Joshua Kopstein on the SOPA Debates: Politicians HAVE to Get Educated About How the Internet Works

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.

According to Ars Technica Report, SOPA Hearing Off to Contentious Start

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.

 

SOPA News Round-Up

Here are some useful stories posted today from around the web that address the proposed SOPA legislation:

Brin says SOPA puts US on par with oppressive nations

Former DHS Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker On SOPA 2.0: Still A Disaster For Cybersecurity

Do any real people support SOPA?

Takedowns and Lawsuits Have Already Started in the Fight Against SOPA

Brad Burnham Explains Why SOPA Must Be Stopped

Stop SOPA. Save the internet.

Don’t forget to make your voice heard! Go here to contact your congressional representatives.

SOPA Will Take Away Your Kanye West Lipdubs and Macramé Sons of Anarchy Flickr Account!

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!

Roundup of Anti-SOPA Coverage

As I mentioned yesterday, please let your representatives know that you do not want the Internet censored using a system similar to that used in China, Iran, and Syria. This is what the Internet Blacklisting legislation known as SOPA and Protect-IP would do. We should respect support copyright, but we should not support copyright to the detriment of all other speech, including fair use, online. The Internet is still in its infancy and it is developing in new and unexpected ways. SOPA and similarly restrictive laws will stifle that development and the empowering possibilities that might have been. Read the coverage below to learn more about what SOPA and Protect-IP mean for American citizens and the Internet. Then, go here to send a message to your representatives.

Stop the Great Firewall of America [New York Times op-ed]

SOPA Won’t Stop Online Piracy, Would Censor Everyone Else [Time]

Thoughts On The House Judiciary Committee’s Hearings On SOPA [TechDirt]

At Web censorship hearing, Congress guns for “pro-pirate” Google [ArsTechnica]

A Look At Three Popular Sites That May Be In Trouble Under SOPA [TechDirt]

More And More People Speak Up Against SOPA [TechDirt]

New Study From Booz & Co. Shows That SOPA/PROTECT IP Will Chill Investment In Innovation [TechDirt]

Sweet sanity: 75% of Americans say infringement fines should be under $100 [ArsTechnica]

American Censorship Day, Tell Congress that You Don’t Want the Internet Censored!

Today is the ad hoc American Censorship Day. Why? A committee in the House of Representatives has stacked their deck of experts 5 to 1 in favor of the SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act. Even though this law could radically change the way the Internet works in the US (so that it can be restricted in the same way that it is restricted in China, Iran, and Syria), many congressional members support this law and they do not want public dissenting voices to be heard during committee. Techdirt has coverage of the hearing today here.

SOPA and Protect-IP are intended to put the thumbscrews on online discussion, fair use, and entrepreneurship. This infographic explains the potential effects of the bill if made law.

This is another example of our elected officials catering to outmoded big business. Big media wants to consolidate its control over the Internet, because those companies are unwilling to adjust their business models to the here-and-now. Instead, they want to flex their money-muscle and reconfigure the Internet so that they remain on top. I suppose this is the logic of capital. Increased regulation helps diversify the market, which leads to benefits for consumers. Conglomerates and virtual monopolies do not want this. Instead, they want to solidify their own position by hijacking the democratic process and putting laws in place that not only gives them added control over the primary medium of discourse but also further criminalizes previously non-criminal acts.

Go to the American Censorship Day website here, and send an email (or even better–call them!) letting your representatives know that you are against SOPA/Protect-IP.