Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act!

November 12, 2011 – 3:30 am by John

The latest attempt from the parasites in Washington to limit the freedom of the internet and all of the benefits that stem from it is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Its more official, full name is Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation (E-PARASITE). As I understand it, it would provide much broader powers to the professional criminal class to limit freedom of speech, information, association, and exchange than its (more or less) complementary Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act. SOPA was introduced in the House of Representatives by Lamar Smith (R-TX), and PROTECT IP was introduced in the Senate by Patrick Leahy (D-VT), so that tells you about how much bi-partisan concern for our freedoms and rights exists in the Democratic and Republican parties.

TechDirt says SOPA, if enacted, would create “The Great Firewall of America”.

Nate Anderson of Ars Technica says SOPA would kill the internet as we know it by replacing freedom and chaos with order and restrictions. He says that if SOPA were passed into law, the internet of the 1990’s wouldn’t “sound like something from a foreign country so much as something from a foreign planet“. He quotes the violent, aggressive, indecent, anti-social, anti-civilization RIAA: “‘An Internet of chaos may meet a utopian vision but surely undermines the societal values of safe and secure families and job and revenue-creating commerce,’ said the music group in 2010. It later called for ‘an Internet predicated on order, rather than chaos.'” He continues, “The trends have been present for years, but if SOPA passes, it will make them explicit: the chaotic, unfilterable, borderless Internet of the 1990s is truly dead, replaced by an Internet of order, filtered connections, and national borders.”

Larry Downs at CNet.com says SOPA “creates vague, sweeping new standards for secondary liability, drafted to ensure maximum litigation. It treats all U.S. consumers as guilty until proven innocent. If passed, the bill would give media companies unprecedented new powers to shape the structure and content of the Internet.” Downs’s column contains numerous other highlights:

“Rather than give up on the idea of legislating a fast-changing Internet, the House authors have instead built in as many alternative definitions, open-ended requirements, and undefined terms as they could.”
[…]
[SOPA includes] “new authority for the attorney general to cut off access and funding for “parasite” foreign Web sites. (SOPA requires the U.S. copyright czar to determine the extent to which these foreign infringers are actually harming U.S. interests….”
[…]
Search engines (a term broadly defined that includes any website with a “search” field), along with payment processors and advertising networks, can also be forced to cut ties with the parasites. Operators of innocent sites have limited ability to challenge the Justice Department’s decision before or after action is taken.

SOPA also includes its own version of another Senate bill, which would make it a felony to stream copyrighted works. The House version allows prosecution of anyone who “willfully” includes protected content without permission, including, for example, YouTube videos where copyrighted music is covered or even played in the background.

While supporters deny that such minimal infractions would meet the bill’s definition of “willfully,” the actual text suggests otherwise. Prosecutors need only demonstrate that the use had a total “retail value” of more than $1,000.
[…]
The House bill also makes significant changes to provisions in the Senate bill that afford new enforcement tools to private holders of copyrights and trademarks. This “market-based system,” as SOPA calls it, greatly extends existing provisions of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, under which copyright holders can easily issue takedown notices for unlicensed use of protected content.

SOPA’s “market based” provisions are not limited to foreign Web sites. Indeed, they apply to any site or “portion of” a site that is “dedicated to theft of U.S. property”….

Unlike the DMCA, SOPA provides little penalty for wrongly targeting websites turn out not to be “dedicated to theft of U.S. property.”
[…]
SOPA may represent the most intrusive and dangerous effort yet to micromanage Internet infrastructure and services. A wide range of technology-oriented advocacy groups were quick to cry foul. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in its initial review of the bill, determined the legislation would cause irreparable harm. “This bill cannot be fixed,” the organization wrote on its Web site; “it must be killed.”

The Center for Democracy and Technology’s David Sohn, similarly, called out the bill’s broad and vague new standards for “facilitating” copyright and trademark infringement.

He argues that SOPA effectively introduces new monitoring requirements for all websites that allow user content, even comments posted to blogs.

Downs’s report contains so much more information that I’m not even done reading it yet.

The more you hear about Congress’s attempts to govern, restrain, regulate, cleanse, police, and secure the internet, the more obvious it becomes that what our professional criminal class really seeks is to choke our freedoms, destroy the internet’s openness, control our activities and exchanges (and even eventually our speech), and protect wealthy, well-connected, campaign-contributing copyright holders at the expense of the common people. To make this observation is not conspiratorial, it is not kooky; it is obvious. It’s as plain as day. Reading about the input that copyright holders had in writing the E-PARASITE and PROTECT IP acts and the immense support copyright holders are giving them underscores the now-obvious fact that any nominally “private” corporation or person that has an active, interested role in violating people’s rights, diminishing their well-being, or carrying out the State’s depredations belongs squarely in the professional criminal class alongside the politicians.

The fact that these conniving parasites even want such power is proof that they shouldn’t have it.

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