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Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA? 1002

Wednesday is here, and with it sites around the internet are going under temporary blackout to protest two pieces of legislation currently making their way through the U.S. Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA). Wikipedia, reddit, the Free Software Foundation, Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, imgur, Mozilla, and many others have all made major changes to their sites or shut down altogether in protest. These sites, as well as technology experts (PDF) around the world and everyone here at Slashdot, think SOPA and PIPA pose unacceptable risks to freedom of speech and the uncensored nature of the internet. The purpose of the protests is to educate people — to let them know this legislation will damage websites you use and enjoy every day, despite being unrelated to the stated purpose of both bills. So, we ask you: what can you do to stop SOPA and PIPA? You may have heard the House has shelved SOPA, and that President Obama has pledged not to pass it as-is, but the MPAA and SOPA-sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) are trying to brush off the protests as a stunt, and Smith has announced markup for the bill will resume in February. Meanwhile, PIPA is still present in the Senate, and it remains a threat. Read on for more about why these bills are bad news, and how to contact your representative to let them know it.

Note: This will be the last story we post today until 6pm EST in protest of SOPA.
Why is it bad?

The Stop Online Piracy Act is H.R.3261, and the Protect-IP Act is S.968.

The intent of both pieces of legislation is to combat online piracy, giving the Attorney General and the Department of Justice power to block domain name services and demand that links be stripped from sites not involved in piracy. The problem is that the legislation, as written, is vague and overly-broad. For one thing, it classifies internet sites as "foreign" or "domestic" based entirely on their domain name. A site hosted abroad like Wikileaks.org could be classified as "domestic" because the .org TLD is registered through a U.S. authority. By defining it as "domestic," Wikileaks would then fall under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws. Other provisions are worded even more poorly: in Section 103, SOPA lays out the definition for a "foreign infringing site" as one where "the owner or operator of such Internet site is committing or facilitating the commission of criminal violations punishable under [provisions relating to counterfeiting and copyright infringement]." The problematic word is facilitating, as it opens the door to condemning sites that simply link to other sites.

The most obvious implication of this is that search engines would suddenly be responsible for monitoring and policing everything they index. Google indexed its trillionth concurrent URL in 2008. Can you imagine how many people it would take to double check all of them for infringing content? But the job wouldn't end at simply looking at them — Google would have to continually monitor them. Google would also have to somehow keep track of the billions of new sites that spring up daily, many of which would be trying to avoid close scrutiny. Of course, it's an impossible task, so there would need to be automated solutions. Automation being imperfect, it would leave us with false positives. Or perhaps sites would need to be "approved" to be listed. Either way, we'd then be dealing with censorship on a massive scale, and the infringing sites themselves would continue to pop up.

But the problems don't end there; in fact, SOPA defines "Internet search engine" as a service that "searches, crawls, categorizes, or indexes information or Web sites available elsewhere on the Internet" and links to them. That's pretty much what we do here at Slashdot. It's also something the fine folks at Wikipedia and reddit do on a regular basis. The strength of all three sites is that they're heavily dependent on user-generated content. Every day at Slashdot, readers deposit hundreds and hundreds of links into our submissions bin. Thousands of comments are made daily. We have a system to surface the good content, but the chaff still exists. If we suddenly had a mandate to retroactively filter out all the links to potentially copyright-infringing sites in our database, we wouldn't have many options. We're talking about reviewing hundreds of thousands of submissions, and every comment on 117,000+ stories. And we're far from the biggest site around — imagine social networks needing to police their content, and all the privacy issues that would raise.

Small sites and new sites would be hurt, too. A website isn't a single, discrete entity that exists on its own. A new company starting up a site would have to worry about its webhost, registrar, content provider, ISP, etc. The legislation would also raise significant financial obstacles. New companies need investments, and that would be much less likely (PDF) if the company could be held liable for content uploaded by users. On top of that, if the site was unable to live up to the vague standards set by the government and the entertainment industry, they could be on the receiving end of a lawsuit, which would be expensive to fight even if they won (and such laws would never, ever be abused). It's hard to conceptualize the internet without noting its unrivaled growth, and SOPA/PIPA would surely stifle it.

This legislation hits near and dear to the hearts of many Slashdotters; if SOPA/PIPA pass, IT staff for companies small and large are going to have their hands full making sure they aren't opening themselves to legal action or government intervention. Mailing lists, used commonly and extensively among open source software projects, would be endangered. Code repositories would need be scoured for infringing content; the bill allows for the strangling of revenue sources if its anti-infringement rules aren't being met. VPN and proxy services become only questionably legal. The very nature of the open source community — as the EFF puts it, "decentralized, voluntary, international" — is not compatible with the burdens placed on internet sites by SOPA and PIPA.

What can we do?

So, what can we do about it? There are two big things: contact your representative, and spread the word. Slashdot readers, on the whole, are more technically-minded than the average internet user, so you're all in a position to share your wisdom with the less internet-savvy people in your life, and get them to contact their representative, too. Here's some useful information for doing so:

Propublica has a list of all SOPA/PIPA supporters and opponents.
Here is the Senate contact list and the House contact list.
You can also use the EFF's form-letter, the Stop American Censorship form-letter, or sign Google's petition.
If you don't live in the U.S., you can petition the State Department. (And yes, you have a dog in this fight.)
SOPAStrike has a list of companies participating in the protest, and this crowd-sourced Google Doc tracks companies that support the legislation. Tell those companies what you think.

Further reading: Wikipedia has left their SOPA and PIPA pages up. The EFF has a series of articles explaining in more depth what is wrong with the bills. Here are some protest letters written to Congress from human rights groups, law professors, and internet companies.

Go forth and educate.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA?

Comments Filter:
  • Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:09AM (#38737336)
    Making sure that everyone knows what is happening and what is at stake is probably the most useful thing anyone can do.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:09AM (#38737338)

    Include a big campaign contribution with your letter if you want to make sure it's not just thrown in the trash or just added to the pile.

  • One other thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jholyhead ( 2505574 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:12AM (#38737360)
    ...work on ways to bypass SOPA and PIPA. Congress doesn't care that it will censor the internet, because they're the ones who will be doing the censoring. Censorship always makes perfect sense to the censors

    Creating undetectable breaches of such unenforceable laws is the way out of this mess and those workarounds might just work in China too. So you'll be saving the internet and advancing human rights in China all at the same time.
  • Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:13AM (#38737378)

    http://xkcd.com/865/ [xkcd.com]

    Stop SOPA and PIPA now!!!

  • Why not slashdot? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:13AM (#38737382) Journal

    There was a time when Slashdot was at the forefront of such kind of fights against "the man" (e.g., Sony Rootkit fiasco).

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <graham.rick@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:13AM (#38737386)

    Making sure that everyone knows what is happening and what is at stake is probably the most useful thing anyone can do.

    Going offline is a good tactic to reach the general audience of Wikipedia. There probably aren't that many subscribers at /. that aren't aware of SOPA and what it means.

    The thing to do now is make it known everywhere you hang out and try to get people to care. A tough row to hoe, but if we all do it, it will have an effect.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:15AM (#38737396)

    Include a big campaign contribution with your letter if you want to make sure it's not just thrown in the trash or just added to the pile.

    That works best for 'invisible' issues... I think the best chance of killing PIPA is making it very very visible, so that "the pile" looks big enough to threaten re-election.

  • by jholyhead ( 2505574 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:15AM (#38737398)
    The only value these blackouts have is in bringing SOPA and PIPA to the attention of people who otherwise wouldn't know what SOPA and PIPA are. If you're reading Slashdot, you should already know what is going on.
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:19AM (#38737442)

    I would have expected the tech-savvy slashdot to do something similar to what google and reddit have done in protest. Why not?

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:22AM (#38737486)

    That when the radio was talking about companies like Facebook, Google, and Wikipedia protesting legislation put to Congress by the Motion Picture Industry that there is nothing that I can do. US government isn't much about people anymore. I have no clue how SOPA got this far.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:28AM (#38737544)

    New shill account?

    You are becoming pretty transparent, maybe coming up with an original name would help.

    If Google didn't care, they wouldn't put the link there. I suppose it could have been bigger, but it's not like there is much else on a Google page.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:30AM (#38737558)

    ???? Google's entire logo today is about SOPA and takes you directly to a petition to sign. The logo is on the main page, and every single search page.

    Maybe we should have actually gone to google first before complaining?

    Now, I agree, had they shut their service down it would have had even more effect. But having a "whole page for it" would be worthless with google, because no one goes to google to "browse google" they go to search. And every search today has the blacked-out google logo right on the page.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:32AM (#38737588)

    Vote for Ron Paul. Register Republican so you can vote for him in the primaries. You can unregister afterward if you want.

    Ron Paul: Tells The Dangers Of SOPA And PIPA [allvoices.com]

    Ron Paul on SOPA: They Want to Take Over the Internet! [youtube.com]

    Why's The Media Shafting Ron Paul, And Ignoring NDAA & SOPA Dangers? [businessinsider.com]

    Or just DuckDuckGo "Ron Paul SOPA" to get many, many more examples.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechGZ ( 2555776 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:38AM (#38737690)
    Not for me. Maybe it's only for US users, but I think everyone in the world should be aware of this.
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:41AM (#38737742) Homepage

    I am an advocate of copyright. I feel it is a very effective mechanism for channeling revenue to those who advance science and the useful arts.

    We have overstepped the bounds of cost effective copyright grants and enforcement. We have exceeded the efficient level of enforcement, and I suspect we have exceeded the efficient level of revenue channeling. We have passed more copyright legislation in the past fifteen years than at any other time in our history. More than during the advent of the printing press, the radio, the cassette tape, or any other disruptive technology. We are not balancing the potential value of new technology against the perceived cost of adapting copyright to the new reality. Moreover, the legislation is not working. It is not significantly inhibiting copyright, but it is harming the progress of new business models and entrepreneurship. It is not rational to pass ever more extreme legislation when what has gone before is not working.

    We are channeling a lot of revenue into copyright holders, and that money is coming back in lobbying. That cycle is self-catalyzing, and it has gone beyond what is cost effective. It is harming our ability to compete in the global marketplace, and is a cycle that is hostile to our national economic interests.

    It is time to demand a moratorium on new copyright law, coupled with a serious research effort on the cost effectiveness of copyright enforcement. That research should have the explicit objective of answering the question: "How much can we reduce government interference in the market while still advancing the progress of science and the useful arts?"

    Failure to do so should be seen as an act of aggression against our economy by those who are benefiting from this government fiat monopoly, and should be met with total opposition.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:42AM (#38737746) Homepage Journal

        They've done the right thing by carrying this story.

        On my site, http://freeinternetpress.com/ [freeinternetpress.com] , we've redirected our home page and every article to our SOPA page http://freeinternetpress.com/sopa.php [freeinternetpress.com].

        It's up to the owners of each site to make their own decisions on how to support it. It could be a simple warning. Google chose to censor their logo and link to an information page. We chose to replace the site with a warning, and are carrying stories and links related to SOPA. Some may consider us "not blacked out", but as we've censored almost 9 years worth of articles, we are "blacked out".

        Many sites need to support their users, and can't simply shut down. Unfortunately, if SOPA does become law, their users will find out the hard way that the blackout can become a reality.

  • by MxTxL ( 307166 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:42AM (#38737758)

    The bills are massively unpopular on the internet but we are still losing the spin war on this. The blackouts are being covered on main stream media in droves (a good thing!), but every MSM reference that i have seen describes the bills as the 'anti-piracy' SOPA/PIPA bills. Lots of people, even many of us on this site, might support bills that are just anti-piracy... in the head of many, anti-piracy is a good thing.

    We can lose hearts and minds if these bills are seen as anti-piracy. Get the word out that we don't object to these bills because they are anti-piracy, we object to these bills because they are anti-internet!

    The internet breaks with these bills. Great firewall of America type broken. That is what we are against! Go spread the word.

  • by airfoobar ( 1853132 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:43AM (#38737776)
    All the people here already know.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:44AM (#38737780)

    "If this bill is as bad as you say, it won't get five votes."

    He's assuming his colleagues will read it before voting on it. He should know better.

  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#38737796) Homepage

    The real question is, how many sales does piracy cost you compared to how many sales it gains you by spreading awareness of your existence?

    I'm sure you're smart enough not to make the "pirated copy = lost sale" mistake, so think about it in this context; I typically "pirate" two classes of books, those which I already own as a physical copy and those which aren't available officially as a digital copy & that I need in that format for them to be practical (typically reference books). In neither case are there any lost sales involved - I won't re-buy books I already own on principle and there's no point in buying reference books that are never going to be used because they're too bulky to carry around with me - so even if you were able to magically take down all the links to pirated copies of them, it still wouldn't result in any additional sales. The same argument can be made for people who pirate because they genuinely can't afford to buy and people who pirate because they download *everything* they can get their hands on and then never look at it.

    Ultimately, the only group who are causing losses are those who pirate because they don't want to pay for something, which I have no doubt is a fair number, but even then, while this is obviously a huge problem for the people whose works are being pirated, it still doesn't impact the economy in the way that the MPAA/RIAA always claim because oddly enough, the money they're not spending on movies, games, books and music gets spent on other things instead.

    So, from what I can see of your book, it's Unavilable on Amazon and only available as a DRM'd PDF from your website in terms of digital formats; I don't trust Paypal as far as I can throw them, which means I can't buy a copy direct from you, so even if I wanted to I couldn't buy your book in a way that's convenient to me. That's when people get frustrated and think "sod it, I'll just download the damn thing" (For the record, that's not what I'm going to do).

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jholyhead ( 2505574 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#38737798)
    Of course you can be pro-Copyright and Anti-SOPA.

    I totally believe that if you produce something you should be paid for your efforts, and that if someone steals that work and is caught doing it, that they should be punished in proportion to the crime. I don't think they should be allowed to cripple the internet trying to achieve that, though and I don't think you should be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars over a $2 piece of music.
  • by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#38737810)
    That's like mailing Genghis Kahn some arrows in protest of his pillaging campaign.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:49AM (#38737852)

    Protesting to the informed would serve no purpose whatsoever.
    It's the general sheeple that need to be informed.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:50AM (#38737866) Journal

    The bills are massively unpopular on the internet but we are still losing the spin war on this. The blackouts are being covered on main stream media in droves (a good thing!), but every MSM reference that i have seen describes the bills as the 'anti-piracy' SOPA/PIPA bills.

    We can't win in the mainstream media: they are the enemy. Not in some figurative or symbolic sense, but quite literally. Those behind the bills own the mainstream media.

    We also probably can't do anything about SOPA/PIPA. They're going to pass them, by hook or by crook. We can protest all we want, black out web pages, complain to representatives, what have you. Doesn't matter. The other side has more power (being the mainstream media); that's all there is to it.

  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:50AM (#38737870)

    I bet most of the reps taking point on cramming this down our throats already have their campaign contributions safely tucked away in their bank accounts, along with cushy jobs waiting for them in the private sector.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:50AM (#38737874) Homepage Journal

    The best way to get the attention of congress is to have one of the IP stooges lose an election.

    Identify one of the prominent supporters of SOPA/PIPA who is weak in his district and support his challenger in the next primary and general election.

    When a congressman loses a seat for taking on a third-rail issue, the surviving congressmen remember that for decades.

    That's what AIPAC does. You don't see any congressmen criticizing Israel, do you?

    Strategically, it would be best to attack somebody who is a jerk on other issues too; in other words, an all-around jerk.

    The only problem is that it's hard in this country to defeat a well-financed incumbent, no matter how much he sells out the interests of his constituents.

    But it does happen. I give democracy about 50% odds.

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:53AM (#38737900)
    The only actual power you have is your vote. However your senator and U.S. representative (and president, or presidential wannabe) need your vote. Do not forget this: money in politics is only a means to secure your vote, and your vote is what decides elections. So what you can do is write to your elected representative and/or opposition candidate(s). Tell them that your support is contingent on their promotion of Internet freedom. If enough people say that, succinctly, they will listen. If you can get ten or fifty or a hundred friends who live in the same district to sign the letter, so much the better.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:55AM (#38737918)
    Or you could, you know, grow a set of balls and engage with the political system to make the country better.
  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:57AM (#38737944) Homepage Journal

    I totally believe that if you produce something you should be paid for your efforts

    - and you should follow the link in my comment and then leave your comments there, where I explained why this is an untenable position.

    Generating content is not different from any other business, and since other businesses that do not necessarily generate content do not get this preferential treatment by government (nor should they), neither should content generating businesses get this preferential treatment.

    Saying that you must have government standing on your side for some reason and protecting your business model is ridiculous on its face, when no other businesses (except those who own the government, so big banks, big insurance, bigt pharma, big energy, big food, military and such) get the same treatment.

    So a restaurant owner does not get bailed out, nor does car mechanic, nor should they. Nobody should be in a position to use government to subsidise their business model.

    As to getting paid - you only get paid for your businesses by willing participants, and just as people may not go to your new restaurant, no matter how much of your life's savings or other people's savings you put into that business, same people may not buy your stuff from you.

    As to others using your material freely (as in beer) and putting it on torrent or even selling it at lower price - set the right price. I have an example there, Louis C.K., who is not going after torrents and other sites sharing his show, but he priced it properly and the revenue is over 1 million USD and counting.

    Nobody should be in a position to subsidise their businesses and risks that they take when they choose a business model with government money and power.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:58AM (#38737952)
    but I agree with the sentiment. Right now I'm waiting for my kid to finish getting ready to school, so I've got time to post to /. . After that it's off to my day job for 9 hours. Right now a lobbyist for SOPA is doing the same thing, but he's going to spend 9 hours fighting for it. Oh, at the end of my 9 hour shift I'm going to study programming in hopes of getting a better job.

    If I'm going to fight SOPA, PIPA or any of the other horrid things the 1% has in store for me, then I need more leisure time. That's what the rich were talking about in the 1800s when they said 'Idle hands are the devil's plaything'. That said, the 1% are working hard to make sure I don't get it. They're busing Unions, dividing Americans against one another based on race, creed & sexual orientation. They're scaring us with terrorists. They're fighting on multiple fronts, and I can't get the time to fight on one. This, folks, is why I'm a socialist in favor of 'Basic Income' (google it when wikipedia comes back up).

    I guess one of the really big problems is, SOPA is just a symptom of a larger, more complex problem. Americans are big on simple answers to complex problems. That's why George Bush jr resonated so well with them. How are we suppose to fight when we don't even know there's a war going on?
  • by DeathMagnetic ( 1365763 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:06AM (#38738026)
    Why is it that in every story about this, someone feels the need to question why /. isn't shutting down? These blackouts, in and of themselves, will not stop SOPA/PIPA. The purpose is to raise awareness and mobilize people who would otherwise be unaware or apathetic to the cause. /. readers are already well aware and united in their opposition, and frankly, stories such as this on the front page will so more good than a simple blackout to that audience. The blackout of Wikipedia, on the other hand, reaches a vastly wider audience, including millions who have never even heard of this legislation. The inconvenience of not having access to one of their most useful sites will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to these people and spark action from a much larger base. Think for a moment about why one size doesn't fit all when it comes to how sites can best raise awareness of the issue.
  • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:13AM (#38738114) Homepage
    It seems that actions like this do generate a response. The few time I have gotten a response from a representative, other than from my senator to the state senate, was when I made it clear that I would be supporting their challenger in the primary or general election and that they would not be receiving my support in any form because of certain issues. It gets really uncomfortable for them when they are going door to door glad handing and get hit with an informed voter (I did this to my previous representative to the state house who I was not pleased with). This seems to work better for local politicians than for national level ones but with enough people writing and calling it would probably still work.
  • by hrvatska ( 790627 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:13AM (#38738118)
    SOPA and PIPA got this far because their supporters were rushing them through hoping they could pass before opposition against them coalesced. US senators and representatives are rethinking their support for PIPA and SOPA because they're getting flooded by emails and phone calls from their constituents who are opposed these pieces of legislation. Money certainly does speak loudly, but politicians do listen to their constituents if enough of them send a strongly worded messages of support or opposition on an important issue. Don't be so defeatist. Let your representatives know how you feel on issues and vote. It doesn't always make a difference, but you'd be surprised at how often it does.
  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:22AM (#38738236) Homepage

    Problem is they all bask in this zero effort activism and then will ignore it when SOPA has a name change and is passed attached to the "its bad to smash puppies and kittens with a club" Act of 2012

    They will simply change it's name and slide it quieter next time because the public will stop paying attention in about 5 days.

  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:24AM (#38738258) Homepage

    The irony being that SOPA/PIPA *doesn't* protect content providers from piracy any more than the DMCA did, DRM does or any other failed attempts to legislate their way out of this mess have done.

    Ultimately, there is no technical or legal measure that will prevent piracy. The *only* way you will stop piracy from being a problem is to make it a more attractive proposition to buy a legitimate copy than to download a pirated one which requires Speed (Don't make me wait 6 weeks after the DVD is released to download the movie), Flexibility (Give me the option of several formats and let me move between platforms, don't time limit it), Choice (Old stuff, obscure stuff - it barely costs anything extra to have it available as well as the brand new shiny things) & Sensible Pricing (*LESS* than the physical copy).

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:28AM (#38738288) Homepage Journal

    to do that, he has to be rich. to be rich, he has to play along. noone can put on a lifelong masquerade to hide his/her true intentions of eventually fighting against the rich, whereas playing along with them. you have to be one of them in heart and soul to play along.

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:30AM (#38738300)

    Proponents of SOPA have a 10-word sound byte saying why SOPA is "great:" "this bill will stop online piracy." What we need is a 10-word statement of why the whole idea of SOPA, PIPA, and the like is disastrous. How about:

    This bill gives law-enforcement powers to Big Media.

    I am sure someone can improve on that. Please, do.

  • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:31AM (#38738320) Homepage Journal

    I think you're partially right in that this is definitely A way to go, but as with all campaigns against an evil (percieved or otherwise) a multi-pronged approach is always best.

    Lobby, raise awareness, campaign, write, make art, make jokes, converse, code. Do all these things and more.

    The chances are this issue will re-surface. Even if SOPA and PIPA are killed stone dead, they're just the fruiting bodies of a root system that spreads far and wide and has much influence. That's also where we need to focus - the self-interested parties who will burn the earth so long as they have a fire with which to warm their hands. And the tame politicians who engage in mutual backscratching with these creatures.

    SOPA/PIPA is a skirmish, and one which the opposing army will walk away from largely intact.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by __aasdno7518 ( 2125020 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:38AM (#38738414)
    I also am curious if you are aware of the back story,that is who started distributing downloading software in the first place and who profited from it? If not,I would suggest you watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkC9qg9hxxg [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:47AM (#38738518)

    I fear that the way it will be bypassed is a return to professional piracy.

    In the era when the internet was just taking off, I remember people selling CDs of software, movies, music and games. Many people could not download, or did not have a fast connection, so others stepped in, providing a service for a price. People with racks of CDs at car boot sales, or selling the under the counter, or in the pub. It cost a little, but still massivly cheaper than buying in a shop.

    If it becomes difficult for the average person to pirate, then that service becomes valuable again. Piracy will not be reduced, but the middle men will start making money again.

    As a musician, I'd rather people downloaded for free than were buying my music from professional pirates.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:56AM (#38738620) Homepage

    I'm actually feeling pretty encouraged this morning. It has been a while since I felt that way.

    Won't make any difference...it'll just resurface in 2012 attached to the back of the "True Patriotic Americans against Pedophiles and Terrorists" bill.

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:59AM (#38738650)

    Saying that you must have government standing on your side for some reason and protecting your business model is ridiculous on its face, when no other businesses

    Actually, every business gets government protection in various forms. I can't, for example, go and steal my competitors product and sell it as my own. If Walmart went and stole Target's stuff from their stores, that would be illegal, and for good reason. That is exactly the same protection that the content generating companies expect, and should, receive.

    It should have nothing to do with "protecting against failure." Failure for the content generators would be people not buying their product. Copyright doesn't protect against that. It only does what a door-lock and the police do against thefts of physical merchandise: protect against other people profiting against your own work. Or would you honestly say the police should also not track down theft? One cannot maintain your position (that copyright should not be enforced because it is the government insuring against failure) and that the police should also enforce physical property rights of companies against thieves, yet that is what you are saying.

    SOPA, however, goes beyond that. Way, way beyond that. It does help insure content generators against failure: which is why one can most certainly be pro-copyright and anti-SOPA.

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by archen ( 447353 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:11PM (#38738806)

    Those are almost different issues though aren't they? Copying music and movies is already illegal. This is like giving a cop an AK47 and telling him to open fire on a crowded street every time there's a purse snatching, instead of having him do his job in a reasonable manner.

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@@@nerdflat...com> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:13PM (#38738832) Journal
    Copyright is actually much less about getting paid, regardless of what many people seem to believe, and more about exclusivity on who else has the right to copy a work... it just so happens to be the case that the exclusivity is rather easily monetizable for content that happens to be in demand. Copyright, after all, can still apply just as strongly to things that the creator chose to make freely distributable.

    I don't think you should be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars over a $2 piece of music

    You appear to be under the impression that damages awarded are in some way supposed to be about the price of each copy. They are not. It is about how the unauthorized copying compromises the copyright holder's exclusivity to copy the work. And in particular, since exclusivity by definition means that nobody else is doing it, that compromise is effectively permanent The damage to this exclusivity actually affects all copyright holders, not merely the one whose copyright is infringed upon, since by violating a copyright, the incentives that the exclusivity that it offers to creators of works to utilize it in the future is weakened (since copyright is failing to do its job effectively, which is to offer its holders exclusivity on the right to decide who else may copy the work). How much value this exclusivity actually has can be an argument of considerable subjectivity, but that does not mean its value should necessarily be very little, nor should the price of any individual copy of the work be a factor in that.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:13PM (#38738838) Homepage

    It won't make the slightest difference to piracy.

    Piracy will continue unabated so long as binary data can be transferred between people's computers.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:14PM (#38738844) Homepage

    Making sure that everyone knows what is happening and what is at stake is probably the most useful thing anyone can do.

    But that's not (completely) what people are doing. When I see a corporation defending my rights, especially when they have a record of violating them, I have to ask why they would do that. What's in it for them? Just because they appear on the surface agree with you, doesn't mean they have the same reasons or goals as you or your interests at heart.
    When you look at Google for example, you have to think of YouTube and the terabytes of copyright violations that they derive ad revenue from. You also have to think of Google Books and their attempts to violate authors rights by forcing them to opt-out if they don't want their material illegally (under current law) served up by Google.
    So no, I don't think Google (for just one example) is indulging in their minor protest out of the goodness of their hearts... They're doing it out for their bottom line and for the PR it generates.

  • by TheNinjaroach ( 878876 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:15PM (#38738858)

    Why is slashdot ignoring the blackout?

    Because blacking out sites like reddit and Slashdot, where 99.9% of the userbase is already aware and opposed to SOPA, is a completely useless waste of time, page views and bandwidth.

  • by ShavedOrangutan ( 1930630 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:16PM (#38738874)
    Please find another example. A lot of people don't agree with or support Wikileaks. I know Slashdot has an agenda, but please let it go for once if this issue is important enough.
  • by brainzach ( 2032950 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:25PM (#38739006)

    If you write your own book, do you want a big business to copy and selling your work without giving you a dime?

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:32PM (#38739108) Journal

    I hope that you just wanted to post quickly without thinking about what you said:

    I totally believe that if you produce something you should be paid...

    I just produced this post, pay me.

    A lot of "art" is produced with claimed values without anybody at any time offering to pay any amount at all for it. Statue goes missing with a value in the hundred thousands because that is what the "artist" claimed so that is what the value must be...

    In the real world the model is very different, you get paid, so you produce something. There is a direct link between labor and pay and it is not for person doing the labor to just do the labor and claim the pay they want. A plumber does not get to claim a magic number for his work that he did without someone asking him to do it.

    A lot of MPAA/RIAA problem is that artist have gotten used to being payed insane amounts for not doing very much and they want more of it. Money for every blank CD found because some might contain their content. What about where I bought their CD and made a copy of it for my own use only as a back-up? I still got to pay extra?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:33PM (#38739110)

    The bigger problem has a really simple solution: get corporate and other organizational money out of politics *ENTIRELY*. The whole super-PAC fiasco has made the situation even worse than it was. Implementing the solution will be difficult because *all* the politicians and parties are on the take, but the solution itself is pretty damn clear: limits. If that impinges on free speech (as the supreme court recently ruled), then it's time for a constitutional amendment that places limits on campaign financing and other political donations before money destroys the entire principle of one person one vote. When someone or some organization can buy a million times more influence than an average voter, then something needs to be done.

    Solve the problem of money in politics and there is some hope of addressing all the other issues you talk about. Fail to solve it and the effort is almost futile.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:33PM (#38739112)

    > SOPA and PIPA pose unacceptable risks to freedom of speech

    The right to private property is more basic and more sanctosanct. SOPA would properly protect jews and jewish property from plundering by the antisemitic goyim people, who use P2P to steal the 99% jewish-created and jewish-financed literature, music, movies and TV programmes without ever paying for the entertainment value.

    The US government duly recognizes that America owes its very existence to jewish wisemen, who gave the world masonic ideals of liberty (check the pyramid eye on the dollar bill) and specifically gave the USA those A-bombs to defeat Japan and Hitler. Furthermore, all we have in modern life, telecomm, IT, international business, higher education, financing, abundance of consumer produce and general human longevity, we owe all of that to the ingenuity of jewish people: investors, medical doctors, scientists, literary authors, teachers and merchants. There is nothing of significance that ever came from non-jewish minds, besides alcoholic drinks and linen pants.

    It is only proper and right that other nations, the goyim, pay the jews what's due when enjoying or consuming jewish-generated tangible and intellectual goods. Do you steal matzeh from the booth? If not, then why do you steal from Hollywood? The jews who run the movie industry, well, their grandfather arriveds to american shore with a bag of carpets on their back, literally, then made their fortune starting from nil. Do you think they should not have that fortune? Come forward and say so loudly, don't be a coward of a thief!

    P2P is not about piracy, it is about anti-semitism. That is why the scandinavian nazi party association is such an ardent supporter of the Piraty Bay torrent website. The Capitol Hill elite should not be shy to point out that SOPA is essentially about SHOAH not to happen ever, or as the isreali people use to say: "Massada must not fall again!"

  • by ultraexactzz ( 546422 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:36PM (#38739150) Journal
    No. SOPA and PIPA authorize the Department of Justice to issue court orders. There is no hearing until after the orders have been executed, and no recourse until the entire website is already removed from the internet. The process is entirely administrative - the first notice a site owner receives is the letter they get after their site is gone.

    So, unless you're lucky, you're now fighting a big media company in Federal Court with your source of funds (your website) shut down. This isn't tenable for the vast majority of site owners.
  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:47PM (#38739276)

    Sen. Chuck Schumer's phone line is jammed. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's phone line is jammed, and her contact page is offline. On her Facebook page, the line of comments on the issue is endless and they're 100% opposed to PIPA/SOPA.

    As somebody that's watched this country go off the rails the last 30 years in a row, though, in my heart I think the American people need to send a much stronger message to DC, like by burning that town to the ground and salting the earth afterward.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:48PM (#38739296) Homepage Journal

    The thing is, you have to go to court simply to RESTORE your access. Not to protect it in the first place.

    In the mean time, you could be down for days or weeks.

  • by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:54PM (#38739360) Journal

    Huh? What judge? With SOPA & PIPA, there's no due process to follow or judge to convince; the bully companies get to play judge, jury and executioner themselves!

    Umm, no.

    SOPA requires a Court Order to do anything. Read the Bill.

    And yes, you have to convince a Judge to get a Court Order.

    Of course, that hasn't always been a very high bar to pass [arstechnica.com].

  • Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:03PM (#38739456) Homepage Journal

    It turns out eternal vigilance is actually pretty hard.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:07PM (#38739522)
    Maybe be aware of it so that they won't be taken by surprise when their own leaders attempt something similar, perhaps at the behest of the US State Department, which has a history of meddling in the laws of other nations regarding precisely this issue [arstechnica.com]?
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:19PM (#38739656) Homepage Journal

    This seems to work better for local politicians than for national level ones but with enough people writing and calling it would probably still work.

    This is why most of the power in the US is supposed to reside with the states and not the Feds.

    Your state and local governments are the people that are more sensitive and responsive to the needs of you and your fellow state citizens.

    Think of it on a broader scale...what is good for someone in CA is not necessarily in the best interests of those living in LA. The geographic differences alone merit a great deal of that, not to mention culture.....seen many drive through daquiri shops or cities without open container laws in San Diego lately? Plenty of them to be seen in New Orleans. Different needs and wants of the people in different states.

  • by Soulskill ( 1459 ) Works for Slashdot on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:29PM (#38739774)

    It's not quite as hopeless as it sounds. Part of the problem is that we're all mobilizing at once for SOPA and PIPA, when this is really an issue that should generate constant feedback. The internet community has gotten involved in the lawmaking process after it's become political. It's easy for people in Congress to dismiss hundreds of callers when they've already taken a stance on something. But before there's a call to action, hardly anybody actually takes the time to contact their representatives these days.

    The unfortunate fact is that most lawmakers lag behind in understanding of technical issues. You can assign blame for that how you will, but part of it is that their constituency often doesn't do a good enough job of informing them on the ramifications of policy before something like SOPA comes along.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:46PM (#38739950)

    Hey, I consider that quite calm and balanced. No call to nuke the Big Five from orbit.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:53PM (#38740026) Homepage Journal

    Round up some web billionaires and get them to lobby the hell out of congress. If you can't get the money out of politics then use money as a weapon the same way Hollywood and the Music Industry does. "Going Dark" is insufferably silly because it gives ordinary anonymous slackers the impression they are doing something while in fact it accomplishes nothing. You'd be better off selling ribbon magnets.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @02:39PM (#38740538)

    And even then. Lock it ALL down? Back to sneaker nets.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @02:41PM (#38740558) Journal

    I'm honestly not quite sure if you're joking or not... damn internets broke my sarcasm detector.

    In either case, there's a rather stark gap between the Berne convention's "We'll agree to harmonise our laws such they respect other countries' copyrights" and the link above's judgement of "It occurred solely in the UK, it was deemed not to be a crime in the UK, but fuck it, let's extradite him anyway and the US courts can take a shot".

  • by Dr. Gamera ( 1548195 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @02:46PM (#38740614)
    There is at least one other major presidential candidate who is against SOPA: Barack Obama [whitehouse.gov].
  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@@@got...net> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @03:18PM (#38740894) Journal

    The problem with the U.S. government is that it's virtually impossible for it to get vocal when it's collective mouths are full of Corporate Kielbasa. Over the last 30 years we've had a dramatic shift of power away from the people and towards corporation. Politics has always demanded a certain level of whoring, if for nothing else, to keep both ones adversaries and ones own party at bay. However, today we have an elected body that has for all intents and purposes perfected the art of felating our corporate leaders, truth in advertising would suggest that all pictures of the legislature include knee pads. The supreme court, stuffed with neo-fascist ass hats by 30 years of neo-fascist presidents, has all but paved the way for the corporate take-over of the Federal Government. Our "Bill of Rights" hangs in tatters, while corporate leaders proudly proclaim on national television "We don't particularly like democracy, it just gets in the way." Sadly we now have the best government money can buy.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @04:59PM (#38741654) Homepage

    Seriously, if you look at what the 5 media giants (Disney, GE, News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom) really want the Internet to become, it's a return to a broadcast-focused system where users can download or stream "content" helpfully provided by those same companies, but can't interact peer-to-peer.

    For these kind of jerks, the idea that ordinary people can use the Internet to communicate with each other directly is considered a serious problem. For instance, they might use it to create alternate media sources that aren't tied to the same corporate advertisers as those 5 media companies. Or they might organize political protests that cause problems for these company's allies in Washington DC. Or they might spread information about ideas that these companies would rather suppress. Or they might organize workers in an industry and demand higher wages.

    It's all about controlling the information and entertainment that us peons are allowed to experience and use to make decisions. And the danger extends beyond media companies - if regular people have created alternate forms of entertaining and informing each other, then they won't be bombarded with commercials, which means they won't buy the new useless kitchen gadgets and won't vote for the candidate who's picked up the most campaign cash. This ordinary-people-talking-to-each-other thing could be the force that *destroys America* (at least as the corporate and business guys see it).

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @05:00PM (#38741662)
    You think that is not their goal? The end game here is to turn the Internet into a fancy cable TV system, where the leaf nodes cannot communicate with each other.
  • by Wolfling1 ( 1808594 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @05:43PM (#38742000) Journal
    I've burnt out my rage gland now... and have started thinking positively about what the post-SOPA Internet might look like.

    It occurs to me that SOPA relies very heavily on the Domain Name system that the Internet uses so heavily - primarily so that we don't need to remember IP addresses - but also, to a lesser degree, so that we don't need to have fixed IPs.

    Once SOPA is entrenched, and domains start getting blocked - either as legitimate takedowns, witch-hunts, or corporate espionage (I'll be expecting Samsung and Apple to be off the air within days of SOPA's activation) - a more dynamic website that doesn't rely on a DNS, and that has a flexible IP seems to be the logical approach.

    Or perhaps some very powerful proxy servers based outside US soil... will SOPA have the ability to block them when they are transports and not hosts? Perhaps a combination of a proxy server with its own naming/IP translation table?

    One thing I am sure of: People will get what they want from the Internet regardless of what the legislators say.

    The first great cyber-civil war appears to be commencing... how does the right to bear arms relate to that?
  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarKnyht ( 671407 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @06:53PM (#38742502)

    My way of explaining it to people is this: SOPA/PIPA is like building a Death Star to kill the three rebels hiding in the population of a small planet.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!