Former MPAA CTO Tells The White House Why SOPA Is The Wrong Approach For IP Enforcement

from the you're-free-to-speak-now,-paul dept

You may recall who Paul Brigner is. He was formerly the Chief Technology Policy Officer for the MPAA, who at one point was tasked with standing up to pretty much every knowledgeable internet engineer in trying to defend why SOPA was both necessary and wouldn’t be a technological disaster. This resulted in some wacky arguments. Back in January, he and I faced off on a panel in Washington DC the day before the Internet blackout, in which he tried to defend the MPAA’s position on SOPA, though almost everyone who watched the panel noted that his statements appeared half hearted. It was little surprise two months later to see Brigner leave the MPAA to go work for the Internet Society, who fought strongly against SOPA. Since then, Brigner has more or less admitted that SOPA was a bad idea.

So it’s not too surprising, but still a bit ironic, to see that Brigner has written the Internet Society’s response to the White House’s request for comment on IP Enforcement, and much of it explains why any approach that mirrors SOPA is completely unacceptable. From all indications, this has been Brigner’s true belief all along, and you can see it in the depth of explanation and knowledge he puts into this letter as compared to his half-hearted “defenses” of the MPAA when he was employed there. What’s striking, however, is how directly Brigner’s comments today contradict the claims of the MPAA, which he was responsible for defending just a few months ago. It’s almost a step by step argument against the MPAA’s position: Brigner/ISOC are against mucking with DNS, are in favor of highlighting the importance of due process and protecting civil liberties and in favor of much greater transparency in policy making.

We are also of the opinion that any enforcement attempts – at both national and international levels – should ensure and not jeopardize the stability, interoperability and efficiency of the Internet, its technologies and underlying platforms. The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community. It needs to be highlighted that from a security perspective, in particular, DNS filtering is incompatible with an important security technology called Domain Name Security Extensions or DNSSEC. In fact, there is great potential for DNSSEC to be weakened by proposals that seek to filter domain names. This means that DNS filtering proposals could ultimately reduce global Internet security, introduce new vulnerabilities, and put individual users at risk.

Our second recommendation relates to the legal tools that should be in place in any enforcement design. ISOC would like to stress the absolute need for any enforcement provisions to be prescribed according to the rule of law and due process. We believe that combating online infringement of intellectual property is a significant objective. However, it is equally important that this objective is achieved through lawful and legal paths and in accordance with the notion of constitutional proportionality. In this regard, enforcement provisions – both within and outside the context of intellectual property – should respect the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of individuals and, subsequently, those of Internet users. They should not seek to impose unbearable constitutional constraints and should not prohibit users from exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

As a general recommendation, we would like to emphasize our belief that all discussions pertaining to the Internet, including those relating to intellectual property – both at a national and international level – should follow open and transparent processes.

It’s a great filing overall, and I appreciate the Internet Society’s longstanding support for these key principles. Similarly, I think it’s great that Brigner appears to have found employment much more in line with his own knowledge, experience and personal views — but there is something ironic about seeing his name on a filing like this just months after he was tasked with arguing the opposite position.

Speaking of the White House’s request for comments, that process is still open until this Friday. Later this week, I’ll be sharing what I am submitting as well, but I urge many others to post thoughtful comments of their own. You can see what’s already been submitted, and unfortunately, it appears that many (on all sides of the issue) submitted short/ranty “internet comment” style comments. I would urge that anyone seeking to submit a comment write out something a bit more thoughtful and detailed if you would like those in the White House to take them seriously.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: isoc, mpaa

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 “Former MPAA CTO Tells The White House Why SOPA Is The Wrong Approach For IP Enforcement”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: This asshole

Although points he makes NOW, may be valid, next week he will say anything someone pays him to.

He deserves a swift kick in the nuts.

I would argue that’s unfair. From what I know of him, he genuinely believes what he’s saying now. He was only at the MPAA for a short time, and went there with the belief that he could help from the inside, but was pressured to say things he didn’t agree with — and then left soon after.

anon says:

Are we coming to our senses.

I don’t think it can be stressed enough how important something like this is, this could be the beginning of a domino effect where more and more “experts” start discussing real solutions to real problems, instead of wasting years trying to pass laws they do not wholeheartedly believe in.

It would be interesting to read a post by him on why he changed sides and why he said the things he did if he did not truly believe them, was it under duress or did he initially believe what he was saying and just come to learn he was mostly wrong.

Did he try to put his position forward to the MPAA and give them some sound advice or did they just ignore him.

Where does he see the industry moving in the future and how he sees the fight progressing.

As an insider to the MPAA tactic’s i am sure his thoughts on them would be really delightful.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Still missing the point

It’s been said that if your enemy can choose the battlefield, you’ve already lost. This filing is nice, but it’s still accepting our enemy’s most fundamental point: that piracy is a problem that we need to Do Something? about.

This premise is false. The sky is not falling, it’s rising! (I’d link that, but it would end up in a moderation trap. Can someone from the Techdirt staff please tone down the paranoia on the spam detectors a little?) Every study on the subject not sponsored by the entertainment industry, including important ones by neutral government bodies such as the US CBO, have shown the entertainment industry’s claims to be outright lies, made up out of whole cloth and in no way reflecting reality.

The “piracy crisis” does not exist. And there’s plenty of evidence that responses to this “problem” do far more harm than piracy ever did. The people doing real, measurable harm are the ones running roughshod over everyone’s rights with DRM and DMCA takedowns.

Well over 50% of DMCA takedowns, potentially as high as 90% or more, are illegitimate. The system is broken from beginning to end, used far more often for sabotage purposes than for actually fighting piracy. But nobody is talking about that, at least not in policy-making circles.

In any other context, an external coder disabling the functionality of your computer and purposefully making you unable to do things with it that you otherwise would be able to do would be considered hacking, and a violation of your rights as the owner of the computer. And a private entity taking the enforcement of the law, and the punishment for breaking it, into their own hands–especially when they are also the victim of the alleged crime–would be condemned by law as vigilantism, for very good reasons. But when we’re talking about DRM, suddenly centuries of legal theory (and plain common sense) go right out the window, and nobody is talking about that, at least not in policy-making circles.

When are we going to change that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Still missing the point

I meant to add that 80% of my friends (non-tech) have no idea what this fight is about. They believe the ads saying their are a few “pirates” making money off Hollywood and that’s the only problem. They have no idea that this will restrict their current daily activities or threatens them in anyway. Once it’s pointed out to them what the problem is (like the black out did) they cared and cared A LOT.

Other’s who knew a little more about tech had faith that “pirates will always find a way” and there was nothing the gov’t could do to take the internet away. Again, they needed more information.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Still missing the point

Because Mittens will do so much better?
It’ll be a felony as you will have robbed a corporate person.

Staying home means we are screwed.
Voting means we are screwed, but we get a choice of lube.

None of the above needs to be a valid vote that forces them to start all over again. Its not like they have been doing any real good in office, pretty sure it’ll run the same if its vacant while we wait for new choices to be selected.

Anonymous Coward says:

While a nice read, the comments are irrelevant and unresponsive to the request for public comments.

SOPA-bashing is fine if one is so inclined, but time spent talking about DNS, when DNS is not even on the table, seems to be time not well spent.

Much the same can be said about the comment regarding constitutional parameters. Of course it is imperative that legal processes be properly observed, but this is likewise not what is contained in the request for public comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“DNS is not even on the table”

Yes, it is. The copyright maximalists want a system of institutionalized lying forced into DNS. They want it so that when you attempt to get to “”, instead you get directed to an FBI page which lies that there is something illegal about Megaupload. (Megaupload is just an example, pick any domain name which is not liked by the copyright maximalists.)

That happens because the entry in the DNS has been changed so that it points to some IP address under the control of the FBI. If the DNS system was telling the truth then doing a DNS lookup of “” would resolve to an IP address under the control of Megaupload, or if Megaupload did not exist, it would resolve to “unknown host”. Those are the only two honest alternatives. Anything else is lying. The maximalists want lying, institutionalized deliberate, premeditated lying. Any politician who supports such lying is not to be trusted. USA voters, do your duty.

Try typing a few domains in your browser address bar. Find out what is actually happening to DNS right now. It is not a pretty picture.

Anonymous Coward says:

as he was the Chief Technology Policy Officer, he had to follow orders. perhaps it would be beneficial if the White House questioned those in charge of the MPAA, found out the amount of knowledge they really had and whether any of that knowledge was being used when making the various demands or if it were nothing other than pure, unadulterated, selfish, greed!

Richard M Stallman (user link) says:

Talking in terms of “IP enforcement” is playing into the hands of
companies that would rather you not recognize the tremendous
difference between copyright law, patent law, and a dozen or so other
unrelated laws. Confusion guaranteed!

The MPAA’s lobbyists know the difference between these laws, but they’d
rather we think in vague terms. Let’s disappoint them.

Renee Marie Jones says:

Paul Brigner's turnabout on SOPA

It is very sad that we just accept as normal the fact that “experts” will speak whatever lies their employers tell them. It is even sadder that we expect and allow corporations to behave that way. We need to demand more accountability from our people and from our corporations. People should not be allowed to shield their dishonesty with claims of “I was only following orders.”

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...