David Carr Explains Why Everyone Should Be Against SOPA

from the too-much-collateral-damage dept

NY Times media columnist David Carr — who it should be known has been a critic of “free” economics in the past — has put up an interesting new column explaining why even those who are vehemently against copyright infringement should be concerned about SOPA and the unintended consequences it will cause for the internet. He takes Hollywood’s (somewhat laughable) numbers of jobs at risk and “losses” from infringement, to note that there is a real problem, but he still worries that SOPA’s solution will make things worse. It won’t actually do much to slow down or stop infringement — but it will (almost certainly) create massive problems for the rest of the internet.

I like my movies (and music and television) as much as the next couch potato, probably more. And I wouldn?t steal content for any reason, in part because I make a living generating a fair amount of it. But it?s worth remembering that the film industry initially opposed the video cassette recorder and the introduction of DVDs, platforms that became very lucrative businesses for them and remarkable conveniences for the rest of us.

Given both Congress?s and the entertainment industry?s historically wobbly grasp of technology, I don?t think they should be the ones re-engineering the Internet. The rest of us might have to just hold our noses and learn enough about SOPA to school them in why it?s a bad idea.

While SOPA supporters have been bending over backwards to insist that anyone who points out the problems of these bills are “siding with the pirates,” the fact is that many, many people are recognizing the serious collateral damage that SOPA (and PIPA) would have on the internet. The key reason much of this is happening is actually explained earlier in the article. You have those who don’t understand and fear the technology trying to legislate that technology. And it’s become something of a generational thing:

There is also a cultural divide at work, according to Yancey Stickler, one of the founders of Kickstarter, a Web site that helps raise funds for creative projects, and a critic of SOPA.

?The schism between content creators and platforms like Kickstarter, Tumblr and YouTube is generational,? he wrote in an e-mail. ?It?s people who grew up on the Web versus people who still don?t use it. In Washington, they simply don?t see the way that the Web has completely reconfigured society across classes, education and race. The Internet isn?t real to them yet.?

The debate has highlighted how little Congress knows about the Internet they are proposing to re-tool. In a piece often cited on the Web, the computer culture journalist Joshua Kopstein watched the debate in Congress in which members bragged about their online ignorance, and he wrote an open letter on the technology Web site Motherboard titled, ?Dear Congress, It?s No Longer O.K. to Not Know How the Internet Works.?

I’d argue that is true of some in Congress, but there’s another element as well. There are, certainly, some in Hollywood who have a basic grasp of the technology. The issue there is more that they just don’t like it. SOPA is an attempt to try to put things back into Pandora’s box. The problem there isn’t that they don’t necessarily understand how the internet is being used… but that they don’t understand how technology progresses, and how you can never take away features that consumers want once they know those features and capabilities exist.

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Comments on “David Carr Explains Why Everyone Should Be Against SOPA”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“and how you can never take away features that consumers want once they know those features and capabilities exist.”

Not true. At one time, cable television used to be reasonably priced and it used to be commercial free. No longer. At one time government granted broadcasting monopolies didn’t exist and everyone was free to broadcast. No longer. At one time we used to have the feature of an expanding public domain. No longer.

If we want free market capitalistic features and the benefits and innovation that comes with it we need to fight for our rights because if we don’t the government-industrial complex will erode them like they have been doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Eventually

“flaw of our system that will need to be eventually remedied”

How about this year? It’s election time, remember? Congress has not forgotten. Throw the bums out. It is time for a generational change. America needs politicians who are honest, not corrupt. They should also be knowledgeable, not clueless.

Over to you, USA voters. Do your job. The rest of the world will be watching.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Eventually

How do we know that the devil we don’t know won’t be just as bad or worse than the one we do? Frankly, it doesn’t matter. The only way that corruption in government can be stopped, or at least slowed, is the Chinese way – bullet to the back of the head. Get caught taking bribes? Bang! Get caught using inside information to make a stock market killing? Bang! Promise to stop raising taxes and then vote to raise them anyway? Bang! A very simple, elegant solution. What say we give it a try?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, but many opposed to the legislation appear to be discomforted by mentioning this.

No, what discomforts us is the fact that it does, in fact, outlaw any tools or services that are designed to get around these blocks. In other words, VPNs or tools for diverting directly to the IP address would be illegal.

Some of us know how crazy that is.

And then there’s you.

Tom Pritchard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Some of us know how crazy that is.

And then there’s you.”

wooah, Mike, that was a bit strong wasn’t it? I might not be seeing the whole picture here, but that attack seemed harsh and unprovoked.

Actually, I’ve read a few of your comments recently and felt they were disproportionally critical. You make fair arguments in your posts, but I feel you’re beginning to go into the comments with your claws out and lash out at anyone who even infers they may disagree with you, which for me, undermines your position.

Please consider taking it down a notch. We are not all trolls.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“We are not all trolls.”

Perhaps not, but notice how the AC offered nothing of substance other than a pithy cack-handed attack. Call me wrong, but his comment certainly reads like the usual breed of trolling idiot who posts here anonymously (and Mike can check if the IP is one of a regular offender if he wishes).

If annoyed remarks with a lack of patience seem to be the responses of late, bear in mind the number of idiotic personal attacks, misrepresentions and outright lies these articles seem to attract from anonymous commenters who offer no substance. We’ve heard everything from “people only oppose SOPA because people lie to them about its contents” to “the only people who oppose SOPA are those who profit from piracy”, but these fools never offer anything to back their claims up – only attacks and lies. Wouldn’t your patience wear thin after a while?

Intelligent, reasoned responses to opponents of SOPA or any of Mike’s other positions are welcomed and readily discussed. The fact that these are rather thin on the ground is not the fault of anyone here, however.

Tom Pritchard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Believe me, I wouldn’t want to be in Mike’s shoes when it comes to reading some of the half-brain responses that you get. So sure, I can see why Mike has a lack of patience when it comes to these things.

But what I dont want to see is the healthy discussions deteriorate, all because of the few. I’ve just felt that Mike’s tone has encouraged this somewhat. It’s fine to argue your point and clarify things, does it always have to be followed by a jab?

“The fact that these are rather thin on the ground is not the fault of anyone here, however”

Which is why I think time should be taken not to put off people people who do have something reasonable and worthwhile to say. I read this site everyday, only comment occasionally, but I would hate to feel put off because people feel the need to put people down while doing it.

But it’s been a long time since the days I used to trawl forums looking for someone to have a flame war with. I’m probably a bit unconditioned to it.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re:

SOPA workarounds -> “will acessing it through a non us isp or using direct ip by modifying the hosts file be illegal?”

AC -> “No, but many opposed to the legislation appear to be discomforted by mentioning this.”

Many? If there were many, maybe there would be a link.
Also, relying upon an IP Address in lieu of DNS lookup is not a solution. This may work for troubleshooting or temporary connection, but is not robust.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, it will be illegal. SOPA contains a section that boils down to “Circumventing the blockage of a website is also illegal”. This part has also generated much outrage, as it would make illegal tools, that exist now, and will be invented in the future, that those in repressive regimes use to access the Internet when they get blocked. Basically, the outrage is that SOPA sacrifices the ability of the downtrodden to be able to speak in favour of theoretically helping the entertainment industry.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If a website is blocked under SOPA, will acessing it through a non us isp or using direct ip by modifying the hosts file be illegal?

Directly accessing it yourself won’t be illegal… but… providing a product or service designed to circumvent will be illegal. So, anyone who tells you the IP address, could be breaking the law. Or if you use a tool to modify the hosts file, that could be illegal. You, yourself, are probably protected… so long as you don’t tell anyone how you accessed the site.

A Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If SOPA were passed, would it be illegal to provide instructions for setting up a personal proxy/VPN on a foreign server?

Would it be illegal to tell others that you can use a personal proxy/VPN on a foreign server for circumvention?

Or, would it only be illegal to allow others to use your personal proxy/VPN, forcing them to spend a few bucks a month to set up their own?

Matthew McIntyre says:

Take Away is what the GOV is all about

Listen you cows. I’m a conservative and I’m all about less GOV and more freedom. The problem is that the laws of the country are that it allows for those with money to influence the GOV and the law. Stop the bitchin and come together in an intelligent way to kill the influence of both Business influence and Politician complacency. Only with those goals in mind will the USA be semi safe from all this BS. Stop being cows and being led along by the media.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Circumvention measures

“I cant keep up with SOPA changes:P

If a website is blocked under SOPA, will acessing it through a non us isp or using direct ip by modifying the hosts file be illegal?

Well it seems common sense that if you are outside the U.S. using a local ISP you would be outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law. I’m not sure there are many practical ways to use a non U.S. ISP if you are inside the U.S., dial-up I guess but how would you get a broadband connection?

Modifying the hosts file would seem to be illegal since that would qualify as a “circumvention tool” which is specifically made illegal. It has made me wonder how they propose to enforce that since it’s so ridiculously easy to do. Perhaps they think to pressure OS/browser makers to make the hosts file uneditable in some way?

A Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Circumvention measures

Whether or not it will be illegal is not the issue I was raising. The issue is that it is so trivially simple that I could show a 9 year old how to do it.

Additionally, the web is not the internet. Believe it or not, perfectly legal protocols can be designed such that SOPA wouldn’t apply to them, either purposefully or by accident.

This whole exercise seems so technically dumb and pointless that I literally don’t even know where to start explaining it to you trolls anymore.


canadain supreme court decision

if you live in province of Ontario and host your domain in hte province….then your domain name is considered private property , when US govt seizes it it is a federal offense of theft. I would then argue that any American gov’t representatives inside Canada also party to this illegal crime organization be outlawed in Canada as the hells angels organization was in Ontario, using our terror laws….

Interesting you can really possibly do this….
Google the tucows Canada domain decision for links….

then look up our laws to fight organized crime and think that any action by an organization to break laws on purpose can get it labeled much like what happened to the hells angels in Ontario Canada….

Francis Turner (profile) says:


One thing not mentioned is that in addition to the whole VPN to a foreign country/use a foreign DNS issue, SOPA actually breaks DNSSEC in exactly the same way that cyber criminals do when they want to redirect you to their account details stealing server.

Its a bit technical but Paul Vixie (major contributor to DNS bind etc.) explains this quite clearly here: http://www.circleid.com/posts/20121012_dns_policy_is_hop_by_hop_dns_security_is_end_to_end/

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