SOPA denounced by Internet founders, CEOs in letter

By on December 16, 2011, 4:30 PM

The Stop Online Piracy Act has generated a great deal of controversy over the past few months. The bill is so controversial in fact, a group of 83 engineers who helped create the Internet have issued an open letter (PDF). If that were not contentious enough, top tech executives have also issued their own, albeit it more succinct, open letter conveying a similar message.

"If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program."

The bill aims to strengthen the role of government, law enforcement and private actors in order to better control the sale of counterfeit merchandise, the theft or infringement of intellectual property and other criminal (and possibly non-criminal) activities.

The bill does this by giving these agencies unprecedented power to block websites, legally demand compliance by filtering certain types of content on the web and allows agencies (including private companies) to pull funding from undesirable websites by cutting off advertisers without due process. Proponents of the bill believe it provides the necessary tools to finally combat the dark underbelly of the web. 

Detractors see the bill as a dangerous mix of "draconian" and "vague". As a result, a number of technology luminaries, legal scholars and a many Internet users see the bill as a threat to the Internet. While the bill earnestly aims to put a damper on illegal materials found on the web, it broadens discretionary powers of agencies in scary ways -- ways that technology companies, law professors and founding engineers of the Internet disagree with entirely.

Alexandra Petri, Washington Post, muses on her blog:

"If this were surgery, the patient would have run out screaming a long time ago. But this is like a group of well-intentioned amateurs getting together to perform heart surgery on a patient incapable of moving. “We hear from the motion picture industry that heart surgery is what’s required,” they say cheerily. “We’re not going to cut the good valves, just the bad — neurons, or whatever you call those durn thingies.”

This is terrifying to watch. It would be amusing — there’s nothing like people who did not grow up with the Internet attempting to ask questions about technology very slowly and stumbling over words like “server” and “service” when you want an easy laugh. Except that this time, the joke’s on us."

Congressman Darrell Issa (R, California), a self-proclaimed "nerd", has provided everyone a way to watch the debate live as it unfolds. Check out KeepTheWebOpen. Additionally, visitors can view and make suggestions or comments on each of the provisions found in the current draft. SOPA has not passed yet, but Congress is currently working on "markups", a process where recommendations are made before the bill is considered on the House floor. 




User Comments: 24

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ikesmasher said:

Dont artists make enough money as it is?

I know music is only half the problem, but still...

Guest said:

this will pass, maybe not this year, but it will pass. it will keep coming back re-named until it does.

TJGeezer said:

Maybe an independent network not under the thumb of know-nothing politicians and the kind of lawyer willing to hit students with million-dollar fines for downloading, what, 22 songs was it? - gawd, between the pols and the lawyers, they don't care what or who they damage.

By the way, if you look up how much the artists make from their recordings - they mostly don't. Their income is from personal appearances. The copyrights, for the most part, are owned not by the artists but by the kind of people who hire those lawyers, and believe me, they're not artists.

The whole situation is disgusting. And the pols want it to continue. Meh.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TJGeezer said:

Maybe an independent network not under the thumb of know-nothing politicians and the kind of lawyer willing to hit students with million-dollar fines for downloading, what, 22 songs was it? - gawd, between the pols and the lawyers, they don't care what or who they damage.

...

The whole situation is disgusting. And the pols want it to continue. Meh.

I couldn't agree more!

Guest said:

we only have ourselves to blame.

corporations will not allow theft to carry on unabated.

not that they are not thieves themselves :-)

Guest said:

Its time for Google to start spending some of that Google money already. Enough of this nonsense.

Hollywood has spent like $91,000,000 alone this year on lobbyists and politicians. Was reported Google spent like only 3 mil. Wtf??

Google its time to play the game! Stop being so cheap and start paying off any and all politicians and lobbyists to do your bidding to have the courts in your favor. This SOPA bill is proof that spending money on politicians works for Hollywood.

Google, its time to start spending money to gain influence in congress!

Mindwraith said:

Guest said:

this will pass, maybe not this year, but it will pass. it will keep coming back re-named until it does.

perhaps by the time this passes, America will be enough of a broken third-world economy that any bills they pass wont matter anyway.

Guest said:

As long as people keep voting for the corrupt-to-their-core Democrats/Republicans, they'll keep losing their rights. While I disagree with these voters, they should be free to keep voting themselves into a corporatist state.

hrowder said:

This sounds familiar

"such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' right and ability to communicate and express themselves online."

Any of you who are gun owners in the US will find that quote from the article a bit familiar in that the bad guys, with guns or regarding piracy will circumvent the law while only honest, well meaning citizens will be adversely affected.

Politicians just don't have a clue when it comes to guns OR the internet!

Guest said:

"Politicians just don't have a clue when it comes to guns OR the internet!"

hrowder, you are wrong on both accounts:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

hrowder said:

To the guest who responded: I was implying by the "don't have a clue" statement that the politicians don't truly understand the will of the people. Taking away the 1st or 2nd Amendment will in due time lead to just such a rebellion, but even short of that will in a shorter time lead to protest of a magnitude they cannot imagine. There are at least 80 million gun owners in this country, and certainly twice that many internet users. The will not all remain quiescent.

Guest said:

"Politicians just don't have a clue when it comes to guns OR the internet!"

hrowder, you are wrong on both accounts:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

What??

They don't have to take anything away, there already is zero fear of rebellion. We Americans (well, the majority of us, and that's what matters; also, I am not excluded in this statement) are FAR too lazy and/or worried about what's going on in our lives to be concerned with a silly rebellion. There will never again be a revolution in this country, on any appreciable scale. Those corporate fatcats in control have nothing to fear- they've had us by the balls for decades, and all we can really do now is just ride it out and hope things don't get too much worse, until the future leaders being raised now are in a position to (hopefully) make GOOD changes when they ascend.

We may still have our 'freedoms' (and I mean that in the loosest sense possible), but we don't have any actual power. Look at OWS. Accomplished NOTHING. Enviable, yes, but not practical in any sense.

ramonsterns said:

ikesmasher said:

Dont artists make enough money as it is?

I know music is only half the problem, but still...

This is the thing, Artists aren't the one making money.

The ones you see "being rich" that's the publishing companies taking care of them most of the time.

treetops treetops said:

Those companies also pay radio stations to spam their music, pretty much the reason music sucks nowadays.

Guest said:

the internet's anarchy is its greatest appeal and what made it explode in the first place.

jonelsorel said:

ikesmasher said:

Dont artists make enough money as it is?

I know music is only half the problem, but still...

LOL.. artists? Try recording industry instead. They get the bulk of it.

Guest said:

it is right .Google should be on-board now and hand out some payments to politicians as they were deprived of online profit stream and lobby-money for so long .As least they designed SOPA to get their pie from internet business .

fimbles fimbles said:

Quote

"censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties? right and ability to communicate and express themselves online."

Pass whatever bills you like. People get what they want. And as long as files can be shared across a network, they will.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Pass whatever bills you like. People get what they want. And as long as files can be shared across a network, they will.

So true!!

The bills will only allow some pencil pusher the opportunity to make a buck or two. The efforts some people go through to keep from making a honest living but yet they feel justified in pointing fingers.

Let me clarify the basis of my thoughts. This whole ordeal is wrapped around everyones desire for media we do not need to live our lives, while the main purpose behind it maybe to spy on everyone surfing the Internet. I question everyday why the necessities of life offer so little fortune but yet the non-necessities offer huge fortune. We as a society care more for things we do not need than we do for things we do need.

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

"Politicians just don't have a clue when it comes to guns OR the internet!"

hrowder, you are wrong on both accounts:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

Absolutely right. Seriously, just think - what if they took away our Fourth Amendment right to due process entirely? No right to a trial, no right to appeal, no right even to have a lawyer after the arrest?

Oops. They just did. Right after Obama made a big grandstand speech in Iowa promising to veto it, he quietly signed it into law. Only 7 senators opposed, a mix of Repubs and Dems who must've actually read the Constitution at some point. So now it's:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

take away due process = let 'em rebel, then lock 'em up and throw away the key

So much for that. What's on TV tonight?

Stupido Stupido said:

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

"Politicians just don't have a clue when it comes to guns OR the internet!"

hrowder, you are wrong on both accounts:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

Absolutely right. Seriously, just think - what if they took away our Fourth Amendment right to due process entirely? No right to a trial, no right to appeal, no right even to have a lawyer after the arrest?

Oops. They just did. Right after Obama made a big grandstand speech in Iowa promising to veto it, he quietly signed it into law. Only 7 senators opposed, a mix of Repubs and Dems who must've actually read the Constitution at some point. So now it's:

take away your guns = control without fear of rebellion.

take away freedom of speech = control without fear of rebellion.

take away due process = let 'em rebel, then lock 'em up and throw away the key

So much for that. What's on TV tonight?

matrix - the origins... :-P

MilwaukeeMike said:

Man, our govt is brilliant. I'm really looking forward to them managing healthcare in the next few years.

Guest said:

Guns allow rebellion? That's silly.

Peaceful ingenuity is far more effective and useful. Nothing against guns, an over-hyped product being advertised as more than it does.

First, it'd probably be cheaper and quicker to make far deadlier weapons with basic Home Depot stuff and ingenuity.

Second, is anyone going to seriously use a gun that shoots mere bullets against guns that can level entire city blocks?

Third, the people who over-hype guns are very likely the ones who cheered every time the military obtained far more deadlier weapons than the citizens ever will have.

Guest said:

I agree and it will be renamed (more like miss named) for the sake/protection/benefit of the public.

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