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Government The Internet United States

Law Professors vs the PROTECT IP Act 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
Freddybear writes "Along with 90 (and still counting) other Internet law and IP law professors, David Post of the Volokh Conspiracy law blog has drafted and signed a letter in opposition to Senator Leahy's 'PROTECT IP Act.' Quoting: 'The Act would allow the government to break the Internet addressing system. It requires Internet service providers, and operators of Internet name servers, to refuse to recognize Internet domains that a court considers "dedicated to infringing activities." But rather than wait until a Web site is actually judged infringing before imposing the equivalent of an Internet death penalty, the Act would allow courts to order any Internet service provider to stop recognizing the site even on a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction issued the same day the complaint is filed. Courts could issue such an order even if the owner of that domain name was never given notice that a case against it had been filed at all.'"
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Law Professors vs the PROTECT IP Act

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04, 2011 @08:39PM (#36656724)

    LOL, is this the "American Freedom" I heard so much about as a youth growing up in Hungary during the Cold War?

    • by cshark (673578) on Monday July 04, 2011 @08:42PM (#36656736)

      Yep. We're as bad as China. Just in different ways. Difference is, here in the US, we're fucking hypocrites about it.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:17PM (#36656882) Journal

        No, you're not as bad as China. You still have free political speech, which is the most basic thing - thanks to it, these professors can publish materials explaining just how bad this law is, and campaign for getting it repealed. Whereas in China, no matter what goes wrong, you can't really complain.

        This isn't to say that "PROTECT IP" act is not bad - it is - but limitations on political speech are infinitely worse in comparison.

        • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:41PM (#36656964) Homepage Journal
          Come on, man. Don't step on the hyperbole!
        • by gullevek (174152) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:44PM (#36656978) Homepage Journal

          They can still complain, because we can still read it online. But no one will listen to them, and then one day you cannot read of them anymore, because they get silently censored.

          So much for free speak in america.

          The internet is just too scary for the people in power. They see their control slipping away, so they will slowly turn it into a consume only medium like TV is.

          • by zblack_eagle (971870) on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:41PM (#36657226)

            I think the "Freedom of Speech" became freedom to make noise some time ago. There's a lot more noise going on than speech these days, or at least that's what gets the attention of people. Bread and Circuses and Two Minutes' Hate for everybody!

            • by mwvdlee (775178)

              The price you pay for being allowed to make whatever noise you want, is that other people can make noise too.

            • And only time I see any widespread activism on the internet is when people are fighting to keep the circuses free of charge, not for any real political reform.
        • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:26PM (#36657166) Homepage Journal

          No, you're not as bad as China. You still have free political speech, which is the most basic thing

          Until your political opponents accuse you of infringement on questionable grounds and get your domain blocked.

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 04, 2011 @11:06PM (#36657338) Journal

            And then you sue them for libel and get it unblocked - in the meantime, setting up a website on a different domain to get your point across.

            I mean, let's be serious here. There's no comparison between freedom of speech in US and China, which is obvious to anyone who bothers to check the fact. And there's no need for hyperbole and other cheap propaganda tricks when pointing out bad things. Whether it's better or worse than China is completely irrelevant - what you should care about is whether it's good or bad for your own country.

            • by Bengie (1121981) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:51AM (#36657700)

              Sounds great on paper. But now you need to spend thousands of dollars to sue someone for a $5 website that you did in your spare time. And you have to take off from work and the most you'll get out of losing a half-years and getting fired for missing so much work, is your web-site is eventually brought back up after it's no longer useful and can no longer afford the $5/month because you no longer have a job.

              yeah... great system. Any other great ideas?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              And then you sue them for libel and get it unblocked

              Haven't you heard of being swiftboated? A number of liars got up and lied in order to directly harm John Kerry by calling him a coward who lied to get a medal. You do that close enough to a vote, and the truth doesn't matter. By the time you've sorted out the mess, you've lost. And if you prosecute them after, then you are a sore loser.

              Or is it only a bad thing if the Democrats do something but when the Republicans engage in a conspiracy to rob the Democratic office in some hotel or commit fraudulent l

              • I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about, to be honest. I'm not an American citizen to begin with, and most certainly not "Republican" or "Democrat" or whatever fancy labels you guys use these days to somehow distinguish your two populist parties. How is it relevant to the topic at hand?

                • by aevan (903814) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:07AM (#36658380)
                  I'd imagine the point was suing takes time and is after the fact and damages are done. Winning in court might net you cash (if it amounts to more than the legal costs), but won't necessarily clear your name, or even be equivalent to the damages. Think there is an old saying about 'a lie has walked many miles while the truth is still putting its boots on'.

                  Being silenced at a crucial point might not be recoverable from; setting up alternate websites would be near pointless if you're being specifically targeted and the blocking takes effect near instantly.

                  In this instance, believe AC is inferring that a presidential candidate lost his chance to being elected due to being slandered en masse. Any attempting to sue would just end up making matters worse for him, being seen as sour grapes.
              • Or is it only a bad thing if the Democrats do something but when the Republicans engage in a conspiracy to rob the Democratic office in some hotel or commit fraudulent libel, that's OK because the Democrats deserve it?

                I'm confused how you get "that's OK" from your example, considering that the President involved (a Republican) faced impeachment and resigned in order to avoid being the second President in the history of this country to be impeached. Whereas, when President Clinton (a Democrat) was impeached for lying under oath while President of the U.S., the response was, "Who cares if he broke his word?". And when President Obama broke the law by attacking Libya for over 90 days without Congressional authorization, the

            • by Xest (935314)

              "And then you sue them for libel and get it unblocked - in the meantime, setting up a website on a different domain to get your point across."

              But how many viewers do you lose in the domain change? where do you find the time and money for the court case?

              For what it's worth I also think it's wrong to treat China as a whole, you have a lot more freedom in terms of political speech in Hong Kong and Taiwan than you do as a resident of Guantanamo bay at least. If however you're in Xinjiang province or Tibet then

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            Which only prevents you from having a website, not from speaking in other ways. In China you'll get arrested or shot if you try to demonstrate.

        • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:03AM (#36657750) Homepage

          I think you don't really get it. The law professors don't give a crap an about music linking sites, they care about political speech sites.

          Don't think it affects political speech, please wait 6 months after a complaint is filed, after spending thousands on lawyers and legal fees, to prove in court that you web site did not have infringing music, a paragraph from a book, plagiarised, shared an idea etc. etc and was only about politics and is original work. Oh yes, than rinse and repeat was the case is dropped as the new case is filed. You think for a second that corrupt corporations via insane right wing politics wont seek to pull that crap on every popular web site that challenges their bull shit.

        • by kdemetter (965669)

          No, you're not as bad as China. You still have free political speech, which is the most basic thing - thanks to it, these professors can publish materials explaining just how bad this law is, and campaign for getting it repealed. Whereas in China, no matter what goes wrong, you can't really complain.

          This isn't to say that "PROTECT IP" act is not bad - it is - but limitations on political speech are infinitely worse in comparison.

          The thing is , they would be able to block a website, for 'infringing activities' . How certain are you , that you are allowed to say whatever you want , without facing persecution.

          • In USA? Quite certain, given the track record so far. For all the insanities of the "war on terror", freedom of speech remains mostly untouched so far.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          This isn't to say that "PROTECT IP" act is not bad - it is - but limitations on political speech are infinitely worse in comparison.

          Infinitely worse? If I understand correctly, PROTECT IP can be abused to make political speech unreachable.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          "No, you're not as bad as China. You still have free political speech, which is the most basic thing - thanks to it"

          You know I can't protest in front of the RNC or any political gathering.. I have to be carted into "free speech zones" that are far away and hidden from view.

          It's not as bad as people getting killed for speaking out, but the United States IS taking steps to get there. Why we don't have riots in the streets over this stuff I will never understand. The American people like the oppression I gue

    • Yes, pretty much. The Soviets lied to you, and so did we. Big surprise.

      This particular law is hardly worth protesting, though, as it will be declared unconstitutional as soon as it its the courts. The US Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint, as the saying goes, and that's what this is.

      • In other parts of the world we would rather just keep working and doing whatever it is we do rather than have to spend time in court getting obviously unconstitutional shit declared unconstitutional by a judge. Do you not see the bigger problem?

        I guess you believe the system will sort bad stuff out and justice is served, even when such efforts didn't need to occur in the first place. Apathy much?

        • The real problem is there's no way to close the negative feedback loop. Our legislators have no incentive not to grandstand by writing blatantly unconstitutional laws. If there were some sort of penalty when they had a law smacked down by the courts, it might make them think twice... but there's not, so no, I don't think much can be done about it. Call it apathy if you want, but nobody asked me how I thought it should work when they were setting up the system....

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      In the end, we all will love Big Brother.... For he knows best.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) * on Monday July 04, 2011 @08:45PM (#36656758) Journal

    The law will provide great incentive to develop new technologies to work around it.

    • by mellon (7048) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:01PM (#36656814) Homepage

      That's all well and good, but at the same time it's going to cause a *huge* hassle for ISPs, a *huge* hassle for content providers, and a *huge* hassle for end users. Sure, the bleeding edge geeks will have workarounds (the simplest being to set up your own name server).

      But it's going to make deploying DNSSEC a nightmare, because now we're going to have court orders requiring ISPs to break DNSSEC. Ultimately every customer router box will have to be a DNSSEC resolver, and will have to go to the root to get correct information. Home router vendors have not covered themselves in glory with previous DNS work they've done; there's no reason to expect that they'll do a good job this time either. The bottom line is that if this passes, the result will be:

      • an added degree of flakiness in the network which will be completely inexplicable to the average end user.
      • huge cost increase for ISPs
      • substantially increased load on root and TLD servers
      • more DNS traffic on the network (this one probably isn't a big deal, except...)
      • Increased DNS query latency
      • by sFurbo (1361249)
        I don't think it will be a huge cost for the ISP, as far as I can tell, we have something like that in Denmark. The ISPs have court orders to block e.g. piratebay and allofmp3.com. The ISPs do this by removing the entries in their DNSes. In stead, it redirects to a page saying what a bad place you just tried to access. The ISPs have not been up in arms over it, so I don't think it is that expensive.

        It is censorship, though. These pages host many things that is definitely legal, and that is blocked as well.
      • by Mask (87752)

        The stricter the US internet laws are the bigger the chance it will be cut off of the rest of the internet. If the most of the internet users live in freer countries, they will use a different set of DNSSEC resolvers. This means that internet addressing will become fragmented between the US and the free world such that the same address means one thing in the US and another in the free world.

        The economic impact on the US, of such a fragmentation, will be considerable. It will be a natural continuation of US

      • a *huge* hassle for end users.

        Hassle?

        http://www.i2p2.de/ [i2p2.de] No hassle at all.

    • by S.O.B. (136083)

      No need to develop new technologies. Just steer clear of domain registries, registrars and hosting companies in U.S. jurisdictions or any jurisdictions the U.S. coerces into going along with them.

      I guess they could still block the IP address. Maybe they could license China's "Great Firewall" but people already found ways around it.

      In the end, the only thing this law will accomplish is to drive internet business out of the country.

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:07PM (#36656830)

    Real Internet for those of us who know what we're doing.

    Censored internet for the proles.

    And we can lord it over them.

    Good times to be had by all.

    --
    BMO

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:18PM (#36656886)

    The PROTECT IP act is a freebie given to Big Content because it is too expensive for them to police the use of their own content. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Copyright, this is a clear example of leveraging government to enforce artificial restrictions on the use of content in favor of the companies that seek to monetize said content.

    We have laws already in place for companies to lodge complaints with websites when their content is being used without license. But the content companies complain that it is too hard for them to find unlicensed use of their content. The solution via this act is to take down content on **possible** unlicensed use by the government and by other companies on a simple complaint.

    IF the PROTECT IP provided heavy penalties for false or inflated complaints, then okay. But it doesn't.

    IF the PROTECT IP provided for possible criminal charges should it be used to violate free speech as opposed to taking down infringing content, then okay. But it doesn't.

    IF the PROTECT IP provided fees and taxes on Big Content to cover the public expense of implementing the act, then okay. But it doesn't.

    ANY Government granted system of monopolies granted out to privileged parties, where such monopolies do not and in fact cannot exist without Government intervention, this is socialism. It is bad enough that we have copyrights that last over a hundred years, and that we cannot upload birthday videos because a song written in the 1800's is (most would say falsely) under copyright. That we have extend copyright terms without compensation to the public.

    But why should the public pick up the bill to enforce copyright?

    Make Big Content to pay for it, and make Big Content liable for misuse of it, and throw anyone in jail if they use it to inhibit free speech, then okay.

    But that won't fly. Because this is about making money, and Big Content can't make money if they are at risk, or have to pay for the enforcement of their own (supposed) rights.

    • Well done, sir! You have described the situation perfectly.

      Unfortunately, you will be eventually modded down mercilessly, for your use of the word "Socialism" as if it were a bad thing.

      • by paulsnx2 (453081)

        The comment was a troll, but aimed at those that might think this bill promotes capitalism. It does not, but rather copyright is about building artificial markets. Most Americans view socialism as the opposite of capitalism, and so I used the term loosely along those lines.

        I understand that economic models are more complex than that, but hey! It was a post written on a whim!

        • by mcvos (645701)

          Whatever it is, it's definitely not socialism. If the government took from the rich and gave to the poor, it might be. But it's the government taking from the poor (from everybody, really) and giving to the rich (Big Content). That's more like fascism, which is tends to include a very tight coupling between industry and government. Industry works for the government, and government works for the industry. You see a lot of that lately in the US (though it started with the military-industrial complex, obviousl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have NO idea, where you Americans get your definition of "socialism" from. FOX "News"?

      Because it couldn't be more wrong.

      What it actually resembles, is a fascist dictatorship. Which is what the GDR, and other so-called "socialist" states *actually* were.

      So PROTIP: Just because those countries called themselves "socialist" or "communist", doesn't mean they were.
      Just like if someone called the USA (or many, many other countries) "democratic". You would laugh at him for being so delusional.

      It's fascism. The m

      • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday July 04, 2011 @10:14PM (#36657110)

        I used the term as a troll. I can be honest and I can admit my faults. I haven't anything against socialism myself. But you have to understand that in the U.S. it is an awful insult to the Republicans among us. And if you look at the implementation of Copyright from a certain perspective, it is clear that this is a Government imposed right for a few being imposed upon the people. In the U.S. we usually call that socialism. It really isn't socialism, but that is what most people walking down the street would call it (when it is described in these terms).

        But I haven't any problem with considering copyright as being fascist. I have no problem considering copyright as terrorism.

        You know, you write a post and you take an angle and you go with it.

      • Socialism: giving taxpayer money to the poor. Capitalism: giving taxpayer money to the rich.
        • by paulsnx2 (453081)

          Okay, you win. This is capitalism assuming we don't give any significant portion of the copyright money to content creators.... And since they don't get more than a few percent of what is collected from copyright, I guess you win.

      • by ildon (413912)
      • by sFurbo (1361249)
        So, if these things aren't (weren't) socialist, what is? I don't see any non-true-Scotsman way to define it so that these countries aren't included and anything this side of the global revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is. And we already have several words for what is on the other side of $name_of _rapture_in_particular_religion$, the two most common being heaven and utopia, so I don't see the need for another. In that case, why not use the word "socialist" for the kind of society inevitabl
    • by devent (1627873)

      Laws that benefit the (poor) citizens, that is socialism and un-american. Laws that are benefiting the big cooperations that is free market, and as we know, if the big cooperations making tons of moneys that is good for everyone, and as such the American Dream.

    • by mcvos (645701)

      How is it socialism? In its most simplistic form, socialism takes from the haves and gives to the have-nots. This bill does the exact opposite: it gives more to the big players, and everybody else gets to pay for it.

  • This is just the latest example of what happens when you invest the kind of power that we have in government. Those levers will be used to attain the ends of whoever brings the most money to the table to coopt the people controlling it.
     

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      This is the same government people want to invest regulatory power in to enforce "net neutrality" - even though nothing that the government has proposed actually fits with what they themselves would actually call "net neutrality"

      Stop listening and start watching, folks. They are telling you one thing but doing another.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:40PM (#36656960) Journal
    Democrats are married to Hollywood. Anyone really surprised that they would try for a law which would let Hollywood to punish people as soon as they are accused of "piracy"?
    • by bmo (77928)

      >Democrats are married to Hollywood.

      Protip: Hollywood is an equal opportunity bribe^W campaign contribution machine.

      --
      BMO

      • by superwiz (655733) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:53PM (#36657020) Journal
        No, not really. Their contributions to Democrats dwarf their contributions to Republicans. When was the last time LA traffic was stopped because GW Bush went to Hollywood for a fundraiser? Never. It already happened twice in the 2.5 years of Obama's administration.
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:54PM (#36657022)

      Democrats are married to Hollywood.

      I believe the correct term is "civil union".

    • Unfortunately, while Democrats have a hard-on for Hollywood, 'Hollywood', in the sense that we are using here, consists largely of influential and rather parasitic multinational corporations, so they can be assured of Republican support.
  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:46PM (#36656994)

    I know that U.S. Senator John Cornyn doesn't read Slashdot, but hey! it is interesting...

    Nation: 90 percent oppose.
    Texas: 98 oppose.

      https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/s968/report#nation [popvox.com]

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:48PM (#36657004)

    ORGS ENDORSING
    Graphic Artists Guild
    Independent Film & Television Alliance
    Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

    ORGS OPPOSING
    American Association of Law Libraries
    American Library Association
    Association of Research Libraries
    Center for Democracy and Technology
    Demand Progress
    Don't Censor the Net!
    Fractured Atlas
    Public Knowledge
    Reporters Without Borders

    https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/s968/report#nation [popvox.com]

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@NospAm.ovi.com> on Monday July 04, 2011 @09:59PM (#36657040) Homepage

    You can have all the letters you want. You can roll sick kids in wheel chairs in to give speeches. If you didn't pay for the law, you don't get it's benefits. That's the way our new corporatist free enterprise system works.

    What do you expect for free?

    If you want a law, you hire a lobbyist. They will give you a quote, just like getting your driveway seal coated. You pay. You get what you want.

    Who do you think your congressmen and senators are working for anyway? You? Not likely.

    • Dude (or Dudette), let you not forget that unions, who, for exampe, pushed for Obama care and now have promptly petitioned to not be included in the provisions foisted upon everyone else.

      Lobbyists are the problem. ALL Lobbyists.

  • Constitution? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Monday July 04, 2011 @11:05PM (#36657334)
    I believe there is a section of the US constitution that prohibits punishing people without a trial. I realize that's a depreciated api but it's still worth noting that prior versions of us gov allowed such functions.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:53AM (#36657912)

    One of the most obvious targets of this kind of "copyright protection", applied to political speech, is Wikileaks. In many cases, the document owners did not consent for those documents to be published, so under the strictest interpretations of copyright law, without the political exceptions applied, they've already had their contribution funds siezed indefinitely by the relevant credit agencies. This would be just another spike in their destruction, much to the pleasure of corporate or government organizations whose secrets are exposed there.

  • This is a wedge in the door, the biggest so far, to allow the government to control the internet. This bill effectively allows government to close down any website they like almost on whim long before they get around to bringing the case to core, if ever. It is a continuance of precedent from the civil forfeiture laws in drug and other cases. Property is held to be guilty until proved innocent and is seized or shut down without any sort of due process.

    Don't just snigger sadly in year beer on this one. Fi

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