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Censorship Your Rights Online

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Speaks Out On SOPA 188

natecochrane writes "Father of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for Americans to protest SOPA and PIPA, laws he says violate human rights and are unfit for a democratic country. Sir Tim's condemnation came on the day an editorial in Australia's leading broadsheet newspapers pointed out that although the laws ostensibly applied to U.S. interests they could overreach to impact those in other countries."
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee Speaks Out On SOPA

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  • The Joke's on Them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:21PM (#38751642)

    "an editorial in Australia's leading broadsheet newspapers pointed out that although the laws ostensibly applied to US interests they could overreach to impact those in other countries."

    The laws were written specifically for that purpose. They have clauses that (supposedly) prevent them being used on US sites and site owners. What's left? The rest of the world!

    That's why it disgusted me every time I saw someone overseas saying to get this junk off their news sites because it didn't apply to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      It doesn't apply to me. If the US block access to my site from the US, it doesn't affect me in the slightest. They could block access from the US to every site in my country as far as I'm concerned. Now, maybe it affects *someone* (I'm sure some companies would lose US import monies, but I'm equally sure the US would lose just as much in reverse), but until the EU even begin to consider similar laws that I get a say in, there's nothing I can do for you at all. I can agree with you or not. It makes no di

      • by Ice Tiger ( 10883 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:03PM (#38752184)

        Except when the blocking mechanism is to remove say from DNS.

        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:48PM (#38752700) Journal

          Mesh networking is a proven technology that has no central point of failure. This is a site full of outraged nerds.

          So... get off your ass and help render the Internet obsolete. The problem isn't the politics. The problem is the infrastructure, and the solution is ready, waiting to be deployed.

          • I am sure the passage of SOPA would accelerate that deployment.

          • Yeah. Sure it is. Untill mesh networks are made illegal. If you cave in every time someone tries to deprive you of your rights — there soon be no rights at all. The polititians must be educated about the concequences of their action for both public and them personally (the latter even more important) or we will end up with a chinese style firewall and laws that outlaw any kind of encrypted connection.

        • by froggymana ( 1896008 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @06:35PM (#38754396)

          Except when the blocking mechanism is to remove say from DNS.

          Simple solution. Just memorize the IPs to all of your favorite sites!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:43PM (#38752652)

        So the blackouts affected your productivity? Then you might be interested in the fact that if those websites get taken down with SOPA or PIPA, it will likewise affect your productivity, therefore these laws *do* affect you, and your whole logic breaks down.

        > In actual fact, the SOPA blackouts just made me find alternate sites and avenues to the content I would normally use.

        Yes, I am afraid that's exactly what non-US people will have to do. So I guess the blackouts pushed you towards doing what needs to be done ;)

        > They actually *helped* me not be reliant on people who think their service is there to push their own political agenda instead of being a service.

        Actually, the "service" e.g. Wikipedia offers centers around a highly political cause itself, namely free access to knowledge. You like to treat "service" and "politics" as different things, but in this case, they aren't.

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:53PM (#38752764)

        Would you like your site to be removed from Google Search?

        Google is a US-based company, you know.

      • by GumphMaster ( 772693 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @05:40PM (#38753412)

        It sure as hell applies to me. I run a (very) small software business online in Australia under a .au domain name. If a US company decides that my software infringes a patent they claim to hold then they can get my site removed from any US-based searching index and my site blocked by name or IP. That is not catastrophic as my software is not useful in the US, and reasonably well supported by word-of-mouth anyway.

        However, under these abominations of law, they can also force any company with a presence in the US to cease any payment related service to my company. Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Diners will remove their merchant accounts, PayPal is not an alternative etc. Any non-US payment processor accepting Mastercard, Visa etc. will be contractually obliged by the US companies, protecting their own legal arses, to refuse payment services also. This is a death sentence to any online business. The only recourse is to fight a legal battle in US courts, a death sentence to any small company.

      • Your web site accepts donations via PayPal, a US company. Your site is listed in Google, a US company. You post regularly on slashdot, a US website. Odds are that if you use the Internet, you rely on US-based Internet companies, and thus SOPA / PIPA will affect you. Sorry for the bad news.
      • by amorsen ( 7485 )

        but until the EU even begin to consider similar laws that I get a say in, there's nothing I can do for you at all.

        Such laws are not only considered but in full force already. E.g. the Pirate Bay is blocked in several countries already via DNS blacklisting. The technology was pioneered by the telecoms for stopping child pornography, so it was easy for the courts to require the ISP's to implement the blocking. The tools were already in place after all.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:02PM (#38752152)

      The SOPA was written to address "US-based interests", i.e. it specifically claims to go after only US-directed foreign websites, to prevent US-based people from seeing those foreign websites.

      (Defn: "US-directed" means that the site hasn't taken steps to prevent US people from seeing the website, or other nonspecified reasons. "Foreign website" means a domain name which is registered by a non-US registrar, or an IP address which comes from a non-US block).

      But the US doesn't have jurisdiction over foreign domains/websites. So, in that absence, it's US-based companies who have to act:

      * US-based ISPs have to take measures to prevent their customers from "accessing" those websites 5 days. It's not clear what measures must be taken, but they include at a minimum blocking DNS lookups.

      * US-based search engines have to remove hyperlinks to those foreign domains/websites within 5 days

      * US-based ad brokers have to cease serving ads to those foreign domains/websites within 5 days

      * US-based payment companies have to cease processing payments for those foreign domains/websites with 5 days

      Moreover, any US-based service which bypasses this censorship -- TOR, Mafiaafire, free and open DNS servers -- will be shut down by the courts.

    • That's the part that just makes me mad. They're counting on the "it's only those dirty foreigners!" clause to keep voters from being annoyed, with the idiotic assertion that rights of foreigners are worth less.

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

        I find this to be a common issue these days. People are held without trial or rights because they aren't citizens. They aren't enemy combatants either, so they aren't covered by any war treaties. The government then claims these people have no rights...

        And that's exactly the opposite of what this country was founded on. The Declaration specifically says the rights are inalienable. It says nothing about nationality when it says so.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:24PM (#38751678)
    Father of the web? Wait 'till Al Gore hears about hears about this poser!
  • Sunshine (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:25PM (#38751694)

    I hope it does pass, I waste far too much time on the Internet.

  • And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by echo_kmem ( 982727 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:30PM (#38751794)
    All these voices coming out against these Bills, yet the Congress and Senate still push as if they really have a shot.
    • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:33PM (#38751826)
      They do "have a shot". We the people get no real say in what bills get passed or not. Best we can do is vote the current person out of office, at which point they get a cushy job in the industry they represented and a new industry spokesperson takes their place.

      So long as corporations are "people" (which if they are, wouldn't buying stocks be slavery?) and money is "free speech" there's not much we can do about it.
      • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:46PM (#38751988)

        Don't be so quick to resort to the usual (and frankly, warranted) pessimism. Yesterday may have been a pivotal moment when the power of the technical community was finally realized. Multiple senators dropped their sponsorship of PIPA. My senators' phone lines were busy all day long. While it's certainly a possibility that everything will return to business as usual, we finally saw a glimmer of the numbers of the masses overwhelming the influence of the money of the few. We have so few other avenues left, so we might as well see if this can effect real change.

        • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:49PM (#38752024)
          We'll know next week when it gets voted on. But even if the bill's get defeated, they will just be tweaked and resubmitted. This will be an ongoing issue that will require massive amounts of vigilance. Many bills are not even read before being voted on. If SOPA/PIPA get renamed "the blankets and apple pie for war orphans" bills we may be in trouble.
          • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:07PM (#38755026)

            This will be an ongoing issue that will require massive amounts of vigilance.

            I thought this was one of the very basic requirements of democracy. You don't EVER get to sit back and let the thing run itself. It requires constant vigilance on the part of the people to make it work. Maybe things have been too good for too long and people forgot this fact.

            There's nothing wrong with a little self-satisfaction when you're able to make your voice heard. The victories show you the system can work. Use it to give you the energy for the next fight.

      • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rmstar ( 114746 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:47PM (#38752002)

        They do "have a shot". We the people get no real say in what bills get passed or not. Best we can do is vote the current person out of office, at which point they get a cushy job in the industry they represented and a new industry spokesperson takes their place.

        I do not think that is correct. We the people do get a say in what bills get passed or not. Please do not underestimate it. Defeatism and apathy are the best allies of those that want to take away our freedoms.

        We the people do have power. Not absolute, but we have it, and when we use it we end up having an influence. Voting is one part of exercising power, and protest (like the blackouts) another. Raising consciousness of the issues and our power is another.

      • Your pessimism and apathy does LOADS to fix a percieved issue. Way to discourage people from trying to make a difference. I suppose instead of writing to congress, youd feel better writing to Google and Wikipedia to tell them that they wasted their time yesterday during the blackout.

        All this, of course, ignores that Congress and the whitehouse have ALREADY backpedeled on SOPA [] and that its sounding dead in the water at this point. But yea, the people can make no difference at all, keep telling yourself th

    • by jesseck ( 942036 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:39PM (#38751908)

      That's how the House and Senate currently work- they intoxicate themselves with money, so that they are sufficiently blinded to consequences. It's pretty similar to beer goggles.


      A lobbyist and Congressman are out at a bar. The lobbyist sees a girl he wants to bang, but her ugly friend is with her. To get the good looking girl, the lobbyist buys the Congressman drinks until beer goggles are worn. After that, the lobbyist gets his way.

      • Beer = money
      • Good looking girl = SOPA (favorable to his interests / pocketbook)
      • Ugly girl = us getting fucked by our representatives
    • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:44PM (#38751976)

      That's because they're already as good as passed. At best, the blackout thing will force them to change the name. There's an anti-"child pornography" bill coming up. If SOPA fails, or only passes without the DNS provisions, they'll just be added to the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act []. Except rather than calling it "copyright infringement" they'll call it "protecting our children."

      The battle's already as good as lost. About all the blackout did was piss people off. So now instead of being mad about SOPA, they're mad about not being able to access the Wikipedia for a day, and they're mad at "a bunch of nerds who are upset about laws that will stop them from stealing stuff."

      Did you watch any of the news about the Wikipedia blackout? All of it put SOPA in a positive light and accused Wikipedia of being "too political."

      The battle's lost. The people don't care. They're just mad at the websites that went on strike, NOT the law they went on strike over.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      "have a shot"?

      I hate to break this to you, but they can create any legislation they want. What you ( or I ) want is really not relevant, nor do we have any control over what they do. Even if they cross Constitutional lines in the process and the president signs it, the law still stands until the supreme court feels like hearing it, and if they strike it down.

      Sure, we can try to vote them out, after the damage has been done..

    • All these voices coming out against these Bills, yet the Congress and Senate still push as if they really have a shot.

      Perhaps it will become more subtle, but it will not stop so long as those "voices" are targeting the puppets -- and not the puppet-masters.

      And that's why the logical next step for anti-sopa action is to hit the puppet-masters. A day of global boycott of media companies would send them a clear message.

      It is possible to completely end sopa once and for all -- all we have to do is stop

  • Lobying money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:32PM (#38751812) Homepage

    All that money spent on paying of politicians says one thing to me. We don't want to give people access to movies and music. If this wasn't the case the movie studios and music companies would have used that money to develop online distribution websites. How hard would it have been to take all the works you have copyrights to and set up a site where people can buy them and download them.

    • Re:Lobying money (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:57PM (#38752120)


      But that's how it goes with dinosaurs. They are way too big and have way too much invested in the way they've always done things, that when times change their first instinct isn't to adapt, but instead to send out the lawyers and lobbyists and stop it.

      Rather than find new ways to profit in the new reality of media and data, they've stuck with their mindset of media as a physical thing that one person at a time owns.

      Most importantly, I think there is a lack of rational viewpoints and thinking. No one is trying to come up with a solution that accomodates all needs. Both sides are full of extremists and it's getting us nowhere.

      Personally I think people have the right to make money off their product. The fact that a copy of something "costs nothing" doesn't mean anything if the first copy cost several million dollars and you are "sharing" it with several thousand strangers. I also tend to disagree with this entitled "if I can't have it the way I want at a price I want, I'll steal it" attitude.

      That said, I think the media industry goes way too far. They want to control what you view, how you view it, what you view it on... and they abuse the law as a standard practice. They want to inhibit all progress in how we use media because the old way is so damn profitable. They want to sell us something and include a list of unreasonable restrictions. If I buy something, I should own it and be allowed to do whatever I want with it.

    • They just want a very expensive, very desirable carrot, when each time it lands in your hands it can be snatched away. They want this carrot to be so desirable that you want to try and get it again anyway. It doesn't matter what this particular carrot represents, music, TV, whatever. Even if your favorite indie production became massively popular overnight, someone would pop up and try to exploit it. Once something becomes popular enough, someone will try and turn it into such a carrot.

      It's easier to b
    • Such distribution sites DO exist for music (the iTunes store,, and others). You even get some choices for the format, and non-DRM-encumbered MP3 is an option.

      Such sites don't exist for movies mainly because the industry controllers don't want movies to ever exist in a non-DRM-encumbered format. They don't mind streaming movies so long as the data gets deleted as it is being watched...though even then they refuse to relax their grip on the copyrights, each studio requiring special contracts with

      • The company that I rent DVDs from just switched its streaming service over to Silverlight from Flash 'to prevent piracy' because the movie studios required this as a condition of making their work available. This means that I can no longer use it on the machine connected to my projector (running FreeBSD, but could easily be running one of the embedded Linux distributions that various media centres use), nor can I watch it on my TouchPad. I could, however, download pretty much anything that they have avail

        • They have lowered the value of the service that they offer me, for no benefit.

          For no benefit to you.

          They see a great deal of benefit. It fulfills the contractual conditions required for them to be able to sell the movie studio's products.

          Which is worse -- for them? Not being able to sell a new blockbuster movie to anyone, or being able to sell it to everyone and YOU can't watch it? We know what you think, but there are two parties to every contract, and their thoughts on the matter do count.

          Pass a law that says DRM XOR Copyright. If you, or your authorised distributors, use DRM, then you don't get any protection from copyright.

          So then there is no legal remedy for them if they use DRM and someone cracks it and starts

          • They see a great deal of benefit. It fulfills the contractual conditions required for them to be able to sell the movie studio's products.

            And their costs go up because they need to completely redevelop their entire customer-facing software stack. And, because Silverlight is not really portable, they then have to spend more money on apps for various mobile platforms. This is less money that they have to pay the content providers, so the content providers also lose. The only winners are Microsoft, who get to push their crap on everyone else. Oh, except that Silverlight isn't going to work in the Metro environment in Windows 8 (but HTML 5 vi

            • In the USA, they are liable for large statutory fines. The fact that is no DRM does not prevent me from seeking legal remedies.

              If this was an effective legal remedy, then it would be enough to deal with the problem. **AA would be suing a lot of people for copyright infringement using this remedy and be making lots of money. The problem is that "exists" and "effective" are two different words.

  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:38PM (#38751884) Homepage

    Increasingly, "democracies" are passing all sorts of stuff which is repugnant the tradition of liberty:

    -Panopticon street cameras in England
    -Patriot Act in the US
    -Web censorship and the RIM affair in India

    What's needed is an emphasis on "liberal democracies", democracies that promote (classical) liberal values.

  • by MoldySpore ( 1280634 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:39PM (#38751900)
    This is an extremely fitting description of why the bill shouldn't passed, considering that it will put us under the same umbrella as Iran, China, and least when it comes to the DNS blocking part of the bills and internet censorship in general if SOPA/PIPA are passed
  • by SonicSpike ( 242293 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:42PM (#38751942) Journal

    This just came out yesterday......

    "For the past several months, Sen. Rand Paul has opposed and led the charge against both the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Yesterday, Sen. Paul issued the following statement.

    "The Internet, as we know it, has had a profound impact on job creation, the global economy and prosperity. It has accelerated wealth creation and facilitated a more connected world. But the Internet's development is based on the free flow of information, innovation, and ideas, not central government control," Senator Paul said.

    "Both PIPA and SOPA give the federal government unprecedented and unconstitutional power to censor the Internet. These bills enable the government to shut down websites that it deems guilty of violating copyright laws. While we support copyright protections, we are also concerned about websites being shut down without their day in court, and making innocent third parties bear the costs of solving someone else's problems."

    Sen. Paul concluded, "I will not sit idly by while PIPA and SOPA eliminate the constitutionally protected rights to due process and free speech. For these reasons, I have pledged to oppose, filibuster and do everything in my power to stop government censorship of the Internet.""

  • by spagthorpe ( 111133 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:55PM (#38752100) his first mistake. Once you realize that the country is run by corporate overlords, it all makes perfect sense.

    I expect this round of the bill will get shot down. Then someone will attach it as a rider to some BS terrorist or child pr0n bill later in the year with little media coverage.

  • by LateStarter ( 2556756 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:01PM (#38752150)
  • Who said USA is democratic country?
    Last time i checked, actually in the only legal document that has the right to do it, the Constitution, it says REPUBLIC.
    • Republic has all kinds of definitions. one of the broadest/loosest definitions just means a country not headed by a monarch. Which is orthogonal to whether a country is democratic or not.

      eg there are totalitarian undemocratic republics as well as democratic republics, and democratic countries than aren't republics.

      And for another example the debate for Australia becoming a republic is centered around not having a monarch as head of state any more. That mostly symbolic change would have very little effect on

  • The .com, .orgs etc will get moved out of US control.

    Let them block .us all they want.

  • People who continously argued over the years that game DRM services like Steam (or SecuROM, or EA newcomer "Origin") were "harmless" anti-piracy measures or even - gasp - "just great, so easy to use!" can now rejoice. Once SOPA/PIPA, and then SOPA/PIPA 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 get passed, using the ENTIRE INTERNET will VERY MUCH become like being permantently trapped in a walled garden like Steam, or iTunes. Today's "wild" internet will then, over the years, become a distant memory, like 8 track tapes or Polaroid f
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by webheaded ( 997188 )
      I'm sorry but I don't think I'd group Steam in with SecuROM on the scale of things that people thought were harmless anti-piracy measures. Even Origin, which is shitty, is basically a copy of Steam with shitty customer service. SecuROM is a shitcake topped with diarrhea. Ubisoft always on is shit. Steam and Origin are actually pretty fair compromises. I get to download my games anywhere, I can share my Steam account with trusted friends for them to try out games, and all I have to do is get online once
  • by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:43PM (#38752654) Homepage

    This SOPA/PIPA is only a symptom of a deeper underlying problem we have in the world today. There is a massive disconnect between the people who pass the laws and the people they're supposed to represent. They have been bought many times over by the private interests who changed the laws for their selfish benefit at the expense of the people.

    Sure, I am against SOPA as much as you are, but SOPA is only a symptom. SOPA isn't what will kill you: it's the underlying disease that's ravaging your world. The disease is eroding your freedoms and soon you will be too weak to fight back.

    • It's only a disconnect insofar as Congress has discarded even the appearances of being part of a government of the people, for the people and by the people, and has basically declared itself interested only in what large corporate interests want. I think we're only a few decades away from a legislative branch about as functionally useful as China's National People's Congress, a rubber stamp for whatever the board rooms of Corporate America tell it to enact.

  • Ugh, I just got my email response back from senator Dianne Feinstein (CA-D). She was apparently un-phased by her email and phone line being utterly crippled with traffic yesterday in opposition to SOPA/PIPA. The train wreck watcher in me half wants this thing to actually pass. We would have solid proof and precedent that we are not in the least bit represented. Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people screaming at congress and they just don't care, the money's already in the bank.

    If SOPA/PIPA were put t

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