by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 6:08pm
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 4:36pm
from the you-can't-say-that dept
Among the many high-profile organizations that are joining the SOPA blackout today is Greenpeace. That's great, except that you can't read an important post on the Greenpeace UK web site about why it is opposing SOPA and PIPA (it should be available at 5 pm PST from the home page or here.)
Quite naturally Greenpeace looks at the SOPA/PIPA legislation from the perspective of an extremely successful activist organization – and it doesn't like what it sees. That's because of the way it works against some of the biggest and most powerful businesses in the world - by turning their own words and brands against them:
We use corporations' own language, their own marketing, their own strength against them - which is sometimes the only way that an entirely supporter-funded operation like ours can afford to put a spotlight on the negative side of their operations.
Greenpeace certainly isn't alone in deploying mockery online to needle companies about the things they'd rather keep quiet: it's particularly effective for smaller groups that can't afford expensive, conventional campaigns. But such satire frequently depends upon using authentic elements from the marketing materials of the organizations they tackle. The extremely broad framing of SOPA/PIPA means that the large, well-lawyered enterprises of the world will have powerful new weapons for suppressing this kind of protest by claiming that their intellectual property is being harmed as a result.
Thing is, while court case after court case has agreed with us that parody is a protected form of free speech, the corporations at the pointy end of our parodies tend to disagree. Exxon/Esso took us to court in France over alleged copyright infringement of their logo when we launched a campaign against them:
Esso said we were in violation of their intellectual property rights. We said it was free speech. The court agreed with us, and in an historic decision, we won. But had that decision been left to Exxon/Esso, we would have been shut down.
Nestlé's Kit Kat brand famously failed when it attempted to have our spoof video featuring its brand - and critical of their support for rainforest destruction - removed from YouTube for trademark violation. Hundreds of our supporters reposted the video on other sites and their own Facebook profiles.
The penalties are so disproportionate – losing access to the main payment systems would cripple any supporter-funded group – that few would take the chance of having SOPA/PIPA invoked against them. The end result would be more cautious, less exciting – and less successful – campaigns in the future. Small wonder, then, that no multinationals outside the Internet industry have come out against SOPA or PIPA.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 3:49pm
from the thank-you-internets dept
Unfortunately, not everyone in Congress has heard you yet (though, the phones are ringing quite loudly). As Wyden notes, Senator Reid still wants to move forward with the cloture vote next week, and these bills absolutely could continue to progress.
January 18, 2012
Innovators, Speakers, Thinkers, and Agents for Change
The World Wide Web
Today thousands of websites have chosen to voluntarily go offline or modify their home pages with public service information. Some have called this a stunt. I say it’s a brave and poignant reminder that we can’t take the Internet for granted.
The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life precisely because it has been an open-to-all land of opportunity where entrepreneurs, thinkers and innovators are free to try, fail and then try again. The Internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, the way we learn about the world and the way we conduct business. It has done this by eliminating the tollgates, middle men, and other barriers to entry that have so often predetermined winners and losers in the marketplace. It has created a world where ideas, products and creative expression have an opportunity regardless of who offers them or where they originate.
Protect IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are a step towards a different kind of Internet. They are a step towards an Internet in which those with money and lawyers and access to power have a greater voice than those who don’t. They are a step towards an Internet in which online innovators need lawyers as much or more than they need good ideas. And they are a step towards a world in which Americans have less of a voice to argue for a free and open Internet around the world.
Proponents of these bills say these arguments are overblown, but I say any step towards an Internet in which one person’s voice counts more than another is a step in the wrong direction. These are bills that should give us pause. These are bills that should be studied and debated. Congress should consult experts and consider alternatives and make 100% sure that any step it takes to police the Internet doesn't change the Internet as we know it. This is why I put a hold on the Protect IP Act and its predecessor over a year ago and introduced a bipartisan alternative last month.
The Senate, however, has scheduled a vote for Tuesday, January 24 at 2:15 PM to override my hold and move the Protect IP Act towards passage. This will be the deciding vote that determines whether PIPA and SOPA move through the Congress or are turned back for more sober discussion.
We are up against a group of the biggest, most powerful, well-funded and well-organized interest groups in Washington. No one thought millions of Internet users would speak up or that those voices could overcome the power of these interests. Today you showed that the Internet is not just a platform for ideas, commerce, and expression, but also for political action that will defend those principles. Your voices must continue to be heard.
Thank you for standing up for what’s important, for continuing to speak out and for demonstrating that we should always stand up for what we think is right regardless of the odds. This is an opportunity to reshape the way Washington operates, not just responding to narrow interests but hearing the voices of millions of Americans whose rights and livilihoods are affected by our actions.
United States Senator
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 3:30pm
from the and-this-is-under-the-dmca dept
I've never written about my problems behind the scenes with the DMCA, a similar piece of law written to stamp out piracy but in the decade since it passed has morphed into a blunt instrument to silence websites for a variety of reasons. I was stuck in a Brazil/Catch-22 situation a little over a year ago due to a five year old song in MetaFilter Music that shared a filename with a leaked (November 2010) unreleased Michael Jackson song. Sony music group employed a dumb simple bot called "Web Sheriff" that crawled the web looking for filename matches and when found, alerted IP range owners of infringing works being offered by their customers. I got slapped with a 30 day ultimatum to immediately take down the uploaded song on MeFi Music or find my hosting account closed and banned, and all of MetaFilter erased in the process. The claims were ludicrous and I informed my host of the impossible nature of the claim but was told per DMCA guidelines I had to either file a counterclaim notice with Sony/Web Sheriff or ask them to issue a formal retraction.Don't think that kind of thing takes money, time and connections to handle reasonably well? The compliance costs are very, very real -- and that's just a single bogus DMCA notice. Imagine what happens when there are many -- and companies are dragged into various court battles. To say there's no compliance cost or liability under these bills is pure folly.
I didn't want to waste money on lawyer time by filing a counterclaim and prolonging the fight so instead I had to contact Web Sheriff directly to request a retraction. This took many back-and-forth emails, and thanks to Web Sheriff being in London, added days to the process of exchanging emails. Eventually I got a human at the company to look at the dates on my files and agree it was not a Michael Jackson song. The formal retraction took nearly two weeks to secure and convince lawyers for my host that it was adequate for removing the DMCA claim. That's two weeks into a 30 day window before I lost my rack of servers and hosting account completely. I'll never forget last year when I went through this because it was two of the stupidest weeks of my life, all because of some problematic laws granted new powers to copyright holders and I had to engage in a prolonged legal fight thanks to a mistake made by a bot.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 2:30pm
us chamber of commerce
from the figure-that-one-out dept
Indeed. It's this kind of duplicity that has people so fed up with the lobbyist/politician lies being spread about this bill by supporters. The language was written purposely, so that they could insist it won't actually do any of the awful things the bill clearly allows... while knowing full well that's exactly how the bill will be used (regularly) after it passes.
First, the bills define US-directed site to mean almost any site that you can access in the US. PIPA does not have a definitive test, but it lets courts determine which sites are directed to the US based on several indicia, including whether the “Internet site has reasonable measures in place to prevent such goods and services from being accessed from or delivered to the United States.” (PIPA, page 48.) Meaning, if the site hasn’t blocked American users from accessing the site, then it’s US-directed. The whole point of the Internet, though, is that sites are globally available, and not blocked for particular countries. SOPA, on the House side, merely requires “minimum contacts” sufficient for personal jurisdiction, which is a very low standard that would touch most sites–as any law student would learn after reading the International Shoe case in the second week of Civil Procedure. (See SOPA, page 9).
Second, this argument is unconvincing because it suggests that the bills would cover zero sites in the whole world. If Amazon.co.uk and Google.ca are exempt from the bill, then so are ThePirateBay.co.uk or ThePirateBay.ca. The point of SOPA and PIPA, in theory, is to target foreign sites, who are defined based on having foreign domain names. So, the Chamber is saying, “Don’t worry Google.com won’t be subject to the bills because that’s not a foreign site.” Now it says, “Don’t worry, Google.ca won’t be subject to the bills because it’s not a US-directed site.” Does that mean neither MegaUpload.com or MegaUpload.ca is subject to the bill? By my count then, the bills don’t apply to any sites that have a domestic domain name nor do they apply to any sites that have a foreign domain name.
The Chamber is trying to convince us that the bills apply to zero websites and companies? They wouldn’t apply to MegaUpload.com or MegaUpload.ca, Google.com or Google.ca, ThePirateBay.org or ThePirateBay.fr?
This doesn’t strike me as highly convincing.Why would studios and labels spend millions trying to pass a bill that affects zero websites and companies?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 12:31pm
from the living-in-denial dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 12:08pm
from the welcome-to-the-club-of-internet-protectors dept
UPDATE: Just learned that Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Holden is withdrawing his co-sponsorship of SOPA.
UPDATE: And now Senator James Inhofe (thanks johnjac).
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 12:05pm
from the sometimes-you-'get'-social-media-and-sometimes-the-social-media-gets-you dept
But, despite all this lockdown and proper image sourcing, Lamar forgot about the single thing he wants to regulate most: the internet. Like anyone wishing to appear "connected" (and that includes congressmen who don't want to hear from anyone but specific Texans), Smith has installed a Facebook plugin on his site, so that with a quick glance, incoming visitors can see just how well-"Liked" the congressman actually is.
And just like that, all his best laid plans start unraveling:
How's that social media thing working for you now, Congressman? Looks like this whole Facebook protest-by-proxy is just another "gimmick."
By the way, here's a quick link to the Senator's Facebook page as well as a few (hundred!) images that will make your stance on the issue crystal clear. You know what to do.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 11:07am
from the all-stakeholders? dept
Turns out he wasn't the only one. California Senator Dianne Feinstein -- despite coming a bit late to the game in recognizing the concerns of the tech industry -- has been trying to make up for lost time by trying to "broker a peace" between the North and the South. We'd been hearing some rumors that Feinstein had actually been trying to set up just such a meeting -- given her role covering both Silicon Valley and Hollywood -- but that Hollywood was blocking all attempts, and it appears that's now been confirmed by reporter Zach Carter:
After that story ran, Feinstein attempted to broker a compromise, calling both tech companies and film studios.Basically, this claim of wanting a bill that works for everyone is all a facade that Hollywood puts up in order to pretend that it's open to input on these bills when it's clearly not. At all. Instead, as has been the case all along, the MPAA and the big Hollywood studios have arrogantly believed that they wrote the bill, they have the votes, so why should they waste time on petty little things like real discussions with real experts? When the actual opportunity -- at the behest of a US Senator no less -- to meet with the tech community came along, the Hollywood guys flat out ignored it and said they weren't interested. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about how the industry views this bill, it's time to start paying closer attention.
Walt Disney Co. President and CEO Bob Iger declined the invitation on behalf of content providers. "Hollywood did not feel that a meeting with Silicon Valley would be productive at this time," said a spokesperson. The meeting took place with only tech companies present. Feinstein, once a reliable vote for the existing version of Protect IP, is now working hard to amend the bill, according to Senate Democratic aides.
by Kevin Marks
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 10:05am
from the thank-us-later,-chris dept
WASHINGTON--The following is a statement by Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on the so-called “Blackout Day” protesting anti-piracy legislation:
Senator and CEO - let's lead with the revolving door promises to politicians
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together,
Why are my former colleagues listening to their constituents about legislation? Don't they stay bought?
some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.
Maybe if we keep saying copyright infringement is a real problem without evidence, they'll believe it.
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services.
How dare they edit their sites unless we force them to under penalty of perjury and felony convictions?
It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today.
Tomorrow was supposed to be different, that's why we bought this legislation.
It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.
I am high as a kite
It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
What have the Romans done for us? Apart from instantaneous global communications, digital audio and video editing, the DVD, Blu-ray, Digital projection, movie playback devices in everyone's pockets and handbags...