Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Blackout Day

I don't publicize my political views very often, but opposition to internet censorship is one of the causes that I've been supporting since the EFF started their Blue Ribbon Campaign in response to Title V of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, aka the "Communications Decency Act".

While I am against the theft of intellectual property in principle, I do not always agree that everything our laws define as IP actually qualify as such. What I do believe though, is that SOPA and PIPA are not solutions.

From what I can tell, the people who drafted H.R. 3261 do not appear to have a clue of what a mess they will cause if the bill is enacted. If you want a preview at how things will turn out, you don't really have to go any farther than looking at the absurdities that occur with various eBay policies:

Policy against items that promote or glorify hatred, violence or racial intolerance

Ban on RMT for virtual goods

The customer is always right

Not for resale

The way these bans are enforced is often arbitrary, and totally open to abuse. Anyone with an axe to grind can get items pulled and accounts frozen, while dozens of other violators continue to operate with impunity.

I have an axe to grind

A 2005 study regarding the current DMCA reported that 57% of takedown notices sent to Google targeted business competitors, while 30% of takedown notices were of questionable validity. I see the same type of thing happening with SOPA, but the most alarming part is that SOPA implements a mechanism to restrict the ability of people to access information on top of that.

SOPA one-ups the DMCA by attempting to hold search engines and ISP providers as facilitators of piracy if they do not "voluntarily" take action against perceived piracy. I find this a ridiculous standard, as gun manufacturers are not accountable for crimes committed with guns, nor are car makers responsible for accidents involving their cars that are not a result of mechanical defect. Even tobacco companies seem to be now exempt from private liability over health issues due to tobacco use, so long as they do not engage in certain advertising practices.

Then again, if the bill is enacted, maybe I'll finally have the legal backing I need to sue The Times (and block their website from search engines) over that damned reporter who plagiarized huge blocks of text from an article I wrote and passed it off as his own work.

I can't make out who the artist is, but I modified the image, and am using it without permission. Does this usage fall under parody/satire/irony? Do internet memes fall into this category?


Paul´s Bods said...

The add for SOPA did so well that it blocked the top half of your post.
They are just cra**ing it cos of the Anonymous movement and such like, and want to try and get more control...I wouldn´t what will happen to thier networks if they do get it through..their screens will take on a resemblence to todays wikipedia site but on a permanent basis. I have every confidence in thier incompetance

EY said...

Hi Paul,

SOPA Blackout Day resulted in so many people visiting congressional websites, that they had to be temporarily shut down. In addition, 18 senators performed a heel-face-turn as a result.

Gotta keep these "lawmakers" honest, because they don't seem to be able to distinguish between their constituents and corporations/special interest groups.