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Government Censorship Electronic Frontier Foundation Piracy Privacy United States Your Rights Online

Stop Online Piracy Act Supports Blacklisting, Says EFF 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-any-other-name dept.
hessian writes with this quote from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the Stop Online Piracy Act: "Of course the word 'blacklist' does not appear in the bill's text — the folks who wrote it know Americans don't approve of blatant censorship. The early versions of PROTECT-IP, the Senate's counterpart to SOPA, did include an explicit Blacklist Provision, but this transparent attempt at extrajudicial censorship was so offensive that the Senate had to re-write that part of the bill. However, provisions that encourage unofficial blacklisting remained, and they are still alive and well in SOPA. First, the new law would allow the Attorney General to cut off sites from the Internet, essentially 'blacklisting' companies from doing business on the web. Under section 102, the Attorney General can seek a court order that would force search engines, DNS providers, servers, payment processors, and advertisers to stop doing business with allegedly infringing websites. Second, the bill encourages private corporations to create a literal target list—a process that is ripe for abuse."
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Stop Online Piracy Act Supports Blacklisting, Says EFF

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @01:26AM (#37995820)

    So much time and effort is spent on failing to try to stop the potential loss of hypothetical profit. Even if you're pro-copyright, I still don't understand it. It seems to be treated as some kind of national emergency that must be 'corrected' right now. So many draconian laws being rushed through (and made in secret) just to stop such a small thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the reason being, the government would love to have these powers and is just looking for an excuse to implement this bs.
      the internet is the single biggest threat to the corrupt system on this planet!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, just no, the record industry were complaining long before the Internet was in the mainstream, back in the 80's and early 90's the industry was complaining that "Home taping is killing music" It never did and it was just FUD for its time.

    • by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @01:59AM (#37995966) Homepage
      i think it's a lot simpler than anyone's thinking. yes, government would love to have these powers. but the bottom line is that the US is no longer a manufacturing powerhouse. our economy is gasping breaths on service industries and intellectual property creation, two things where the US can still claim a measure of global superiority. of COURSE the government is going to do everything it can to prop up its two biggest cash cows.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        An economy relying on music and movies... yeah sounds like a great idea.

        Hey we could write a song about censorship over a song and dance?

      • by bky1701 (979071)
        Which makes us a banana republic, since there is a point that the rest of the world just abolishes copyright and ignores us.
      • by Znork (31774)

        Intellectual property doesn't make an economy more competitive. In itself its effects are roughly equivalent to a very high sales tax on specific goods with the only difference being it's privately collected. However, economic waste grows from protected revenue streams so it's easily on par with the worst tax funded agencies in inefficiency.

        It's not a coincidence that 'manufacturing powerhouses' and growing economies have much laxer IP laws. If the west wanted to get competitive on the global arena again, t

      • by bberens (965711)
        Our biggest export is weapons, we're still really good at making those.
    • by blarkon (1712194) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @02:23AM (#37996074)
      Comes down to 8% of US GDP being earned directly out of the film/TV/music/books and commercial software industries. There is also a lot of "cultural soft power" earned out of those industries. US films/TV/books and music have substantially influenced the world's attitudes about things like government, trade and a whole lot of other things. If you were a government and on one side you had people saying "yes, you can maintain that 8% of GDP by giving it all away for free" and the other side saying "piracy is killing our revenue" - what would your rational course of action be?
    • I'm pro-copyright, but I believe the copyright term should not exceed 15 years (with the possibility for a one-time, 15 year extension provided: 1. the work be registered, 2. a DRM-free copy be provided in the highest quality available, and 3. a hefty fee be paid to avoid frivolous extensions, limiting this to Triple-A "properties"). That being said, non-commercial, private-use copying should be legal as well as a generous fair use/dealings provision.

      The problem is that quite a number of politicians appear

      • by cpghost (719344)

        The problem is that quite a number of politicians appear to be in the pocket of Big Content (...)

        The problem is bigger than mere corruption, it's also one of blackmailing. Politicians who adopt an anti-copyright stance are likely to be character-assassinated by Big Content, and since they depend heavily on their reputation (yeah, I know, it's semi-ironic) for votes, they can't afford to publicly oppose the will of the MAFIAA cartel, even if they're not openly bribed.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        That would be much better than now! 30 years does seem like a long time though. How about 15 years with possibility for a 5 year extension 3 times? You can still get 30 that way still but you have to really have a good reason to keep paying for it. (I'm assuming the original copyright is free but extensions are significant money).

        Where is the DRM free copy stored? I assume it isn't publicly available until after the copyright expires! Then it could be automatically made available to everyone the same
      • This sounds far more reasonable than current law, however, rather than picking a number out of a hat it may be possible to gather data on the subject with the intent of maximizing the profit potential and the speed at which material enters the public domain. And then, of course, picking a completely arbitrary number with no relation to said data.

        For the purposes of parody, copyright duration is already nil. Additionally most fan-created works escape infringement lawsuits. A world without copyright would not

    • by westlake (615356)

      So much time and effort is spent on failing to try to stop the potential loss of hypothetical profit. Even if you're pro-copyright, I still don't understand it.

      The production budget for "How To Train Your Dragon" $165 million.
      Theatrical gross, domestic $218 million.
      Global, $495 million.

      Clean industry. High tech. Skilled labor. Favorable balance of trade. This is not a tough sell for the politician come November.

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @03:15AM (#37996268)

      "I still don't understand it."

      Read all about the enclosure movement. It's the same drive for profit and power that brought both slavery and capitalism into existence, human beings once they become rich think it's their right to be rich in perpetuity and hide behind vague language and con artistry under the guise of noble ideals or fairness.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure [wikipedia.org]

      The drive to enclose is currently happening to games right now with MMO's and DRM. I imagine we'll start to see trojan horse of trusted computing rear it's head sooner or later or it will be slowly phased in. If I remember correctly Nintendo (and other companies I can't remember at the moment) is behind this kind of act and others like it as well.

      We really need a revolt against this kind of bullshit.

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @04:32AM (#37996606)
        But the people have plenty of food, and entertainment via television and games. That's enough to silence any revolt. The romans figured that one out long ago. The most you'll see in the modern US revolt-wise is an increase in people going on forums and complaining that someone else really should start a revolt.
    • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:36AM (#37996926)

      Notice that its not the content creators that are pushing for this, its the content distributors (although many of them are also creators).
      Its not about piracy, its about the fact that the Internet (as it stands now) increasingly has the power to remove the content distributors as gatekeepers of the worlds content. And the big distributors are fearful that they will lose control over how content is distributed, what content is distributed and what content gets promoted (and what content does not)

      • by Raenex (947668)

        You'd have a point if content distributors were stopping content creators from putting out content on their own, but they aren't. This is all about content that was created under contract, and distributors don't like sites that give it away without their consent.

        In fact, if creators really don't want this, they have as a class the power to never do business with any of the old gateways. The thing is, many content creators like to get paid for their work and have dreams of money and fame, and see the old gat

    • by jythie (914043)
      The thing is, it is not about money, at least not directly and not at an industry level.

      It is about power, and some very powerful people feeling emasculated by not having complete and total control over the deals around media they control. Part of the problem is, this is an industry where if you are seen as weak you will be passed over or cliqued out, pissing contests are how you get your job, how you keep it, how you network, and how you make deals/clients. Stuff like this makes them feel strong,
  • Anyone remember how well the No Fly List thing is working out, or the TSA? sigh
  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inhuman_4 (1294516) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @01:44AM (#37995908)

    It sounds like they wrote this legislation intending for it to be abused. Does anyone seriously think that this will stop piracy? That they won't simply move to another country?

    This is just a pretext for giving the government the authority to censor the internet. The corporations will abuse this like crazy, using the broadest interpretation of "infringement" they can. Probably also be used a revenge tool between entities like the patent trolls we see more and more of.

    Once the mechanism is in place for censorship you can be sure the government itself will start blacklisting things they don't like. Probably with gag orders attached so no one knows what is being blacklisted. Just like warrantless wiretaps.

    The American people oppose blacklists for a very good reason, this is just an attempt to use fancy wording to achieve the same ends.

    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sirlark (1676276) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @02:15AM (#37996040)
      Piracy? What about the wikileaks payment embargo? Doing something like that to the next 'threat to national security' will not only be much easier, i.e. won't require voluntary action on the part of payment processors, but will also be legal and not open to challenge.
    • Re:Scary (Score:4, Informative)

      by lennier1 (264730) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @02:43AM (#37996164)

      At least it's more honest than in Europe countries where politicians/lobbyists in several countries were using the fight against child abuse as a pretense for the implementation of such censorship systems.

      Just look at Australia, where there's already rampant abuse of online filters which were introduced like that:
      http://nocleanfeed.com/learn.html [nocleanfeed.com]

      The list of material that will be banned under a mandatory filter is much broader than illegal child sexual abuse material. Based on previous decisions of the Classification Board, it includes:

              Information about euthanasia;
              Movies such as Ken Park or Baise-Moi;
              Books such as Join the Caravan and Defence of the Muslim Lands
              Many, many computer games, because Australia lacks an R18+ rating, although the filter will not immediately ban such games.

      Items that have been banned because they 'promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence' include things such as:

              A satirical article title "The Art of Shoplifting" in a student newspaper (see libertus.net's summary of the case).
              A computer game that features "an amateur graffiti artist [...] who uses graffiti and tagging as a way to protest the corrupt Dystopic city of New Radius, in a future world where freedom of expression is suppressed by a tyrannical, Orwellian city government" (wikipedia) because it "provided elements of promotion of the crime of graffiti." (see libertus.net's summary of the decision).

      • by lennier1 (264730)

        European countries, asian countries, ...
        It's a worldwide problem.

        Actually, I'm surprised it took the country, which brought you the search for Iraqui WMD, Homeland "Security" and our favorite TSA gropers, this long.

      • by Jarryd98 (1677746)
        Blacklisting of the highlighted example (digital) items via the internet filter was never enacted in practice, other than during selective trials - as far as I'm aware.

        It's important to remember that plans to introduce national filtering were first publicly announced mid-way through Labor's past term. The policy was quietly shelved (albeit not indefinitely - Conroy became less vocal in regards to promoting the policy) during the later stages of Labor's re-election campaign.

        It's still a significant thr
    • It could make piracy substantially harder, or at least that piracy that uses centralised websites like torrents. Those sites take money to run, which typically comes either from advertising or user donations. A financial blacklist means no US company can transfer money to them, which means that unless they have a sponsor willing to foot the entire bill they can't operate. Worked on Wikileaks - currently unable to raise funds because it just isn't possible for supporters to send money.
    • The American people oppose blacklists for a very good reason, this is just an attempt to use fancy wording to achieve the same ends.

      The American people oppose black lists? What makes you think that? Pretty sure there aren't many Americans who have thought through the advantages and disadvantages of blacklists and whitelists, and I don't mean that as a criticism.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why you US folk still haven't killed some senators or congress men is beyond me.
      I thought your constitution specifically allowed you to keep guns for that very purpose?

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @04:41AM (#37996652)

    At some point, one begins to wonder what's worse -- the Chinese government being upfront about their censorship and their belief that the government is more important than the people whom it governs; or the Americans and Europeans and Australians who pass these laws in the name of liberty? If totalitarianism must be implemented, isn't it worse with the doublespeak?

    At least the Chinese method of honesty fashions a disciplined citizenship whereas this western Orwellianism depends on fools who believe the definition of a word is its antonym. And thus begins the Idiotocracy. China's starting to look not so bad.

    • the Chinese government being upfront about their censorship

      You don't actually think the Chinese government goes out of their way to tell the Chinese people that they're being censored, do you? Most Chinese people don't know that they're being censored, and frankly don't care.

      • But if you told the ones who don't know that they're being censored, do you think they would be surprised? Many probably wouldn't even understand the moral complaint regarding censorship (e.g. - if people can say whatever they want, then they can lie, slander, mislead, etc. - all governments partake in censorship, it's just a matter of to what degree).

        If tomorrow Wikileaks reveals some nefarious action by the NSA that no one knew about, would you be surprised? At this point, would anyone but a vocal minorit

    • What the fuck? "Disciplined citizenship"? Where the hell did that dumbass idea come from? Chinese hate their government, they are fully convinced it's shit (and they're right). Hundreds of millions of Chinese would move to the West tomorrow, if they could only get visas and there wasn't an inconvenient ocean in the way (Mexico FTW!)

      China doesn't look so bad, eh? Why don't you come here and live under a real, live totalitarian government? Oh, you won't be doing that, right? What a fuckin' surprise.

      • Why don't you come here and live in Gary, Indiana? Oh, you won't be doing that, right? What a fuckin' surprise.

        While I still love my good 'old U.S. of A., it is facing a rapid decline, whereas China is still the fastest growing economy in the world.

        btw, 'disciplined citizenship' means that less crimes are committed. In America, crime is a burgeoning culture and has been since the 20s. We incarcerate far more people than China does - both in total numbers and percentage-wise. Nothing says freedom quite like

  • Would the content of the blacklists be public?

  • If private companies are encouraged to provide candidates for the blacklists, then why not start with submitting a list including all the MAFIAA companies and the US political party (the differences between the two main parties in the US are so small that they should be seen as the single party of the US).
    • (the differences between the two main parties in the US are so small that they should be seen as the single party of the US).

      What utter nonsense!

      The Demoblicans are nothing like the Republicrats!

  • Cyberpunk is Now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:40AM (#37996940)

    Things like this make it seem like the 'cyberpunk' dystopias of William Gibson novels are quickly becoming reality. Laws have some eerie parallels with with alcohol prohibition. The word 'escalation' comes to mind.

    Gordon: What about escalation?

    Batman: Escalation?

    Gordon: We start carrying semi-automatics and they buy automatics. We start wearing kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds.

    Batman: Yeah?

    Gordon: And you're wearing a mask. Jumping off rooftops.

    This is why Gibson's newer novels take place in the present rather than the future. Professional scammers, Anonymous, Wikileaks . . . an escalation of black hats, grey hats, and white hats respectively. Pieces of legislation like this won't do much to curb piracy but they will cause further escalation. Create a new class of criminals - ones much worse than current black hats, but ones the black hats will come to depend on. All of a sudden Neuromancer doesn't seem all that unrealistic.

    • by cpghost (719344)
      Interestingly, dystopian stories are often a useful predictor of things yet to come in real life. Maybe because those stories are based on seeds that are ALREADY planted in society, just waiting to come out. Or, said another way, every society carries the seeds of its own destruction, just like a dormant virus. Dystopian stories are an early warning sign of that disease.
  • by Meneth (872868)
    This word just so happens to be the singular form of "garbage" in Swedish [wiktionary.org].
  • by rjejr (921275)
    I think we need a bill supporting more piracy if NBC / Warner can't even get their free OTA tv program online somewhere. Which begs the question - if it's given away freely, is it really stealing? I pay for cable, I pay for my tv, I pay for the electric, I pay for my broadband internet, I pay real estate taxes to live in the US to be able to view these shows, and now I miss 1 episode of Chuck free on tv Friday night so now I have to become a criminal. Screw you all.
  • There are unfortunately legal precedents that establish clearly that ignorance of the law is not a defense. In this case, it means that if you downloaded an illegal file, hacked commercial application, cracked DVD movie, or whatever, you are indeed guilty of an illegal act and can, theoretically at least and thusly liable for prosecution. Part of the problem is that some of the tasks you can do on your computer are indeed considered illegal, even if common sense suggests that they should be perfectly legal

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