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SOPA’s ugly message to the world about America and internet Innovation


Steven Gaal
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SOPAs ugly message to the world about America and internet Innovation

By Dominic Basulto http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/post/sopas-ugly-message-to-the-world-about-america-and-internet-innovation/2010/12/20/gIQATlhEYN_blog.html

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has a seemingly odd collection of interest groups, including the entertainment industry and leading social media companies, pitted against eachother. (FRED PROUSER - REUTERS)

Imagine a country where the government is able to shut down Web sites at the slightest provocation, where elected representatives invoke fears of "overseas pirates" to defend the interests of domestic industries, and where Internet companies like Google must cave in to the demands of government censors or risk being shut down.

No, we are not talking about China, North Korea or Iran we are talking about the United States, where legislators in both the House and Senate are attempting to push through new anti-piracy legislation by year-end that would benefit Hollywood at the expense of Silicon Valley.

Unlike other, more confusing efforts to regulate the relationship between content providers and other Web sites, opposition to the new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation has led to a unified front within the tech community. Some of the most powerful players in Silicon Valley Google, Facebook, Zynga, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo, and LinkedIn have made their opposition to the bill public, even going so far as to take out full-page advertisements ("We Stand Together to Protect Innovation") explaining their position. Companies like Tumblr and Reddit that benefit from user-generated content have gone one step further, with highly publicized efforts to show users why it is important to speak out against SOPA. (Full disclosure: Washington Post Co. Chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook's board of directors.)

The anti-piracy legislation in the House, which has companion legislation known as "Protect IP" in the Senate, has picked up the support of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and even the International Association of Firefighters. The legislation is a ham-handed effort to shut down Internet piracy anywhere on the Web, but it confuses "piracy protection" and "censorship." The bill also showcases a failure on the part of lawmakers to understand how the Internet works. Under SOPA, any site that contains user-generated content, such as Flickr, Etsy or Tumblr, could be found liable for copyright infringement and be forced to shut down until the offending content has been removed.

There is obviously a lot at stake, and it goes far beyond a tally of dollars and cents lost to piracy.

This new legislation, if enacted, would strike at the very core of the way the Internet has been structured. Sharing, openness, and participation are at the core of what the Internet represents. When it comes to a choice between an open Internet and an Internet of walled gardens patrolled by government censors, there is no doubt which is preferable. As Booz & Co. pointed out in a recent study, the SOPA legislation could lead to a decline in Internet innovation.

The Chinese government attempts to portray dissidents as "pirates" and "rogues" outside the system. Entertainment interests are taking a similar approach, and have found what they consider to be the perfect bogeymen: the "rogue" sites and "overseas pirates" who steal content and make it available elsewhere on the Internet at a cheaper price. Under the cover of protecting intellectual property and making the Internet safe again for users, they risk destroying what makes the Internet so special and attractive to innovators and investors alike.

Certainly, a lot has changed on the Internet in just the past year. We have seen how bureaucratic, despotic governments in the Middle East have attempted to silence the majority through control of the Internet and how hacktivist organizations are ready, willing and able to go after government bodies that do not embrace the transparency of the Web. The new SOPA bill may not "cripple the Internet" as some have suggested, but passage would send a strong message to the world about the way the U.S. really views the flow of information, data and content across the Web.

Edited by Steven Gaal
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SOPA’s ugly message to the world about America and internet Innovation

By Dominic Basulto http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/post/sopas-ugly-message-to-the-world-about-america-and-internet-innovation/2010/12/20/gIQATlhEYN_blog.html

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has a seemingly odd collection of interest groups, including the entertainment industry and leading social media companies, pitted against eachother. (FRED PROUSER - REUTERS)

Imagine a country where the government is able to shut down Web sites at the slightest provocation, where elected representatives invoke fears of "overseas pirates" to defend the interests of domestic industries, and where Internet companies like Google must cave in to the demands of government censors or risk being shut down.

No, we are not talking about China, North Korea or Iran — we are talking about the United States, where legislators in both the House and Senate are attempting to push through new anti-piracy legislation by year-end that would benefit Hollywood at the expense of Silicon Valley.

Unlike other, more confusing efforts to regulate the relationship between content providers and other Web sites, opposition to the new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation has led to a unified front within the tech community. Some of the most powerful players in Silicon Valley — Google, Facebook, Zynga, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo, and LinkedIn — have made their opposition to the bill public, even going so far as to take out full-page advertisements ("We Stand Together to Protect Innovation") explaining their position. Companies like Tumblr and Reddit that benefit from user-generated content have gone one step further, with highly publicized efforts to show users why it is important to speak out against SOPA. (Full disclosure: Washington Post Co. Chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook's board of directors.)

The anti-piracy legislation in the House, which has companion legislation known as "Protect IP" in the Senate, has picked up the support of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Screen Actors Guild, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and even the International Association of Firefighters. The legislation is a ham-handed effort to shut down Internet piracy anywhere on the Web, but it confuses "piracy protection" and "censorship." The bill also showcases a failure on the part of lawmakers to understand how the Internet works. Under SOPA, any site that contains user-generated content, such as Flickr, Etsy or Tumblr, could be found liable for copyright infringement and be forced to shut down until the offending content has been removed.

There is obviously a lot at stake, and it goes far beyond a tally of dollars and cents lost to piracy.

This new legislation, if enacted, would strike at the very core of the way the Internet has been structured. Sharing, openness, and participation are at the core of what the Internet represents. When it comes to a choice between an open Internet and an Internet of walled gardens patrolled by government censors, there is no doubt which is preferable. As Booz & Co. pointed out in a recent study, the SOPA legislation could lead to a decline in Internet innovation.

The Chinese government attempts to portray dissidents as "pirates" and "rogues" outside the system. Entertainment interests are taking a similar approach, and have found what they consider to be the perfect bogeymen: the "rogue" sites and "overseas pirates" who steal content and make it available elsewhere on the Internet at a cheaper price. Under the cover of protecting intellectual property and making the Internet safe again for users, they risk destroying what makes the Internet so special and attractive to innovators and investors alike.

Certainly, a lot has changed on the Internet in just the past year. We have seen how bureaucratic, despotic governments in the Middle East have attempted to silence the majority through control of the Internet and how hacktivist organizations are ready, willing and able to go after government bodies that do not embrace the transparency of the Web. The new SOPA bill may not "cripple the Internet" as some have suggested, but passage would send a strong message to the world about the way the U.S. really views the flow of information, data and content across the Web.

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV*o*VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

THIS just in. Related.

link http://torrentfreak.com/feds-seize-130-domain-names-in-mass-crackdown-111125/ (also more below on topic)

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVUUUUVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

also see Commentary ON SOPA below

Crusades To Censor And Control the Internet

R.F. Goggin

November 26, 2011

Seems everywhere I turn these days, there is some government or corporate entity in America out to try to dictate what I may or may not see or do – as I surf the Internet.

One of the chief proponents or crusaders, for example, of what for the sake of my argument I will call the ‘Nannynet’, for lack of a better term, resides in the form of U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Is it my imagination perhaps, or is this Lieberman a fellow who seems to spend an inordinate amount of his time trying to establish governmental control over the everyday on-line lives of people going about their normal routines?

Granted, there are indeed individuals (or even organized groups in this world), seeking bodily harm to others. Yet, wouldn’t this be a truism whether or not one happens to be connected to cyberspace? And although someone might harbor a desire to inflict some type of terrorism or injury upon another individual, such thoughts, or even aspirations, are hardly comparable (unless of course, you happen to be a Homeland Security official or a CIA operative) to committing some criminal transgression of any sort.

If, by contrast, one were to come home from an aggravating day at the office, and then update their Facebook profile to say; “Man, I’d like to punch my supervisor out” or “I felt like killing my boss today”, have they committed any crime or act of potential terror? I wonder then for the sake of reason and sanity, if it would be out-of-order for me to take an opportunity to remind Mr. Lieberman that it is still a constitutional right of every American, at the least, to express themselves in public however they choose.

Yes indeed, it is nothing less than a U.S. citizen’s freedom of speech in significant jeopardy, via the sorts of constricting legislation which Joe Lieberman or other equally powerful politicians are constantly seeking to enact.

To promote censorship of websites or even blogs, in what seems to me to be a pretense of ‘national security’ – by blocking their publication altogether, is more akin to a job for George Orwell’s thought police, than of an elected representative of the American people.

Is it not rather an all but impossible situation in any regard, for someone with half a brain not to conclude that Lieberman’s motivation to exert a form of ultimate government rule over the Internet, is chiefly influenced by his desire to exert his Jewish ethnicity while attempting to protect the State of Israel from those seeking to inflict injury upon it? Something, of course, which has nothing at all to do with a supposedly indiscriminate nature of the United States of America.

One will forgive me, no doubt, for having no desire to waste text characters in this document citing for the reader exactly what liberty-restricting bills that Lieberman likes to propose to the Congress of the U.S. with regard to the Internet, or how it is precisely that the man has been badgering a company such as Google to censor their Youtube operation or their blog websites.

If one is uninformed about such things, there is information aplenty to be had by virtue of the many alternative news sources, hard at work, who are genuinely trying to look out for folks as they make their way around the worldwide web.

Instead, I would rather focus next on the entertainment and manufacturing industry in the United States, which is also in line to try to exert their control over your Internet experience. Companies of which, in fact, have people operating in Washington specifically to lobby one such as Joseph Lieberman toward their ‘special interests’.

Here of course, I refer to extremely powerful corporations or conglomerates in most cases, responsible for such things such as the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, which was introduced as recently as October of 2011 into the U.S. Congress as bill H.R. 3261 by Representative Lamar Smith of Texas – among some twelve co-sponsors, or co-conspirators.

I will leave it up to you to explain the difference between the two to me. This particular piece of potential legislation is supposedly a measure designed to protect intellectual property rights and to curb the on-line proliferation of counterfeit goods.

----------o------------------

U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act, Bill H.R. 3261

There are simply not enough words in my vocabulary to begin to explain the negative effects the passage of this legislation will have upon the Internet itself and/or the average American making use of the medium.

Your freedom of choice to conduct yourself on-line as you please, will be dramatically curtailed, so that instead of consuming a commercial commodity on the Internet, as one might occasionally do, it is you rather who will become the commodity to be consumed.

If I read the fine print of the details correctly, this bill being considered by the Congress would make anyone who would so much as offer a Youtube video (which happens to have been copyrighted in the past); such as a song by their favorite musical artist, for example, for streaming to their friends on Facebook or what have you – a dastardly, thieving felon.

‘Sopa’ as this ridiculous corporate power-grab being crafted behind the backs of Americans is called, would fundamentally alter the Internet beyond all current recognition and literally make it a tool in utter service to big business. Commercial competition and product innovation among the many, would be crushed and stifled – by the powerful few.

This aspiring Congressional act, would block out countless websites; some which are currently very popular, by threatening legal actions against companies of which do business with or enable such sites to survive – such a Pay Pal’s monetary exchange services or Google’s search engine.

Unless you are an individual who appreciates the excessive commercial interruptions on television these days, then you simply will not find Sopa to be a very interesting prospect to you, because what it entails in a nutshell, is basically the complete commercialization of the Internet.

By default, an act of public censorship of any degree, is an inherently self-serving maneuver by those of who are performing it, designed to preserve or protect someone or something in a position of power or influence, or some status quo.

Even the attack on America on 9/11 or subsequent ‘war on terror’, can’t begin change such certitude. And as far as the business community is concerned, there are methods enough currently in place for people or companies whose copyright or intellectual property has been infringed upon to take legal action. But, of course, the reason such avenues are insufficient to a big corporation or conglomerate is that they know there isn’t any money in it for them to try to stop a person from uploading or sharing a video, photo or news article.

Indeed, it would probably cost them too dearly to make such an attempt. And so it is therefore that the powers that be, which include corrupt politicians in the pockets of mega-companies, need to find a way to change the ‘free’ flowing nature or culture of the Internet instead, to suit their ends.

If it isn’t as plain as the nose on your face, Mr. Ordinary Joe, that the kind of greedy and selfish thinking of which I am presenting to you, absolutely must be challenged and soundly defeated, than suffice as to say, you Sir or Madam, are mere sheep in pen for those keen to manipulate you.

If a governmental body anywhere on this planet attempts to dictate what an individual can say or do in cyberspace, then its clear to me, that in effect, that person will have lost this world’s latest and perhaps last rendition of basic human freedoms.

The Internet is your medium – which mercifully still belongs to you, it’s high time to join those in the thick of the good fight for your on-line liberty, to take a stand, and to keep control of it.

R.F. Goggin is the editor of The New World Reporter

Edited by Steven Gaal
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