Category Archives: Piracy

Against SOPA and PIPA, for an open Internet

If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA, you will today, as reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist, Free Software Foundation, and many other websites protest those Internet censorship bills today. The so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a House bill (H.R.3261) and the so-called PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is a Senate bill (S.968) (most recently renamed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011). Both have nothing to do with promoting creativity and everything to do with giving a few large copyright holders priority over the Internet, requiring censorship of links to entire domains. Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China? That’s where the Chinese government censors entire domains such as facebook, youtube, and twitter because they contain some content that the Chinese government doesn’t want distributed. SOPA and PIPA would do the same thing, except putting Hollywood in charge of what would be censored. In a perfect example of the DC lobbying revolving door, former Senator Chris Dodd, now Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the anti-SOPA blackout an “abuse of power”. Funny how it’s only an abuse of power when we fight back.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Mythbuster Adam Savage.

Here’s a technical explanation. And here’s a letter of objection many of the engineers who built the Internet.

Here’s where the anti-SOPA blackout started: Continue reading

SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It —Adam Savage

Congress reconvenes in January and will take up the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA again. The House only deferred SOPA because of widespread public outcry. Proponents of SOPA, funded by big corporate money, are probably just hoping opponents will be distracted by the holidays. Adam Savage reminds us why we need to be vigilant and keep flooding Congress with calls to vote down those bills or anything like them.

MythBuster Adam Savage wrote for Popular Mechanics 20 December 2011, SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It

Right now Congress is considering two bills—the Protect IP Act, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—that would be laughable if they weren’t in fact real. Honestly, if a friend wrote these into a piece of fiction about government oversight gone amok, I’d have to tell them that they were too one-dimensional, too obviously anticonstitutional.

Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the “good faith” assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

I’m not kidding.

He goes on to correctly compare SOPA and PIPA unfavorably to the already bad Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. You remember, the DMCA that big copyright holders used to sue pre-teen video and audio “pirates” and to take down websites on suspicion. Savage cites a case where somebody with no copyright still got YouTube vidoes taken down under DMCA. Yes, SOPA and PIPA are even worse.

If you like YouTube, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc., it’s time to speak up. Call your Senators and House members. Send them email. Write them paper letters. Petition them. Show up at their offices. Petition the White House to veto it if Congress passes it, and any other bills like it. Right now we still have the Internet to organize these things.


Where the Money Leaving Music Sales is Really Going

Charles Arthur did a little research:
But the reality is that nowadays, one can choose between a game costing £40 that will last weeks, or a £10 CD with two great tracks and eight dud ones. I think a lot of people are choosing the game – and downloading the two tracks. That’s real discretion in spending. It’s hurting the music industry, sure. But let’s not cloud the argument with false claims about downloads.
Or keep making such claims and keep electing Pirate Party members the the EU Parliament. Either way such claims have a limited life span.

Content Protect v. Internet Freedom

content_protection.png Here’s another view of what the telcos and cablecos have in mind for us, or, rather, what they want in our minds: approved content. This is substantially different from the Internet freedom we have today to look at whatever we want to and to publish our own content.


AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.
Get ready for the Amazon Channel or settle for Internet Base Service. Continue reading

Education Entertainment

EDUCAUSE is up in arms about a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act that the Senate is supposed to be considering today. It basically makes the Secretary of Education an arm of the MPAA and requires institutions of higher education to police file sharing. I think this is the most interesting part of the amendment, where it’s saying it will:
(1) the 25 institutions of higher education participating in programs under this title, which have received during the previous calendar year the highest number of written notices fromm copyright owners, or persons authorized to act on behalf of copyright holders, alleging infringement of copyright by users of the institution’s information technology systems, where such notices identify with specificity the works alleged to the infringed, or a representative list of works alleged to be infringed, the date and time of the alleged infringing conduct together with information sufficient to identify the infringing user, and information sufficient to contact the copyright owner or its authorized representative; and

Text of Amendments, SA 2314, Congressional Record — Senate, 17 July 2007

So universities are supposed to keep lists of allegations against their students (or staff or faculty) and those lists can be used to determine their funding. Allegations, mind you, not convictions. This is once again the entertainment industry tail wagging the dog, in this case higher education. Hm, I suppose that’s a bad analogy, since the entertainment industry seems to only understand the big head, not the long tail….

And as if to demonstrate Republicans have no monopoly on horribly bad ideas, this amendment is proposed by the Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid. Is the Internet really that hard to understand?


Incumbents Preparing

about_bob.jpg Cringely gets pessimistic:
In the end the ISPs are going to win this battle, you know. The only thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon, rather like that lemonade-powered sports car.

Beyond Net Neutrality: If at first you don’t succeed, change the game. I, Cringely, Pulpit, April 6, 2007

Is he just whining? Continue reading

AT&T Attacks Content

Copyright is not just for Internet radio anymore:
AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.

As AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood, Cicconi said in an interview Tuesday. The company’s top leaders recently decided to help Hollywood protect the digital copyrights to that content.

“We do recognize that a lot of our future business depends on exciting and interesting content,” he said.

AT&T to target pirated content, It joins Hollywood in trying to keep bootleg material off its network. By James S. Granelli, L.A. Times, June 13, 2007

Now it’s for Internet video. Which is what “James W. Cicconi, an AT&T senior vice president,” meant by “exciting and interesting content.” Nevermind participatory customer-generated content, or that customers might not want AT&T monitoring their content. Continue reading