Will Politicians' Support For Draconian IP Laws While Ignoring Civil Liberties Issues Come Back To Bite Them?

from the what-happens-next dept

I’m usually not one for the typical “end of year” summaries of what happened over the preceding twelve months, but Dave Kravets at Wired has put together an excellent post, bringing together a series of separate events that showed that politicians were quite eager to pass new draconian intellectual property laws all year, but shied away from anything that involved protecting our civil liberties. Reading through the article, it’s a really sad statement over how the past year went from a politics perspective.

Of course, it will be interesting to see the coming backlash over this. We’re already seeing the beginning elements of a reaction over SOPA (as well as the massive support for Ron Paul) and 2012 may make for an interesting year. Declan McCullough is wondering if the internet world is ready to “go nuclear” in the effort to stop SOPA/PIPA next year. As with anything, I think that there will be some mistakes made along the way, but as the internet community gets more organized and more vocal, I do wonder if these two trend lines (more draconian IP laws and less civil liberties protections) can really continue to move in the same direction much longer.

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Comments on “Will Politicians' Support For Draconian IP Laws While Ignoring Civil Liberties Issues Come Back To Bite Them?”

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52 Comments
velox says:

Ron Paul: civil libertarian

Ron Paul has garnered support that he otherwise would not have, because no one else aspiring to govern the executive branch seems to be paying any attention to the shameful erosion of our constitutional rights.
The combination of legal and technological changes which have been ongoing for several years have not yet brought about authoritarian government, but the threat is building; and one wonders when we will have reached point where the only thing between the American people and a totalitarian state is the lack of will on the part of a leader to make it so.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Ron Paul: civil libertarian

People in general do not see their rights eroding, unless it confronts them directly. Most people do not know that the TSA uses naked scanners, oh look another metal detector … most people just do not pay enough attention to what is going on. Which is why governments grow and fail. Saying we are protected by the constitution of the united states doesn’t prevent abuses.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Ron Paul: civil libertarian

People in general do not see their rights eroding, unless it confronts them directly. Most people do not know that the TSA uses naked scanners, oh look another metal detector … most people just do not pay enough attention to what is going on.

Then you have the people who are aware of what’s going on, but who don’t care.

When I tell my friend stories of TSA abuse, he just shrugs and says “So what? Are you planning to go flying any time soon?” And “If people don’t like it, they can stay home.”

Rekrul says:

Re: Ron Paul: civil libertarian

and one wonders when we will have reached point where the only thing between the American people and a totalitarian state is the lack of will on the part of a leader to make it so.

Sadly, we’re already there. The US government freely ignores the laws whenever it suits them (warrantless wiretapping), passes laws that violate the Constitution (parts of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act), and often makes up laws to suit its current needs (dancing is illegal at national monuments???).

Loki says:

Re: Ron Paul: civil libertarian

I was discussing this with a few friends just the other day. Say what you will about his ideas, but at least he believes in them and fights for what he feels is right, and doesn’t flip flop every five minutes. While some of his ideas seem batshit crazy on the surface, I stop and ask myself can he really screw things up worse than the last four or so presidents have done?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Will Politicians’ Support For Draconian IP Laws While Ignoring Civil Liberties Issues Come Back To Bite Them?”

No.

Quite simply, those who have a hyped up fear of the risk to civil liberties as a result of trying to protect pirates and content grifters is a small group, and not one that have much influence on the elections.

Sorry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Zach, your problem is you keep blaming the “legacy gate keepers”. Fuck them. Do your own thing. Make your own original music. Make you own original movies, videos, whatever… and distribute them however you want. Fuck the legacy anything.

Oh wait. You want their legacy product, but you are unwilling to take it on their terms. Oh snap!

Big L for your forehead!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yee, first off, quoting Techdirt isn’t a good reference. Mike will tell you over and over again this is an opinion blog, not reporting. In each of those stories, there is a lack of facts (ie, nobody bothered to contact either party for a comment or more information). So there is no way to draw any conclusions.

What you are suggesting is that Corey Smith doesn’t exist. Explain that one to Mike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Yee, first off, there are references in those techdirt posts to articles that aren’t just opinion pieces. But why acknowledge the facts when you can conflate them with the opinions included in the articles as if the proximity between the two magically turns facts into opinions and then declare ‘there is no way to draw any conclusions’ right?

What you are suggesting is that UMG didn’t say more or less verbatim “We have the right to takedown anything on YouTube we want.”

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Actually, while he writes his opinion pieces he does link to the source stories where the “fact” you refer to are cited, people from both sides are spoken to and so on. It’s simple, really. Click the links.

Now, while you’re at it please explain what you mean by “legitimate” new music, new videos, new movies and, I suppose, new poetry, prose, photography and so on.

I’m assuming you mean something that doesn’t infringe on someone’s copyright, somewhere. While that MAY be getting harder it’s not impossible as people do it all the time. Every day.

If you mean the RIAA/MPAA way then, well, I guess them cannibalizing their own stuff is allowed along with grabbing stuff in the public domain and stuffing it full of their copyright. (Luckily what they do is rarely, if ever, as good as the original work in the public domain.)

Anyway, Techdirt is as good a jumping off point as any. Better than your almost total lack of references or citations.

Do have a good day and we’ll continue this, no doubt, in 2012.

In the meantime, please explain what you mean by “legitimate” music, video, movies and all that stuff. I’m really, really curious about what that is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“explain to me how that happens.”

The same way they managed to use our broken legal system to deter restaurants and other venues from hosting independent performers (without paying a parasitic third party a licensing fee) under the pretext that someone ‘might’ infringe.

The same way they managed to wrongfully get government established monopoly power over broadcasting airwaves and cableco infrastructure to ensure monopoly prices on both content and distribution and to prevent independents who don’t sign their copy protection privileges away to an only artificially needed third party from having their content distributed.

Don’t think the lack of competition that results from these laws is accidental. No, it’s intentional, just like government established taxi cab monopolies and all of the other many many monopolies the government grants. It’s intentional, and SOPA et al are intentionally designed to reduce competition altogether like many of the other evil laws that we have, not just to stop infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“distribute them however you want”

As long as it’s not a distribution method that the legacy gate keepers insist is ‘dedicated to infringement’ you mean?

“Oh wait. You want their legacy product, but you are unwilling to take it on their terms. Oh snap!

Big L for your forehead!”

Pathetic ad hom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Dec 30th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

Why do you and people like you ignore the very real threat to free speech, the threat to DNS security and the destruction of an entire segment of the software industry? Is it that you are corporate shills, or that you’re too lazy to investigate whether, just maybe, these threats are real? Are you capable of independent thought, or do you just assume that a catchy title is the whole summary of the bill?

The Name's Bill. says:

Re: Re: Bill it to the People

Protect IP is a toe in the water, I don’t think that the backers of the act really expect it to get through both houses unscathed.

What they are hoping for is an expansion of their powers on a bill by bill basis, in which case Protect IP isn’t the end of the road: it’s just the beginning.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yep, what is needed now is the tools to enable people to care, most don’t see it, but they hold tremendous power.

Copyright can be made useless by just changing one line in the law.

Lawyers have some tools that they use, but programmers have some very cool toys, like Git, since laws are like software just a text, one can use the same tools, but it needs a more noob interface, where people can see the changes, some crowdsourced law, people collect the data and we put it on the cloud, discussions will be made all over the place and we find a way to vote those things and with laws in hand we put the people who would enable those laws.

Complaining to politicians is a waste of time they will do nothing, most of them are just lost in congress and don’t know what to do and the culture of corruption inside have blinded the rest, we all know it is corrupt, we just alone don’t have the power to do anything about, but as a group, things are different.

If people can crowdsource radiation measurements, molecular research even the army, why can’t we do laws?

We can, and it is a race to produce the most easy law editing tool for the masses, I think we are 10 years away from anything(I always think that it helps me deal with things).

Complaining here is not enough, one needs to see where others stand and how much support for something is there, before politicians had a glimpse on those things, today we can map that to levels never seen before to everyone to see it.

Strike everything in the Title 17 Chapter 3: Duration of Copyright and replace it with.

“All copyrights shall last no more then a minute upon creation”.

60 seconds is more than enough of that nonsense, for the moment, someday courts could become like stock trading and be automated, then 60 seconds becomes to long.

Michael says:

Hmm

It’s interesting to think about the internet as it would be under SOPA/PIPA.

From what I can tell, it would resemble a glorified shopping mall for the big corps as most smaller businesses would simply disappear. Video services like YouTube and whatnot would be heavily regulated by the IP gatekeepers to ensure a bare minimum of independent art/media and a majority of their products being plastered everywhere a-la what MySpace has devolved into. The media would become dominated by the elite major media that currently suffocates TV stations; all independent news sources would have to go underground or be silenced altogether. You’d no longer be paying for the internet as it were but, for all intents and purposes, yet another major media-controlled environment akin to TV and radio. They’d control and regulate ALL major channels and leave everyone else with that one dinky ‘public access’ channel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm

… that one dinky ‘public access’ channel.

Global Revolution

globalrevolution

Global Revolution brings you live streaming video coverage from independent journalists on the ground at nonviolent protests around the world. The team includes members of Mobile Broadcast News, Glassbead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia and the alt.media ninjas that brought you Terrorizing Dissent and Democracy 101 documentaries.

That one dinky ‘public access’ channel

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm

It’s interesting to think about the internet as it would be under SOPA/PIPA.

Perhpas the more interesting thing to think about is “What would the internet be like under current law vs. the current law as modified by either SOPA or PIPA?”

In other words, how would things be different?

Quite frankly, I believe the answer is “not much”.

SOPA and/or PIPA would modify our laws such that foreign “rogue” sites could be held accountable for their actions as is presently the case with domestic “rogue” sites. A key difference, of course, is that the full panoply of rights and remedies accorded by Title 17 could not be asserted against foreign sites since the principals of those sites are not subject to personal jurisdiction in federal court barring either a treaty with the foreign country in which they reside or their willingly submitting to US jurisdiction.

If SOPA and/or PIPA would break the internet, one would expect that current law would have had a similar effect already. To my knowledge it has not.

If SOPA and/or PIPA would violate the First Amendment, one would expect that current law would have been held unconstitutional eons ago. It has not.

If SOPA and/or PIPA would create untoward liability on the part of service providers, how is this qualitatively different than is the case under current law?

For the sake of brevity I will stop here. My point is only that the din of critics ascribe more to the proposed legislation than is the case. Reasonable minds can differ on the policy decisions underlying current law and current law as modified by SOPA and/or PIPA, but to parade a litany of “coulds”, “mights”, etc. overlooks the fact that we already have within the US rights and remedies associated with domestic sites that are far greater than would be the case should foreign sites be added to the mix.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Hmm

Actually, there are US laws that require “blocking” of certain websites, with the “blocking” (censorship) being based specifically upon the content served up by those sites. I am not at all suggesting an equivalence between such sites and those serving up copyrighted material, but only that “blocking” does exist and has not broken the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hmm

Quote:

Quite frankly, I believe the answer is “not much”.

Well it is already different, before people had no problems trasnmiting data to others for personal use that is gone now, before people didn’t pay levies, they do now, before people were not liable for what others did, they are now, before people didn’t have to worry about copyright trolls they do now.

Every year there is a new law chipping away from the public rights, so even if SOPA didn’t change that much but it does it is still going in the wrong direction.

Also if it doesn’t change that much why do they need the law so bad, it changes nothing?
Is not like they have power of what happens in other countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hmm

Quote:

If SOPA and/or PIPA would create untoward liability on the part of service providers, how is this qualitatively different than is the case under current law?

Obviously you didn’t read the law, because is written right there how it would accomplish that, also the people involved were quite open about what they expected with the bill and that was to make others do more for the copyright holders.

Quote:

If SOPA and/or PIPA would violate the First Amendment, one would expect that current law would have been held unconstitutional eons ago. It has not.

Well if current law has everything already why do the hell we need a new one for doing the exact same thing?

Of course you know the answer is that, SOPA goes beyond what the current law asks for.

You overlook the fact that we don’t have those laws within the US and SOPA would expand the ones that we do have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Hmm

Actually, I have studied the proposed bills, including the “original” SOPA, the “manager amended” SOPA, and the current PIPA.

Under current law actions can be taken against sites, service providers, and persons over which US jurisdiction can be established. These pending bills merely provide for limited equitable relief against foreign sites that have hitherto been able to operate with impunity, with such sites comprising more than just those associated with copyright infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hmm

I don’t think so, as far as I know there are no instances of websites legal or illegal being blocked by any US service provider, so I need to ask, can you show us when this occur in the US?
SOPA is an expansionist law in the direction of more monopolistic control of a medium that can’t be controlled.

Under current law, you would need to prove something first before you get an injunction against something and even then you don’t mess around with the DNS you go to a registrar, you can’t change the DNS for that, you don’t risk fractionating the internet, you don’t risk delaying security upgrades deployment.

Under current law we can all see how things are becoming more difficult, before we had an explosion of creativity on the internet where everybody tried to do something new, today it is getting difficult to create and starting to become costly, since “clearing rights” is not a cheap endevour, threats are real, you can see what happens studying Japan, maybe an article called “Why Japan have no Googles?”, showing how one little law prevented an entire segment from being created and it had to be amended so to make it less capable to allow for copies to be made for the purpose of making legal for computers to operate.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Hmm

“I don’t think so, as far as I know there are no instances of websites legal or illegal being blocked by any US service provider, so I need to ask, can you show us when this occur in the US?”

I’ve stumbled upon one or two blocked sites over the years. With SOPA/PIPA in place, this would spread like a pandemic and it would be the major media acting as judge, jury and executioner. Seriously, as if they’d think twice about shutting down anything percieved as competition, especially seeing as with SOPA they are immune to legal retaliation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Hmm

I am responding to your comment because it is the most recent in the string.

Importantly, censorship takes many forms, from blatant to subtle. Some is directed by federal and state law, and some arises at the volition of private actors who are in part motivated by a strong desire to avoid confrontation with state and federal legal authorities, be they attorney generals or regulatory authorities under executive branches of government. As recently noted on this site, some even arise by order of the courts, creating in these cases the equivalent of federal common law in the context of copyright litigation. Whether they will stand muster if appealled cannot be answered at this time, but it cannot be denied that they are nevertheless interpretations of law that are “on the books”.

A few examples of internet “regulation”, aka content-based “censorship”, can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_the_United_States

Some have been struck down on First Amendment grounds, others have been struck down on other grounds, and some have passed muster, most notably the CIPA of 2000.

Of course, these laws have been motivated by the meme “It’s for the children”, while others have been based upon national security matters (e.g., The Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917).

One point to be made is simply that content-based regulation of the internet is already a feature of US state and federal law, and whether or not ever challenged in a court of law have the operative effect of enforcing and/or encouraging the filtering (blocking) of certain types of websites. Remember, service providers is a term of far larger scope than merely the more well-knows ISPs, search engines, etc. Federal and state governments collectively may very well be the largest service providers in the US, and each have regulations (the full equivalent of law) and policies forbiding certain content-based activities, sites, etc.

Another point to be made is that if one statutory or regulatory approach does not work, another will quickly spring up in its place incorporating provisions to mollify the courts. SOPA is one such example.

What we have here with SOPA and PIPA is an extension of a legal framework that is already in place, and with SOPA the House of Representatives has incorporated provisions that specifically mirror provisions contained in relevant decisions by the Supreme Court.

In summary, regulation of the internet is already a fixture of US law, and in my opinion what is really being debated is not should censorship be permitted, but to what extent should censorship be permitted. Should the law be extended to incorporate additional classes of illegal subject matter? Perhaps this would be a slippery slope, but that slope was created many years ago, and what is at issue is the extent of the slope since not every slope is infinite in length.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Hmm

A few examples of internet “regulation”, aka content-based “censorship”, can be found at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_the_United_States

Some have been struck down on First Amendment grounds, others have been struck down on other grounds, and some have passed muster, most notably the CIPA of 2000.

Of course, these laws have been motivated by the meme “It’s for the children”, while others have been based upon national security matters (e.g., The Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917).

I looked at your link and found nothing that had not been struck down apart from some of the provisions of CIPA – but these seem to be moot because they are only supposed to prevent access by children – according to your link the filtering or blocking can be disabled at the request of an adult.

Can you clarify the precise provisions which affect adult access and have not been struck down?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Hmm

You miss my point. It is that regulation of content traversing the internet is already here, and has been here for quite some time. What is being discussed in relation to SOPA is the extent of such regulation. Will it continue to be limited, or will it be expanded? Even Vixie recognizes that there is merit in certain circumstances, but his argument turns from technical to policy when he opines that the subject matter underlying SOPA is not such a circumstance.

Unless you accept the undisputable fact that regulation is already upon us, it is difficult to marshall compelling legal, technical, and policy arguments why an extension is inappropriate.

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