US Chamber Of Commerce So Clueless It Thinks You Have To Be 'Anti-IP' To Be Against E-PARASITE Bill

from the not-the-case,-steve-o dept

Steve Tepp is the US Chamber of Commerce's (the world's largest lobbying group) point man on PROTECT IP/E-PARASITE/SOPA. His latest move is to try attacking anyone who points out the problems of E-PARASITE/SOPA. First up? Demand Progress, who dared to call it a "blacklist bill." According to Tepp, it's not a blacklist bill, because the lobbyists who wrote the bill (potentially including Tepp himself) were smart enough not to write "list" in the text of the bill.

Of course the bill doesn't actually say that there's a list. Just as the Chinese Great Firewall doesn't actually involve the government "listing" sites, but merely threatens ISPs with liability if they let bad sites through, E-PARASITE massively broadens the definitions of what's "dedicated to the theft of U.S. property" such that it now includes, more or less, the entire internet, and threatens sites with the equivalent of internet death: blocking from search engines, blocking from DNS (and more!), cutting off any funding sources. No, there's no "blacklist," there's just the threat of cutting off just about any internet site. On top of that, there's an awkwardly worded attempt to force every site to proactively monitor any infringement. Is that why the US Chamber of Commerce doesn't allow comments on its site? Or is it because it knows that no one actually believes the crap it shovels?

But Tepp's intellectual dishonesty is worse than just pretending that without the word "list" there's no actual blacklist. No, the really cheap move is to imply that only the "anti-IP crowd" is against this bill. This is the latest strategy of those who wish to massively regulate the internet so that it looks more like TV -- a broadcast medium, rather than a communications medium. They refer to anyone who points out the massive negative consequences of their legislative nastiness as being "anti-IP." You've seen it in Techdirt's comments for the past few weeks, with certain anonymous commenters throwing hissy fits about how I'm actually "pro-piracy," when I'm anything but. If you don't think this is part of the coordinated marketing campaign by the largest lobbying organization in the world, you're not paying attention.

So, Steve, let's be clear: being against this bill is not about being "anti-IP." It's about being pro-innovation, pro-internet. It's about recognizing the massive benefits of an open internet. It's about recognizing the massive benefits to the American (and world) economy that were created from an open internet that didn't involve misplaced third party liability.

The concerns of those about this bill have nothing to do with intellectual property and whether it's good or bad. It's about the collateral damage that such a vast change to the legal and technical framework that the internet has been based on for years will cause.

To brush those concerns away as being "the anti-IP crowd," is to show ignorance of what's at stake.

What we don't understand, Steve, is why you would seek to shut down the open internet, killing off more jobs than ever existed in the entertainment industry. We thought the US Chamber of Commerce was supposed to support small businesses. Instead, you're seeking to make any internet business nearly impossible, unless they've already hired a dozen lawyers. I guess if your goal is for full employment for trial lawyers, you're making headway. But, seriously, if you can't debate this subject honestly, don't be surprised when the next generation of businesses dumps the US CoC. Pro tip: pissing off every company of the next generation that might support your bloated organization is no way to build for the future. And don't think jobs "in the industry" will be waiting for you. Without the next generation of great startups that you're trying to kill off, the big content companies who pay your salary these days, won't have the new platforms they need to succeed.

Filed Under: anti-ip, attacks, blacklist, e-parasite, sopa, steve tepp
Companies: demand progress, us chamber of commerce


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2011 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ahh, actual debate, and only one reference to dumb! Now we are talking!

    "See, this is where I begin to have a problem. If you want to go after people who are actually infringing, I'm with you. I think it's too hard to be feasible, but whatever. If content folks want to do it, more power to them. What this bill is talking about is third-party liability"

    Third party liablity comes around for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because many of these third parties are unwilling or unable to identify the first parties, or are actively working to avoid any knowledge. YouTube could take actions to know who their actual contributors to the site are, but they mostly choose not to. Set up an anonymous email account, sign up for a you tube account, and suddenly you are a legit content provider. If I ran any other offline business in this manner, I would be locked up.

    Third party liability also comes around because so many of the current internet business models are predicated on being the third party, or at least appearing to be the third party. File locker sites that force uploaders to split larger files into .RAR file chunks, and then delay or deny access to all of the parts unless a downloader pays for access are certainly at the forefront right now. They play the third party game, but their business models are set up based on the idea of DVD sized files (gee, I wonder what is in them), and charging for access to them.

    "It's a question of function, not philosophy. Everything on the internet scales bigger, so how is YouTube supposed to accurately block the infringing content that it itself didn't put on their site? "

    That really is a business model issue, a question of choice and not of function. Youtube could process every video and look at it, but they choose not to. I know, too much volume. But legally, saying that they cannot conform to the law because there is too much stuff isn't something that would work in the real world. What would you think of a pawn shop that, rather than specifically taking stuff for pawn, just allows people to drop things off on their desk with a price and an anonymous email to contact them when it sells? Would you consider it weird if the pawn shop didn't wonder where the stuff came from? What happens if tens of thousands of people a day were dropping them off with them? Would you excuse it because the volume is too big? Nope, legally they would be liable and would need to change their business model accordingly.

    We might not like it (because everyone has gotten use to everything being on the net all the time), but a flawed business model isn't an excuse to break the law. They tried, and now laws like this will come along to block up that option.

    "Forgive me, but you'll have to give me an example of this, because I'm unaware of this type of thing."

    Legal head of the pin arguments as an example apply to some of these so called "hip hop blogs" that have had their domain names only seized by ICE. Their sites were packed with unauthorized remixes, dubs, and "sample music songs", but they want to claim no liability because they don't personally host the content. Yet, the reason people were going to their site (and using their forums, and reading their blogs) was to obtain this content.

    P2P / torrent sites play the same game. "we don't host it, we aren't liable for it" is hard to swallow as their top 100 list (the list they maintain) is nothing but DVD rips, pre-sale DVDs, software with key-gens, and the like. It is pretty easy to tell, even at a glance, that their business models absolutely depend on the content, even if they don't specifically host it.

    You can look at Roja as well. The judge in the case has already told them that arguing that they are not some sort of pirate site would be pretty much a failure. While the laws may not have caught up to this activity yet, it is clear to the naked eye what their intent is. They can claim to be third parties, they can claim free speech, and so on, but they cannot escape what is clear to the naked eye. It is "head of a pin" stuff, because it is so obvious - yet the laws aren't so up to date as to handle the situation clearly.

    "You want to say the site and its main operator is advocating in Washington? Fine. I agree. I'm wondering what your problem with that is? Certainly Techdirt is not contributing to politicians to get legislation passed. At least, I would HOPE that isn't the point you're making, because that would just be dumb...."

    Actually, my concern would be (a) that the site or site operators are contributing to legislators against the law (there are a few, but not too many), and (b) that this site bocomes (or has already become) a sort of popular front for a PAC or lobbying group or groups. It would be both disappointing and stunning amusing, actually, if Mike started to do the very things he claims to hate the most of the other side. That would be "dumb", don't you think?

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