open architecture and its ability to allow a framework where all voices can be heard. Like the printing press before it (which states also tried to regulate, for centuries), it democratizes information, and thus it democratizes power. If we allow Congress to pass these draconian laws, we’ll be joining nations like China and Iran in filtering what we allow people to see, do, and say on the Web.

Again, Savage is the kind of person that the industry is claiming needs this law — and yet he’s clearly vehemently against it. When you see the US Chamber of Commerce dump out their bogus line about “19 million jobs in IP-intensive industries,” that includes Savage and all of his colleagues at MythBusters. How much longer will we let Tepp, the US Chamber of Commerce and the MPAA pretend that they represent the will of people who are actually very much against these bills and everything they represent?

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Comments on “MythBuster's Adam Savage: Why PROTECT IP & SOPA Could Destroy The Internet As We Know It”

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gorehound (profile) says:

If these Bills pass it will be War on the Internet.Hopefully those who Vote in favor will not ever step foot in a Washington Office again.they will be nothing better than a traitor to our way of life.I will feel no sympathy towards these pathetic corrupt politicians.
SOPA/PIPA gets me so angry inside I could punch my wall or something.
Truly one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life.

Anonymous Coward says:

What he fails to address is that under SOPA, those who fraudulently try to take things down will face civil and criminal liability under existing fraud laws. Instead of being able to go “oops” or to play back and forth as per DMCA, suddenly false accusers will find themselves open for full liablity under the law.

It cuts both ways. Too bad he doesn’t seem to catch it.

John Doe says:

Re: Re:

The only thing you are leaving out is it will be too late to save many web sites because they are too small to defend themselves. Especially after their revenue streams have been cut off in a preemptive strike. YouTube might survive, maybe, possibly, but only because of their size. But what about the next big thing?

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If they are foreign sites, as SOPA/PIPA supporters insist they will be they may not choose to defend themselves in an American court given that, in principle, that would mean they are willing to subject themselves to an attempt by the United States of to apply US laws extra-territorially even if what they’re doing in their own country has been deemed legal. And extra-territorial application of one country’s law in another country’s jurisdiction is is illegal in international law.

So countries will start to warn the State Department, Ambassador’s and other American agents that they will not tolerate this just as the United States would if the shoe was on the other foot.

Some may consider there’s a violation of trade law and take the United States up in front of the GATT.
Others may simply retaliate. For example the largest consumer market in the world is currently China and that will probably continue. India will probably move into second spot ahead of the USA fairly shortly even if a vibrant recovery begins the the States soon. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that one or both would advise PayPal, Visa and MasterCard that if they continue to stop processing payments for sites in their country doing business legally under their laws due to SOPA/PIPA that they will forbid them from doing any on line payment processing at all. And that until these sites are proven to be violating the Berne Agreement on Copyright which covers copyright’s application internationally in a Chinese or Indian court that the accused sites are within the law. India gets to add that they signed onto Berne long before the United States did. Both already have alternatives in place, by the way. At some point they may even threaten MasterCard and Visa that until they stop trying to apply US law in their countries in one sphere of trade (online) that their products are no longer welcome to to do other credit card business within their boundaries. Both also have other credit cards and credit card companies in them founded when Visa and Master Card weren’t all that interested in them. I can’t see any of the three continuing to support SOPA/PIPA, if they do now, should that happen. None of the three would be all that interested in losing a combined market of 2+ billion people where disposable income in increasing merely to keep US business in a consumer market where disposable income across the board is DEcreasing. Nightmare scenario, I know, but it does get the point across.

There is really no upside to this on the part of payment processors only downside. They lose out no matter what.

So the question is does the United States and do the supporters of PIPA/SOPA consider this an acceptable risk that should a trade war erupt that the United States would almost certainly lose. At this moment the USA doesn’t have supporters for this anywhere in the developed world, remember.

Is it really worth this to lose one or more of the lynchpins of what it MEANS to be American just to provide protection to industries that provide barely 1% of American GDP and even less in employment. Then comes the fact that isn’t about copyright at all, it’s about Hollywood’s continued rabid desire to regain control the consumer supply route and little else. Is this mess worth sacrificing all or part of the US Bill of Rights for either now or in the future? That increasingly is the view of opponents and supporters both in and out of Congress are left with he least trustworthy assurance of a politician there is: “trust us, we promise”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Bullshit. The DMCA has provisions for false takedowns, and they’re routinely ignored.

And *even if* you were right (which you aren’t) – why on earth is it OK to allow corporations to censor free speech, just because the censored party can go to court to get an injunction that says “oh, yes, you *were* censored for a year – you can put your stuff back again.”

Why is it so important to have that court action *after* the censorship has occurred, instead of before?

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Too bad he doesn’t seem to catch it.

And he argues about parts of the bill that aren’t even in the bill anymore, and he points to the Lemley/Levine/Post article (ahem, hit piece) that does the same thing. Apparently he’s unaware that the bill’s been changed? I dunno. He should bust the myth of what the actual text of the bill says.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Personally, I don’t know what else you would call legal analysis that comes to the conclusion that parts of the bill are unconstitutional even though those parts are no longer in the bill. I understand that the print version might not be editable, but posting that analysis online AFTER the changes to the bill have been made is disingenuous. I can only assume the intent is to mislead.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Your argument isn’t making much sense to me. The Stanford article is misleading because some of the arguments are mooted by latest version of SOPA. The problem is that people like the MythBusters might read it, think it’s accurate, and then use it as the basis for their arguments. Here’s the article:

Can you respond to the substance of what I’m saying?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This assume:

A site has the financial resources to counter such fraudulent claims (kind of hard to do for most people if their revenue streams are cut off, like Veoh, while ultimately being found legal still forced out of business due to litigation).

Provisions from other laws aren’t used in conjunction with SOPA to try to further claims (examples, ICE picking and choosing parts of several laws to try to make a case against Rojadirecta or the old “we can’t tell you what law/interpretation of law we used, it’s classified”).

That the potential criminal and civil liabilities are severe enough to make false claims worth the risk (which doesn’t seem to be the case if you have deep enough pockets and a plethora of lawyers at your disposal).

It’s not just a matter of how SOPA by itself (which is bad enough) can be abused in numerous ways, one also has to look at how it can be used in conjunction with other legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

SOPA/PIPA wouldn’t just destroy the Internet, it will also hurt mankind’s ability to develop newer & better technology, by slowing down/attempting to stop the flow of information.

China did something like this centuries ago. Zhang He, the previous emperor of China, had a great fleet of ships sailing all around the world, collecting treasures never seen before by Chinese. The people who made careers of sailing on ships were getting very rich. Once Zhang He died however, the next emperor was someone who really didn’t like the sailors and how they were getting rich. There was a lot of resentment towards the sailors, as they were originally low class people who it was decided when they were kids would be sailors. So China’s new emperor decided to put a end to the sailor’s wealth by burning China’s entire great fleet of ships and banning them from sailing to other countries.

If China had continued doing what they were doing under Zhang He it seems likely that China would have discovered America over a hundred years before Columbus did.

mikey4001 says:

Re: Re:

the version of the story that I read (years ago, admittedly) also had something to do with pirates. There were too many pirate ships sailing around China, so the new law was written to the effect of “no sailing ships at all.” It seems like one would not have to try very hard to find a commonality between the flawed logic of such a bad decision from old China and the currently proposed SOPA/PIPA. — No ships = no pirate ships, problem solved… No internet = no “rogoue websites,” problem solved.

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