Just Remember, SOPA And PIPA Could Never Be Used To Suppress Free Speech. Well, Maybe Not.

We have talked extensively about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its brother the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and seen them as potentially being able to abuse the free speech rights of Americans.

It is important to note that SOPA and PIPA are built on the framework of the existing Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows the copyright holders of intellectual properties to issue “take down notices” when the owner believes their copyright has been violated.

As one might expect, there are abuses in the system – the same type of abuses that would occur under the SOPA and PIPA bills. reports:

We’ve talked a lot about how copyright law and the DMCA can be abused to take down legitimate, non-infringing content, interfering with one’s free speech rights. And we’re always brushed off by copyright maximalists, who insist that any complaints about taking down legitimate speech are overblown.

So isn’t it interesting that we’ve just discovered that our own key anti-SOPA blog post and discussion… have been blocked thanks to a bogus DMCA takedown?

Last November, in the heat of the SOPA fight, I wrote a blog post, where I tried to pull together a bunch of the different reasons why SOPA and PIPA were really bad ideas. It was a very popular post for us, and I heard directly from many people that it was quite helpful in getting them to understand the real problems of these two bills.



There is good news on the SOPA / Pritect IP Acts fronts today.

According to, a Senate vote on the Protect-IP Act, which was scheduled for Tuesday has been put on hold.

A statement by Harry Reid reads, in part:

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.

In response to the Senate’s actions,, is also reporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has officially been put on hold by the House of Representatives.

A statement by Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee reads, in part:

Supporter Of SOPA Installs Technology To Thwart SOPA Provisions. Ooops!

Another set of strange twists has occurred in the SOPA saga. SOPA, (Stop Online Piracy Act) has been generally derided and opposed by many of the leading technical companies in the world. That hasn’t stopped the bill from moving forward pushed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA. We’ve documented the hypocrisy of these groups who actually are guilty of stealing copyrighted material themselves. We’ve also shown how Congress, who is trying to make this monstrosity a law, is guilty of stealing copyrighted material. The Department of Homeland Security, the government agency tasked with enforcing online piracy, was caught with their hands in the “piracy cookie jar as well.

In the latest episode, the cable and communication company Comcast may be afoul of provisions of SOPA as well if the bill passes.

Comcast recently installed new technology which prevents the routing of DNS rerouting and blocking. The new technology, called Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), is an upgrade from Comcast’s own DNS forwarding technology.

As SOPA requires internet service providers (ISP) such as Comcast to reroute customers from what the government deems are illegal sites, Comcast’s installation of technology which prevents such rerouting is contrary to the provisions of the bill.

The basic plan for domains and sites that the government feels (without having to prove) are infringing upon intellectual property under SOPA is two-fold. If the site is hosted within the United States, the government will simply seize the domain. If the site is located outside of the US, the bill requires ISP’s to reroute the customer to a different site and away from the alleged infringing site.

“Rerouting” is one way hackers and malware get information and data from users. You may want to go to the site of your bank, but a virus or malware will actually send you to an identical looking site where you enter your information thinking you are going to the site you want, but are in fact giving your confidential information to thieves.

Circumventing SOPA is Against SOPA.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” and the corresponding “Protect IP” Act have been getting a lot of posts around here and rightfully so. Both bills are serious threats to free speech and due process afforded to all Americans under the Constitution.

Brad Plumer of the Washington Post has an excellent article on the two bills. Everything You Need to Know About Congress’s Online Piracy Bills, In One Post is something that everyone should read.

Some of the highlights in the post include the idea that while groups such as the MPAA and the RIAA make outlandish claims of how much piracy costs them, there is no solid study or evidence to back up those claims.

Are online piracy and copyright infringement hurting the economy? It’s always been hard to find solid evidence on this score. The copyright industry — record companies, movie studios, software makers — is always citing reports suggesting that IP infringement is destroying 750,000 jobs per year or costing U.S. companies $200 billion. But as the Government Accountability Office found last year, most of these claims “cannot be substantiated.”

And now, as Nate Anderson reports at Ars Technica, the International Intellectual Property Alliance is taking a brand new tack, arguing in its latest annual report that “piracy inhibits [our] growth in the US and around the world.” But as Anderson observes, the actual numbers in the report don’t seem bear this out. Since 2007, businesses based on copyright have been growing faster than the economy as a whole by a full percentage point. What’s more, the “core” copyright industries (sound recording, movies, TV, software, publishing) are thriving, shedding fewer jobs than the economy as a whole and earning record profits overseas, where piracy is even more rampant.

This means the whole premise of the SOPA and the Protect IP Act is somewhat fundamentally flawed. No one disputes there is intellectual piracy on the internet. The question is “are the two proposed bills using a cannon to kill a flea?”

Major groups have written and appeared before Congress telling representatives their approach will not work and will in fact harm innovation and economic growth, but officials have turned a deaf ear to groups and instead have listened to those groups that support them financially through contributions.

As a practical matter, seizing and blocking domain names, as the bill allows, is a technical nightmare. Both bills advocate the same type of censorship techniques used in China and other oppressive regimes. (That is a good feeling, isn’t it?)

In response to the proposed domain seizures, the group MafiaaFire and an individual who codes under the name of “Tamer Rizk” have both come up with extensions for the Firefox Browser that will allow people to circumvent the domain seizures and blocks if a website moves offshore and out of the United States.

The reason for Tamer Rizk in writing his extension called “DeSOPA” is given as:

Laws Apply to Thee and Not to Me…… SOPA and the House of Representatives.

We have previously posted about the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and the “Protect IP” Act that are backed by groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA.

The bills basically allow for the government to require ISP’s to monitor your surfing habits and report any suspicious activity to the government. In doing so, the ISP’s become agents of the state, but without the need for a warrant or judicial oversight. In addition, the bill allows the government to seize domains that may have copyrighted material or even link to copyrighted material. The domains can be seized without any type due process.

Clearly the bills, while good intentioned, are so far out of Constitutional protection they must be stopped. (HINT: Contact your representatives!)

We also covered how the RIAA and the Department of Homeland Security have been caught with their hands in the proverbial “piracy cookie jar.” In the case of the DHS, more than 900 unique IP addresses have been caught downloading illegal content.

And these are the people that are charged with enforcing the proposed legislation.

Enter now into the madness is the House of Representatives. is reporting over 800 unique IP addresses assigned to the United States House of Representatives have downloaded illegal content via Bit Torrent.

SOPA Update! Bill That Is A Train Wreck Derailed – Literally – and You Won’t Believe How and Why.

On Thursday, the SOPA bill we talked about yesterday was merrily sailing through the House Judiciary Committee. According to CNet, members were defeating amendment after amendment to the bill that will not only will change the internet here in the United States by effectively stifling discussions but also turn ISP’s into government police agents.

Like a train barreling down the tracks, the “SOPA Express” was heading out of committee and nothing could stop it.

Nothing, that is, until a Twitter “tweet” by Republican Representative Steve King who wrote:

We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson [sic] has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.

“Sheila Jackson” would be Democrat Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who, in the middle of the hearing, discovered King’s tweet and was not too pleased about it.

Jackson-Lee objected and called the tweet “offensive.”

At that point the fun began. The Chairmen of the Committee, Republican Representative Lamar Smith noted Jackson-Lee’s remarks were contrary to the rules of the House of Representatives and asked that she withdraw the word “offensive” from the record. Using the term “offensive” may be assumed to mean King himself is “offensive,” and such insults and slights are against the rules of the House on decorum between members.

Jackson-Lee refused to strike the word.

What makes the drama all the more interesting is King, like Elvis, had left the building. He was no longed in the committee room. He could not respond to Jackson-Lee or get into a discussion as to whether Jackson-Lee was boring or not.

Think about this for a moment. As a bill is being discussed and debated in a committee, you have representatives that surfing the internet, tweeting and reading tweets. One not only leaves the hearing, but the building! So much for doing the work of people.

Finally, after a conference with the House Parliamentarian, Jackson-Lee agreed to have the term “offensive” changed to “impolitic and unkind.”

SOPA And Protect-IP Laws Must Be Stopped.

There is an important bit of legislation that is working its way through the Senate and the House of Representatives that authors claim will help prevent piracy and theft if intellectual property (IP).

Instead, the bills are a serious threat to freedom of speech, due process, and oddly, intellectual property.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) (introduced in the House of Representatives) and the “Protect-IP” (introduced in the Senate) bills would allow the government to seize without warning, a hearing or judicial review a website that is deemed to be hosting or linking to copyrighted material.

The “linking to copyrighted material” is problamatic. Imagine, if you will, a blogger such as us, who quotes a small portion of an article for the purpose of comment or education, giving the article proper attribution. In today’s world, that is known as “fair use.”

SOPA and the PROTECT-IP bills would change that.

A copyright holder could present a claim against our site saying we had used “copyrighted material.” Without a hearing, judicial review or a chance to respond, the government could step in, seize our domain and its contents. In other words, in the name of copyright protection, the government could seize material that is copyrighted to us and our intellectual property.

The proposed law requires Internet Service Providers to monitor websites and your online activities for copyrighted material and report violations. The effect is companies like Google, Yahoo! and YourTube become agents of the government without restrictions promised under the 4th Amendment.

At the same time, if a domain is hosted overseas, the government would require Internet Service Providers to block sites that are merely accused of hosting or linking to copyrighted material. The technology used to accomplish this would be similar to that used in China and other oppressive regimes.

Isn’t it nice to know the US government is following the lead of China?

A coalition of software and internet developers wrote a letter condemn both bills.

Fundamental Change and Fundamental Hypocrisy – Part Two.

Yesterday, we discussed the so called “People’s Rights Amendment” which will actually strip the rights and freedoms of all Americans under the guise of “fairness.”

Clearly the proposed amendment is a fundamental change in the foundational beliefs of the country.

Today we want to focus a shining light on the hypocrisy of the government, the laws, and those who make them.

To do so, we need to lay a little bit of foundation first.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has passed the House of Representatives. While we have talked about SOPA and PIPA before, we haven’t said much about CISPA.

(Is there anything the government can do without first having some ridiculous acronym?)

CISPA is another “cyber protection bill” where the government allegedly looks out for you. While there are many disturbing parts of the bill, what we want to take notice of is CISPA allows companies – specifically internet service providers (ISP) – the right to give your private information, surfing habits, email, etc. to the government. The government would not have to supply a subpoena, just ask nicely of the ISP to turn over the information.

What sparked significant privacy worries is the section of CISPA that says “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” It doesn’t, however, require them to do so.

By including the word “notwithstanding,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) intended to make CISPA trump all existing federal and state civil and criminal laws. (It’s so broad that the non-partisan Congressional Research Service once warned (PDF) that using the term in legislation may “have unforeseen consequences for both existing and future laws.”)

“Notwithstanding” would trump wiretap laws, Web companies’ privacy policies, gun laws, educational record laws, census data, medical records, and other statutes that protect information, warns the ACLU’s Richardson: “For cybersecurity purposes, all of those entities can turn over that information to the federal government.”

In that most agreements made between a person and an ISP includes restrictions on with whom the data may be shared, insulating the ISP’s from any “criminal or civil” penalties means that if your ISP gives data it has collected to you to the government, you have no recourse even though the ISP has broken the terms of the contract is has with you.

Enter into the room the other big cyber bill making the rounds: “SNOPA” or the Social Networking Online Protection Act. The bill makes it illegal:

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