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Jan 18 2012

A day without Pharyngula

Given the content of my site, and the wingnutty pious predilections of the American public and government, and the enmity and known censorious habits of Christians and creationists, how long do you think this place would stay up if SOPA/PIPA went into effect?

176 comments

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  1. 1
    Zeno

    How long? Not long at all! Smash SOPA!

    (In Portuguese, “sopa” means bread soaked in broth. If only SOPA were that soggy, but it’s an iron fist without the velvet glove.)

  2. 2
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I think this post fits in nicely with the various threads of free speech discussion going on throughout the blog.

    How long until someone thinks Pharyngula is hate speech?

  3. 3
    dianne

    This site wouldn’t last 5 seconds under SOPA. But SOPA’s dead, at least for now. A little protest to show the powers that be that the net isn’t their chewtoy is all to the good, but it looks like this one is probably won. Or?

  4. 4
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    The progressive, left, reality-based, and science blogs and sites would be off line so fast it will make heads spin. To the right.

  5. 5
    julian

    How long until someone thinks Pharyngula is hate speech?

    Positive someone already does. Pretty sure it’s a lot of someone’s too.

  6. 6
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Positive someone already does. Pretty sure it’s a lot of someone’s too.

    I think my point is made.

  7. 7
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    This site wouldn’t last 5 seconds under SOPA. But SOPA’s dead, at least for now. A little protest to show the powers that be that the net isn’t their chewtoy is all to the good, but it looks like this one is probably won. Or?

    Apparently not so much. http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/01/17/sopa-not-yet-dead/

  8. 8
    Louis

    {Deep Breath}

    [Darth Vader voice]

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    [/Darth Vader voice]

    Actually, meh, I’ll cope, but hey, why let THAT reality get in the way! ;-)

    Either way, Americans, please contact your representatives. SOPA/PIPA….Not good.

    Thank you.

    Louis

  9. 9
    dianne

    @7: Ah. That makes an unfortunate amount of sense: the reps are backing down until the fuss dies down and then they’ll try to quietly sneak it through. The key will be to not let the furor die down. Voters’ attention spans are limited, but perhaps a second protest in February when the bill starts being active again?

  10. 10
    interrobang

    Too much of the internet backbone is under US jurisdiction. I’ve been saying for years that a parallel system which avoids US jurisdiction needs to exist (since the late 1990s at least, will someone listen to me now?!) so that even if the US enacts some kind of Iron Firewall law, it doesn’t completely fuck up the internet for the entire rest of the world (that’s the other 6.66 billion or so of us, you know, we outnumber you, if nothing else).

  11. 11
    Dick the Damned

    If the religious nutjobs could shut us down, then, by the same token, we could shut them down too. But i guess the difference is that we wouldn’t want to – because we respect the right to free speech, even when it’s religious wing-nuttery. But if push comes to shove, then we would shut them down, eh.

  12. 12
    richardelguru

    Well I recently became a citizen of the US, so I wrote to ‘my’ Sens and Rep. Of course since I’m down in TX, where most pols are evil, prob won’t do any good.
    Though it was satisfying telling them that I won’t vote for them if they support the bills, without actually specifying the conditions under which I would vote for them (i.e. an impossible freeze in an impossible place).

  13. 13
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Who knows how many petitions are floating around intertubes, but here’s one that I have signed :linky

    (USAmericans can send an email to the congress, but there’s also a petition for us non-americans on that site)

  14. 14
    dianne

    so that even if the US enacts some kind of Iron Firewall law, it doesn’t completely fuck up the internet for the entire rest of the world (that’s the other 6.66 billion or so of us, you know, we outnumber you, if nothing else).

    Yes. But it will be an excellent chance for the rest of the world to get its internet in order and stop depending on the whims of a country known for having little ability for long term planning.

  15. 15
    Alverant

    As I understand SOPA and PIPA is that both involve preventing “unauthorized” use of copywrited material. How would that affect this site? AFAIK religious text aren’t owned by anyone so we’re free to quote it and news is also public domain.

    These are still horrible laws that give too much power to businesses and basically prevent anyone from fighting them. But would someone politely explain how they would lead to this site shutting down?

  16. 16
    shouldbeworking

    Canada could use a few million more intelligent liberal people even if the US doesnt.

  17. 17
    Dick the Damned

    Alverant, all it would take is for someone to post copyright material here & then get an accomplice to complain about it.

  18. 18
    Callinectes

    the blacking out of high-profile sites like Wikipedia, I think, will be effective. Blogs and forums? Perhaps they would be more effective actively protesting than passively so. Hunger strikes do not work on the people who are deliberately bringing out the famine you are protesting.

    The only way to fight for free speech is to assume it. With that in mind, if these bills come through I recommend continuing on as normal, if necessary organising the infrastructure to do so ourselves. They’ll make it very difficult, but the alternative is to bend over and present.

  19. 19
    Dick the Damned

    Callinectes, the religious wing nuts may even now be celebrating PZs day without Pharyngula as a victory in a minor skirmish before the war gets full-on.

  20. 20
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    @dianne, #14:

    And while they’re rebuilding the infrastructure of the Internet, why, that’s a fine time to put the clamps on their own portion of the Internet. Or perhaps each country will set it up to different standards and the Internet might degenerate into a bunch of local networks that have difficulty communicating with each other.

  21. 21
    Rey Fox

    How long until someone thinks Pharyngula is hate speech?

    EXACTLY.

  22. 22
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    As I understand SOPA and PIPA is that both involve preventing “unauthorized” use of copywrited material. How would that affect this site? AFAIK religious text aren’t owned by anyone so we’re free to quote it and news is also public domain.

    All it would take would be someone claiming that copyrighted material is on this site. The site would be closed until the ‘owner’ of the site can prove that there is no copyrighted material. This place would be down within seconds.

  23. 23
    Glen Davidson

    But really, what will happen if the billionaires don’t multiply their wealth further? Wouldn’t it be terrible to be in their shoes now?

    The one-percenters need more…

    Glen Davidson

  24. 24
    ricardodivali having sniffles over stiffles

    Too much of the internet backbone is under US jurisdiction.

    True, but that also means every country outside the US can complain and the US is suddenly dealing with A LOT of angry people. People it can’t beat down or pepper spray. People that do a hell of a lot of business through their networks and can sue for lost business.

    Even if this thing does come to pass, i’m not too bothered as it will just be abused into oblivion so quickly it will never get used by those who threw so much money at it. In fact that might be the better, more fun (albeit risky) option.

  25. 25
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    I think this post fits in nicely with the various threads of free speech discussion going on throughout the blog.

    How long until someone thinks Pharyngula is hate speech?

    SRSLY? You are not going to hear this from me. Hate speech is shitting down the power gradient. The question you pose is 180 degrees ass-about-face.

  26. 26
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Here’s what I don’t get: Dodd (of the Motion Picture whatever blah blah) says that SOPA is about preserving jobs. I have yet to hear a decent agrument how shutting down legit websites will create or maintain jobs.

    Nice use of buzzwords though, Chris. You flaming asshole.

  27. 27
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    Wrote everyone in sight, talking about damage to what is currently (and for the foreseeable future) the backbone of commerce and business, in addition to damage to free speech. All for a dead business model because major companies don’t want to adapt.

    Here’s hoping they’ll listen.

  28. 28
    Ingdigo Jump

    SOPA and PIPA is like being concerned about shop lifting, so you hire a merc with a flame thrower to guard your store.

  29. 29
    dianne

    @20: Definite risks. But the alternative is to leave most of the infrastructure of the internet in the hands of the US. Not wise, IMHO, for reasons that should be all to obvious at the moment.

  30. 30
    Gregory Greenwood

    Given the content of my site, and the wingnutty pious predilections of the American public and government, and the enmity and known censorious habits of Christians and creationists, how long do you think this place would stay up if SOPA/PIPA went into effect?

    SOPA and PIPA are practically custom built for silencing dissent. Given the massive influence of wingnuttery on the US government (even when there is a Democrat in the White House), I consider it a near certainty that, should these laws come into effect, at some point, some attempt would be made to use them to shut down Pharyngula (perhaps even the entirety of Freethought Blogs) on the flimsiest of premises.

    Indeed, as Denephew Ogvorbis, OM says @ 22;

    All it would take would be someone claiming that copyrighted material is on this site. The site would be closed until the ‘owner’ of the site can prove that there is no copyrighted material. This place would be down within seconds.

    The xians wouldn’t even need any evidence – the accusation alone is enough. When a claim is lodged, the site is shut down and the burden of proof shunted onto the owners to prove their innocence. The fundies would love that; we all know how the requirement for evidence for their ludicrous claims brings them out in a rash.

    And even if you could defeat one such claim, what is to stop the same or another group of xians simply making another accusation and restarting the entire process?

    Nothing, that’s what.

    How many times could any site survive such disruption before it finally just fell apart? A dozen? Two dozen? The fundies would happily engage in this legalistic hoggling for years on end if they thought it offered them the slightest chance to silence godless baby-eaters like us, and you can bet they will pull the same thing on feminist and, for that matter, all other types of progressive sites as well.

    These laws would paint a bullseye on the back of Pharyngula and every other rationalist site on the internet.

    Afterall, it is so much easier for the fundies when they can spout their one nation under god/homosexuality is evil/womens’ bodies are not their own (etc, etc) tripe without being called on it.

    —————————————————————-

    Dick the Damned @ 11;

    If the religious nutjobs could shut us down, then, by the same token, we could shut them down too. But i guess the difference is that we wouldn’t want to – because we respect the right to free speech, even when it’s religious wing-nuttery. But if push comes to shove, then we would shut them down, eh.

    Even if we were inclined to behave in such a fashion, what is the betting that some means of weaseling out of the provisions could be found on the basis of an exemption for religious speech? These kinds of law are often claimed to apply to all equally, and yet seem to always be used to cudgel certain groups over others.

  31. 31
    carlie

    All for a dead business model because major companies don’t want to adapt.

    Yep. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been willing to pay actual money for a video or piece of music but literally can’t because the distributors won’t release it in my country, or in a timely fashion, or in a format I can’t access or use. If they put their efforts into making their own content the most convenient and best experience use of their content, they’d be a lot better off than trying to keep everyone from having it in the first place.

  32. 32
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    SRSLY? You are not going to hear this from me. Hate speech is shitting down the power gradient. The question you pose is 180 degrees ass-about-face.

    What you or anyone defines it as has little bearing on what Christian X will complain about. And Christian X will have the backing of a lot of powerful people who will redefine to to mean what they want it to mean to silence those they disagree with.

  33. 33
    eric

    I agree that this legislation should fail. But I am somewhat confused as to why Congress coludn’t fashion more narrower and specific legislation to address film and music industry concerns.

    The scenario I’ve heard about is some commenter putting illegal material in a comment to get a site shut down. Someone more net-savvy than me is going to have to explain to me why, if this happened (under different and much more narrow legislation), the police couldn’t go after the commenter rather than the site. Is it that difficult to distinguish?

    If some anti-cephalopodian fanatic posts a link to Rambo in a Pharyngula comment to try and get Ph. shut down, shouldn’t it be trivially easy to distinguish between the commenter’s link and Pharyngula’s content?

    The analogy I’ve heard is someone releasing cockroaches in a restaurant, then calling the health department. But the analogy fails because internet provenance data is forever. Its like every single cockroach you could release has the releaser’s name on it, so there is simply no need to blame the restaurant – and, more importantly, it should be trivially easy to fashion a law that says police will shut down releasers rather than restaurants.

    Am I missing something here? Is there some technical reason why good legislation that recognizes the difference between a site owner and a site commenter couldn’t be fashioned?

  34. 34
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    @ricardodivali
    Couple of problems with that:
    1) Like the USG would actually give a fuck and
    2) As if all of our own govts wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon after 5 minutes.

  35. 35
    Ingdigo Jump

    I agree that this legislation should fail. But I am somewhat confused as to why Congress coludn’t fashion more narrower and specific legislation to address film and music industry concerns.

    Cost vs benefit and law of diminishing returns.

    Shoplifting is a problem, it costs merchants. They solve it by security theater, signs hat people are being watched, occasional store security stops by, magnetic detectors etc. Shop lifting still occurs because people can get around all that (again because most of it is theater to just dissuade the casual person from considering it). They could put guards at the door ways, they could keep all merchandise behind glass, they could require ID checks to every customer or limit customers allowed in at a time…or they could eat the cost and acknowledge that future solutions are going to cost more than they save.

    The question is, should the industry just eat this as a cost of doing business, do what they can to deter it, or bring the government in.

    By bringing the gov in they move the costs of extra security from themselves to the public, thus they are willing to hire the guard with the flame thrower since any problems it causes isn’t their mess.

    Sorry this is he industry’s problem and they have to find a cost effective way to solve it. They should not be allowed to screw over OTHER industries and private citizens to do so. And the Gov should view protecting the freedom and security of its citizens as a priority OVER the business’s security needs.

    Right now the industry is throwing a tantrum and insisting that having to eat any cost is not fair. Well no shit, but every industry has to do it. They catch what they can and have to accept the rest as a cost of business.

  36. 36
    Trebuchet

    Eric:

    I agree that this legislation should fail. But I am somewhat confused as to why Congress coludn’t fashion more narrower and specific legislation to address film and music industry concerns.

    They could and should. But you’re under the misapprehension that laws are written by Congresspersons. Most are written by lobbyists and their sponsors these days. The Medicare prescription law, for instance, was written by the pharma companies. That’s why it forbids the government from negotiating prices. SOPA and PIPA have been written entirely at the behest of the idustry, who, based on past performance, aren’t the sharpest pins in the cushion. They’ve got a long history of trying to suppress new technology instead of figuring out how to use it to their advantage. Look up DAT (Digital Audio Tape) on Wikipedia — tomorrow!

  37. 37
    CaptTu

    A fun tweet making the rounds.

    Everything ███ █████ is█████ ████ fine ██████ ██ ████ ███ ███ ████ ██ ████ And I said ██ █ ████ ██ ████ ██ ███ #SOPA #SOPAblackout #StopSOPA

  38. 38
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Sorry Rev, I thought you where referring to our recent Pharyngula blogging in this regard. (Which is generally 180 degrees off the Xtian position.)

  39. 39
    carlie

    The scenario I’ve heard about is some commenter putting illegal material in a comment to get a site shut down. Someone more net-savvy than me is going to have to explain to me why, if this happened (under different and much more narrow legislation), the police couldn’t go after the commenter rather than the site. Is it that difficult to distinguish?

    That’s just the easiest example. Let’s say I write a popular blog. I’m writing a post for which there is a little movie clip that would be perfect; maybe it’s a 30-second rant by a character in something or other about the topic I’m writing on. I think it would be cute and witty to include it, and would help to disseminate knowledge of the movie itself to a wide audience (maybe it wasn’t a popular movie to begin with). But it’s not on Netflix or Hulu, and even if it is, there isn’t a way to tag so people just see that 30-second bit. If I want to include it, my only option is to either upload it myself or look for where someone else has done so, which is now violating copyright. Oh noes! The owner of said movie has two options to deal with this:

    1. Shut me down for using their material illegally. The end result is that I don’t get to use it, my readers don’t get to see it, and now I hate their guts for taking down my entire site.

    2. Make their library available on a public site, with tagging of small segments possible (the way youtube does, for example), and adding a small commercial to the bit (the way Hulu does), or making it nonenbeddable so you have to click to get to their site to see it (the way Vevo does on youtube) to add to their traffic. I get to put my clip in, my readers see it, there is more dissemination of that film, and the film company gets some page hits and ad revenue.

    The companies are doubling down on the first, and not only so that they can take down sites, but also criminally charge people for that violation. I would be a criminal who broke federal law by putting that 30second clip up.

    They could, instead, change their business model and get free publicity, goodwill, and ad revenue, for less energy overall and not burden the justice system. No, I don’t want to pay for another government agency that will go after me for that damned 30-second clip.

  40. 40
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    The xians wouldn’t even need any evidence – the accusation alone is enough. When a claim is lodged, the site is shut down and the burden of proof shunted onto the owners to prove their innocence. The fundies would love that; we all know how the requirement for evidence for their ludicrous claims brings them out in a rash.

    Which is exactly (well, not exactly) what I wrote:

    All it would take would be someone claiming that copyrighted material is on this site. The site would be closed until the ‘owner’ of the site can prove that there is no copyrighted material.

    I have no problem owning up to my mistake when I make one. Please do not imply a position I did not take. (And yes, I realize that after my idiocy last night I really have no right to complain.)

    ======

    But I am somewhat confused as to why Congress coludn’t fashion more narrower and specific legislation to address film and music industry concerns.

    Because this is not about copyright violations, this is about transferring more money to large corporations because their record high profits, and record low taxes, are not enough.

    why, if this happened (under different and much more narrow legislation), the police couldn’t go after the commenter rather than the site. Is it that difficult to distinguish?

    Because of pseudonymity (see my ‘nym for an example), or so the copyright holders claim.

    shouldn’t it be trivially easy to distinguish between the commenter’s link and Pharyngula’s content?

    Yes, but that would involve paying someone to actually look at the context rather than just letting search engines loose over the entire internet.

    Is there some technical reason why good legislation that recognizes the difference between a site owner and a site commenter couldn’t be fashioned?

    There is no technical reason. There is a socio-economic reason — increased profits for those who fund campaigns.

  41. 41
    eric

    Ing and Trebuchet – okay, I get that there may not have been a lot of motivation the first time around to write good legislation when sloppy legislation would do (for industry’s purposes).

    But, given the public’s backlash and the amount of money piracy involves, industry spending a few g’s or even a few mil to craft good legislation for their congresscritters is a no-brainer. To not do so seems ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ Spend a mil or two now to come up with a solution that preserves free speech and copyright…make billions on it down the road.

    I guess that’s where I’m stuck – if good legislation would be as easy to craft as I think, why haven’t we done it? Conclusion: I must be missing something and it must not be that easy to craft.

  42. 42
    electric

    @eric

    The problem is that the bill appears to require site operators to actively monitor user-submitted content for copyright infringement. That would be a much greater burden than the current system of operators being required to remove infringing content when it is reported, and a little bit of infringing material might be enough to show they aren’t doing that job. We might end up with all user-submitted content being screened before it can be posted publicly, and since many sites do not have the manpower to do that, that would often mean they just stop accepting user content.

  43. 43
    carlie

    Tl:dr me – Givevn that the issue is that people want to use a product that a company produces, said company should be looking for every way possible to monetize that use, not throwing people in jail for using their product.

  44. 44
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Do it for the kittens

  45. 45
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    And wow, did I fuck up yet again. Sorry. That seems to be the one thing I really am good at.

  46. 46
    mus7

    Check who is in favour and who is against this new atempt of censorship:

    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3261/money

    Im not an american citizen, so i can´t do nothing (besides paoting the link above) against this SOPA/PIPA, but if you are an american citizen you can do something! Please, fight against this ill-conceived plan and help us all.

  47. 47
    lordshipmayhem

    Off topic: A new poll to pharyngulate, about the Jessica Ahlquist story.

    Do you think Cranston should appeal the prayer banner ruling?

    (And yes, I’m passing the word about SOPA/PIPA. For the kittens.)

  48. 48
    truthspeaker

    Alverant says:
    18 January 2012 at 9:04 am

    As I understand SOPA and PIPA is that both involve preventing “unauthorized” use of copywrited material. How would that affect this site?

    As the bills are written now, all someone has to do is complain to the Department of Justice that Pharyngula is hosting copyrighted material without authorization. They don’t have to provide evidence to support their claim, and the DoJ doesn’t have to give Free Thought Blogs an opportunity to respond before ordering DNS servers to delete all entries for all Free Thought Blogs sites and ordering search engines to remove Free Thought Blogs from search results.

  49. 49
    Trebuchet

    Eric:

    I guess that’s where I’m stuck – if good legislation would be as easy to craft as I think, why haven’t we done it? Conclusion: I must be missing something and it must not be that easy to craft.

    Your last few words have it in a nutshell: It’s NOT that easy. First, pols are not especially noted for their intelligence. Nor are RIAA & MPAA. And the public backlash is coming from the public, which is not where the pols money comes from. Not a huge segment of the public at that. Industrie’s motivation is to get the harshest possible law for the lowest possible price. That’s resulted in these bills, which are introduced by bought-and-paid-for politicians of both parties.

    That said, it seems likely that the bills will not pass as drafted, and changes will be made. At least I hope that’s the case.

  50. 50
    Alverant

    It seems to me there’s another way SOPA can be used for censorship. Say I run a blog that reviews things (movies, games, restaurants, etc) well sometimes that involves putting up screenshots. Now say I give something a well-deserved bad review and post pictures or text to prove my point. Well the owners can shut down the whole site in retaliation even though under normal circumstances this would be covered under fair use, and being just one person I can’t afford the time or effort to fight the law. So SOPA can be used to censor unpopular opinions.

    On this site AiG could complain about pictures of their place being used against them (say PZ riding a dinosaur). Thanks to those who clairfied it for me.

  51. 51
    Michael Zeora

    @eric (#41)

    The problem is that at this stage in the game, the “good” that this legislation brings is not the same “good” for the American People – or any free persons.

    First and foremost SOPA and PIPA do more than just “protect copyright” as it’s clearly seen it could be used to quash any rebel thought on the Internet by mere assumption.

    Digital Piracy is currently a crime, but let’s really examine if it’s a crime or that industries effected by such need to change how things are done. Someone acquired the source data somehow (be it bootleg, DVD, leaked CD tracks, etc…) and placed it online to be shared. From there others copy the data that was shared and share that over and over again. No actual loss of product.

    Where the crime could be considered is how one considers Information. Is information a comity that can be priced and sold? If it is just a comity then any “unauthorized” sharing of said information is a crime. If that’s the case do you just draw the line at a “copy” of a movie or song? or how about anyone who is caught retelling the story? (or singing the song)

    One way Industries have tried to “fix” that is by going with DRM (Digital Rights Management) which so far, has either been compromised by crackers (internet term, look it up) and wholly skipped over by those who Pirate.

    the DMCA was crafted to shut down “warez” sites like that, and for the most part it worked, forcing things further underground, but it didn’t stop anyone really.

    It also destroys how Americans do Justice Plantiff brings case, has to prove that case is valid, and make said case seem like it’s the only way things went down while Defense doesn’t have to do squat, but they can rebuttle if they wish. That’s how things are normally done. But this would but a “Burden of Proof” on the Defense… once it starts getting applied to one area of law, it’ll have a natural “mission creep” into other parts.

    Note: I could be wrong, I’m glad to be found wrong… BUT either way SOPA and PIPA are horrid, but let’s not forget about the other one OPEN that might do things just as badly.

  52. 52
    Ingdigo Jump

    But, given the public’s backlash and the amount of money piracy involves, industry spending a few g’s or even a few mil to craft good legislation for their congresscritters is a no-brainer. To not do so seems ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’ Spend a mil or two now to come up with a solution that preserves free speech and copyright…make billions on it down the road.

    The fact that they are not willing to spend their own money for such defenses seems to indicate that they themselves realize it is NOT cost effective to go after the piracy. They want someone else to pay the cost for it. The question is whether it is a cost that justifies action.

    Car crashes kill people. You can build a car as safe as a tank. You could not SELL any of those tanks. Ergo the industry does not make them.

    Walmart COULD hire an armed guard…or they could hire a greater. Note how much more lenient and resigned to costs of operations businesses are when it’s THEM who have to do the work?

  53. 53
    madtom1999

    I hope it gets passed. Not because I feel the bill is in anyway honest, just or sensible but because its mere threat has revealed just how dangerous the current setup is.
    When you consider that, with the bill, a mere company in the US can destroy businesses world wide on a whim and then consider the possible contenders for the US presidency it soon becomes clear that something MUST be done to take that power away from the US and make the web more globally controlled.
    The bill would not only be self defeating but would put the world on a safer footing.

  54. 54
    Ingdigo Jump

    To go with my metaphor in shop lifting. Anti-shop lifting measures actually don’t do much to prevent shop lifting. They deter shop lifting by playing on natural empathy and paranoia.

    You’re greeted at the door to put a human face on the business

    You’re informed you’re being watched by big cameras

    You’re told they can detect shop lifting by the big magnetic arches.

    But if you’ve ever had the chance to see sales people are very reluctant to actually search anyone who sets off the alarm, they more often presume a false positive or just don’t bother. cameras may catch you but most likely you’ll be long gone before anyone spots it or reviews the tape and the greeter is just an old dude so you can ignore them!

    What all that does do is deter the idea of shoplifting. It convinces people that they can’t do it or shouldn’t do it or would be caught and punished.

    What the industry seems intent on doing is NONE of that. People are well aware there’s too many fish and too little nets to be caught, the punishments are harsh but their examples came across as petty and cruel. They’re engaging in mass punishment and sabatogue of other businesses. They’re doing the opposite of what a greeter is supposed to do. They are dehumanizing themselves and making themselves look like greedy, cruel, bastards who want to shit on everyone else. Rather than being an entertainment industry they are the scrooge like face opposing fun and entertainment. They make themselves victims that people are more likely to emotionally justify harming.

  55. 55
    Gregory Greenwood

    Denephew Ogvorbis, OM @ 40;

    I have no problem owning up to my mistake when I make one. Please do not imply a position I did not take. (And yes, I realize that after my idiocy last night I really have no right to complain.)

    Sorry, got my wires a bit crossed there. My mistake.

  56. 56
    woodsong

    Here’s another petition:

    http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/internet_censorship/

    I’ll add my name to any and all petitions I see–between SOPA/PIPA and the Research Works Act that PZ was blogging about Monday, good-bye to research and entertainment online!

  57. 57
    ibyea

    @madtom
    And the fallout afterwards would just be “collateral damage”, wouldn’t it? Any positive to come out of it would be completely overwhelmed by all the bad stuff.

  58. 58
    Ingdigo Jump

    Oh also the idea that pirates=/= their own customers is moronic.

  59. 59
    Matt Penfold

    But if you’ve ever had the chance to see sales people are very reluctant to actually search anyone who sets off the alarm, they more often presume a false positive or just don’t bother.

    I remember that when I was at university a shop a local record shop had a system that was set off by books borrowed from the university library. They never switched the system off, or changed it the entire time I was, and I also never once saw them do anything when the alarm was set off. The staff just ignored it.

  60. 60
    eric

    Ing: To go with my metaphor in shop lifting. Anti-shop lifting measures actually don’t do much to prevent shop lifting. They deter shop lifting by playing on natural empathy and paranoia.

    But faced with shoplifting and other tracking problems, industry developed extremely cheap RFID tags. A solution pratically everyone is fine with.

    Look, I agree SOPA/PIPA is a cure worse than the disease. I am struggling to understand why no cure better than the disease has yet been presented, when it seems pretty easy and obvious to me: identify, track, and go after pirated-material distributors rather than the innocent web sites they try to sabotage. This is the internet, not 1850s Deadwood. A person comes to a web site, drops material into a comment, and leaves, it is trivially easy to distinguish between them and the site-owner, and it is trivially easy to track them down via account or ISP information. Am I wrong in this?

  61. 61
  62. 62
    ricardodivali having sniffles over stiffles

    @ricardodivali
    Couple of problems with that:
    1) Like the USG would actually give a fuck and
    2) As if all of our own govts wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon after 5 minutes.

    The US would give a fuck when money meant for them suddenly disappears because no one wants to do business through America. Not to mention they would be indirectly involved in any lawsuits.

    It’s one thing to oppress your own people, it’s quite another to have another country doing it. Which is what this will become. The problem is, until the other countries see the chaos this will cause, they won’t “get it”. To the politicians it just looks like a load of people whining that lolcats might disappear.

    Plus, frankly, I just love the chaos of it. It will really reveal just how internet dependent our culture has become. Or not.

  63. 63
    electric

    @eric Sorry I misunderstood you before. Regarding tracking down releasers, as opposed to the site they use, any site they might use would need to record the IP address and time a post was made. Although most sites do, it is not necessary for them to record that information. If we made a law that required they do so, the problems would be that (1) Perpetrators could still hide their identity from the site by using proxies, VPNs, or other anonymizing services and (2) Sites outside the US would not be bound by the law, and without some censorship mechanism, they would still be accessible in the US.

  64. 64
    Ingdigo Jump

    But faced with shoplifting and other tracking problems, industry developed extremely cheap RFID tags. A solution pratically everyone is fine with.

    Note that the RFID tags were their own solution and didn’t affect other industries

    also as I said before, they don’t really stop shoplifting, they deter it.

  65. 65
    kreativekaos

    Eric @ #60:

    That’s what I was wondering. Aren’t IP addresses/account or computer info recorded in some way with practically any or all electronic communications over the internet? Aren’t these same tools and techniques used to track and locate other areas of ‘malfeasance’ and criminal behavior such as online predators, child pornographers, scams, etc., etc.????? (Though I see the point ING and others have made in terms of why they would engineer a ‘scorched earth policy’ with regard to piracy.)

  66. 66
    Ingdigo Jump

    That’s what I was wondering. Aren’t IP addresses/account or computer info recorded in some way with practically any or all electronic communications over the internet? Aren’t these same tools and techniques used to track and locate other areas of ‘malfeasance’ and criminal behavior such as online predators, child pornographers, scams, etc., etc.?????

    Yes you’ve noticed those laws have totally stopped scams and kiddy porn right?

    Same issue. Except here the Gov seems to be saying “well we can live with SOME kiddy porn…but not piracy!”

  67. 67
    electric

    Oh, and I’m not saying I would support a law like that, as I think it would have some problems with the violating the privacy of the users, but I was responding to the question regarding the technical problems of tracking people down.

  68. 68
    eric

    electric: okay, thank you for that answer. I knew I had to be missing something. The answer then is no, one’s electronic ‘trace’ is not necessarily indelibly recorded and not necessarily trivially easy to track.

    Your (1) seems to me a “normal” legal problem; domestic identity hiding is something I think regular law could deal with (we just need the i-equivalent to ‘no masks in banks’). But (2) seems tough to solve. And 1+2= foreign anonymizers/proxies, also tough.

  69. 69
    kreativekaos

    I see your point ING….

  70. 70
    dianne

    Check who is in favour and who is against this new atempt of censorship:

    On the “in favor” list: Elsevier. Why am I not surprised?

  71. 71
    Alverant

    #64 @We Are Ing
    One other difference is that the punishment for shoplifting is a lot less than downloading a movie via torrent. One gets you a small fine and one can get you prison time. You could be fined $50k for copying a $20 DVD but you won’t be fined a quarter million for stealing $100 running shoes.

  72. 72
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Alverant

    There’s a very big power gradient problem here that is endemic in our legal system and seems to be THE underlying issue.

    Laws to regulate business to protect consumers or employees? Eschewed, kerfuffled and debated with concerns on how they’ll affect business

    Laws to regulate consumers to protect business? Concerns about the effect on citizens are dismissed with the assurance that “we’ll be honest”. Senators brag about how little they know about the issue.

    The priorities here show that they are far more comfortable with the idea of a video of a kid being raped bouncing around the net, then the idea of the same kid seeing Totoro without paying his 20 bucks.

  73. 73
    unclefrogy

    the stupidity and short sightedness of people is astounding.
    to a large degree the economical system as it operates today is dependent for its success and prosperity on the structure and function of the internet as it is today. The internet now includes also the function of the cellphone networks and land line phone networks and television programing and movie distribution. All business requires the function to continue. All control schemes to re-create walled gardens have failed, all “easy” solutions devised to make profits secure against change and control access by the vested interests have failed and I see no reason to think that it will be different this time when and if the laws as proposed get enacted now or some time later under new names and rational. They will be renamed and re-written and reconfigured and re-framed and resubmitted of that I have no doubt. We will be back here again.

    here is something I came across that may be one of the ways the control strategies will fail/

    today in the real world, privacy advocates, pirates, anarchists, outlaws, drug cartels and others have developed their own private networks called darknets to move their information around the globe in furtherance of their own interests.

    http://penumbralreport.com/2012/01/04/darknet-rising-a-private-secure-and-anonmyous-meshnet-is-emerging/

    uncle frogy

  74. 74
    Ingdigo Jump

    And the question isn’t being asked. SHOULD something be done about it? Is it incurring enough of a cost to justify it. My argument is that the industry sure as hell seems to think that it’s not so bad as to justify THEM spending money…but the Gov doing it and shitting all over everyone else business is A-OK.

    Other businesses pay for their own anti-theft tags.

  75. 75
    Ingdigo Jump

    Side note: how come the free market nuts are never ok with this? Why shouldn’t new technology cause a change in the paradigm? If more piracy means less movies, then clearly the market demands there be less movies. The market will adjust. Maybe they’ll have more incentive to make the movies they do make suck less.

    Why do we have to protect an industry that was profitable in the past against a loss in future profits, simply because it was profitable in the past. Wouldn’t that make them a quasi-aristocracy?

  76. 76
    Ingdigo Jump

    Further point: Considering how the internet is the major competitor with the movie and TV for providing entertainment to consumers…should we not be concerned over whether the negative ‘side effects’ aren’t actually intentional?

  77. 77
    Maureen Brian

    Given the long and colourful history of the US’s difficulty – that’s government and corporations – in recognising that anyone else has copyright or other intellectual property rights, this could have been a comedy script.

    Once wikipedia is up again we can all research that story – starting with basmati rice or Charles Dickens, as you wish. Even Benjamin Franklin is not innocent: he was much complained of for printing rip-off copies of European books still in copyright on that famous press in Philadelphia.

    (England has had copyright in printed material since the fifteenth century but Dickens was still campaigning for the US to recognise it when he died.)

    But for now a little news story from NPR – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5300359 – and just think on! Under these new laws, Disney who finally paid up the most could get the NPR site shut down on the pretext that a 2/3 minute news item includes copyright material. Bloody daft.

  78. 78
    kreativekaos

    “Laws to regulate business to protect consumers or employees? Eschewed, kerfuffled and debated with concerns on how they’ll affect business

    Laws to regulate consumers to protect business? Concerns about the effect on citizens are dismissed with the assurance that “we’ll be honest”. Senators brag about how little they know about the issue.” — ING @ #72

    Well stated sir,..well stated.

  79. 79
    kreativekaos

    Thinking ahead and assuming the passage of this bill for a moment, does anyone have a rough idea of what options the internet community might be contemplating to circumvent its effects (if not to actually get it repealed)?

    (I’m assuming the worst here–it’s hard not to do so in today’s political environment.)

  80. 80
    Pteryxx

    Anec/rant time:

    Back in the day when Napster was brand new (not the bought-paidfor-rebranded version, the original peer-to-peer music sharing) a bunch of us early adopters crafted a business proposal for it. This was when mp3s were new, before broadband was a thing; before iTunes, before Netflix, before mp3 players, before internet radio. We proposed to the music labels: Let us pay subscription fees for the service we’re already using for free. We’re using our own computers and connections, it costs the labels nothing. Track the songs we keep and how we found them; how we searched the folders that other users made available, by genre, by mood, by keyword, by custom-made user soundtracks for gaming, for roleplaying, for relaxing. Track how certain songs gain popularity after being featured on a TV commercial or local terrestrial radio. Allocate our subscription fees every week or every month according to the number of downloads of a given song. Nothing will be out-of-print anymore, every artist from biggest to least gets their money, and you’ll have all the consumer data you could ever want.

    Guess how well that went over. *sigh*

    Most of those features we proposed are common now – sales of DRM-free mp3s, online music communities, playlists and streaming radio. Every single one of them has come about because of music fans’ money and demand, and in spite of the copyright industry’s threats, intimidation, lies and extortion. Youtube videos have “purchase this song” links because of fans like us. Streaming radio still exists in spite of efforts to legislate it out of existence, because of fans like us. Anime, Doctor Who, and Brony conventions thrive because of internet sources that feed fans like us.

    TL;DR Copyright companies have been cutting their own throats to spite media fans for a long time. Don’t be so surprised.

    (Back then, I dedicated two days of dial-up access to pulling a Metallica song that I hate and never listen to, just to flip them off. I still have it to this day.)

  81. 81
    unclefrogy

    I also doubt that copyright of the entertainment content is all that is going on here. In addition this approach is seen as a way to stop wikileakes and other “whistle blower” sights the Hollywood lobby is just window dressing like the always used threat of online child pornography, it sounds high minded and who can go against it but the proposed law will do nothing at all for the “problem of internet piracy” except to require a few more mouse clicks. the real purpose I believe is for the furtherance and growth of secrecy and the security state.
    for which censorship is a prime weapon.
    as has been pointed out above the industry sees no reason to solve the problem themselves so finds it expedient to enlist anti-democratic forces in their efforts to maximize profits for ever.
    uncle frogy
    uncle frogy

  82. 82
    Krasnaya Koshka

    carlie @ 31:

    “Yep. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been willing to pay actual money for a video or piece of music but literally can’t because the distributors won’t release it in my country, or in a timely fashion, or in a format I can’t access or use. If they put their efforts into making their own content the most convenient and best experience use of their content, they’d be a lot better off than trying to keep everyone from having it in the first place.”

    This is exactly right! SOOO many times I try to look up how to BUY music in Russia but I can’t buy music in Russia. No-one can BUY it (not when it’s new). I had to buy Kate Bush from Amazon.com, have it sent to my mom, and pick it up from her in December. Most Russians don’t have a mom conveniently living in Arizona, retired and available for receiving Amazon packages. What do Russians do? They bootleg.

    EVERY DVD/CD store around here sells (mostly) bootlegs. When I ask them about it they say, “We can’t afford the licenses.” Movies are sold on DVD in Russia while they’re still in the theater in America (for $3, generally) BUT they’re unpopular because they’re poor quality. Most people wait for the licensed release. Sad for them, then, that most are never released here.

    And young bucks here always, always say they can pirate anything they want all the time but the quality is horrendous and most often the language is garbled. They’re full of bravado and shit. I have yet to see a young “techno-hacker” achieve the quality of a decent DVD.

    Don’t get me started on PC games. The bane of my Russian existence.

  83. 83
    siaran

    I’ve been lurking here for a while now. Just wanted to say that, most of what’s wrong with SOPA/PIPA has already been mentioned upthread, I think, but I came across this article yesterday. I thought it also brings up an interesting point, and one that’s not often seen in these discussions, so I’m just putting it out here.

    It really shows that the people who wrote this thing just don’t understand how the internet works at all on a technical level.

  84. 84
    JJ831

    IMO SOPA/PIPA would do very little to stifle piracy. Time and time again, the RIAA and MPAA try something new to stop piracy, and all it does is spark the community to come together and work around it. Sony’s no-copy CD’s\DVD’s (sharpie!), the Napster affair (spwaned a ton of P2P networks), Pirate Bay (hmmm still seem to be up and running), DCMA (obvious silencing tactic) – they’ve all failed miserably and created more hatred for the RIAA and MPAA.

    I’ve noticed that over the last few years, as services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes etc. have become the norm, a LOT less people are reaching out to pirated material, and the community as a whole has slipped a bit more underground. As a white hat hacker myself, this bill enraged me to the point where that white hat may come off…

  85. 85
    siaran

    Aaaand, I just noticed this firefox addon . It may be just a proof of concept, but still. It kind of makes a point. A rather sharp one, in my opinion.

  86. 86
    unclefrogy

    ing: Considering how the internet is the major competitor with the movie and TV for providing entertainment to consumers
    —–
    the internet is being portrayed that way but “the internet” does not produce any content itself it is a distribution channel. all the media producers use it extensively
    so if it competes it is only in distribution. not unlike the conflict from earlier days of the sheet music publishers had with the recording industry which later had a conflict with the broadcasting industry in the same way. The creators of the content were not then nor not now the ones primarily “wining or losing”
    it is one distribution model over another.
    now the creators are experiencing a lowering of cost to production which shows every indication of continuing thanks to the development of high quality digital equipment and software.
    Are we really going to enforce one distribution model protection plan?

    uncle frogy

  87. 87
    JJ831

    Uncle Frogy
    “The creators of the content were not then nor not now the ones primarily “wining or losing” it is one distribution model over another.”

    There is one place where content producers loose (at the moment) – add revenue. I need to find my sources on this, but I do believe that companies are not willing to pay nearly as much for online commercials (like on Hulu) versus TV. So, the TV industry see’s content broadcast on TV much more lucrative than over the internet.

  88. 88
    JJ831

    *lose

  89. 89
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Why do we have to protect an industry that was profitable in the past against a loss in future profits, simply because it was profitable in the past.

    Like the oil companies? The coal companies?

  90. 90
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Denephew

    Exactly. So much is made about the evils of socialism people clearly forget there’s an equal and uglier opposite of …fuck what would you call it? Plutocracy? Corporatism? The people who bitch the most about tax breaks for corporations and fellate the free market don’t seem to realize the problem with protecting corporations for the sake of having them. They’re putting the breaks on progress. I mean…how can it be a capitalist free market of any sense when people can’t comprehend the possibility of say Ford not existing anymore due to the free market or changes in technology?

  91. 91
    Merit of the Badgers

    Thinking ahead and assuming the passage of this bill for a moment, does anyone have a rough idea of what options the internet community might be contemplating to circumvent its effects (if not to actually get it repealed)?

    Move out of the country and to one that’s less autocratic.

    You can maybe circumvent the DNS blocking by using a different DNS server, assuming your ISP doesn’t intercept DNS requests, and this will let you see foreign-hosted, blocked websites. However, from what I can gather, US-hosted websites will simply be blocked altogether (their ISPs will have to cut them off). US search engines and other US sites will also have to delist the site, which will mean people won’t even know to find it.

  92. 92
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Froggy

    The MPAA is a backer of the bill isn’t it? What competes with movie theaters?

  93. 93
    Ingdigo Jump

    US search engines and other US sites will also have to delist the site, which will mean people won’t even know to find it.

    Could tech people start complying a list of addresses themselves to host in an overseas server that then can be searched to get a similar effect?

  94. 94
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    As I understand SOPA and PIPA is that both involve preventing “unauthorized” use of copywrited material. How would that affect this site? AFAIK religious text aren’t owned by anyone so we’re free to quote it and news is also public domain.

    These are still horrible laws that give too much power to businesses and basically prevent anyone from fighting them. But would someone politely explain how they would lead to this site shutting down?

    Because there’s no review process, appeal process, or other checks and balances built in to ensure that the claims of unauthorized use of copyrighted material are factual?

    I mean, for fuck’s sake, “pull my finger.”

  95. 95
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Am I missing something here? Is there some technical reason why good legislation that recognizes the difference between a site owner and a site commenter couldn’t be fashioned?

    Yeah, you’re being insanely naive about the actual purpose of this legislation.

  96. 96
    Merit of the Badgers

    Could tech people start complying a list of addresses themselves to host in an overseas server that then can be searched to get a similar effect?

    For foreign sites, I don’t see why not.

    However, Americans are basically screwed one way or the other. You can’t even pay for foreign hosting, because SOPA also bans payment processors from working with you if you’ve been accused of infringement.

    Of course this will lead to data centers and high-tech businesses will move out of the US. That whole “job creators” thing is great rhetoric, so long as you’re talking about the ones who are funding your campaign.

  97. 97
    hyoid

    Two steps forward. One step back.

  98. 98
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Shoplifting is a problem, it costs merchants.

    Of course, shoplifting involves taking a scarce physical good that costs money to produce. I’m highly skeptical of claims that filesharing and the like costs the industry money on average, or that it would if the industry weren’t trying extremely hard to make people not want to give them money (selling of pirated content is another matter, insofar as people who download something to try it out and then buy it, who wouldn’t have bothered otherwise, aren’t likely to want to buy something twice). As far as I can tell it’s really about control, not money.

  99. 99
    Lycanthrope

    Good on FTB for bringing this to their readership’s attention so dramatically. I wish there was more I could do, but I’m not a US citizen.

  100. 100
    unclefrogy

    let me clarify myself a little.
    I am making a distinction between the “producers” the big studios and the artists that actually produce the works themselves. in the music industry it used to require an expensive studio with very expensive equipment $100K or more to record a high quality multi-track recording and a vast record distribution system to get the musicians (the creator) music out to the people that wanted to listen to it. That is no longer the case anyone can now do that for less than the cost of a late model used car.

    the same is becoming true for movies the big studios are not the ones that make the content they do not write the script, act the parts, shoot the pictures nor edit the final version they pay for it. Because the cost has been so high and the distribution channel has been narrow and controlled by them that has been the only reliable way to get things made. That is beginning to change. It has been demonstrated by some that it is possible to now produce content and distribute it to the public and make a lot of money without utilizing any big studio resources at all. are we really going to use the excuse of protecting artistic production to pass laws that will not prevent this change from taking place nor media piracy and only temporarily shore up the big studios at the cost of another small bit of freedom?

    uncle frogy

  101. 101
    Kagehi

    But if you’ve ever had the chance to see sales people are very reluctant to actually search anyone who sets off the alarm, they more often presume a false positive or just don’t bother.

    Actually, they *can’t* bother. At my job they have lost quite a sum of money in stolen DVDs over the last week (over $1,000). We have been told to basically, “watch more carefully and call the cops if we spot someone.” One of the two thieves did get caught at it, the other didn’t. But, when it comes to dealing with them, we can – 1. Report it to the manager. When it comes to what they can do about it – 1. Report it to the cops. 2. Ask nicely for the person to give the “visible” stuff back, and stay on premises, while the cops show up.

    Unless one of the *rare* security experts is doing an audit, no one is trained, or authorized, to actually stop the person, search them, etc.

    The things that is even stupider about it is that maybe 15 years ago we have more people working, including 1-2 sales floor people. We didn’t even, until a lawsuit, have someone specifically tracking if the floors where clean of spills and such, and while we have one now, they are only required to be out there for about 10 minutes an hour, to provide legal coverage to the companies ass, in case someone fall down on something “in between”. They may be several managers on, during the day, but *they* are all either in meetings, in the back, or one an aisle some place, stocking shelves, or, worse, if it gets busy enough, on a check stand, since we don’t keep all of them open, except of really busy weekends. So.. You have 8 people in line, every check stand open, every clerk bagging, all departments busy with their own customers, and all of the management is either helping bag, or helping check, and someone goes right up to the videos, starts opening cases, and stealing the contents, because no one working at the store has time to pay attention, and all the people in line, no more than 2 feet from them, are too busy trying to decide if they forgot someone they where shopping for, or wondering why the lines are so long.

    All a good shoplifter needs to do is wait for everyone to be distracted. Mind, if they did get caught on camera, their faces will be known, at least to “management”. Doesn’t stop them coming in later, and pulling the same thing, when the only manager is wandering around the back of the store, and the other employees have no damn clue who they should be watching out for (and can’t do anything about anyway. I mean, what, page the manager, and wait 5 minutes for them to show up, or go looking for them, leaving the perp free to steal what ever they like and run?).

    As for the stupid door sensors.. We haven’t ever had them, but I know from experience that the reason they get ignored is that people a) forget to deactivate the ID tags in stuff people have bought, or b) the tags fail to deactivate, so probably 80% of the times they go off is due to false positives. If most of your events are false positives anyway, the people that are supposed to be determining what is going on are *not* going to bother.

    As to these moron bills. Seems to me its even dumber than mentioned. Say I personally wrote something, or did some of the art for something, or whatever, and I am allowed to post what I myself created. I go some place with a pseudonym, but some other ass from the same place doesn’t know I use it. Now, someone else gets their ass in a sling, for what I legitimately posted. Its going to cost them money to fight it, possibly even if there is no legit ground to continue the case, and they lose any revenue, etc., for the time the site is down, while it gets sorted out. Bloody idiotic.

    And, yeah, its not just thieves, scammers, pedos, etc. looking at darknets. With this stupid shit going on, *everyone* is, because they see the writing on the wall, and the answer is becoming, “Screw you, if you want to harass people for theoretical violations, or even do an end run around legit use, then just try to do something about people dropping the existing system, in favor of one you can’t even easily track. And, then, try, with ubiquitous wireless use, to make wireless tech illegal for people that have been using it legitimately for years now as a ‘solution’ to having *no* control over the network, not just, ‘not enough for some companies personal tastes’.”

    Its right up there, in terms of logic, as trying to make roads illegal would be, because you don’t like where some cars are driven, or who, and what, they carry in them. After all, if you want to stop illegal trafficking, it makes perfect sense to just close entire roads, to all traffic, so you can spend 3-4 months futility searching them from contraband, on the basis that “one of them” weeks earlier was carrying a pirated CD. There is just no possible way that the real thieves will a) use other roads, b) just change where they ship to, c) use different transportation, or d) laugh their asses off at how many people you harass, or inconvenience, or even bankrupt, for no reason, trying to catch one legit pirate, who was merely *using* the road, not the owner of it.

    The people pushing this stuff are not just clueless about how things work, they are complete idiots.

  102. 102
    eric

    Thinking ahead and assuming the passage of this bill for a moment, does anyone have a rough idea of what options the internet community might be contemplating to circumvent its effects (if not to actually get it repealed)?

    Remember that the ‘sabotage’ potential depends on allowing people to post to your site, and them posting illegal stuff. Which suggests the following options (using PZ as an example):
    -PZ starts a new site with no commenting. A commenting site that moves regularly is set up elsewhere. PZ’s site is thus immune to sabotage, since nobody can post links to hollywood movies on it.

    -Someone sets up a “blog sites I like to visit” site with no commenting. Just a list of other sites. Or maybe just instrutions on how to get to those other sites. Again, no commenting means the content can’t be sabotaged (at least not except by explicit hacking). Yeah, the US government could try an iterative argument, i.e., say a blog that tells you how to visit an illegal site is itself illegal, but frankly, there are all sorts of things the USG allows that would be equivalent to that. How many ‘how to build a bomb’ manuals are floating around out there? So I doubt they’d shut down plaintext sites with content like that.

  103. 103
    timberwoof

    If SOPA passes, I suggest this course of action: Log on to the web sites of every congresscritter who voted for it. On the comments area, post fair-use quotations from some copyrighted analysis of the effects of the SOPA legislation. Then complain to The Authorities that copyrighted material has been illegally posted on the web site, and get that congresscritter’s web site shut down. Do the same for every on-line newspaper that carried an article in favor of SPOA. (I recommend being in Canada or Australia or some other civilized country to do this, for it will surely become illegal very quickly to do that to a congresscritter.) It may even be worthwhile to produce and post on YouTube a presentation for this specific purpose.

  104. 104
    Gregory Greenwood

    We Are Ing @ 99;

    Exactly. So much is made about the evils of socialism people clearly forget there’s an equal and uglier opposite of …fuck what would you call it? Plutocracy? Corporatism?

    You are right on the money here. When I was younger, I first began to realise that democratic government wasn’t some magic panacea to all social ills when it dawned on me that, in practical terms, many modern democratic societies are not really ‘for, by and of the people’ at all – far from operating in the best interests of the public as the old social contract would suggest, many modern democratic governments (and this is in many ways as true of UK governance as that in the US) are effectively bought and paid for by powerful corporate interest. They dance to the tune of influencial lobbyists who have the money and broader economic clout to skew elections and set policy almost by fiat at times.

    The dirty laundry that came to light after the fall from grace of the former Minister of Defence, Liam Fox, demonstrated just how far the rot ran in the UK system – corporate lobbyists have many times the level of access to government ministers that social activist groups do, and wining and dining (and possibly otherwise ‘incentivising’) government officials was apparently far from uncommon.

    It increasingly seems to be the case that, whoever the ordinary citizens vote for, the same interests of the same organisations and rich individuals are protected by basically the same means. It is hardly in the spirit of participatory democracy, but it seems that even more effective than bread and circuses is fear when it comes to rendering the electorate compliant, and there are many ways to keep the public scared. Scary foreign terrorist boogeymen have been in vogue for a while, or so I hear. Perhaps cyber criminals/terrorsits and ‘hacktivists’ will come into fashion next…

  105. 105
    Evader, the parasite-infested branch on the evolutionary tree

    We need to make an army of internet lawyer killbots.

    Honestly if I has no internets I will die. This is not a matter of opinion, I can prove this on a home computer.

    :(

  106. 106
    Pteryxx

    Two articles on movies, movie theaters, and internet:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/nov/22/movie-fans-piracy-online

    Cory Doctorow:

    Here’s what ORG found: though close to 100% of their sample were available as DVDs, more than half of the top 50 UK films of all time were not available as downloads. The numbers are only slightly better for Bafta winners: just 58% of Bafta best film winners since 1960 can be bought or rented as digital downloads (the bulk of these are through iTunes – take away the iTunes marketplace, which isn’t available unless you use Mac or Windows, and only 27% of the Bafta winners can be had legally).

    And while recent blockbusters fare better, it’s still a patchwork, requiring the public to open accounts with several services to access the whole catalogue (which still has many important omissions).

    But even in those marketplaces, movies are a bad deal – movie prices are about 30% to 50% higher when downloaded over the internet versus buying the same movies on DVDs. Some entertainment industry insiders argue that DVDs, boxes and so forth add negligible expense to their bottom line, but it’s hard to see how movie could cost less on physical DVDs than as ethereal bits, unless the explanation is price-gouging. To add insult to injury, the high-priced online versions are often sold at lower resolutions than the same movies on cheap DVDs.

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111228/COMMENTARY/111229973

    Roger Ebert:

    Box-office tracking shows that the bright spot in 2011 was the performance of indie, foreign or documentary films. On many weekends, one or more of those titles captures first-place in per-screen average receipts. Yet most moviegoers outside large urban centers can’t find those titles in their local gigantiplex. Instead, all the shopping center compounds seem to be showing the same few overhyped disappointments. Those films open with big ad campaigns, play a couple of weeks, and disappear.

    The myth that small-town moviegoers don’t like “art movies” is undercut by Netflix’s viewing results; the third most popular movie on Dec. 28 on Netflix was “Certified Copy,” by the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. You’ve heard of him? In fourth place–French director Alain Corneau’s “Love Crime.” In fifth, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”–but the subtitled Swedish version.

  107. 107
    Ichthyic

    I can’t say I’m a fan of the Cato Institute (considering I’ve ripped into them numerous times), but I was looking at alternatives proposed to the current legislation, and this guy summarized pretty much exactly what I was thinking:

    Focus on innovation instead!

    I suppose it helps he used to be an editor for Ars Technica, but still.

    Can anyone see a flaw in his reasoning or conclusions?

  108. 108
    Ichthyic

    circumvent its effects

    http://www.itworld.com/security/234677/here-are-few-ways-get-around-sopa-restrictions

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_to_get_around_sopa_if_it_ever_becomes_law.php

    and finally, a fix SO easy, you should do it, RIGHT NOW.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/desopa/

    a freaking add-on for Firefox!

    better grab those links before they get blacklisted…

  109. 109
    David Marjanović

    And while they’re rebuilding the infrastructure of the Internet, why, that’s a fine time to put the clamps on their own portion of the Internet. Or perhaps each country will set it up to different standards and the Internet might degenerate into a bunch of local networks that have difficulty communicating with each other.

    Unlikely. The EU would enforce a standard for its 27 member countries, and that standard would probably be adopted more widely.

    The scenario I’ve heard about is some commenter putting illegal material in a comment to get a site shut down. Someone more net-savvy than me is going to have to explain to me why, if this happened (under different and much more narrow legislation), the police couldn’t go after the commenter rather than the site. Is it that difficult to distinguish?

    But that’s it. The bill intends to make website owners responsible for everything anyone posts on their sites.

    On the “in favor” list: Elsevier. Why am I not surprised?

    HULK SMASH

    I tried to see if the other big commercial science publishers (Wiley, Informa, Springer, AAAP…) are also there. Ironically, the site is on strike.

    Two steps forward. One step back.

    No steps forward. Two steps back.

  110. 110
    Ichthyic

    btw, desopa comes default disabled (the right way), to enable it if you want to use it, hit view, and then toolbars, and then click to enable the add-on bar. the button for desopa will be in the lower right.

    It’s just proof of concept, really, but it does what it says it will: reroutes domain requests via independent IP servers that are located outside of the US.

    this, so that if a domain you like gets blacklisted by the US, you can still get to your website as if it hadn’t.

    pretty unneeded unless something like SOPA actually passes, but… best be prepared.

  111. 111
    rtflyback

    I hope PZ took some time to call his liberal superhero senator Al Franken, who is a sponsor of PIPA. Funny, if Obama were a supporter of SOPA/PIPA, we’d be reading rants about how this is proof he is a SECRET REPUBLICAN TOOL OF WALL STREEET BLARGH. But Al Franken gets a pass. I wonder why that is.

  112. 112
    Ichthyic

    Al Franken gets a pass

    probably because people are more focused on the legislation itself than who is supporting it?

    I really HIGHLY doubt that PZ, or anyone, intended to give any specific person “a pass” on this issue.

    In fact, the democratic legislator who originally cosponsored it has had his site shut down due to the overwhelming negative response he is receiving atm.

    so, your conspiracy theory is misplaced.

    bye.

  113. 113
    David Marjanović

    But that’s it. The bill intends to make website owners responsible for everything anyone posts on their sites.

    Including links to other sites with alleged copyright infringements on them.

    I had forgotten just how bad it is.

    But Al Franken gets a pass. I wonder why that is.

    How about the possibility that PZ simply didn’t know? After all, it’s really not something anyone would expect.

  114. 114
    echidna

    I’m a little shocked that Al Franken is supporting this. I thought he was one of the good, smart guys. This feels like a betrayal, although he clearly owes me nothing.

  115. 115
    Ichthyic

    I’m a little shocked that Al Franken is supporting this

    a lot of times, congressionals rely on their staffers advice.

    I’m guessing he got bad advice on this.

    It’s really not obvious to a lot of people who don’t understand how the internet really works that this would be a disaster, and Congressionals are no exception.

    I expect he’ll either drop support very soon, or else trade his support for a currently dead issue for favors on some other issue.

    that’s the way it works on the hill.

  116. 116
    a3kr0n

    I turned off my website too, and I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to turn it back on.

  117. 117
    hackerguitar

    Thanks for doing this today – it may help bring home the truth of a world where censorship is essentially at the whim of idiots like Rick Santorum or worse.

  118. 118
    Jafafa Hots

    In other news, the Supreme Court has just ruled that works already in the public domain can be re-copyrighted.

    Seriously.

    The upgrade to your new pay-per-view culture is now complete.

  119. 119
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I am outraged to discover that one of my Senators, Democrat Pat Leahy, wrote this bill! I’ve called both his and Bernie Sanders’ office to register my protest.

    This bill is due, partly, to the fact that Congress is still overwhelmingly stacked with old men who don’t understand the Internet (no, I’m not picking on old people as a class, just making a factual observation. I know not all older folks are clueless about computers, so you don’t need to tell me that). These men are from a generation that never even learned how to *type*—they’re used to having their secretaries “take a letter.” This is dangerous ignorance when it comes to bills addressing the Internet.

  120. 120
    alexmartin

    Nice preemptive propagandist smear-job.
    the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment. This left-of -center president furthered the scope of Patriot Act and recently signed the nefarious NDAA into law, reducing us to powerless vassals under permanent surveillance, and so too will THIS government push for wresting the last remaining voice of freedom (the internet) from the common man.

    After this Democrat president signs this scurrilous bit of legislation into law, by whatever name it will have be known under, slipped unnoticed into some routine funding bill or other such deceit in the dead of night, you’ll know exactly who to blame for stripping you of unregimented free speech, silencing any voice of dissent (as if you could ever muster such against your own), and rendering you deaf, dumb and blind cattle.

    What will the creationists have had to do with that?

  121. 121
    Ichthyic

    For a variety of reasons, the works at issue, which are foreign and produced decades ago, became part of the public domain in the United States but were still copyrighted overseas. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.

    so it seems a ruling on specific foreign titles to bring them in line with the Berne treaty.

    still, there are literally MILLIONS of works covered by this.

  122. 122
    Jafafa Hots

    Alex, if you think Obama is left of center, you’re an idiot.

  123. 123
    Ichthyic

    This bill is due, partly, to the fact that Congress is still overwhelmingly stacked with old men who don’t understand the Internet

    ayup.

    think about all the other things they don’t understand…

  124. 124
    Dhorvath, OM

    I was wondering what Alex means by centre.

  125. 125
    Ichthyic

    I was wondering what Alex means by centre.

    probably has something to do with that large hole in the middle of his head.

  126. 126
    Koshka

    What will the creationists have had to do with that?

    Oh the persecution!

  127. 127
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    Here is a copy of what I am sending my Senator to urge against PIPA.

    I’m going to urge you to vote against the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bill. This bill would, with very little effort, cripple the internet.

    I enjoy having access to many, varied kinds of media. From parodies of songs or movies, to reviews of video games, e-books, forums, science, myth, original art, poetry, to people posting original music, and their performances, much of is, was, or will be copyrighted at some point in its lifespan.

    Yes, there is piracy on the internet. But this, this, high level censorship is not the way to mend it.

    Look to companies like Valve Software, who with their Steam platform and reasonable prices, have managed to be successful in many countries outside of the US.

    People pirate digital media when they feel they cannot afford the real thing, or when the pirates put out a better product than can be legally obtained.

    Further, there are many grey areas in this bill, what would happen to forums and blogs if a dissenter or troll decided to post copyrighted material, knowing full well it would get the site shut down?

    What would happen to small start up companies who are accused of using copyrighted material by a larger competitor?

    What would happen to dissent? People disagree. People disagree on other peoples websites all the time. Do we want an internet where a so-called ‘Flame War’ can result in a website being removed because one of the dissenters was petty enough to post copyrighted material?

    I say no.

    Yes, piracy is an issue, and yes, it must be dealt with, but this is not the way to do so.

    Thank you for your time,

    Rawnaeris

  128. 128
    consciousness razor

    Nice preemptive propagandist smear-job.

    It’s nice that you approve, but no one gives a fuck about your opinion.

    the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment.

    Either a deliberate lie or raving lunacy from a right-wing nutjob.

    [Redacted: Irrelevant nonsense and ignorant froth]

    After this Democrat president signs this scurrilous bit of legislation into law, by whatever name it will have be known under, slipped unnoticed into some routine funding bill or other such deceit in the dead of night,

    Assuming that happens….

    you’ll know exactly who to blame for stripping you of unregimented free speech, silencing any voice of dissent (as if you could ever muster such against your own), and rendering you deaf, dumb and blind cattle.

    Karl Marx? Brown people? Jews in Hollywood? Everyone in Congress who voted for it, including current sponsors like the following Senators:

    Alexander, Boozman, Chambliss, Cochran, Corker, Enzi, Graham, Grassley, Hatch, Isakson, Lieberman, McCain, Risch, and Vitter?

    And these Representatives:

    Amodei, Blackburn, Bono, Carter, Chabot, Gallegly, Goodlatte, Griffin, P. King, Marino, Nunnelee, Scalise

    Are they godless commies, one and all?

    What will the creationists have had to do with that?

    Indeed, why are you bringing up creationism at all? Because you’re a creationist nutjob and couldn’t think of a better way to troll?

  129. 129
    Gregory Greenwood

    alexmartin @ 120;

    Nice preemptive propagandist smear-job.

    On what basis is the observation that SOPA/PIPA could be employed by evangelists and creationsts to silence dissent on websites such as this one a “preemptive propagandist smear-job”? These laws most certainly could be used to shut down sites for reasons other than supposed copy right infringement, and it is not as though religious fundamentalists don’t have a history of pulling every dirty trick in the book. The scenario is not only reasonable, it is nigh inevitable, unless you wish to contend that creationists are paragons of fair play and open-minded debate all of a sudden….

    Tell me you don’t really believe that…

    the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment.

    There is a Democrat in the Whitehouse and a fair few Democrat Congress critters – I don’t think that this quite amounts to the same thing as ‘owning’ the government in a US style bicameral congressional system.

    This left-of -center president

    Your definition of the political centre is somewhat odd. From the perspective of a UK citizen, I can tell you that Obama’s politics would be considered right-of-centre over here, somewhat more right-leaning than that of our current Conservative dominated governing Coalition. As far as I can tell, his left-wing credentials are pretty weak even within the framework of US politics.

    This left-of -center president furthered the scope of Patriot Act and recently signed the nefarious NDAA into law, reducing us to powerless vassals under permanent surveillance, and so too will THIS government push for wresting the last remaining voice of freedom (the internet) from the common man.

    Would you concede that these are hardly the acts one would associate with a political progressive? If so, why inlude remarks about the supposedly left-wing character of these actions? Surely you aren’t seriously suggesting that a Republican administration wouldn’t have gone this far and further? After all, wasn’t the repugnant Patriot Act (not to mention the abominable Guantanomo Bay detention centre and the not-at-all-torture ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ business) originally the misbegotten creation of the Republican Bush/Cheney administration?

    you’ll know exactly who to blame for stripping you of unregimented free speech, silencing any voice of dissent (as if you could ever muster such against your own)

    Who exactly are “our own”? In case you hadn’t noticed, Pharyngula is an atheist website with a large and diverse commentariat. Leaving aside the fact that many regulars, myself included, are not even American citizens, we are not even all atheists (there are several agnostics and even a few theists that comment regularly). The political spectrum represented here covers the gamut from hard-left to at least centre-right. We are hardly the monolithic Leftist hivemind you appear to think us to be. It is not as though Obama has gotten anything like a free ride here, as you would now if you had been readong this blog for any length of time.

    …and rendering you deaf, dumb and blind cattle.

    This is going a little far, don’t you think? These bills have not been passed into law yet, and if you read the thread I will think you will find that there is not exactly a groundswell of support for the legislation here – it is not as though we are sleep walking toward this. People are writing to their representatives and Congress people and registering their oppoositions via petitions. Protests such like those organised by Occupy Wall Street (another predominantly left-wing group protesting against the policies of this Democrat adminsitration) will likely follow if necessary. They are employing all legal, democratic means to fight these at best ill-conceived, and at worst dangerous, laws. What more do you think should be done?

    What will the creationists have had to do with that?

    Creationists have likely had little to do with the drafting of these bills (that was largely influenced by powerful media corporations), and may have little to do with their possible passage into law. However, if their prior behaviour is any guide, it is very likley that they will try to use these laws to shut down websites that provide a rational counter to their unevidenced claims and that highlight their unconsitutional attempts to shoehorn their religious beliefs into science classrooms.

    These laws are open to all manner of abuse by a variety of groups. It is a matter of debate whether this is intentional or due to poor draftsmanship, but as the bills stand they amount to an easy backdoor route to political, social and cultural censorship, and that is the principle reason why they need to be opposed by everyone who values personal freedom and net-neutrality.

  130. 130
    johns

    POLL

    http://nation.foxnews.com/war-religion/2012/01/17/court-jesus-prayers-can-be-banned

    Court: ‘Jesus’ Prayers Can Be Banned

    Offensive 86 Versus Inspiring 10

  131. 131
    carlie

    In other news, the Supreme Court has just ruled that works already in the public domain can be re-copyrighted.

    Yeah, I just saw that. So does that apply to generic drugs, too? Because Medicare is about to get a hella lot more expensive if it does.

  132. 132
    johns

    47. lordshipmayhem says:

    Off topic: A new poll to pharyngulate, about the Jessica Ahlquist story.

    http://www.providencejournal.com/

    Is it bad that I want them to appeal? Waste money and get smacked down by the court for the idiotic appeal.

  133. 133
    feralboy12

    Waste money and get smacked down by the court for the idiotic appeal.

    Yes, it is bad, when you remember whose money gets wasted and what it was actually budgeted for–education.

  134. 134
    WhiteHatLurker

    If SOPA had gone ahead, would sites that have bible quotes be closed down? Someone, somewhere has a copyright on a version of the bible, right?

    I guess that would also mean the end of the skeptic’s annotated bible, which is where I go for obscure scripture. (Okay, by and large, it’s all obscure, but hey …)

  135. 135
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) — Six U.S. lawmakers dropped their support for Hollywood-backed anti-piracy legislation as Google Inc., Wikipedia and other websites protest the measures.

    Co-sponsors who say they can no longer support their own legislation include Senators Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. Republican Representatives Ben Quayle of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, and Dennis Ross of Florida also said they would withdraw their backing of the House bill.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/six-us-lawmakers-abandon-anti-piracy-bills-as-google-protests/2012/01/18/gIQAzBHz8P_story.html

  136. 136
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    This bill is due, partly, to the fact that Congress is still overwhelmingly stacked with old men who don’t understand the Internet

    That internet thing, I hear it’s a series of tubes.

  137. 137
    Jafafa Hots

    Yeah, I just saw that. So does that apply to generic drugs, too? Because Medicare is about to get a hella lot more expensive if it does.

    That would be patent, not copyright. Patent IP law is fucked up in its own nasty ways, but at least the length of patent is not anywhere near as obscene as the length of copyright.

  138. 138
    Ichthyic

    That internet thing, I hear it’s a series of tubes.

    I heard it was more like a big truck…

    *snicker*

  139. 139
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    @Whoever said that Congress should make a more narrowly defined law targeting piracy, I’m not digging through over a hundred comments to find them

    No law will everstop, or even substantially slow, piracy. So long as the internet is here, piracy will be here with it, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Any law enacted in the name of fighting piracy is a law that will only serve to harm the innocent. It’s kind of like DRM, in that DRM is an annoyance for normal users, but completely ignored by pirates, who just download a cracked version that contains no DRM. SOPA will be the same, as sites like Piratebay use any of a hundred ways of circumventing it, while sites like FtB get crushed by a thousand false accusations.

    Of course, this all assumes that piracy is actually something that harms industry, which has pretty much never been shown to be true and is utterly ridiculous if you understand a damn thing about it. But whatever, let’s add more restrictions to freedom of speech, we’ve got invisible bugbears to hunt!

  140. 140
    Jafafa Hots

    Sur Shplane, I said years ago that in the internet age the only possible way to end copyright infringement (I refuse to use the BS propaganda term ‘piracy’ that the media cartels have pushed) through a global fascist state.

    When a 6 year old who hasn’t learned to tie his shoes yet can violate copyright without incurring any cost, using no materials, using no transport, taking nothing from the “owner,” – all with a single mouseclick, then the only way to stop it is to have the ability to monitor every 6 year old’s mouse clicks.

    Corporate greed had already killed the usefulness of the government invention of “limited” copyright before the net. The internet simply put the headstone on the grave.

  141. 141
    Jafafa Hots

    er… sir.

  142. 142
    Jafafa Hots

    Oh and I forgot to mention that that six year old can “manufacture” hundreds of thousands of copies with that one mouseclick.

  143. 143
    johns

    133. feralboy12 says:
    Yes, it is bad, when you remember whose money gets wasted and what it was actually budgeted for–education.

    Shame.

    How can these people be in charge of schools and make these idiotic decisions. Shouldn’t of gone to court in the first place.

  144. 144
    Ichthyic

    The internet simply put the headstone on the grave.

    so, then MPAA are in the business of making zombies…

    hey, that fits, given all the zombie movies and TV series of late!

  145. 145
    Jadehawk

    Once wikipedia is up again we can all research that story – starting with basmati rice or Charles Dickens, as you wish.

    or champagne…

    anyway, since we’re whining about stupid business decisions that drive people to pirate:

    Privateer Press and their manuals; if they’d sell them as pdfs, people would buy them. But they don’t, only as hardcopies; for which we, for example, have no room in our apartment.

    Honestly if I has no internets I will die. This is not a matter of opinion, I can prove this on a home computer.

    O.o

    it just occurred to me that if this passes, I may well be out of a job soon. While the sites I sell my work on are distributing content legally and try very hard to catch people who violate copyright, it actually happens occasionally that someone has a portfolio of stolen images, and is only caught by another contributor months down the line. So, the sites I’m doing business through do provide access to pirated content, because they don’t catch these people immediately. So they can be shut down under SOPA.

    *whine*

    But Al Franken gets a pass. I wonder why that is.

    just where do you get the delusion that this is the case? Over here, on the MN/ND border, the disappointment with Franken has been loudly discussed and his actions for this condemned, and those on the ND side have been urging those on the MN site to complain to him about this.

    In other news, the Supreme Court has just ruled that works already in the public domain can be re-copyrighted.

    what the fuck? how the fuck is this supposed to work? is anyone allowed to just declare right to a public domain item?
    what the fucking fuck?

    This bill is due, partly, to the fact that Congress is still overwhelmingly stacked with old men who don’t understand the Internet

    QFT. it’s “the internet is a series of tubes” all over again.

    alexmartin says:

    oh, looky there. the idiot who doesn’t understand physics but is being condescending is back. And shows his ignorance in other areas. shocking I tell you, shocking.

    the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment.

    HAHAHAHAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA

    that’s even more hilarious than his physics ignorance

    Indeed, why are you bringing up creationism at all?

    because he has issues with us mean stoopid atheists being mean and narrowminded against poor poor Ken Ham

    anyway.
    as I’ve noted on pretty much every thread on the subject of copyright: these issues aren’t going to go away until we realize that the internet has changed the economic nature of information and stop paying content-creators for the content, and start paying them for the creating.

  146. 146
    glowball

    What Rawneris said @127
    The news has it that my congresscritter just announced that he pulled out (was a cosponsor) just 2 hours ago.
    What I emailed him in response:
    “Thank you for removing your support for SOPA/PIPA”
    As small business owners with our online presence our main point of contact with customers, these bills are frightening in the amount of abuse they would afford those with bad intentions and no desire to compete fairly in the market. All a competitor would have to do would be to post some copyrighted content in the Q & A section of a site, and then report the “offending” web site to get their competitor removed, courtesy of the government. If it happened to us, or any other small business like us, we would be instantly out of business with no recourse.”

    These ugly bills are just begging to be abused by any random person with a grudge for any reason at all, suppression of speech, or quashing competition, its insane. Bleah.

    Don’t stop watching them and putting on the pressure. I’ve signed every petition I could get my hands on, wrote letters, sent emails regarding this to my entire address book, and we participated in the site blackout today.

    Congress wants to help the economy? Stop screwing with everyone.

  147. 147
    glowball

    @Jadehawk “these issues aren’t going to go away until we realize that the internet has changed the economic nature of information and stop paying content-creators for the content, and start paying them for the creating.”

    Have you seen Kickstarter? I’ve no affiliation, but I admire what they’ve done. I’ve heard of at least one startup with a similar idea (can’t remember the name). Give them time and the *IAAs will really have something to worry about. I’m sure that’s exactly what they don’t want to happen.

  148. 148
    Evader, the parasite-infested branch on the evolutionary tree

    Come back PZ I’m so bored at work without you…

  149. 149
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    That would be patent, not copyright.

    Are we sure? I mean, if fucking software code and integrated circuit architecture is subject to copyright rather than patent…

  150. 150
    Therrin

    I can’t imagine how much work PZ got done today. -.-

  151. 151
    evilisgood

    Regarding SOPA:

    Lamar Smith, the politician in question that has been pushing the bill that has even the tech Gurus over at Mashable screaming foul over SOPA’s extreme overreach and censorship capabilities, has allegedly used a photograph for the background of his campaign website without giving credit to the photographer or paying for its use. That’s right, the guy who wants to stop online piracy is apparently an Internet pirate himself – Arrrrrrr

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/18/congressman-lamar-smith-author-of-sopa-breaks-copyright-law-on-campaign-website-image/

    Eeeeeeeheeheeheeheee!

  152. 152
    evilisgood

    Also: Shiver me timbers!

  153. 153
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    What leaves me most incredulous about this obnoxious mess is the amount of time and traction the bill was allowed to get in the first place. It amounts to little more than an Orwellian-level grab at free speech. The interwebs thingy is the only bona-fide place actually practicing this right. The country that purports to being about free speech is doing its level best to derail the entire process and a whole bunch of business and loony toonz special interests are jumping on the bandwagon, to hell with constitutional scribblings. As others have pointed out, very little in this law actually seems to be focused on just ending net piracy. It has extra agenda written all over it.

    If it were genuinely about protecting intellectual properties the law wouldn’t have been written with so sweeping and draconian a brush. The list of lawmakers backing this monstrosity is a who’s-who of people who must be genuinely dirt-ignorant about the words chiseled on every fucking monument in the city they work in. Shouldn’t it be a job requirement of working in the big white buildings that people take a walk through the rest of mall and read the stuff much wiser folks had printed there?

  154. 154
    Ichthyic

    Shouldn’t it be a job requirement of working in the big white buildings that people take a walk through the rest of mall and read the stuff much wiser folks had printed there?

    It sure as fuck should.

    and there should be a quiz after!

  155. 155
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Hollywood says “the DMCA turned out to be insufficiently evil for us.”

    I’m shocked.

  156. 156
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    The Lamar Smith thing is right up there with the people who did those annoying anti-piracy ads they show in cinemas and on DVDs having stolen the music used in the background

  157. 157
    TimKO,,.,,

    POTUS has already said he would veto SOPA (mexican soup?). What they will do instead is rewrite it (since several congressman have promised lobbyists they would)and then paperclip it to something else. The weird thing: why is big pharma so willing to pay for SOPA?

    ————————
    @alex
    “the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment”
    Since legislation starts in the House can I assume you’d be willing to list all the ways the House of Reps majority are left? How about at the state level (you can start with, say Texas or Utah)?

  158. 158
    Pteryxx

    Via Boingboing:

    While all the PIPA and SOPA protests are still ongoing, the first statistics coming in are truly impressive.

    By 3pm Washington time millions of people had already voiced their concerns. Google just reported that more than 4 million people signed the petition on their site, and the EFF says that 250,000 people sent messages to Congress through their site. These are just two examples of the many initiatives currently being organized.

    The big question is, of course, whether this wave of protest is having any effect. The answer is an unequivocal YES.

    https://torrentfreak.com/pipa-sopa-co-sponsors-drop-like-flies-120118/

    However… (dun dun dunnnn!)

    SOPA isn’t dead, it’s back on

    House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) has vowed to resume his markup hearings in February.

    http://judiciary.house.gov/news/01172012.html

    Set yer calendars now for Round II, fellow netizens. The Internet never forgets.

  159. 159
    AlanMac

    I think SOPA would set an interesting precedent. You could then make laws that would allow you to charge the highway department and even the road maintenance crews when a criminal uses a road to make his get away or to transport stolen or illegal substances.

  160. 160
    madtom1999

    @ibyea 57
    Its something – the re-rooting of the internet – that really, really has to happen for world safety. For those of us living outside the US we see that a lot of the worlds problems are either caused or sustained by the US tendency to throw its weight around and parachute cleanly off any moral high ground it might have gained.
    The internet is currently ‘controlled’ by the US because no-one can be bothered to sort it out at the moment. Its technically quite easy to fix but the sooner its done the better for all concerned. The longer it takes the harder it will be.
    The direct consequences of the bill would be short lived – and the US government and its paymasters would have their fingers badly burned and you might get some of your democracy back. Everyone would suffer a bit but in the end it will be better for all – to leave it as it is just leaves the possibility for other nutters to try similar things.

  161. 161
    Jafafa Hots

    if fucking software code and integrated circuit architecture is subject to copyright rather than patent…

    Actually, software is covered allowed to be patented, which is one of the problems with patent law, along with “business model” patents etc. All of that is what gives you Amazon’s one-click patent and other absurdities.

    So software gets double protection if it’s also patented.

    I dunno specifically about circuit board architecture.

  162. 162
    Dick the Damned

    Come on PZ, you’ve had your day off, & we’re getting withdrawal symptoms.

    (By the way, i hope you enjoyed it.)

  163. 163
    DLC

    But but, the President Promised not to sign it!
    Really! Pinkie Swear!
    He promised to shut down gitmo too. and to not sign the NDAA, and to raise taxes on millionaires, and to fix health care. . .
    I’m beginning to feel like the person who last heard “don’t worry, I’ll pull out . . .”

    FWIW: A recent poll shows Disapproval of congress is at 84%.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postabcpoll_011512.html

    (raw link posted because I’m lazy. . .)
    Vote anybody out of office who wrote in favor of this piece of shit, no matter what party they’re from.
    2nd : support the “Reverse ‘americans united’ decision ” amendment. We need to get corporate money out of politics!

  164. 164
    Ingdigo Jump

    Ignore Alex, he worships WND. He thinks WND and AiG are reputable. He is ignorant because of that, but stupid that he thought he can hide his ideology and personality while promoting that.

  165. 165
    Ichthyic

    Its something – the re-rooting of the internet

    being from where I am now, I have to note with amusement that perhaps you might want to correctly spell that as:

    re-routing

    as it is, “rooting” rather implies something entirely different.

    I’ll let you look it up.

    :)

  166. 166
    Ichthyic

    A recent poll shows Disapproval of congress is at 84%.

    LOL

    so what happens when it hits 100%, effectively?

    If Americans are so dissatisfied with their government (and they should be), you have the right and OBLIGATION to do something about it.

    Or have all Americans forgotten their own Declaration of Independence?

    heck, many state constitutions even remark on this:

    New Hampshire’s constitution[29] guarantees its citizens the right to reform government, in Article 10 of the New Hampshire constitution’s Bill of Rights:

    Whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_revolution

    sadly, I expect that even if every American polled stated they were entirely dissatisfied with the performance of their government, absolutely nothing would come of it.

    That applies just as well to any Western Government you can name.

    the OWS movement here in NZ had exactly 1 (not a typo) person still in attendance in the downtown area.

    People have become convinced over generations that they cannot really overhaul their own system of governance; such that the inertia now is most likely too high for a real revolution to ever happen again.

  167. 167
    keymaker

    Did you know that people who mine bat guano for fertilizer often literally go “bat-shit crazy” when their minds are affected by a parasite they get breathing bat shit dust. The little brain eater is now being transmitted human to human and seems to be spreading through fundamentalist christians at an alarming rate, strongly indicating a common vector. It has been suggested that church attendance may be a contributing factor due to their tendency to congregate.

  168. 168
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Ichthyic,

    art. 20 of the German Basic Law gives any citizen the right (if there is no other recourse) to resist if the authorities or even private individuals undertake to change those parts of the constitutional framework which are regarded as “unchangeable”, such as

    - rule of law
    - civil rights
    - welfare state
    - federal nature of the nation
    - republican nature

    However, the Constitutional Court has set the boundaries high, so even a severe case of Politikverdrossenheit (“being fed up with politics”) like many Americans seem to be going through right now would not suffice. Apparently some state constitutions, like that of Bremen, even have a “duty to resistance”, not just a right. (The right of resistance would cover all otherwise criminal acts, including tyrannicide/regicide, provided there were no other, less criminal/violent alternatives, both collectively and individually)

  169. 169
    crocswsocks

    Funny story: I usually check the site daily, but I simply didn’t yesterday cuz it didn’t occur to me. Looks like I didn’t miss much.

  170. 170
    Ichthyic

    Apparently some state constitutions, like that of Bremen, even have a “duty to resistance”, not just a right.

    there are entire theses written on this subject; it’s not an uncommon thing to see in a lot of constitutions across a great swath of democratic republics.

    and yet…

    you will find many government actions to have been in violation of any given country’s constitution, it’s elected representatives clearly acting NOT in the best interests of the people who elected them.

    …and nothing happens but more whinging.

    yes, we all have a duty to look out for our fellow citizens in any country that even has a constitution and representative democracy.

    So, it seems to me we all fail. short of a government wiping out large sections of its own populace (and in the not too distant future, even THAT might not be cause for real revolution), there is NOTHING that will motivate the citizenry to act in accordance with the wishes of those who wrote revolutionary features into constitutions or binding declarations anywhere in the Western World.

    Germany included.

    we’ve all been brainwashed quite well to accept being serfs.

  171. 171
    Ichthyic

    I’m surprised nobody has already posted what’s been going on with MegaUpload today.

    interesting timing, no?

    cyberwar has had some flashback too:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2399116,00.asp

    my own adopted country sold out to US interests on this one, big time.

    *sigh*

  172. 172
    Kagehi

    Nice preemptive propagandist smear-job.
    the Left owns and runs the U.S. government at the moment. This left-of -center president…

    This again? I bloody well hope you never accidentally visit some country that **is** ‘left of center’, you will no doubt suffer and immediate and massive coronary, out of pure shock. Then again, what’s your address, so I can send you a ticket to one of them?

  173. 173
    Kagehi

    I was wondering what Alex means by centre.

    Well that is obvious. Its the exact center of the circle his shadow forms at mid day. Last time the power went out he probably either panicked, because the commies where out to get him, or imagined that the whole world had temporarily shifted “to” the center. lol

  174. 174
    Kagehi

    I think SOPA would set an interesting precedent. You could then make laws that would allow you to charge the highway department and even the road maintenance crews when a criminal uses a road to make his get away or to transport stolen or illegal substances.

    My own example, which I am afraid I mangled, over on Skepchick’s was an convention center which “unintentionally” had a booth in it, which was selling illegal T-shirts, or maybe even one that just had a sign pointing out a new store, which happened to bootleg DVDs in their spare time. If there really did exist a “real world”, non-online, version of this law, law enforcement would have to a) kill all GPS data pointing at the convention center, b) confiscate any maps and signs that might lead someone to it, and c) arrest not the booth owners, or the people that put the sign there, but rather the “convention center” owners, and hold them, for how even long needed, until they could prove in court that they a) didn’t have a clue those people where doing anything illegal, and b) they therefore had no way to stop them, find out that it was illegal, or identify what their “other” business was, as a sideline to selling what ever was in the booth (assuming the later case of the content of the boot being legit, but the sign pointing to some business that wasn’t). Oh, right, and possibly d) block any traffic to the convention center, from anyone that might be looking for it, and wasn’t already attending (and therefor wouldn’t need to ask directions, in principle, on how to get there).

  175. 175
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Ichthyic,

    it’s true that in the US, many state constitutions state that right, but on the national level it seems rare (and a duty of rebellion is even more so), though there are traditions that might allow it implicitly, like the Mandate of Heaven in China, as well as in Western philosophy (Thomas of Aquinas might written about it).

    Government actions have been in violation of the constitution in many countries, but there is the legal system for a first recourse, and probably many other Western countries are doing better than the US in this regard, even if no country’s record is spotless.

  176. 176
    carbonbasedlifeform

    There are those who say, completely seriously, that Obama is a socialist. Of course, those who say it don’t have a clue about socialism, but they still say it.

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