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Senate Panel Approves Website Shut-Down Bill 390

itwbennett writes "The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 19-0 in favor of a bill that would allow the Department of Justice to seek court orders to shut down websites offering materials believed to infringe copyright. 'Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products,' Senator Patrick Leahy, the main sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. 'If they existed in the physical world, the store would be shuttered immediately and the proprietors would be arrested. We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online and the owners operate overseas. The Internet needs to be free — not lawless.' However, the internet will likely remain 'lawless' for a while longer, as there are only a few working days left in the congressional session and the bill is unlikely to pass through the House of Representatives in that short amount of time."
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Senate Panel Approves Website Shut-Down Bill

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  • 19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:22PM (#34275080)

    The majority of the population does NOT want to see this pass, yet it made it through the Senate with NO opposition?

    I thought the government was for the people by the people. What a fucking joke.

  • um...whut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:22PM (#34275090)

    The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 19-0 in favor of a bill that would allow the Department of Justice to seek court orders to shut down websites offering materials believed to infringe copyright.

    The DOJ needed a senate bill to allow them to "seek court orders"? Getting a court order is usually where the process for this sort of thing STARTS.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:23PM (#34275110)

    I thought the government was for the people by the people. What a fucking joke.

    Don't be silly. Where there is "big money" there is a way.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:25PM (#34275152)

    No, the majority do not want to give the government the power to censor or restrict our freedoms without due process of law.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:27PM (#34275170) Journal

    We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online and the owners operate overseas.

    Why not? You can excuse the behavior if it happens offline and the owners operate overseas.

    Or are there American law enforcement officials going and raiding shops in China that are selling pirated copies of Windows?

    And I don't think letting the DoJ decide who gets shut down or not is entirely fair. You know that Google/Youtube ends up hosting copyrighted material every now and then - and then they get notified and they end up taking it down (or taking out the audio track). So if I host a little site for me and a few role players - and one of them posts a bit of a DnD Manual - am I at risk of my website being cut off from Americans without notice? Or worse - taken down entirely somehow?

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:28PM (#34275196)
    I may not agree with this decision, but I think there is a reason we don't directly vote on every issue. We instead delegate that to people who have the time to understand the issues and then vote on them appropriately. Also our system accounts for the fact that while the majority may favor this or that, it also matters how MUCH each person cares about each issue....that is how they prioritize such things in electing a representative. Maybe the majority favors something, but the minority that doesn't, cares much more strongly about it.

    Our system is flawed in many, many ways (corruption comes to mind), but the fact that something can win without majority support of the electorate is not one of them, in my opinion.
  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:31PM (#34275242)

    My beef is that it made it through a government committee with no opposition, when the majority of citizens do not or would not wish to give these powers to the government, who is supposed to act in the best interests of the majority.

    I don't know that it will make it through the H.O.R. (haha "whore") but it's shocking to see not a single 'nay' vote on something in such dispute in the real world.

  • by Tangential ( 266113 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:33PM (#34275276) Homepage
    Its very difficult to come up with an example of the legislative branch (or the judicial or the executive for that matter) doing a thorough, cogent job of dealing with technology and the law.

    For the most part, their investors..er...campaign donors tell them what to believe and how to vote and that is as deep as it goes.

    The sad thing is that over time, we'll end up with some legislators who get it, but by then, the current level of corruption will have been instiitutionalized and they will be so unacquainted with the Constitution and ethics and so beholden to the donations of their masters that it won't make much difference.
  • by gam3 ( 114294 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:34PM (#34275300) Homepage Journal

    Just like a digital store, except that nothing is being sold.
    So like a digital free box, or giving away a used DVD, or
    letting your neighbor come over and watch the ballgame on you TV.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:38PM (#34275370)
    Depending on how you ask the question, I'm sure you could get "the majority" to say pretty much whatever you want. There are many freedoms that can be restricted without due process, assuming you define "freedom" to include "ability to do whatever you please, legal or not".
  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:40PM (#34275392)
    Sure, then all they need to do is find a friendly judge that will rubber-stamp these types of requests. I'm sure there are plenty of federal judges who have bought the **AA's propaganda enough to agree to shut down any website they're asked to in the name of protecting copyright.

    A court order should not be enough to shut down someone's free speech rights. If they want to shut down a website they should have to actually bring charges against the website owner, and have the site shut down only following an actual conviction.
  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:40PM (#34275398)

    Yeah, but it made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee; you know, the committee that is charged with upholding the constitution. The idea that something that should be a very contentious topic makes it through a committee who's primary responsibility is supposed to be safeguarding our constitutional rights without a single vote against it is, at the very least, concerning.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:41PM (#34275424)

    I have to disagree here.

    The majority are the working class, who's time is taken up by things like work, school, and children and who's thoughts tend to focus on things like what bills are due, if their kids are healthy, etc.

    The minority, in this case politicians, don't "care" more about the issue. They just don't have the day-to-day issues that the majority has to worry about. Why should what they, being in the minority, want hold more weight than what we, the majority, want? They must forget, we may be in a lower "class", but we are the blood that flows through the veins and keeps this country running, pay the bills of these politicians, and our voices should be heard louder than theirs.

  • "or dangerous" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:41PM (#34275428) Journal

    So what's this "or dangerous" bit? Ammunition [midwayusa.com]? Websites promoting cults [scientology.org]? Websites attacking [clambake.org] cults? Websites selling material that promotes anything [amazon.com] that senators don't like, like free thought [paladinpress.com], opposing political positions [lp.org], naked bodies that they can't grope for themselves [tsa.gov]?

    This ain't about piracy, people.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by master0ne ( 655374 ) <emberingdeadN05P4M&gmail,com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:42PM (#34275464)

    im in opposition of the bill as well, but im just curious as to your logic here.... if "Getting a court order is not due process." , than what constitutes "due process"? If this gets signed into law, i say there should be a proceedure that requires due diligance to prove the offence before the court order is issued, however i prefer that this bill not pass at all. Just wondering what your logic is, because if you are correlating this to the real world, all they need to raid your house, or shut down your buisness is a court order, and this seems to serve as "due process" just fine.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:48PM (#34275600)

    if this is the burden of proof "materials believed to infringe copyright" then it isn't proof.

    you can believe anything you want .. doesn't mean its right..

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mistiry ( 1845474 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:49PM (#34275602)

    In order to obtain a warrant to perform a raid on my house, law enforcement is required to show evidence that justifies their action.

    All that is required in this instance is someone saying "hey, whatever.com could potentially infringe my copyright!" and the court can order it shut down.

    There is no evidence required. There is no panel to vote whether or not whatever.com is actually performing infringing activities or just offering a service that SOME people have abused for the purposes of infringement.

    If some kid posts a clip of a TV show on You Tube, under this 'law', the courts could block access for every single citizen, even though YouTube is not directly responsible for that kids' actions.

  • by Target Practice ( 79470 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:51PM (#34275650)

    Love this part under Non-Domestic Domains, Required Actions...
    (i) a service provider ... or other operator of a domain name system server shall take reasonable steps that will prevent a domain name from resolving to that domain name’s Internet protocol address;

    So, we'll just refuse to resolve any domains that are outside the jurisdiction of the US, but that are deemed to offend the standards listed here? This, to me, sounds a bit like that whole filtering of information thing that Secretary Clinton said was a Bad Thing in China.

  • Just web sites? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by booyabazooka ( 833351 ) <ch.martin@gmail.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:56PM (#34275734)

    So other Internet stuff like FTP is still safe?

  • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:00PM (#34275786) Homepage Journal
    Which brings up an interesting point: How would a government org go about shutting down a rogue server? Lets pretend it is hosted in some remote country, so sending a CnD letter is probably ineffective. Blocking the DNS entries will just result in people putting up non-us filtered DNS servers, and you are playing whack a mole to try to find them and block them. You could put ip-filters on all the trunks going in and out of the country, but that's another game of whack a mole, since any proxy server outside the country can redirect.

    I am not a networking expert, but even if you had the political will to do this, it seems to me it would be no more than an inconvenience for anyone determined enough.
  • Re:19-0? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:03PM (#34275834)

    Then failure to observe due process lies with the low-to-nonexistent evidential standard, not with the fact that a court order is involved. Thus the GP is correct about your previous post; the statement "a court order is not due process" is inaccurate.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:08PM (#34275890) Homepage Journal

    Who PAYS for pirated material?

    Anyone who has bought a copy of the film Song of the South on DVD-R at the flea market, sold by someone ignorant of copyright term extension acts who thinks U.S. copyright on works published under the Copyright Act of 1909 still lasts 56 years as it did when they were published.

    Or anyone who bought a copy of the album All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. A court ruled that the song "My Sweet Lord", which appears on this album and accounted for the supermajority of this album's airplay, was an infringing copy of "He's So Fine" by Ronald Mack, which the Chiffons had popularized.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:22PM (#34276054) Homepage Journal
    The majority of the population does NOT have a clue, if a politician (or a hired actor, or whatever) tells them that this is right, they will believe so. Don't worry, happens the same in the election of presidents, most vote what media tells them.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:34PM (#34276244)
    I imagine it'll be used in a similar way to DMCA requests are now as a means to silence criticisms. Imagine, just as a hypothetical example, the Church of Scientology seeking court orders to shut down sites that expose the very strange teachings of their higher level texts. Or a software company trying to surpress news of a security breach by shutting down any sites publishing it, on the grounds that the exploit requires the modification of copyrighted code, or a celebrity trying to stop the distribution of some embarassing video that escaped from a private party or a members-only invited speech. All things that the DMCA has been used for in the past - but this new measure is somewhat more effective, because if the recieving end doesn't comply you can just have their server unplugged or site blocked rather than having to spend weeks on civil action that would more likely than not just lead to the undesired embarassment being further publicised.
  • by Paracelcus ( 151056 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:34PM (#34276254) Journal

    The talking pieces of shit in Washington seem to think they control the Internet.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid ( 1040118 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:09PM (#34276664)
    Of course, the law will not apply to them, just like the labor laws, civil rights laws . . .
  • Re:19-0? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:30PM (#34276858)

    Maybe I'm missing something, but how exactly do they propose to "pull the plug" on WikiLeaks, or any foreign-hosted website? Unless they put in a government-operated Great Firewall (a la China) on all links coming into the USA, it's technically impossible to block foreign websites.

  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:41PM (#34276940) Homepage Journal
    There just isn't a need for a perfect block.

    yes there is if you want it to work.

    Because information on the Internet is fast and free, if 1 person finds a way around your block 5 minutes after it is in place, 10 million people can know about it in under a day, and your little information embargo is a futile exercise. If you made the same comment about how 'security through obscurity works' in the context of OS security, you would be laughed off Slashdot. Why would general blocking of sites be any different?
  • by apenzott ( 821513 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:50PM (#34277020)

    I doubt that these senators have considered the possibly that being able to shut down an offending site (say Bing, Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, Youtube, ) wouldn't have significant collateral damage.

    This is equivalent to shutting down an entire mall (which happens to include an office for the County Tax Assessor, small FBI field office, post office and police substation) on the account of one bad employee grossly (mis)representing the interests of the merchant renting space in said mall.

    Bottom line:
    Merely having such a kill switch is not a license use it indiscriminately and not face the consequences of its misuse.
    (Notice that engineers are required to retain errors and omissions insurance for bad engineering decisions, but no legislator is required to retain insurance for passing of bad laws.)

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:54PM (#34277082)

    "The poor people stealing a few fucking movies hurts NO ONE."

    Don't you mean "the people copying data hurt no one"? Stealing implies that they've deprived someone of something, which is not something that 'pirates' do.

  • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:55PM (#34277096) Journal

    There cannot be multiple root zones. That just is not feasible. But the US only controls the gTLDs and one ccTLD. The other TLDs are owned by their respective countries. The US cannot have them removed from the root without causing a major incident, the result of which would include the Internet Society appointing some other organization as IANA (and thus killing ICANN and US control of the DNS).

    Explanation: ICANN exists solely to be a policy creating shell around the IANA. Legally the Internet Society (ISOC) is the only company in the world with any reasonable claim to being able to appoint an IANA. The organizations the ISOC consists of (IETF, IESG, IAB, RFC-EDITOR) had agreed to allow ICANN to have the role of IANA, but they could revoke that agreement.

    If an RFC is published naming a new international entity as the IANA there is little reason to suspect the companies running the root servers would not use the root zone published by the new IANA, as long as they got similar say in policy making as they had with ICANN.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melikamp ( 631205 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:01PM (#34277152) Homepage Journal

    I know nothing about the actual work or purpose of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but I do know the fundamentals. You Yanks have separated your government into 3 major branches with the intention for them to work against each other and check each other's power. It would seem to me entirely reasonable that the Senate Judiciary Committee exists for the sole purpose of subverting the work done by the Supreme Court: these are the people who, akin to John Yoo, work hard to establish just how much trash they can drive through the Constitutional checkpoint. I don't even believe that it is necessarily a bad thing (the law must evolve), I just would not expect them to be the guardians of the Constitution, since it is clearly not their job.

  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:13PM (#34277240)

    We do plenty.

    Us smart folks that have a clue though just get drowned out in the noise among the sheep that get hynotized by corporate run media that sponsors these egregious rights violations in the first place.

    Not to mention that this is a lame duck session taking place after we've already given them notice to quit.

    They already know damn well we can't do a thing.

    What are they going to do? Get impeached by their buddies eating out of the same trough?

  • Re:19-0? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:23PM (#34277338)

    Do you really think Senators and Representatives have any problem creating things like the Great American Firewall? Remember, these are the people who brought you TSA and the 1-quart freedom pouch.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @10:02PM (#34277608)

    What are they going to do when everyone starts using offshore DNS servers? Using a different DNS server is trivial.

  • Sure there can (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @10:26PM (#34277784)

    The "root zone" is in fact only the root zone for the root-servers.net roots. You can, and people have, created alternate root servers. You can do it in your house if you like. You can make your own root zone, own TLDs, etc. Nobody but you will probably use them, but you can do it.

    So what the EU could do is make an organization, call it EUCANN (pronounced you can) because it is relevant and funny. Have that organization organization maintain a root file and setup a bunch of root servers that get their info from it. Initially, just mirror the ICANN root file. Once the system is up and running and stable, get popular DNS programs like BIND and the MS DNS server to include your roots too. Shouldn't be hard, just that much more stable for them. Heck maybe they'll prefer those roots in the EU zone. Once your system is running and useful, then contact ICANN and say "Hey, how about we split the root responsibility. We'll be responsible for all EU countries, you for everything else." So the root file isn't really split, but if the EU updates EU zone info, ICANN mirrors that, if ICANN updates other info, EUCANN mirrors that.

    Normally, this has little effect other than that EUCANN could decide if a given company should get control of a given TLD instead of ICANN. However in the event ICANN flips their lid and does shit they shouldn't, well then EUCANN doesn't have to go along with it. Say ICANN decides that France if full of dirty liberals and terrorists and simply gets rid of .fr. EUCANN can refuse to mirror that. People can then use the EUCANN roots and not the effectively damaged ICANN ones.

    It would provide resilience against any one country being a dick about things.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:41PM (#34278240)

    Don't worry, they'll give you a special "free speech zone" that you can exercise your free speech in.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:44PM (#34278254)

    What are they going to do when everyone starts using offshore DNS servers? Using a different DNS server is trivial.

    Besides, the Domain Name System is a convenience, a layer on top of the underlying packet-switched network. It's a lot tougher to globally block specific IP addresses. But in the end, the network works as well as it does, because DNS can be depended upon to work the same way, everywhere. I hate to say it, as an American (and because I really didn't want to believe that our leaders are, frankly, so fucking stupid) but I will accept that this kind of irrational "we run the Internet" mindset just makes us into a liability. DNS is a service that the United States (under the dubious auspices of Network Solutions and Verisign) have provided the world for free, and which has offered incalculable political and economic benefits for everyone. Why our leaders can't understand that, and realize that the trillions of dollars of raw economic value alone that the Internet has provided to date, far outweigh the needs of a couple of criminal cartels.

    And, as you point out, switching to a different server is trivial (so long as your ISP hasn't been ordered to block such access) but the benefits of a centralized, coherent Domain Name System will be lost if everyone in the world begins setting up their own DNS clones.

    These assholes are playing with fire. I hope they realize that.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tagno25 ( 1518033 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @05:09AM (#34279454)

    Sounds just like China's Great Firewall. So much for freedom...

    Except blocking it on the root DNS would block the site for almost the entire planet.

  • Re:19-0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @05:59AM (#34279616)

    "So you're okay with me stealing your shit if I can say you weren't going to use it anyhow, and hence weren't deprived of anything?"

    Well, no, I'm not okay with you stealing from me because then you have deprived me of something that I previously owned, which is something that pirates don't do. Pirates aren't stealing physical objects, they are making copies of data, and in the process, not a single person is deprived of anything. Don't compare it to stealing physical objects. Seriously.

    "Doesn't matter if someone is deprived or not"

    Yes, it does. If they're not being deprived of anything then how are they being hurt?

    "you're not authorized to make a copy."

    Right now, you mean. My entire point is that they should stop trying to restrict an action that hurts no one and actually fix the broken system that forces artists to try to utilize artificial scarcity.

  • Re:I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:03AM (#34279916)
    Hypothetically, if accessing Facebook required users spend an hour googling and fiddling with proxy servers, so you think it would be commercially viable?

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan