Mark Lemley, David S. Levin, and David G. Post write in the Stanford Law Review that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP are misguided laws that take a “sledgehammer” approach to policing the Internet without judicial oversight. They write:
These bills, and the enforcement philosophy that underlies them, represent a dramatic retreat from this country’s tradition of leadership in supporting the free exchange of information and ideas on the Internet. At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, these bills would incorporate into U.S. law a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law.
via Don’t Break the Internet – Stanford Law Review.
It’s almost Christmas, but Santa needs some help giving coal to the big media financed congressional representatives and senators. Go here to find out how to give ‘em hell!
First spied on BoingBoing here.
Mike Masnick writes on TechDirt that the adjournment of the Judiciary committee marking up SOPA might be pulling a fast one to get this bill on the floor as soon as the congressional recess is over:
Update…. Or not. Despite the fact that Congress was supposed to be out of session until the end of January, the Judiciary Committee has just announced plans to come back to continue the markup this coming Wednesday. This is rather unusual and totally unnecessary. But it shows just how desperate Hollywood is to pass this bill as quickly as possible, before the momentum of opposition builds up even further.
via SOPA Markup Runs Out Of Time; Likely Delayed Until 2012 [Update: Or Not...] | Techdirt.
Cory Doctorow adds on BoingBoing:
If you followed my tweets from the markup session for SOPA in the House of Representatives, you know how frustrating it was to watch: you had these lawmakers blithely dismissing the security concerns of the likes of Vint Cerf, saying things like, “I’m no technology nerd, but I don’t believe it.” In other words: “I’m a perfect ignoramus, but I find it convenient to disregard the world’s foremost experts.” Another congressman from Florida kept saying things like “No one can explain to me how this bill harms political debate or academic freedom.”
The markup hearing ended early yesterday, surprising many who concluded that the early adjournment meant that SOPA was off the table until Congress reconvened in 2012. But committee chair Lamar Smith quietly announced that there would be a special session on the 21st of December (when the press and opponents of the bill are likely to be distracted by the impending holiday) to finish up the bill’s markup.
via WTF is Happening with SOPA now? | BoingBoing.net
I call this political maneuvering the rhetoric of refusal and it frustrates me beyond belief. It is kind of like someone stands outside a burning building with a fire hose turned off. They look at the burning building and they say, “I don’t see a burning building.” Bystanders yell at the person, “turn on the fire hose! Put water on the burning building.” The person with the hose replies to no one, “I don’t hear anyone telling me that a building is burning.”
I suppose the rhetoric of refusal arises from the deep seated anti-intellectualism that has hijacked the political discourse, or I should say that anti-intellectualism that isn’t financed by deep pockets. It is almost if an intelligent individual won’t be heard unless there is corporate sponsorship. It increasingly seems as if American politics is a new form of NASCAR, and this is bad. I like NASCAR, but I don’t like my government and the political process to be like NASCAR.
Even if you have already contacted your representative about SOPA, you have to do it again. We can’t stop voicing our concerns about this until it disappears again. And then when it comes back, we will fight once more.
The other big news this past week besides SOPA was MegaUpload.com’s MegaUpload Song on YouTube:
Universal Music Group (UMG) had a conniption fit, because some of their signed artists provided testimonials for MegaUpload, a file sharing site that makes it easy to share files with others.
Despite MegaUpload having every right to use the testimonials in their music video advertisement, UMG used a tool provided by YouTube/Google for big media to easily remove copyright infringing content to nuke the MegaUpload Mega Song. However, UMG had no right to do this, which made it a violation of the DMCA and worth $150,000 in favor of MegaUpload.
According to Wired.com’s Threat Level Blog here, UMG admits that they used Google’s filtering system, but they claim that their use of it does not violate the DMCA. Essentially, they ADMIT that they were fucking with MegaUpload!
Now, if SOPA were to go into effect and entire domain names were wiped from the Internet and all of the sites hosted on those domains, I can see in my crystal ball that many more episodes like the one taking place between UMG and MegaUpload will take place. The collateral damage will be those of us who use the Internet on a daily basis for our work and enjoyment.
I don’t want corporations to have more power over what I do online especially when they don’t own what I do or the work of others. They don’t own the infrastructure that they will be given so much control over.
What does this sound like to you? To me, it sounds like theft. Big media is so twisted over its defeats over its iron grip over culture that it now wants to steal back that control through legislation aimed at the people’s culture. We, the people, cannot stand for this kind of dickery. Big media corporations are not above human failings, and as UMG has demonstrated, they will use any means necessary including hijacking democracy and insider agreements to control our culture.
Joshua Kopstein on Motherboard.tv has a very good analysis of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) debate in committee yesterday. He argues that politicans can no longer feign ignorance of the things that they want to legislate. Congressional knuckleheads should not try to legislate something that they know nothing about. The consequences of SOPA, if passed, will royally screwup the way the Internet works. What do I mean by screwup? Well, it will lead to erroneous shuttering of allegedly copyright infringing websites in toto rather than the parts of those sites that might be infringing, and its proposed methods of censorship will introduce new security risks into the way network traffic is routed through DNS, which will likely be a boon to criminals who find ways to exploit this. This isn’t how laws should be made. They should be carefully considered and effected to address specific, identifiable problems with surgically specific solutions. SOPA bucks how laws should work with a scorched earth approach that will create new opportunities for *real* criminals who do *real* harm. Let’s not pretend that the “copyright piracy data” SOPA supporters flaunt points to *real* offenses–it clearly has been shown to lead to additional sales.
First spied on Slashdot here.
I was happy to read here that the committee meeting convened to markup SOPA today didn’t go as well as the big media supporters had wanted. Apparently, things got off to a great start when:
The session is likely to be a long one. Early in the hearing, Chairman Smith asked for unanimous consent to skip reading the bill aloud. But Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a fierce opponent of the proposal, insisted that a clerk read the whole thing—a process that took about an hour. With that kind of acrimony, the Committee is likely to be working late into the night.
The political cartoonist David Rees got pissed off about SOPA enough that he came out of retirement to create new anti-SOPA comics above and here (there’s a lot more censorship yuck-it-ups there than the one that I posted above). Today’s the day–tell your congressional representatives that this kind of big-business-wants-to-rule-the-internet crap is unacceptable!
The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bad law that will screw up the Internet for Americans in terribly devastating ways. I’m with these guys against SOPA. You should join the fight, too by going here to find out how to call your Congressional representative.
Mathematica is one of my favorite tools. I first learned about it (version 2–it is now version 8) as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech. I learned how to use it in the computer labs, but I wanted to use it in my dorm room. Unfortunately, I was reminded about the necessity of a floating-point unit to using complex calculating software at a speed faster than a sliderule; my Apple Powerbook 145B was woefully underpowered, lacking the necessary FPU that would have made Mathematica fly. As it was, I plotted one curve and it took 45 minutes to complete the operation. It was shortly after that that I upgraded to a Power Macintosh 8500, which significantly sped things along.
Mathematica was originally built by an exquisitely smart fellow named Steven Wolfram. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Georgia Tech when he come for a visit and lecture–I believe talking about his work thus far on what become his book A New Kind of Science and the upcoming release of Mathematica 3. Even though I probably didn’t say anything of substance or intelligence when I met him, he was still very polite and cordial to me.
Apparently, Mathematica’s development paralleled Steve Job’s work on the NeXT computer and then his return to Apple. Wolfram has some nice things to say about Jobs and his influence on Mathematica in the Guardian here.
Reading about robots lately has got me thinking about building some automation into my MacBook.
I have been playing around with Automator, the workflow automation software for Mac OS X. Apple has a good place to begin with learning how to use it here. Also, MacStories compiled a list of Automator actions and resources here.
Once I have something working, I will share the results here.