Former MPAA CTO speaks out against laws like SOPA

By on August 14, 2012, 6:30 PM

Former Motion Picture Association’s Chief Technology Officer Paul Brigner has offered a level-headed rundown regarding the perils of using DNS as a means of Internet enforcement. Once controversial legislation, SOPA relied upon DNS-blocking techniques to essentially take down undesirable websites -- a bill which Brigner openly supported on behalf of the MPAA last year. This time however, Brigner openly derides SOPA's core enforcement tactic, citing significant concerns of abuse.

The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community.

Source: techdirt.com, statement written by Paul Brigner

Brigner's recent message to legislators may be in ironic juxtaposition to his past testimony regarding SOPA; however, the former MPAA CTO has ostensibly turned a new leaf. As TechDirt also points out, after defending SOPA, he later admitted the bill was unhealthy for the Internet.

After parting ways with the MPAA, Brigner went on to work for the Internet Society -- an organization who manages the .org top-level domain. The non-profit also aims to foster openness on the web. Unsurprisingly, the ISOC was fervently against SOPA. Brigner's latest words in this statement seem to mirror those values.

Also discussed in the filing is the need for due process, a detail which SOPA managed to omit. One of the bill's core issues was the allowance of private actors to take action without ever actually being required to navigate the justice system.

Our second recommendation relates to the legal tools that should be in place in any enforcement design. ISOC would like to stress the absolute need for any enforcement provisions to be prescribed according to the rule of law and due process.

Although the ISOC strongly opposes leveraging DNS as a means to dispense justice, Brigner writes that intellectual property rights are important. He suggests there does need to be a method of enforcement at play, but with certain limitations.

We believe that combating online infringement of intellectual property is a significant objective. However, it is equally important that this objective is achieved through lawful and legal paths and in accordance with the notion of constitutional proportionality. In this regard, enforcement provisions – both within and outside the context of intellectual property – should respect the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of individuals and, subsequently, those of Internet users. They should not seek to impose unbearable constitutional constraints and should not prohibit users from exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

The organization calls for future government initiatives to take on a more transparent and open process. The ISOC also suggests that future plans include the counsel of existing Internet governmental bodies such as the IETF, W3C and ICANN.

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