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SOPA and You…and Me – My Thoughts

Jennifer Ledbetter

by PotPieGirl on January 18, 2012 · 112 comments

So, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. As I’ve said before, I am NOT a political person. Every time I dive into something political, I end up realizing how politics really work…and it annoys the you-know-what out of me. But let’s talk SOPA ( the Stop Online Piracy Act that everyone is talking about…and blacking out over). I’m just another US citizen and I’ve had a hard time getting to the meat of SOPA. I actually have some understanding of how the internet works and how the internet economy works. I am both a consumer online – and someone who earns money from the internet. Most of you reading my blog here at PotPieGirl.com are in the same boat. So what is SOPA all about? What does SOPA mean to us as online business owners and internet consumers?

First – a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, or legal professional, or expert or ANYTHING like that. I most likely will get some things I say wrong. Most of what I say is purely my opinion and my interpretation of what’s going on. However, I think this SOPA situation NEEDS more people like you…and like me…getting informed, speaking up, and asking questions.

The majority of this post is from a post I just made in the Wealthy Affiliate forum. That forum is private so our opinions, thoughts, and questions can’t be heard there by anyone OUTSIDE that forum. That’s part of the reason I am more comfortable posting there about many things, but after reading my post in the WA forum today, I realized that I needed to suck it up and post what I think of SOPA….my questions, my interpretation – and then get to what I really want to know – what do YOU think?

We’re the “little guys” in all this, ya know? Where do we fit in when it comes to SOPA? Where is our liability going to fall? And then there’s our rights as consumers and as US citizens. It needs to be talked about and discussed rationally by the people who appear to be the pawns and innocent by-standers in all this.

So let’s talk – let’s try and get heard too.

SOPA – What I Think

This is all so crazy, isn’t it? And I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I have a tough time reading through legal mumbo-jumbo and getting to the guts of it. But I’ve been spending a lot of time doing just that – trying to get a grasp on what is really on the table.

The main concept behind SOPA is this:

“The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders against websites outside U.S. jurisdiction accused of infringing on copyrights, or of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. After delivering a court order, the U.S. Attorney General could require US-directed Internet service providers, ad networks, and payment processors to suspend doing business with sites found to infringe on federal criminal intellectual property laws. The Attorney General could also bar search engines from displaying links to the sites.”

OK- SOPA could Authorize the US Dept. of Justice to seek court orders against websites OUTSIDE the US jurisdiction accused of infringement.

Alright, that makes sense – let’s try to find an example….

So if Joe Blow writes a book. He is a US citizen. He finds some overshores site giving his book away for free. Even tho the US currently has laws in place to handle this if it happens in the US, we apparently need more help reaching offenders that are out of our jurisdiction.

Ok, I get that. I’ve found my stuff online being given away on random overseas file sharing sites – and it is really, really hard to get my stuff removed. I supposed we could use some help with that – especially when I think about how big this problem really is (movies, music, counterfeit drugs and merchandise)

So I get all that – that we just might NEED something to help with this…

BUT, then I stop cold in my tracks when I read the rest of that original quote.

The US could require internet service providers, ad networks, and payment processors to STOP doing business with them AND search engines to stop LINKING to them?

Now, I can SEE some logic behind it, but aren’t we making US businesses (like Google, PayPal, HostGator, etc) responsible for the offenders actions?

Why isn’t the OFFENDER held accountable?

That makes me think back to the SAFE Port Act that Bush signed in October 2006.

The meat of the bill was about increased security for our US ports.

Of COURSE we all wanted that. It was a no-brainer and it sure looked good for Bush to sign that so he could say that he and other Republicans were “Tough on Terrorism” (ironically just weeks away from congressional elections).

Now, what most people DON’T know about that SAFE Port Act that Bush signed is that there was something else tacked onto the end. Something that had NOTHING to do with port security or protecting our country from terrorists.

It was about online gambling and putting more effort into laws to forbid US consumers from participating and putting money into offline gambling sites.

Now, it didn’t make it worse for consumers from a law-standpoint. Instead it made it illegal for banks to ALLOW us consumers to use our credit cards, debit cards, checks, etc to FUND those sites. Yes, they made the banks stop us from using our own money – even if it was for something illegal.

I guess the government decided that is was “easier” to get the banks to babysit us and make them (the banks) accountable AND liable for US citizens getting their money into these online gambling sites than it was to make us individually accountable for our own actions.

Naturally, that SAFE Port Act went through easily – who wanted to be the one to stand up and say “No” to that? What? You DON’T want safer ports? I’m not voting for you! The online gambling “tack on” part of that Act was not enough to stop it from happening or enough reason to give anyone voting on that act reason to “man-up” and say NO. Their career was on the line.

I have to ask – what the heck happened to making the individual accountable for their actions – NOT the ones that might have allowed the actions to take place?

My Problem With SOPA

That’s what my problem is with SOPA – the gov’t wants to make those that allow these infringing sites to get attention and/or needed services to be liable and accountable for the actions of the individual site owner… but NOT hold the individual who is actually committing the crime accountable. That bothers me…AND brings up all the ambiguous language that this SOPA thing has in it that is wildly open to interpretation.

I have a cell phone. The company gave me a phone number and provides the service for me to be able to make and receive phone calls. They never asked me WHAT I plan to do with that phone and they aren’t held accountable for CHECKING on what I am doing. I also don’t think they are LIABLE for what I do with that phone either. If I used that phone to plan a murder or some other crime, will they blame the cell phone company for “allowing” it to happen?

No, of course not – it would be ME that paid the price and goes to jail. I doubt I’ll see my Verizon Rep in the cell next to me…lol!

So why are ISP’s and payment processors in charge of babysitting this great idea these gov’t people are scheming up? (And in all fairness, do these gov’t people really have a deep understanding of how internet technology works in the first place? Heck, I WORK online and I still really grasp at understanding the big picture).

Who Is SOPA Targetting?

Now, I do have to say that the wording of SOPA makes it look as if they are targeting sites outside the US that are “a site dedicated to infringement”. So, to me, that means that the following businesses/people IN the United States could be punished in some way in the following hypothetical situation -

Let’s say there is site outside of the United States that is dedicated to selling counterfeit Nike shoes.

Paypal that enables this site to take orders/receive money? Yes.

HostGator that allows this site to be online? Yes.

Google for allowing that site to be linked to from their organic index? Yes.

Google for allowing that site to buy AdWords PPC ads and display those ads on Google and Google-owned properties? Yes.

Facebook for allowing that site owner to have a fan page and drive traffic to their site? Yes?

Twitter for the same (allowing linking to and sending traffic to that site)? Yes?

The private blog owner who has that Google AdSense ad automatically come up on their site? No?

The private blog owner who has that site owner leave a comment with a link to that infringing site? No?

If I’ve got that right I have to say – that is all kinds of messed up.

And to top it off, the ones with a “yes” next to them – they are also accountable for STOPPING it in the first place?

Does it come down to money (again)? If anyone links to, drives traffic to, hosts, or provides any service for an infringing site and makes money off of it, is that who will be held accountable?

In that case, the blog owner who allows commenting on posts and a person leaves a comment with the infringing site as their website link – are we accountable? We don’t make money off of that link?

But if an AdSense ad shows on our site, we could make money from that ad (if someone clicks it) – but we don’t have any control over the ads Google generates on our site – are we accountable then?

Google makes money from the AdWords PPC ads, but they don’t directly make money from the listings in their organic index – are they accountable for the ads (since they make money from it), but not from the organic listings?

All so confusing – and still leaves me with one big question -

What about the person(s) who actually COMMITTED the infringement?

The only one responsible and accountable is the person(s) doing it.

Am I am really off-base by thinking that way?

So -When You PROFIT From Illegal Activity Online You’re Held Accountable?

Google already got NAILED for allowing ads in their PPC program that advertised pharmaceuticals from Canada. Those ads took US consumers to a site (or sites) that sold “fake” prescription meds and allowed them to order them to have them ship into the US.

Ok, so Google profited from illegal activity and had to pay the price. I can see that.

But then I have to ask – why didn’t UPS or whatever service actually delivered these drugs into the US get nailed with a $500 MILLION dollar settlement like Google did? (or did they? please correct me if I am wrong)

And oddly, the US already has two acts in place that forbids shipments from foreign pharmacies into the US. Why do we need more?

Speaking of Google

I can TOTALLY see why GOOGLE is completely against this. Remember, they not only own Google, but they also own YouTube. This whole SOPA act passing could be a major headache for them.

SOPA means that they would have to “patrol” their search engine index for sites that might meet the terms of being a violating site and stop listing them in their index? How in the world can that be done? Can you imagine policing all THAT content? Yikes!

And WHY? Google isn’t a directory of most-trusted or legitimate sites, are they? No, they are a computer program designed to index all the web pages and documents on the internet (YouTube is another story).

If I find a business in the Yellow Pages and that business rips me off or operates illegally, is Yellow Pages to blame? Are they LIABLE for that company? Should they have KNOWN about that company before they listed them?

Why can’t I make my own mistakes and learn my own lessons when *I* make a choice to deal with a business (whether online or offline) that might rip me off? Why can’t *I* hold that business accountable for what they did to ME? Is it simply because it is natural human tendency to need to blame someone else and hold OTHERS accountable?

The business did it to me – not the Yellow Pages…not Google…not PayPal or HostGator… I took a chance and got burnt.

This is where I get lost with SOPA – and maybe because I’m totally good with personal accountability.

With SOPA, it seems it is the online businesses that are held accountable and liable for carrying out all this….and yeah, maybe through all of it the actual offending domain gets taken offline, but really – how does that truly punish the offender?

And Let’s Get Honest Here…

Since most that read here regularly really do have a grasp on how the internet works, let me ask you this -

If an off-shores site dedicated to infringing content gets taken through all the hoops and taken offline, how long will it take for them to show up again on ANOTHER domain name? Less than an hour?

Gee, that’s a nasty punishment, isn’t it? I guess it sure would be if you’re innocent or it wasn’t done intentionally – but if you DID intend to do this and that’s how you operate, a site going offline is NOT going to stop you.

If you don’t stop the PERSON (or personS) that are actually committing the crime online, it won’t stop. I mean, seriously think about it – what a cat and mouse game that will end up costing U.S. businesses a ton of money and courtroom time. It just seems silly.

An editorial in the San Jose Mercury-News said -

“Imagine the resources required to parse through the millions of Google and Facebook offerings every day looking for pirates who, if found, can just toss up another site in no time.”

I totally agree…and to me, that’s why I think the intention behind SOPA makes sense, but the enforcement is ridiculous.

The article also says -

“Smith’s bill holds Web companies responsible for policing the Internet.”

Which, to me, is EXACTLY what it sounds like. If we need internet police, get an Internet Police Force. Do you agree?

What About Freedom of Speech?

As for the Freedom of Speech debate…. I’ve been reading and reading, but for the most part, I don’t really see this particular issue with SOPA. If anyone wants to enlighten me, please please do.

Now, there is a part of the bill that would allow judges to order internet service providers to block access to these infringing sites to US consumers – and I can see that. It’s a money thing – they don’t want US money going outside the US or anywhere they can’t get a piece if it (which brings me back to thinking about the online gaming thing) – but do we really need it BLOCKED from us to be protected?

Are we not accountable for our own actions?

This might sound trivial but – What about the company that makes my glasses? My glasses allow me to SEE those sites better…without the glasses I wouldn’t be able to read the site or order….so, we better punish the glasses company too, right?

And while we’re at it, I drank coffee to stay awake so I COULD go visit and order from that site…better punish the coffee company too.

And you bet they’ll go after Google because Google ALLOWED me to find it via their search engine – now we’re talking some pockets to get into! lol!

But if you keep reading – in addition to allowing ISPs to block those sites it could also allow checking of customers IP addresses and their activity online. This is called Deep Packet Inspection which is a BIG privacy concern in my opinion – and maybe that’s where the Freedom of Speech debate comes in?

Again, I’d really like to hear what you have to think. This is how I learn…how we all learn, so let’s share.

Where I Get Really Annoyed

You know who a BIG supporter of SOPA is? The United States Chamber of Commerce. That sounds like, “Wow!”

Yeah, no “Wow” there – the US Chamber of Commerce is NOT a gov’t entity – it’s a business (read their “About Page” and see). It’s members are some of the biggest “Big Business” businesses in the United States.

Businesses put their money into the US Chamber of Commerce…and that US Chamber of Commerce makes sure our gov’t is full of politicians, judges, etc that are proponents of Big Business rulings and laws.

So, say I am a Big Business business owner and I really, really want Judge Joe Blow to be elected because he always rules in favor of Big Business so I want him seated on the cases brought against me.

Now, if I, Big Business Owner, decide to donate to Judge Joe Blow’s campaign, the odds are good that Judge Joe Blow won’t be able to hear my cases (conflict of interest). Well that doesn’t work for me as the Big Business owner – I NEED that judge ruling on that case.

So instead, I donate my money to the US Chamber of Commerce and THEY donate to Judge Joe Blows campaign and lobby to get him elected…AND Judge Joe Blow CAN sit on my cases…and rule in my favor.

So of COURSE the US Chamber of Commerce is behind SOPA – their members are BIG BUSINESS, their members give BIG MONEY (yep, back to that money word…lol). Again, at the end of the day – it comes down to money and we, the “little people” online don’t have the MONEY to be heard or to make a real impact. That makes me feel defeated without even trying – does it make you feel that way too?

Supporters to the Left, Opposition to the Right…

All the companies and organizations I see in support of SOPA are manufacturers and associations (dare I say “Big Business”?)…. Revlon, Nike, the Motion Picture Association, the Recording Industry Association, L’Oreal, Nike, Acushnet (another golf business), the NBA… all businesses that I totally get why they would support SOPA (or at least the concept of it).

Heck, when I ran a golf course, my pro shop was broken into THREE times in the course of a year just to steal all my Callaway clubs. They were BIG overseas back then…so people would steal them and sell them to others oversea on eBay and the like.

However, in the lists of supporters, I don’t see any ONLINE businesses stating they are in support. Yes, there are some software companies showing support, but I imagine overseas piracy is a BIG issue for them too.

It really seems to come down to this: the ones who are being pirated are in support of SOPA – and the ones that might be held accountable and liable for said piracy are opposed to SOPA.

Meanwhile, the actual offender is not even mentioned.

Suffering from Piracy? Your line is to the Left marked “Supporters”.

Going to Be Held Accountable for Policing SOPA? Your line is to the right marked “Opposition”.

Are you the one DOING the piracy? You’re free to go. We’re not gonna bother with you – your pockets aren’t deep enough.

Just nuts. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

Am I the only one who interprets it all this way? Am I wrong? Please tell me.

Summing Up

In summary, the base concept of SOPA makes sense to me, but the plans on how to enact it seem ridiculous. While I sympathize with the problem at hand that is being addressed, I have a real problem with the proposed solution as far as I understand it.

I think they need to start from scratch and have people on this committee that actually understand how the internet and internet technology work AND who understand how the internet economy works – and someone needs to speak for the “little people” that are involved in all this. Don’t we deserve some advocacy too?

Will it pass? Who knows. From all I’ve come across, the bill as currently structured will be vetoed by Obama. However,the closer we get to elections the more likely that could change. Election campaigns need supporters and major money – Big Business provides that money in exchange for what they want…..and politicians tend to do what the money wants (or else they get no money).

Yep, back to that money word again.

My advice, if you are opposed to SOPA, speak up to those that need to hear it. Sadly, we don’t have a United States Chamber of Internet Business Owners to lobby for us (or at least not that I’m aware of – and if not, that’s a damn good idea…lol) – so we have to speak for ourselves and in MASSIVE quantity.

Yes, we most likely will be met by a “pat on the head” individually, but mass makes an impression. And who knows, YOUR phone call could be “the one” – the one call that is the tipping point and makes that politician think, “Fine! No to SOPA… I’m not risking MY re-election on all this!”

Ya never know.

Above all, we have to keep an eye on what ELSE this bill could bring about. Remember the SAFE Port Act?

Just like we’re all happy with safer ports here in the United States, I’m sure we’re all fine with stopping online piracy – BUT, what is the other hand doing? Are they “wagging the dog” here?

That’s my 2.5 cents =) I’m just one little woman in one little town in Georgia and I’m doing the best I can to sort through all this craziness like the rest of y’all. Like I said, my perception of all this could be totally off base – and that’s fine, I’m wrong often and one more time won’t hurt me. But by speaking up and speaking OUT, I have an opportunity to learn more and gather more insight from those that are in the same boat as I am – AND those that know more than I do about all this.

I would LOVE to hear your opinions and thoughts too. Please share your thoughts and findings, but please be civil =)



{ 109 comments }

Eli January 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I’m curious why you are not blacked out today or maybe I missed that.

PotPieGirl January 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Guess I could have/should have? When I went back to the WA forum after publishing this post, someone mentioned making their site “Dark” – and I thought, “Oooops, coulda saved this post for tomorrow”. My bad. If it offends anyone, I am truly sorry.

Eli January 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

No, not suggesting that you should have been blacked out. I was just curious. You did a lot more than most site owners in helping to educate your readers on the topic. Thanks.

Adam January 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Really well stated Jennifer !
We all need to get involved to stop the politicians that want more power & control for the Government.And be diligent for the future of the internet and our freedom and opportunity to do business online.
Thanks for taking a stand & educating your followers.

Sincerely,
Adam

PotPieGirl January 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thanks, Adam. Yep, we need some more control and also more input from everyone involved in this situation.

treadmill sales January 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm

I think the intentions are good but this is a baaaaad bill. You are absolutely right, the offender goes Scot free and even if his site is shut down it will be up and running again in no time. We shouldn’t foot the bill for this.

As far as Google goes I find it ironic that they are on their soapbox about protecting our rights to uncensored search results while at the same time they are blocking sites like Scroogle Scraper from their results.

PotPieGirl January 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Agreed.

Allen January 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Jennifer, maybe you should be running for a congressional seat rather than the fools we have up there in Washington. I’ll vote for you.

PotPieGirl January 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Thanks, Allen! But I gotta tell ya… I have friends in political/gov’t positions and I wouldn’t want their jobs for love nor money. Beating my head against a wall while trying to untangle years of Christmas lights in my attic sounds like a LOT more fun…lol!!!

Thanks for reading!

james chamberlain January 19, 2012 at 12:04 am

Once the government makes one law on the internet 1 million laws will follow then we are China censored,our government can’t touch one thing without f–ing it up they last thing any of us want is them in our internet,we will all be out of business or paying a absorbent fee to use it to cover there bureaucratic cost,if the music industry can’t guard there own goods,then they loose sorry,spend some ,money develop some safe guards instead of letting the government protect your business.Some of those people are worth hundreds of millions,and you want me to worry about the cost of downloading a poor quality song ta ta why so you cant get a 55 room mansion because the 25 room one is to small.It’s all wrong..

Livefire January 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

Just another example of Congress following the bidding of it’s corporate masters. Protecting their profits at the cost of the people’s liberties. Since they cant control individuals outside of US jurisdiction, they will close off access to those sites. The vague language will allow government to block off any site offensive to their ideolgies as well as commercial interests. China does this as well. Herzlich Wilkommer zur Polizeistaat Amerikas!!! ( Warm Welcome to the American Police State!)

Jon January 19, 2012 at 12:17 am

Excellent evaluation. Certainly made more sense than one I read on the Warrior Forum earlier today (it’s already Thursday 19th down under in NZ). What needs to be noted here of course is that whilst politicians make laws the judiciary (Court system) ultimately interprets them and successive case law often leads to those laws being amended countless times. Global Corporations and some you mentioned in the “tick yes” category may well test the law in the Courts so nothing, as yet, is really set in stone. Furthermore laws basically only keep honest people honest. Scumbags and scammers will always find ways to circumvent laws and pervert the course of justice.

In time SOPA might become known as an abbreviation for “soap opera” or perhaps the 21st century version of the Boston Tea Party.

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

Excellent addition, Jon – thank you!

Destiny January 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

TAKE ACTION: End Piracy. NOT Liberty. The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

Sarah Mathews January 19, 2012 at 6:32 am

I have not been feeling well. However, earlier today, I felt well enough to contact the representatives and senators to oppose the bill. I am not comfortable with government censorship, especially when the wording is vague. I posted information about SOPA on Facebook.

The strange thing about this whole thing was last night, Yahoo! News did not show SOPA or PIPA as trending items (between 1 to 10). Trending items mean popular items leading to searches for information. Twitter showed three or four trending items about SOPA and PIPA.

Thank you for the petition. I will sign it before I log out of this blog. The government and Internet businesses are in my prayers.

NetworkingMom Says January 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

Thanks so much Jennifer for once again, writing in an easy to understand manner… am really curious how this will all play out …

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

Me too! This is all history that is taking place, isn’t it?

You’re most welcome, but the truth is – this is how I attempt to explain it to MYSELF. I don’t know if I am right or wrong or close to either…not really sure ANYONE is 100% sure about all this (which is a big part of the problem).

Basically, I’m just thinking out loud hoping for some other voices to help me process all this.

Cindy January 19, 2012 at 12:30 am

Jennifer,

Thank you sooo very much for speaking out about this because I’m right there in the same boat as you, but I don’t have a platform to speak about how ridiculous this is! My mama raised me to be accountable for my own actions, not to just let it slide by on other people’s backs! Even though you think you are just one little woman in a little town in Georgia, you DO have a VERY loud voice so, once again I would like to say THANK YOU!!!

Thanks!
Cindy

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:06 am

Thanks, Cindy! I’m not sure how “loud” my voice is, but I certainly DO have an opinion – and questions. I can’t be the only one that is having a hard time “getting it”.

We all DO have a voice tho – I still believe every voice counts, but all too often we start off feeling defeated so we don’t utter a word. I’m guilty of this too.

rd January 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

It is a great insightful look into SOPA. Really made me understand how it will effect those who are not doing anything wrong. It may be the Governments first stepping stone to getting control of the Internet so they can start Taxing for the use, even though nobody really owns the Web. I swear it feels just like the Roman Empire some of the times just before it fell.

Candice January 19, 2012 at 12:51 am

I actually wrote a paper in the early 70′s in college on the topic “The Fall Of The Roman Empire…..Could It Happen To Us Today?”

At the time I thought it was a little bizarre, no way it could happen to us. I agree with you though rd, lots of things going on that really make you think and wonder.

Jennifer, thanks for taking the time to explain this whole SOPA thing to me………I was trying to do my due diligence today on the subject, but not able to really get my head wrapped around it all………….

You did good!

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:07 am

Thanks y’all!

(interesting about your paper, Candice!)

rd January 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Candice sometimes the Government acts like they are running another country in bazzoro world. The are passing laws that have nothing to do with the real problem which is the economy. The republicans try to pass legislation for helping the economy but tack things like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid onto it. The Democrats try to pass laws to help the Economy but if it looks like it would help the other side the republicans turn it down. They just keep running the country like that how long will it last?

Linda January 19, 2012 at 12:52 am

Fabulous summary and analysis. It’s just crazy. While we’re figuring who should be accountible, let me add on a few:

Why not make Logitech accountible for making my mouse that let me scroll to that site? And the company that made my laptop? And….before we forget, most importantly, next to my search engine….my BROWSER!!

There’s no end to the madness. It just has to be stopped.

Denise January 19, 2012 at 1:34 am

Thanks Jennifer, important stuff! Well said.

And Linda,
Match.com for giving us a bad date :-)
Are all pics given to Match.com checked for
copyright/validity? How many pretty people
on there have used a fake pic?
It’s ludicrous.

This is definitely one time to make a statement
of NO, the control must stop. Your opinion counts –
make your mark on the world – sign the petitions,
be heard.

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

Funny, Linda – I completely forgot about punishing the company that manufactures my computer that gives me access to “infringing sites”!

Wait! I think we need to punish my power provider, too – if it wasn’t for electricity, I wouldn’t be able to find those sites either…. And on and on we go.

And you’re right, Denise – our opinions do count if we DO something with them.

jaime January 19, 2012 at 12:57 am

Way to go…what a great and informative article. This really helps clarify a lot of the questions I’ve been seeing…Nice job!

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

Thank you!

PLA January 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

Actually, the Yellow Pages is prosecuted all the time. They do refuse to list some types of businesses to keep from liability.

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:11 am

Thank you, PLA – wasn’t aware of that.

Rach72 January 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

I get the copyright infringement thing and the reasoning behind it, but like you I am confused over one thing ….. why online businesses are getting in a twist over SOPA and Freedom of Speech? Isn’t this detracting from and confusing the issue?

From what I can gather there has been a tentative example of a site being shut down because of a defamation accusation, but I believe that that site was also selling pirated games or something….?

As far as the copyright issue goes, yes there is a huge problem with copy written content and piracy but there are better ways to deal with it. As you imply, it seems like this is big businesses way of trying to stamp out the world of internet sales and turn back the clock. Unfortunately horses and stable doors spring to mind and they have to realize that it is a whole new world, one which they need to adapt to, pronto.

Or here is an idea – and I’m just thinking out loud, so don’t sue me just yet …. how about no copyright validation for things placed online?

That places the ball firmly back into the hands of the artist/product creator. If you want to receive a decent pay for your work, do not put it online. If you do it could be seen as being made available in the public domain and free to use unless trademarked or patented. because the alternative will be too hard to police. Now isn’t that true Freedom of Speech?

And would those who do want to receive a payment for their work continue to put their work online?

As I said, just thinking …… please feel free to correct me!

Rach :)

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:15 am

Hiya Rach =)

I have absolutely NO desire to “Correct” you for your thinking out loud. Hey, we’re all confused – it’s hard to get straight answers about all this at this point (at least it is for me).

If I’m not mistaken, 2011 was the first time that online “Cyber Monday” sales surpassed offline “Black Friday” sales. I am SURE there are people who want a piece of that – especially since the odds of that trend changing are not so good.

Is SOPA a beginning of a way for our gov’t to find a way to get a piece of all this? Not sure and only time will tell.

I really DO sympathize with those those suffer from online piracy and I get why they need and want help from the US gov’t… but WHY do online service providers have to pay the price for upholding their “solution”? That makes no sense to me.

Enjoy It While It Lasts January 20, 2012 at 2:59 am

The First Amendment issues here are quite complex. One, discussed by constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, involves prior restraint. There is a mechanism in SOPA which allows private corporations to request injunctions, and in many cases a mere allegation against a particular website would be enough to shut it down. This effectively delegates a power of censorship to the private sector, and compounds that error by affording inadequate review procedures for the accused.

More generally, the impact of SOPA on expression is chilling. Content-sharing sites like You Tube routinely contain references to copyrighted material. The recording industry has, in the past, gone so far as to campaign against home videos that featured a particular song playing in the background. The amount of deference being shown to the entertainment industry is ridiculous in an allegedly free society, threatening to curtail the open expression we have become used to enjoying.

Finally, all the focus on corporations distracts us from the desire of the government itself to control the one place where we are still free. They watched what happened in the Arab Spring; they won’t tolerate it here. The Occupy Movement has them running scared, and this is part of the push-back.

Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson January 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Hi Rach (and Jennifer)

I must start this with a disclaimer — I’m not a lawyer or expert in the law in any way. I haven’t read the bills in question although I’ve read about them. I’m also Canadian. So take what I say here for what it’s worth — just another person’s opinion 8=)

I think the Free Speech issue comes into play when a site like YouTube or Wikipedia can be blocked in it’s entirety for a single alleged offence. It forces censorship and discourages sharing sites from starting up.

If someone infringed a copyright in a comment here at Jennifer’s site, the courts could order ISP’s to block potpiegirl.com in their DNS servers. Anyone coming to that domain for anything would get a Not Found error. PayPal and other payment processors would be forced to close her accounts. And would she get paid her balance?

Since this is a U.S. site that wouldn’t be allowed at this point, but do you think that restriction will last long?

So what does Jenn do to protect herself? Cut off comments completely? Moderate every single comment? Perhaps she just gives up?

This will seriously impact the ability of web site owners to allow their readers to access information and communicate.

As for stuff online being considered public domain, I think that is a dangerous road to tread. Copyright is a very important part of making and providing content. Even if I give it away for free (which we bloggers do all the time) it is still our content and we have the right to decide what can be done with it beyond consuming it.

If we decide online stuff is public domain, why stop there? Why not anything that is available to the public? Books, cd’s, dvd’s. If I see something on TV I have the right to copy and broadcast it for profit. I hear a song playing in the mall while I’m shopping. Now I can record a version of it and sell it without honouring the writer.

All this does is discourage people from sharing what they create. It takes work to create.

The problem is that the pirates believe that this is the case already — both offline and on. Trademark won’t help since you don’t trademark ideas, but rather brand names, etc. Plus, the pirates would ignore that just as easily and be just as difficult to fight.

The solution is to find a reasonable way to protect copyright. That is the stated intent of SOPA and PIPA. But I doubt it will work and it puts too much unilateral power into the hands of copyright holders. Not to mention the security and privacy invasion issues that it would introduce.

Dee January 19, 2012 at 1:37 am

I’ve been following this avidly and it was very interesting in hearing your take on it. This bill is a “big bowl of wrong” as Jeff Garlin would say. I think the government wants control of the internet and doesn’t know enough about it to figure out the best way to do that. They will keep proposing bills until something “takes”. A great book on the subject is “Who Really Controls the Interne?”. A must read for internet marketers.

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:16 am

A “big bowl of wrong” – I like it =)

Thanks for the book recommend, I’ll check it out.

Dennis January 19, 2012 at 1:41 am

Jennifer:

You might not be ready for the world of politics (may never be, depending on how long those Christmas lights take to untangle, then the recovery from that massive headache afterwards), but I thought your idea about an Internet version of the US Chamber of Commerce was a great idea, to give voice to those of us eking out a living out here in cyberspace.

Someone out there in the Internet Marketing world could and should organize such a movement. Kyle? Carson? Tiffany Dow? How about Frank Kern or Jimmy D Brown? How about all of them — all of us — organizing ourselves en masse, to stand up to the Big Business dunderheads who only care about their own pocketbooks, and the fat wallets of their political puppets?

Dennis

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:22 am

If something more important than those Christmas lights comes along, no telling…lol!

I also think it’s a great idea – we internet business owners, bloggers, affiliate marketers need a voice – someone or someTHING that supports our needs and rights. There’s a lot of money made online – I can see others in our industry using some of that money to a platform that supports and protects our rights and interests (or at least the rights, politicians, gov’t officials, etc that help US like the United States Chamber of Commerce helps Big Business)

Will it happen? I have no clue. Not exactly my specialty…but I can say that I certainly be interested if it ever came to fruition.

We have pocketbooks to worry about too, don’t we?

Pamela January 19, 2012 at 2:20 am

Thanks for a better understanding of SOPA! I was doing my research for more info and your post really helped me more. I truly do believe this is a money thing and the gov’t just wants complete control over everything.

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:23 am

Thanks, Pamela! This is just MY interpretation of it tho – keep on doing that research and let us know what you find out =)

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:34 am

While this is more specifically about PIPA (the Protect IP Act) – this is still very good news.

PIPA Support Collapses with 13 New Opponents in Senate

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 2:40 am

And wait – here is something that helps me understand the “freedom of speech” angle:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/08/judge-says-domain-name-loss-is-not-a-substantial-hardship.ars

I got some “A-Ha!” out of it…worth a read.

The full background of this story is here:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/us-customs-begins-pre-super-bowl-mole-whacking.ars

William January 19, 2012 at 3:00 am

Well done. Thanks for spending the time to understand our political system and explain it to the rest of us. The only thing that surprises me about this incursion into our personal liberties is that it wasn’t tacked on to a “Thank God it’s Friday” Bill benefiting orphans and wounded war vets one hour before the vote. Congress really is dysfunctional if they’ve forgotten the tricks that payback their campaign fundraisers.
We live in a free country. Please exercise that freedom this year by voting for the lesser of two evils….. again.
WB

branded items January 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

The moment I went online today this is what everybody is raging about. Sopa seems to be ok, but take freedom speech. Thank you Jen for letting us know about this. I was also researching about this awhile ago? My question will SOPA affect the people outside the US?

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 3:17 am

Looks like I’m going to turn my own blog post into my own little “bookmarking site”…lol!

Found something else that is really worth a read – it’s about the real cost of online piracy and it’s not what all the hub-bub makes you think:

“No doubt piracy is costing the content industries something—or they wouldn’t be throwing so much money at Congress in support of this kind of legislation. If we could wave a magic wand and have less piracy, obviously that would be good. But in the real world, where enforcement has direct costs to the taxpayer, regulation has costs on the industries it burdens, and the reduction in piracy they’re likely to produce is very small, it seems important to point out that the credible evidence for the magnitude of the harm is fairly thin.”

Really great article that makes you sit back and wonder WHY this SOPA stuff seems so pressing for the gov’t – like we don’t have any other problems that demand our immediate attention and some sort of resolution.

The US sure DOES have many other problems that need attention – and it sure would be awesome if all the Big Names got together in support of THOSE issues, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, another eye-opening article for me. Read it.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/internet-regulation-and-the-economics-of-piracy.ars

PotPieGirl January 19, 2012 at 3:27 am

And one more link…

I realized that I am talking about SOPA as a US citizen…but what about those NOT from the United States – what does SOPA mean to them?

This is a good article to read to learn about that: What Does SOPA Mean To Us Foreigners?

Denise January 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

Jennifer – thanks for the great easy to understand explanation. Unfortunately, I have no explanation for the US Government but I tend to agree with the other posts. It enables them some control in an industry that is massive (and growing) and a piece of the pie. How would this effect Canadians or other countries?

Dusan January 19, 2012 at 3:55 am

I think we should all punish Google, Yahoo and Bing so bad they go out of business. Then we all refuse to buy Nike’s (and the products supporters of SOPA make) unless we can do it online.

PS You forgot Nicor, the gas company that keeps me from freezing to death while I’m online, several food stores that supply me with the energy necessary to go online, the company that made my desk and chair (I keep my computer on them while I go online and come in contact with all those nasty sites), the builder who built my house (and all those lumber and nail and window stores he bought the stuff they needed to do it, Starbucks and Caribou Coffee (I use them sometimes to go online while enjoying their libations), the doctor who fixed my arm (I broke it years ago; had it not been fixed, I would not be able to type so much, surf the net so much), my elementary school teachers (taught me how to read… couldn’t be surfing the net without it), the company that built my elementary school….

Whew! Long list, and I’m no where near done. Why don’t we simplify everything and just turn off the internet? Better yet, because much safe, why don’t we stop all commerce? If no body’s buying anything, no body’s buying anything from the pirates, right?

Tiago January 19, 2012 at 4:22 am

Jennifer,

If you don’t know how this legislation could jeopardize your freedom of expression, I can give you an example.

You are writing a post, you want to add a funny picture, you find it at google images, grab it and post it. Right? Wrong!

Let’s say that image is listed at photostock. Instead of an e-mail telling you to take it down or pay, your website goes entirely offline and you don’t have any idea of who took it down. At best your ISP can inform from whom the order came, and that’s all. You will have to recover your blog at judicial cost, if you ever want to follow that route. I mean, do you have the resources to do it everytime it is taken down?

This kind of legislation (SOPA/PIPA), is built to transform the Internet into a 300 Channel Cable Network. Either you have the money to shoulder the big guys, or you are screwed. They feel more comfortable dealing with other 299 cable channels instead of you Jennifer.

Got it?

Kind Regards,
Tiago

Rach72 January 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm

So your site got shut down because you stole someone else’s work….. that’s what you are doing by grabbing images from Google images and Photostock without paying for the rights to them. Do you also copy and paste other people’s articles and use them in your marketing efforts?

There are now sites that will allow you to buy the right to an image foe as little as $6 for a casual purchase, so there is no excuse for stealing other people’s work.

Rach :)

Tiago January 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm

You don’t know that such an image was listed in photostock, and you lose all your work just because of an image. Worse, you have no idea of what happened to you, because nobody is telling you.

So, you are condemned without any due process, without any appellation, without any possibility of reaction, without any court. Condemned by the whims of someone else’s ego.

This is not the American Way, this is North Korea Way. This gives room for bogus claims just to take down anybody that you don’t like. As long as you can take a free image, register at photostock and claim you own it to do whatever you want to other people.

The guys in the copyright industry play very dirty and this is not news.

Is that fair, Rachel? Doesn’t it affect your freedom to express yourself? Think about this.

Rach72 January 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

But you are not expressing yourself. You are expressing someone else’s work. You know this because you copied it from Google images and did not create the work yourself. In images you used to be able to filter the images shown by license – I’m not sure that you still can, but it is a part of your due diligence as a business/site owner/operator.

Would you walk into a hardware store, take a drill off the shelf, walk out without paying for it, use it to build your house and expect there to be no ramifications from doing so?

If you do not know that taking something off the internet and using it for your own purposes without thought for the creator of that content and gathering permission to do so is flat out wrong then the problem lies with you, not the world. That is why there is a copyright discussion going on.

You are not “Condemned by the whims of someone else’s ego” but by your own actions.

Yes SOPA and PIPA go too far and they are fatally flawed. We all get that. But if you do not get a massive wake up call from this discussion and stop infringing copyright then be it on your head. That is not marxist or communist or anything else. It is common sense.

If you want freedom of expression, create your own work and do with it what you will.

Rach :)

Tiago January 20, 2012 at 12:25 am

Dear Rachel,

After SOPA/PIPA pass, the owner of a copyrighted work has two paths: either (s)he requests the 6 Dollars for the photo, or requests an entire website to be put on a blacklist. What is easier? Today there’s the first path, the one of decent law and people.

You and I are clever people – even thought that you think I’m a pirates white knight – but most people aren’t that clever. Some have no money to start (6 Dollars in Bolivia means an entire day of hard working) and some people are really assholes.

During my teenage years, in the last 90′s, I got a laptop and learned to make text fonts. I made hundreds of them, and being a free software guy I got a license for them that would make them free as in free beer for all and distributed them.

A few of them sneaked into proprietary software and are still sold as a bundle to the proprietary stuff (Adobe herself included claiming ownership). Others are sold out in font sites by people claiming they own them and that they deserve payment for it. These are MY fonts, mind you.

I still own that old notebook, the software that I used to make the fonts and the original files, it is a jewel in working condition, running a Windows 95 and a Slackware 3.6. Could I sue these sons of bitches? I bet yes, I could. Would I do it? No, the lesson I learned from it is more valuable than the money I could make.

The lesson I learnt is that copyright guys are just pirates with more money and structure. Otherwise how would you call Rupert Murdoch and his scandal of illegally eavesdropping thousands of people’s phones in England to sell his tabloid? Isn’t it stolen information? (using media newspeak) Yes, it is stolen information and he should pay a hundred fold for the lives he ruined by it. Let’s realize that the most vocal proponent of SOPA is a thief himself and should be thrown in jail for five years just like he is advocating. I wonder why he hadn’t got the taste of a jail’s iron bars already, but that’s what money can buy, I think.

This copyright thing is all something about who can steal more and stick the cost to others, if you haven’t noticed yet. Jennifer has got the cost side of the thing, there’s more than that.

To your enlightenment I suggest you watch a rare and nerdish movie called “The Pirates of Silicon Valley”. It is very hard to find in stores since some people tried to take it out of the street, but you can easily find in torrents around the World or perhaps at Amazon or Barnes, I don’t know because I got a copy as a gift.

Kind Regards,
Tiago

Rach72 January 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Thanks Tiago

I get the SOPA/PIPA flaws and the costing discrepancies. But In your original comment you intimated that it was somehow OK for people to copy and paste at will, just as some people think that it is OK to upload a copyright file to oh I don’t know, let’s say Megaupload and give it away to the world.

Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.

:)

Tiago January 23, 2012 at 2:19 am

Rachel,

I did not consider it right to use copyrighted material just because everybody uses it. I myself don’t do it. But much like you, I know better. Unfortunately, 99.99% of the people don’t know better and they risk losing sometimes the great works of their lives for a so small error. Like a train hitting them in the park where there were never trains before. People are not highly intelligent and trained, they just want to live their little lives in peace.

If you work with IM, I’m sure you write a lot, and on doing this your articles are sprinkled with copyrighted phrases you think are from the top of your head, but really aren’t. Take as an example the copyright over “timeline” that Facebook is struggling with right now. Given the new legislation, Facebook would have been gone already for good.

You know, in another comment here you question why there’s SOPA if m3g4upl0ad can be taken offline with the same methods described by SOPA already.

The problem is that much like the prisons in American Soil, the current laws demand fair and well done legal procedures before juridical action. SOPA, much like Guantanamo, wipes out this necessity under the carpet and automates the process.

SOPA, was created as a tool from an oligarchy to take control of what they want to control by causing all people doing a certain kind of work to be automatically blamed. By the examples I’ve given to you, there’s not much you can escape since you are in the web, and worse, the justification can be EXTREMELY easily fabricated against you.

It is like everyone is blamed from start, so the big guys just have to do the picks. They can pick on anybody they don’t like, preventing the rise of anybody that could menace their business in the future. It is like spreading agent orange over all people’s freedom trees.

Despite the appearances I’m not American and I’ve truly no country since I lived in several from my childhood onwards. Some of the countries I lived were ruled by oligarchies and filled with this kind of law. Either you were friend with the bosses and they got you out of the mess when you needed or you were screwed for life. You can easily imagine that my family took the first path. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

I know many of the things I say seem outlandish, so don’t let your country to transform into a crazy land were everybody’s a criminal. Do it for your children and your own peace of mind. The day SOPA passes, you can consider yourself living in a country not better than Brazil, so you better cover your tail or run for your life. The big guys don’t think twice before calling the sicarians in if they need.

Arthur M January 19, 2012 at 4:33 am

Here is what Paul Myers of TalkBizNews,com has to say on this issue:

————
If you’re familiar with SOPA (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”) or
its Senate companion, PIPA, you know at least the basics.
There’s a lot more to this legislation than you might have
considered.

It is easily the most dangerous and ill-conceived attempt to
regulate the Internet, and your use of it, ever proposed by the
US government. And no, living in another country doesn’t make
you immune. That just makes you a potential target.

The Basics
==========

SOPA and PIPA are bills currently pending before the US
Congress. Their stated goals are simple: Stop piracy and the
sale of counterfeit goods online. Wonderful! Excellent goals.
But how do they propose to do that?

Therein lies the rub.

Here’s how they’d work: If the US Department of Justice, or any
US-based copyright holder, accused a site of “encouraging or
facilitating” piracy, the government could:

* Order that site removed from US-based search engines
and ad networks,

* Forbid payment processors from handling transactions
for them, and

* Require ISPs to block access to those sites by their
customers.

As the bills are currently written, this process could be
applied only to sites outside the US. I don’t believe that
would remain the case for long if the bills pass. Whether I’m
right on that or not, this legislation is a disaster in the
making.

“What Does “Encouraging or Facilitating” Mean?”
=============================================

Good question. Does it mean sites that actively host pirated
files, or that sell counterfeit physical products? Sites that
allow their members to use a separate section for “sharing”
warez? Or does it mean sites that link to those products
directly? Or sites that link to legitimate content on sites
that are deemed to be “rogue?” Maybe sites that allow their
members to speak out in favor of piracy?

What about social networking sites, blogs, or forums? If one
post, tweet, or update in such a site links to stolen products,
or advocates unauthorized distribution of copyrighted products,
is the site “encouraging or facilitating” piracy?

You may not think so, but what if it’s your product? You’re
going to want that link removed. To you, it seems as though the
site itself, and not just the user, is helping people steal
from you.

And if you’re a big company, with a lot of intellectual
property that is regularly the target of these digital
leeches? Say, a movie studio or recording company? Are you
going to monitor those sites and look for every instance of
this stuff that comes up, or are you going to wantthe site
owner to actively monitor every post, in order to protect your
IP rights?

Think about that.

Before I continue, I should mention that I make my living from
intellectual property which I create, or to which I buy the
rights. Mine is not a big company, certainly, but it affects my
income in the same ways, if on a different scale. You would
think I’d be in favor of something like this.

I am not. Going after pirates this way is like using a
flamethrower to get fleas off your dog.

“It Won’t Accomplish The Goal”
============================

First things first: The procedures outlined in this bill will
not stop piracy. Period. Getting around a domain-based
blacklist is child’s play for anyone with any experience. And
if this legislation passes, those people will cheerfully set to
the task of creating IP-based shadow networks and tools an
average person can use to play in their private sandboxes.

Pirates won’t care if the law forbids it.
If they did, they wouldn’t be pirates.

If the bills pass with requirements that ISPs block on both
domain names and IP addresses, they’d require ISPs to look at
every packet sent from your computer in order to comply.

Yep. They’d know every site you visited and every site
referenced in every email, post, tweet or update you sent out
into the world. And they’d have the option of stopping any or
all of it, if you pointed to anything “forbidden.”

A lot of our Congressional representatives are saying they
won’t back the bills if they include IP-based blocking. Good
thing, too, as it’s easy to rotate through IP addresses.

There are other technologies that can be used in the same way
that don’t qualify as “websites,” too. We’ll get into that a
bit later.

Not only will the proposed systems not stop piracy, they may
encourage more of it. Aggressive prohibition has almost always
resulted in the forbidden being seen as heroic or rebellious.
This ends up making the thieves look somehow “romantic,” and
adding to the appeal.

Good plan. Let’s turn a bunch of script kiddies and warez hosts
into modern-day Robin Hoods.

Yeah. That’ll work. Gimme some.

And I’d like to buy that bridge you had for sale, too.

“But It Can’t Hurt, Right?”
=========================

Wrong again, oh Mighty Congressperson!

According to a number of people far more technically clued than
I, enacting these procedures poses a serious threat to the
security of the domain name system. There is an article on
Wikipedia which you can check out tomorrow (after they lift the
blackout), which explains this in more detail. Just type SOPA
into the search box.

Suffice to say, even US government agencies are saying the
technical result of this could be a disaster of global
proportions.

Not often you hear that phrase used in a “yes, it really
would” kind of way, is it?

I’ll leave the technical stuff to be explained by the Geek
Pantheon. They have the knowledge needed to make that clear to
us mere mortals. Let’s look at the direct impact, based on what
marketers look at: How do human beings react in a given
circumstance?

“What Does This Mean to Me?”
==========================

If you’re not a pirate, this stuff shouldn’t be a problem.
Right?

Ummm… No.

Well, let’s say you run a discussion forum. It wouldn’t matter
how many posts or pages your forum contained. If a copyright
holder could make the case that your site was “encouraging or
facilitating” piracy or counterfeiting of products, you could
potentially be blocked from the view of most US residents.

The exceptions would be the ones with the technical savvy to
circumvent the blocks, which would be illegal under the bills
as currently written. Hardly the lion’s share of visitors in
most cases.

The same could happen to blogs, social networking sites, photo
and video sharing sites, shareware libraries, and any other
online system that allowed for user-posted content.

Yes, those sites could probably be removed from the blocklist,
if they had the resources to fight it and could show they
actively worked to keep that stuff out. But that’s all after
having been blocked, removed from US-based search engines, and
lost access to their payment processing.

Problem 1: Most site operators don’t have the resources
(financial, emotional, or endurance) to go up against a
federal action. And most interactive sites wouldn’t survive
that kind of down-time. Whatever portion of their market was
blocked from visiting would likely end up being lost for good.

That alone would kill many sites. And many more would simply
close up shop, unwilling or unable to submit to the hassles of
the fight.

Problem 2: Payment processors would not, under this
legislation, be required to re-accept sites which had been
blacklisted. Anyone who’s dealt with these folks knows, they
very likely would not allow the operators to re-active their
accounts, even after having been cleared.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see payment processors creating
new categories of sites they wouldn’t accept. The main one
being “Sites which allow posting of user-generated content.”

Problem 3: Unless the blacklist is operated in the same way as
spam-fighting DNSBLs (updated and checked from a central
database using a software daemon), it’s easy to imagine sites
staying on those local lists forever, even once the government
removed the mandate for blocking them.

A mistaken listing would be a death sentence for most sites.
And a reprieve wouldn’t matter. You’d still be dead.

And What If You Use Sites That Accept User-Generated Content?

If one of them is listed, it’s simple: You’re out of luck.

Doesn’t take a lot of explanation to make that concept clear.

Here’s where it gets really nasty, though. What will sites that
currently allow users to post do in order to prevent these
problems?

Well, many of them will go to harsh moderation policies,
allowing posts and comments only from known and trusted
players. Random visitors won’t be allowed to leave their
insights, ask questions, or poke holes in flawed arguments.

Many blogs will simply turn off the ability to comment at all.
Photo and video sites will probably require much stricter
registration procedures, if they don’t just shut down entirely.

And a ton of people will just decide that it’s not worth the
effort of building a site if it can be shut down over the
careless or malicious actions of a single user.

The trend will be toward an ever more “Read-Only” web.

Sure, sites like Facebook and Twitter will probably not get
shut down over a few morons who insist on posting links to
pirated software. But smaller sites? Too risky.

So, we’d have a ton of legitimate smaller sites shut down. The
value they provide to their visitors would be lost, along with
the income they create for their operators. And we’d pretty
much establish the existing big social networking sites as the
lone operators in their space.

Yeah. Those sound like GREAT ideas! Let’s do it!

Who needs job creation or innovation? We’ve got Facebook!

“A Very Big Crater”
=================

Some Americans may think this isn’t important, because they
only use US-based sites. There are a few problems with that
thinking.

The first is believing the US government won’t extend these
provisions to sites within our borders. Such a change might
eventually be ruled unconstitutional, but only after a lot of
damage had been done.

The second is ignoring the contribution to these types of sites
made by people from other countries. That is just stupid.
Americans don’t have a monopoly on anything but being American.

Which brings us to the biggest problem with this legislation:
To slightly more than 95% of the world’s population, WE are the
“foreigners.”

Does anyone really think that if we start blocking offshore
sites arbitrarily, other countries won’t follow suit?

The thing that makes the Internet work is that, so far, it has
largely been exempt from the geographical boundaries of
“realspace.” Sure, there are exceptions. Import and currency
regulation, and anomalies like the Great Firewall of China.
Still, for the most part, people “here” can speak with people
“there” without a huge amount of interference.

It works because it’s a huge global “commons.” As soon as we
start parcelling it into local fiefdoms, the advantages we all
currently enjoy are gone.

If we start this ball rolling downhill, Sisyphus wouldn’t touch
the job of pushing it back up again.

How many of the leaders of the world’s 196 countries would be
likely to have their own views about what is and is not
appropriate within their borders? How many of them would love
to block out inconvenient ideas or media channels? Or to
protect their own markets from digital incursion by other
countries?

As soon as we get into that, the notion that this is a
copyright issue goes out the window. It’s pure politics, and
the net is broken. And that leads to the next problem.

We’re already seeing attacks from one country into another via
the Internet. When it becomes acceptable to place political
ideologies above the virtual environment, that is going to
escalate. And the attacks won’t all come from state-level
players. We’re going to see factions of all kinds unleashing
the already existing weapons out there on whoever has stoked
their wrath.

Much of that is going to happen anyway. As things are now, we
have the spirit of cooperation in the international community
to help keep it to a relative minimum. If we start playing this
game, though, that cooperation could vanish as quickly as the
smile on the face of a child who’s just been told “No.”

“But Wait… There’s MORE!”
=========================

If this legislation passes, I don’t see any reason to believe
other countries won’t follow suit. And while there’s no
guarantee that regionalization and factional attacks would
follow, I consider them likely. The only serious question in my
mind is how bad they’d get.

It takes bureaucracies to enforce such things. Anyone who’s
even looked crosswise at a history book knows that
bureaucracies don’t readily give up the ghost, once
established.

They grow, and they look for more and more authority.

One place they might look for it is through ways to “fix” the
technical problems I mentioned earlier. Most notably, the DNS
security issues. If different countries start adopting
different protocols for such things, the whole system starts to
unravel.

“Wow. What a Mess!”
=================

Maybe. A lot of this could be less severe than I think. Some of
it might not happen at all. But some of it is guaranteed, and
there’s no benefit to anyone in it. Not even the big media
companies that are pushing for it so hard.

After all, we know how badly their crystal balls failed them on
the music front, eh? (Can you say “Sony Rootkit?” I knew you
could.)

So, what can you do about it?

If you live in the US, go to:

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Select your state, enter your zip code, and click “Submit it.”
You’ll be shown a page with contact details for your
Representative and both Senators. You can email them from those
forms. Or, better yet, you can call their offices.

Best of all is to type up a brief, polite letter telling them
you want them to oppose these bills. Postal mail still counts
for more than emails or phone calls, but every bit helps.

Make it clear that you don’t believe that the bill would do
anything to stop piracy, that it would stifle free speech, cost
tens of thousands of jobs here and abroad, and could seriously
damage the basic security and infrastructure of the net in ways
that might never be able to be fixed.

Make sure to include your name and address (including zip
code), so they know you’re a constituent.

When contacting your Representative, refer to SOPA (HR 3621).
For your Senators, mention PIPA (S.968).

If you live outside the US, you can sign an international
petition, which you can find at:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_internet/

Don’t leave this up to someone else. If everyone does that,
nothing will get done.

You can drop your Representative and Senators a note via email
in just a few minutes. Phone calls or a letter won’t take much
longer. And there’s a lot at stake.

Go. You’ve been kind to read this far, but those emails, calls
and letters are more important.

And feel free to pass this email along to anyone you like. Or
send them (or tweet, or post…) the URL to the online version,
at: http://talkbiznews.com/sopa/

Paul

Charley January 19, 2012 at 5:56 am

SOPA is definitely a very good thing to businesses who have been suffering from online piracy but they should rethink the plan they have in place to stop the piracy. The idea is good, but the direction it’s going is bad. I am not in support.

Leann Zarah January 19, 2012 at 6:02 am

Thanks for explaining SOPA and for sharing your thoughts about it. You posted valid arguments which those legislators should consider. If SOPA becomes a law, shouldn’t the inventors or creators of the Internet be made accountable as well for producing a “virtual market” that’s difficult to police? And if I remember it right, US government money was used to develop this medium.

Thanks again, Jennifer.

Fay January 19, 2012 at 7:24 am

This SOPA must be part of a campaign as this does not sound like why Wikipedia would close for 24 hours though it must be. I think it is quite clear why this is happening, once your mentioned the chamber of commerce, it isn’t about justice or information it is about regulation and control and the big boys keeping the net for the big boys and making it harder for everyone else. I don’t think the US should stick its nose into everyone elses business and control everything. Either everyone does it separately or it is a joint agreement. What about the so called rights of the US to freedom? Of course we know they don’t really actually exist in reality this proves it.

When a government creates a law that says it is to do something and it clearly does not there are in my view 2 reasons for this. One they have just decided to do it and have not in anyway consulted with those that the law affects. And two, they are up to something no good usually and the change is actually targeted at something else than what they are saying. Again who is instigating this would make it the second choice.

I am not a US citizen, here in the UK there is going to be (no debate for us!) a law passed in the spring that means that sites have to get permission BEFORE they use cookies on you. This could wipe the little guy of the net. So I would think that would affect affiliates quite a lot as if a person doesn’t agree you don’t yet any credit for that sale!

Kurt Evans January 19, 2012 at 7:29 am

I think this is just another sad example of what American politics has become: people playing the blame game. No one wants to accept responsibility or to be held accountable for anything. This bill is another example of politicians showing their true colors. It’s sad that in the world of politics that you never see anyone owning up to their flaws and saying,” you know what, I made a mistake. Woops! Sorry!”

Jayne Kopp January 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

Well, like you Jennifer, I’m not a fan of getting involved in politics. It makes me crazy. I had a heck of a time trying to weed through the sense of all the SOPA business. I think I got more out of reading through your post in plain language than I have on any of the other sites.

It will be interesting to see where all of this takes us. In the meantime, we can only hope that we are heard.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with your ‘outside voice’.

Jayne

Bruce January 19, 2012 at 8:55 am

Once again you have methodically and succinctly laid out the “picture” in an understandable way, for which I think we all thank you.
I am a South African and therefore have registered my vote with Avaaz.
Be grateful that you do have the opportunity to express your abhorrence directly to your lawmakers, we dont!!!!

logo items January 19, 2012 at 9:47 am

Pot,

I am on the SOPA protest since how can we work well when the internet is not convenient to use. And yesterday my little brother had a hard time in dealing with his assignment. Since he was suppose to finish it right away but since wikipedia was down. He was not able to submit his homework at school. The internet had been one of the most useful things and resources we have.

Laura January 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

I read this at Natural News and the part that always concerns me is when they start trying to make legislation that will affect dietary supplements, herbs, raw milk, non-GMO foods, etc. (things that my life and health depend upon). “Sites that endanger public health” if the FDA/government has any say in it, is WAY too broad.

<>

Fay January 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

Well I have taken Bruces action and signed Avaaz. Also put it on Facebook and sent it to all the business women in Cornwall. Now to find a way to stop the UK Gov from controlling cookies!

Stephen Byrne January 19, 2012 at 10:51 am

Great post Jennifer. In a way, I sort of like the Idea of SOPA but not done by any government, and do not understand, if Google can create Algorithms, pay people to go through sites to see what they look like etc. I do not understand why they can not pay people to sort out the whole piracy thing that ruins a lot of peoples hard work from digital art to music and now especially the world of Literature. I plan to bring out my first Poetry and photography digital book this year and know it will be copied and spread over the Internet.
For example, Madonna has a new album out this year. Her personal site was broken in to, the details of the coming album were spread on the net (now the guy was found out and actually locked up) but I can not understand why Google can not sort out this type of carry on, surly they have enough money to set up a team that goes after these type of people and sites who are ripping off peoples hard word and causing misery.

Tiago January 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

Stephen,

There’s one thing Google taking a sample of sites, or the 10 first sites for Harry Potter and evaluating them.

There’s another thing for Google to manually sort out every page entry. Take for instance the Warrior Forum which has 350,000 pages, how long it would be until Google sorted the material of just one website!

A not so long time ago, Yahoo employed an average 6000 Mexicans just to sort out content. Yahoo was always into the manual sorting business, go see to where one of the oldest internet companies is heading after all these years.

On being Google, if I had to sort out manually all content, I would close the doors.

Piracy is bad I agree, but then go after the pirate, he’s to be punished for committing a crime, not Google. What kind of twisted justice is this?

Rach72 January 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Also, why should they?

Google are not a state owned enterprise but a private company. They sort the search results according to what gives them the biggest revenue, does their market research and builds their brand. They have their own business to run and are not the police.

Rach :)

Tiago January 20, 2012 at 12:56 am

SOPA and PIPA guys think they should stick all policing cost to Google, that’s what the law states.

That happened because Google isn’t part of their lobby and their associations, so they got a perfectly fat scapegoat.

The government puts its cost of running this new law in the short hundred million Dollars for an year. And they pose as those that policy the police. Can you imagine the cost to keeping the infantry army for this? Hollywood wants to bring the Silicon Valley to its knees.

Nerds and geeks will burn Hollywood to the ground if those crooks get their way.

Tiago January 23, 2012 at 2:26 am

It seems the Hollywood burn has already began: http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html

YCombinator is a fundraiser for startups. They want now to focus their efforts to destroy the crooks’ establishment.

I just hope they bring Hollywood crashing down before this beast does away with the little joy still there is in living in this World. Make yourself rich while trying to kill this monster!

Mark January 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

PPG,

You stole the thought right out of my head. I would assume that if one web site was shut down another one would pop up in its place immediately.

That was ultimately what let to the creation of torrent technology…mobility.

Soon we will see torrent URLs that exist completely outside of the ICANN jurisdiction.

The internet will jump above the 4D existence whereas it currently resides…bank on it.

Mark

Neil January 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

It always has been about the “money”.
Not the money that blog owners make but what the Big Businesses make, these are the driving factor behind any government in any country.
I appreciate the fact that nobody likes having their hard work stolen, especially after you have spent months creating it.
But as you say Jennifer, it’s the Site Owners that should be targeted and not everyone else who unfortunately missed a comment with a link back.
If that was the case then nearly every site would be at fault.
I do hope that something can be done with this as I have had several ebooks illegally distributed myself.

Dave January 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I think this free speech thing is too hard for Congress to handle. They put controls on t.V., radio,
newspapers–they want to rig the internet so the “little” people can’t exchange ideas.

Congress says they are for democracy, but really they want it rigged so the rich people can control the internet too. SOPA is just a ruse to get inside the internet and contol it–a pretext to take the internet away from the little people who are practicing too much democracy.

Congress took funding away from Public TV because they spoke too much truth. Congress wants to control everything and police what the people see and hear.

For the few pirates there are–they will just keep doing what they do no matter how many controls are in place. Pirates don’t obey the law, so why would they obey SOPA? It’s just like if you take away everyone’s gun, only the bad guys will still have guns.

And so it goes….
Dave

Crescencio January 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

You all send out great information will your emails.
Thanks for all your hard work.

Henry January 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Jennifer, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I first read about SOPA on Warrior Forum but it didn’t sinked in; your post certainly expanded upon it and let us see things from different angles and perspective. SOPA is the new SOAP opera on the internet ..:)

Reba January 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for taking the time to make this post. I totally agree that copyright infringement on the internet is a problem, but SOPA and PIPA seemed to be knee-jerked reactions and not the solution. To extend your cell phone example…if you planned the crime on your cell phone and you were wearing clothes at the time, would the store that sold you the clothing be liable or just the designer that created them.

I was going to write a post about SOPA. You covered almost exactly what I wanted to say, instead I’m going to put a link to this post.

Michele January 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Jennifer,

You summed this whole situation up with two words: Personal Accountability. Where the heck is personal accountability? On both sides. The victim and the perpetrator.

When someone steals your stuff you call the cops when it happens, or take them to court yourself. You don’t have the cop or court sitting in your house day in and day out waiting for someone to break in while at the same time holding your neighbors hostage just in case someone breaks into your personal house.

I believe there is an ulterior motive to this bill and it is to slowly creep into our lives and monitor what we do and say… Take the recent signing by Obama of the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill “provides for the possibility of the U.S. military acting as a kind of police force on U.S. soil, apprehending terror suspects, including Americans, and whisking them off to an undisclosed location indefinitely.” Now that was huge!!!! And no one is raising any stink about that. This is how our liberties erode. And then one day we sit and say: Gee whiz…what the heck happened here?

If we keep allowing the US government to take more and more of our liberties we will be the only ones to blame.

If someone steals your stuff and you are a big fat corporation (and those are the ones who want this bill to pass), then you have enough money to find the pirate and take him to court by yourself without dragging me along with you. PERIOD. We don’t need an ambiguous law that in the end will only hurt innocent citizens.

Keep the government out of our lives as much as possible. We don’t need to discuss or negotiate this SOPA bill with them because discussing anything with the government is like starting a piss fight with a skunk. You can’t win. Best to just keep the skunk at a distance. PERIOD – END OF DISCUSSION

Garry January 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

What happened to innocent until proven guilty.This bill allows your income to be taken away, with out proving your guilt.

Tiago January 20, 2012 at 12:50 am

Bow very very very deferentially to Rupert Murdoch and cry very hard when he dies, otherwise you maybe spotted as a traitor.

And please, anoint his son as soon as possible and go out at a freezing winter night to buy his discourse to the nation if you don’t want your family living in a gulag the next week.

Do it for your kids! Before is too late!

spooky dude January 19, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Folks, Excuse me if this reply is not politically correct an offends some just venting . From 2005 until the present I have been heavily involved with the government in the state I live in the legislative executive and judicial branches. All supposed to be separate independent entities of our government, don’t kid yourselves and don’t be fooled in to believing the government in any way shape or form is in it to help assist or even level the playing field for those of us who are willing and able to do what is right to support ourselves and families I am an x GI Combat Vet honorably discharged , My Dad bless him is an 87 yo WWII combat vet I have had the government take me from a 100k a year job and worse in the last 5 years and pretty much sealed my opportunities for the remainder of my Life. To much to explain here. I would like for all of you to open your history books and read some federalist papers and see if you can draw a parallel to whats going on in the US at every level state federal and local of government, Summarized we ARE ON A HELL BOUND ROAD TO tyranny DISGUISED AS PROTECTION, PROTECTION FROM WHAT OURSELVES? Jennifer made some very valid points in her summary of SOPA and with 4-5 years of study such as I have pursued may be able to grasp reading laws , regulations, statutes and really interpreting them all though she is off to an excellent start …. the issues are breeding a future of doom and gloom or maybe I am just a delusional old man with a conspiracy theory laden mind

Sheila January 20, 2012 at 3:07 am

I’ve been puzzled by SOPA/PIPA because it seems to me laws are already in place to punish piracy and remove copyrighted content from sites like YouTube. I read this article the other day, about a British student being extradited to the US for posting pirated videos on his website:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9013961/Piracy-student-Richard-ODwyer-loses-extradition-case-over-TVShack-website.html

So there has to be some laws in place to allow the US to punish people for piracy in at least some parts of the world. It seems to me that most of the offending websites are in Asia.

It is crazy, this SOPA/PIPA legislation. I’ve written my Congressman and Senator but I’m mad enough I just might call them also.

-Sheila

Fay January 20, 2012 at 6:58 am

Sorry Rach72 it is not that simple. I suspect most of the people here are ethical and wouldn’t intentionally infringe on someones Copyright. I know I wouldn’t. In fact I am very very careful and here is what happened. When I use peoples art from places like Flickr etc that have some rights reserved I put a credit at the bottom with the name where I got it and the commons licence (most lenses don’t). Now as far as I know commercial use means actually selling the item, yet I have still fallen foul of someone saying just having the photo there was commercial use! Also, it says you can actually have any title for your site even if copyrighted, yet have when I first started by accident put a copyrighted term in a lens – some artists name plus painting and was told to remove it. Now take that to the extreme and probably half of Squidoo have copyrighted titles – angry birds, Disney princess, Lord of the Rings etc. Also most of youtube videos even though you think you can share it and I am careful is a collection of copyrighted material, if you use it you are libel but you are using it in good faith. Also I spent ages looking for a music site that had creative commons licences on them and chose my music from there and guess what, Youtube has said that it is a copyright infringement and put an ad on it. So anyone, unless you can put 100% of your own stuff on your site anyone can fall foul. As for art and pics yes you can get them from $1. I put anything from 3 to 9 plus pictures on each lens. With the small amount you get back it would just not be worth me doing it without creative commons free images. People don’t always understand the law, now in this country (UK) not understanding or knowing the law is no excuse for breaking it and you can still be tried. Most people just let you know and give you a chance to remove the item which is simple and fair. Yet I see from comments you are not going to have that right and this from the US! This is not a democracy. It is true that the internet is dangerous to governments due to the fast and worldwide communication. Still with the UK cookie issue affiliate marketing won’t work well anyway. The big boys (and girls) want the net as there is big bucks and they are taking it back and they don’t care who they destroy in the process.

Tiago January 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

Fay,

You can move your business offshore. Like to Man or Jersey, there you would be out of these cookie regulations. I bet there you would pay significantly less taxes, too.

Rach72 January 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Exactly my point Fay – yes it is too easy to infringe on copyright… which is why I began to wonder what our options were as a society.

You either go the way of SOPA/PIPA and punish everyone (not cool) or the other alternative is that as a society the paradigm of the copyright shifts (also not cool). When you look at how it is being infringed at every level, many people do not even know that they ARE infringing copyright. So this shift in society’s thinking is already happening.

The internet has had such a major effect on communication and our lives that the rules that we set yesterday and today may not be tenable.

Rach :)

it'sme January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. ~Woodrow Wilson

Today there are never bigger or greedier foes for us to endure, than those that we continually elect to office.
Author unknown.

Sathyavrathan PK January 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

Nice post, really good and simple interpretation.

Thanks for posting this :-)

Sathyavrathan PK January 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

Wondering SOPA authorities sue me for commenting on this post ;-) lol

Thanks,

Herschel Lawhorn January 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Hi Jennifer,

As one from Georgia to another from Georgia, even though I now live in Cherokee NC, I was raised in Perry GA and had a Business there for 42 years and I have watched our government take on more and more of what used to be our responsibility. Until now the members of Congress think and I think really believe that we can’t think or do anything for ourselves and they must do it all for us. And of course if they do it all for us then rightly they should have all the money or at least that is what they seem to think. It is time we throw them all out and start over.

Sorry, didn’t mean to get on my soap box. I think you did a heck of a job explaining what you see SOPA to be and I agree with your interpretation. I know that I am old and getting cynical, but I have just about come to the conclusion that if the government wants to fix something, then it most be working great and we better keep them out. Just look at our history, nothing that the government has attempted fix is the last few decades is better now that it was before.

Keep up the good work, I really enjoy reading you posts. Have followed you for a few years now.

LORRIE January 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm

SOPA and PIPA
On the Thursday, January 19 edition of the Alex Jones Show, Alex talks about the breaking news that officials are declaring Rick Santorum the winner in Iowa while admitting a final tally may never be known – including Ron Paul’s actual standing in the crucial caucus – due to missing votes in eight precincts and other voting irregularities. Alex also covers the latest news on the SOPA and PIPA protests that have taken a largely clueless Congress by surprise. Alex also covers Senator Rand Paul’s pledge to fight against the twin internet censorship bills the government is attempting to foist on the American people. Alex talks with software freedom activist and computer programmer Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project to create a free computer operating system, about SOPA, PIPA and copyright issues.
http://www.infowars.com/

Catherine January 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Hi Jennifer
I feel so fortunate to know of you and your drive to help us make our lives better via the internet. I also think you should run for office, but I understand your comparison to untangling Christmas lights.

I’m so new to this world you have mastered so well, but the concept of letting government dictate how internet business is run and creating very unrealistic mandates seems wrong. Need to stop piracy, yes. But not at “little guys” expense. This reminds me of a documentary I saw recently. Lost the title right now, but it was all about business take overs and the corruption on Wall Street!

Thank you for your voice.

Catherine

LORRIE January 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

http://www.infowars.com/the-secret-behind-sopa/

The end of internet as we know it.

Angel January 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

The end of the world is near. Our money and hard work in vain if we don’t have a relationship with the one who created us n the Internet. He is coming soon..get to know Him. His name is Jesus….

personalised items January 21, 2012 at 12:24 am

This is a very good review, Jennifer! I admit I’ve heard a lot of point of views from different people of all kinds, but I am still somehow all mixed up and confused about this subject. Reading your post makes it easier for me to understand. And all the more that I want to protest against SOPA, as well. This is really gonna affect every business owner in one way or another.

Frank Crowhurst January 21, 2012 at 4:25 am

Jennifer,
Thank you for an excellent article. You explained it very well.

I would just like to add that with our present government in Washington this would give all those crooked polititions and czars in Washington plenty of ammunition to crack down on so many large companies in the US.

If Obama get’s re-elected again he would have a field day with the sopa laws for destroying America even more that he has done already. He is lying about vetoing.
Frank Crowhurst

personalised items January 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hey Jen,

Was SOFA even implemented? IT is in action right now? Google and Facebook are against this right? I’ve read that Go Daddy is pro to SOPA. I’ve seen a lot of posts from different articles about this and they object on this matter. I don’t why Go daddy decided to join this cause.

Tiago January 23, 2012 at 2:37 am

Godaddy decided to join the SOPA writing efforts just to keep themselves out of the target sight.

The legislation excludes the registrars from any wrongdoing with domains, since registrars bribed their way out.

Then Godaddy tried to quietly switch sides, since they suffered a boycott that could bring their business to irrelevance if they stayed loyal to SOPA. They had 37 thousand requests to change domains to namecheap in just a few hours, before unilaterally and illegally stopping name transfers to evaluate what to do. So they switched sides to stop their tragedy.

corporate gifts January 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Hi Potpiegirl, You just made the hell sense out of SOPA. I just realized how search engines like Google can actually pay the cost and take all the blame, that’s a nice example, for allowing the illegal enter its index. Yes, it will be quite cumbersome. In that regard, as Google as a subject sample, it needs to run after whoever is illegal when it tries to enter the net, for claiming to be legal. Is Google going to run after these sites who they’ve thoroughly researched and found out to be illegit? You are right, are those accountable really going to be punished? Is it not the medium itself which is being hit with SOPA, the ones who are actually the frontliners of the great worldwide web. It’s quite ironic. I don’t even know if I’m making any sense at all.

Rach72 January 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm

So 4 people involved in Megaupload have been arrested by US authorities (FBI) for massive copyright infringement. These guys resided in NZ and are being extradited, their site has been shut down, so why do we need SOPA again?

Rach :)

Tiago January 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Spine chilling moment for those that think the law will be used honestly and fairly if approved:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120120/14472117492/mpaa-directly-publicly-threatens-politicians-who-arent-corrupt-enough-to-stay-bought.shtml

The law is not being built in an honest spirit, how about its later use? Somebody think it will be different when the law is applied? Is that the fair treatment the copyright guys claim they want … being applied to you, the voter, by them right now?

Think about that, folks! Before you are milked to death in order to buy crappy raps.

BradK January 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Jennifer,

I am arriving to this picnic late, but I wanted to comment on your thorough analogy of proposed SOPA legislation. To say how bad the government is attempting to handle this is a gross understatement. Yes there is a lot of piracy of content going on globally; but what SOPA proposes is like trying to kill the pesky housefly with the shotgun…..lot of collateral damage…and the tinsy fly may continue abuzzing. Holding ISP’s, payment processors, etc accountable for the dirty deeds of copyright infrigringers is way out of line. I am glad you tossed this subject out there!

Ruby January 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Great job explaining SOPA! You really made it simple and easy to understand. Thanks for educating us Jennifer.

Gil January 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

SOPA is good for the big brands because they benefit, but not good for all the little guys that are trying to make it. Seems like more globalization and monopoly. I think temporarily it hit a thud, let’s just hope it gets completely junked. The support of many groups seem to be helping.

LORRIE January 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Here is an important email I received from infowars.com

Watch for Free yesterday’s Nightly News Show – Must see show!
UK D-Notices to Go Worldwide

By Kurt Nimmo

Google and the British government are working together to sweep websites into Orwell’s memory hole. It is a joint effort that will soon go worldwide as the global elite continue to build and refine their censorship apparatus.

Google told The Telegraph today that national security is “the single biggest category” among the reasons cited for scrubbing pages from Google search results. Google’s Daphne Keller flew to the UK to testify before the the Leveson Inquiry and said her company had cooperated with the British government in 82 per cent of cases. PM David Cameron established the inquiry in the wake of the News International telephone hacking scandal last year.

The collaboration between Google and the British government is reminiscent of practices established under the so-called D Notice system, a modernized version of the Official Secrets Act used to censor political speech. Newspaper and periodical editors now routinely check with the government’s D Notice Committee before publishing information, a process that operates as de facto self-censorship.

The D Notice system was used in the Dr. Kelly case. Kelly was suicided after he accused the British government of planting in a dossier a questionable claim that WMDs could be released from Iraq within 45 minutes.

Earlier in the week, a former Soros Open Society minion and Stanford University scholar called on Google to act as a thought crime enforcer by providing warnings about websites that contain “conspiracy theories” such as the belief, held by a majority of Americans, that global warming is not primarily man-made.

As Paul Joseph Watson noted on Tuesday, the call by Evgeny Morozov to render the internet politically correct according to the dictates of the global elite and their bureaucrats is similar to an argument made by Obama’s science czar, Cass Sunstein, to force websites to carry warnings if they post content deemed inappropriate by the government.

In keeping with its mission to surveil and track and trace its users – allegedly for commercial purposes – Google has announced that it will follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine, according to the Washington Post. Consumers won’t be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect March 1.

Popular social networking site Facebook also tracks and traces users and keeps the data. In September, hacker and writer Nik Cubrilovic posted information on his blog revealing that Facebook keeps track of every website users visit, even when they are logged out of the site.

The latest Google revelations arrive as the Department of Homeland Security presents a white paper on its “evolving mission” to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Crafted by the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, co-chaired by former DHS chief Michael Chertoff and composed of a who’s who of national security figures, the report outlines a total mission creep, as the title ‘Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission’ implies,” writes Aaron Dykes for Infowars.com.

The paper proposes a transition from focusing on traditional terrorism to intelligence gathering and surveillance of supposed domestic threats. “Achieving this new aim includes co-opting local law enforcement and other regional agencies,” Dykes notes.

Obama’s DHS wants to build “a new analytic foundation that emphasizes data” and related systems that will integrate all aspects of law enforcement, including those on the local level. The DHS proposal, in other words, continues and accelerates the federalization of state and local law enforcement, a process that picked up steam during the Clinton administration in the 1990s.

The modern Stasi surveillance state and a government mandated and corporately enforced Ministry of Truth naturally go hand-in-hand as the globalists move to complete their totalitarian overlay designed to control humanity.

Increasingly, it can be argued that the internet and an array of ubiquitous technological devices were specifically designed and manufactured to facilitate the control mandates of the surveillance state.

Google’s high-tech D-notice technology – delisting and outright censoring websites deemed offensive by our rulers – is a less obtrusive version of the Great Firewall of China, a sprawling network of filters designed to craft information to the overriding prerogatives of an authoritarian and totalitarian state.

Fay January 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

OK this is all a bit too much for me, I hate politics and my view of politicians isn’t sweet. One person can’t fight this and lots of one persons (excuse English!) can’t fight this as they are attacking from all fronts. If not cookies and SOPA they will think of something else. The cookie law will put EU sites at a disadvantage as people who don’t have that law will simply skip them. The US SOPA law will put everyone but the US sites at a disadvantage and will be totally unreasonably implemented. Russel Brunnson recently said that net companies were centralizing. Here in the UK the small organic farmers had this problem and they were almost destroyed by ruthless big business. What they did was formed a co-operative. Together they have the power to stand against the big boys!

Sherman January 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

I feel that anything that hurts the great “Google” (don’t be evil? lol!) can’t be all bad. ;)

Still, this bill is just ridiculously overreaching and I still must oppose it :(

Cindy January 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

I was happy to black out during SOPA and as a published book author and blogger I too have had tons of problems with content being stolen overseas. Even so, I would never support something like SOPA. I think their main heartache is the fact so many movies and songs (piracy) is happening. Okay, I get that but there has to be a better solution. As for writing, it’s not as if writers make a ton of money and if I did make bazillions I surely wouldn’t be sending my own form cease and desist letter.

I think I’m capable of my own little arsenel of anti-infringment acts. I myself, yes, little old me have had US websites (personal / individual nes) taken down for copyright infringing my work. A nasty letter certified showing proof of the original article and the “spammer content” to the host provider and VOILA they will take down Mr. Chan’s website since he made the mistake of stealing my blog content and not crediting me for it after ten requests to do so. Thank goodness for timestamps and the internet, it does protect your work!

I think the offender should be prosecuted not the entire world. For what if Mr. Chan’s website was on Blogger and one rotten seed like him spoiled it for all of Blogger? Where would we be? Up the creek.

DOWN WITH SOPA

Declan January 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hi Jennifer.
Really good article, living in Ireland and working as a professional photographer,I was only mildly aware of this law coming down the tracks. Having had my images pirated on a regular basis,I was in agreement with it.However having read your article,I have changed my mind.Piracy laws should be directed at the pirates and not google etc.I also think that the federal government wont come rushing to my aid for a few stolen pictures now and again, they will be far to busy working for the large corporations.

executive gifts January 31, 2012 at 6:57 am

This has already been stopped. Thank goodness for the people who signed the petition. If it wasn’t for them and the people who protested against it this SOPA has been implemented. This is the power when everyone reunites. I think it got over 10,000 plus signatures, so that’s why it has been stopped. So everything is back to normal now! I hope SOPA and PIPA is not going to come back in the future.

Misato February 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

This isn’t the government that wanted this, this is the people that make up the Bildeberg group that wanted this law passed. The Banking Elite, not Unlce sam. It’s these people that control the federal reserve, the Trilateral Commission, the Counsil on Foreign Affairs and the united nations, and their new world order agenda is being expose thanks to the internet, and the new world order people ( the Rockefellers, Rothchilds, Warburgs, etc. ) don’t like it. There is even a video on Youtube showing David Rockefeller saying that he whished the internet had never been invented. Gee, I wonder why.

Many people have been enlightened to their agenda thanks to the internet ( even me to some extent. I never knew that the Federal Reserve was not a government bank, but a bank privately owned and run by the so called elite, until I started researching the internet on this ), and thanks to that, they now know they are not going to be able to impliment their new world order as easily as they had hoped. Hopefully not at all.

All we need now is something like SOPA to take away the free exchange of information. Had this bill been passed, punishing people who are infringing on copyrights would not have been the only thing SOPA would have done on the internet. Not by a long shot. I read quite a bit of this SOPA, and a lot of it was very vague and very scary.

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