SOPA and PIPA Far From Dead, Despite Concerns Of White House And Changes To Bills

Although the White House this weekend expressed “serious reservations” about elements of the pending anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA, and House leaders have said they will not conduct hearings on their bill any time soon, the legislation is far from dead. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this weekend that he hopes to open debate on the Senate’s version later this month. And House sponsor Lamar Smith said he will continue work on that chamber’s version. Internet protests planned for tomorrow, in which some of the web’s largest sites will go offline for 24 hours, are expected to go ahead as scheduled.

The two bills – the House version is known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Senate’s is the Protect IP Act (PIPA) – have been under fire from consumer groups and Internet rights activists for months. Although ostensibly designed to protect the intellectual property of American publishers and manufacturers, opponents say the bills are so broadly written that they could limit the free exchange of information on the Internet, harm consumer rights, and undermine Internet security standards. In a letter to Congress in November, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and U.S. PIRG said SOPA “could close off online exchanges that provide lower prices for consumers; reduce online security, and allow for anti-consumer practices by online service providers.”

Many of the concerns expressed by opponents have been over language in the bills that would have allowed web sites to be blocked through manipulation of the Domain Name System, which keeps track of web site addresses. In a statement, the White House warned that “proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security.” Sponsors in the House and Senate have been working to strip DNS-related language from their bills.

The White House also warned that “new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity.”

We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support–and what we will not support. Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.

While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.

Major web sites that plan to go dark to protest the legislation include Wikipedia, which has over 25 million daily visitors. In a tweet, founder Jimmy Wales stated simply: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

Consumers Union, the public policy arm of Consumer Reports and Consumerist.com, believes the White House is on the right track. “We think that the White House raised appropriate concerns and we hope that legislators address those concerns,” said Parul Desai, communications policy counsel. “I think this is still an issue that consumers should be paying attention to. It sounds like there’s a willingness by lawmakers to work together and achieve an appropriate balance. We believe there are still issues that they should look at.”

If you’d like to show your opposition to SOPA and PIPA, you can write to your representatives using this form provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy [The White House]
How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation [Electronic Frontier Foundation]
Web Goes On Strike [Strike Against SOPA]
The Stop Online Piracy Act Goes Too Far & Could Hurt Consumers – The Consumerist [Letter from Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and U.S. PIRG]

Comments

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  1. Cat says:

    Will consumerist and CU go dark?

  2. LiveToEat says:

    For some reason I have a strong craving for some Sopapillas.

  3. Buckus says:

    The more time passes, the more China and the United States start looking the same. I present to you as evidence:
    1. Detaining US Citizens indefinitely without charges
    2. SOPA and PIPA (specifically, being able to turn off DNS names without any evidence more damning than a “We think they’re involved in piracy”)

    • dolemite says:

      You’ve got that right. And no one seems to care in the least. I tell my wife that the government can now detain an American without right to trial or the ability to face his accuser, indefinitely, and she shrugs and said “you must have read that wrong.” Later, when I show her it is true, she simply shrugs. It seems like maybe 2% of people even care.

      • ClemsonEE says:

        That’s the problem with most people. They’ll suddenly care when it is too late.

        • BorkBorkBork says:

          People today seem completely incapable of looking ahead any further than “What’s on TV tonight?” It’s sad.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we’ve realized long ago that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Write your congressmen? Yeah, sure thing. Elect different people to office? They’re all jackasses who care more about money than ethics and the people they represent.

        You can’t expect corruption to be fixed by those who are actually engaging and benefiting from it. The only option is to nuke DC and start over again. And unless you have some plutonium lying around I don’t see how that’s going be feasible.

        • ancientone567 says:

          Ah but you see now that you sound like a terrorist so we can jail you forever and kill you legally. SEE SEE WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DID THERE! We are all screwed now. Talk against your government and they will eventually label you a terrorist which then had no rights and kill you or lock you away forever. Hell the FDA needs someone to test their drugs on! lol

        • dcarrington01 says:

          I think you mean fissionable…..

        • Rachacha says:

          The only way our Congress critters would stand up and take notice would be if EVERY congressman up for re-election was voted out of office. The remaining critters might notice and get down to business, and if not, vote them out in 2 years too until we found a group of people who could work together to protect those that can put them into office, and do their job passing Federal budgets on time, balancing the budget and passing laws that protect honest taxpaying citizens.

          Unfortunately, the coordination to make that happen is nearly impossible as a select core will always vote along party lines, and a larger percentage really have no clue and vote for the person’s name they recognize.

      • maxamus2 says:

        But I do shrug it off, it has been for a few hundred people and I’d bet anything that most all have been planning some sort of violent thing.

    • Darrone says:

      ridiculous, we are involved in way more pointless wars and military interventions than they are. U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A!!!

      • Cat says:

        Plus, China seems capable of planning into the future further than six years.

        And, oh, yea – they can put a man into orbit.

  4. dolemite says:

    “We don’t give a damn what the people want…certain corporations are paying a butt load of money to make sure this happens!”

  5. comatose says:

    The best congress/senate money from the RIAA and MPAA can buy. Even when it is blowing up in the their face, the amount of money pumped into the politicians makes them double down on this as if it so crucial.

    What really irks me is that there’s like 10 other ways to combat piracy on the books already, but that’s not good enough. Specifically, and my personal favorite (that was saracasm, it’s my most hated), the DMCA via take down complaints.At a low individual level, this “piracy” (ARGH, prepare to be boarded!), isn’t even a criminal matter – it is civil. We are now making what was essentially a civil matter with some criminal repercussions on a larger scale into criminal and making our government the enforcement arm of the movie and recording industry.

    My blood is boiling over, must. stop. now.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      And yet when big companies do bone-headed things that completely ruin people’s lives we have to go through arbitration with them, or finangle a class-action suit. It’s all civil when companies fuck up, when people fuck up apparently it’s criminal.

      I hate where this is all going.

      • galm666 says:

        There’s so much wrong with SOPA and PIPA that my brain can’t process it. There’s the “different rules for the corporations” level. There’s “this Texas politician has most of his campaign contributions coming from movie/film/tv donor companies” level. There’s also the “these companies can’t wrap their heads around a new marketplace” and the “many politicians won’t read the policy or consult the right experts if they aren’t being paid off” levels too.

    • dolemite says:

      Never mind the people pushing this so hard like it’s an emergency. Really…what will happen if this isn’t passed this year, or the next year? MPAA loses a few million more? Sorry that a few industries are somewhat put out by piracy. It’s not like this is costing us millions of jobs. However, allowing corporations the ability to blacklist websites with little oversight WILL cost lots of jobs. What exactly is the rush on this, outside of shoving more ill-thought out legislation down our throats while we aren’t looking?

      • Rachacha says:

        ” What exactly is the rush on this…”

        Two Words – Election Year

        Large donations from the record & music industry for those that support this, and the ability to “spin” the vote in debates/advertisements to make those that voted for/against seem evil.

        This reminds me of the whole net neutrality discussion. Advertisements from both sides of the argument made compelling arguments and made things so confusing that even those in the know did not know whether they should vote for or against net neutrality.

  6. ARP says:

    Is Rupert Murdoch still tweeting that tech companies and Obama are in favor of content piracy? It reminds me of the “you are with us or against us” stuff from the early/mid 2000′s.

  7. Gman says:

    I’ve said it before: What worries me most about SOPA and similar bills is not the legislation themselves. Those can eventually be fought against through lawsuits and judicial rulings.

    My main concern is the senators and congressmen who will willingly vote for something they do not understand and are unwilling to do the proper research to understand it beyond what the initial proposers of the bill tell them.

    Goes back to what is wrong with politics today – we continually vote for the most personable/talkative instead of the smartest. The people who represent us in the national and state capitals should be bet smartest and best each region can produce. not the one who has the best smile.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      My main concern is the senators and congressmen who will willingly vote for something they do not understand and are unwilling to do the proper research to understand it beyond what the initial proposers of the bill tell them.

      This seems to be the problem with like 90% of the shit that gets voted on these days. Or maybe it’s always been this way; I’m 28, I don’t know.

      • maxamus2 says:

        Yep, in my town the entire town council voted to give a company $500,000 plus tax breaks, then during the meeting when someone in the CROWD brought up how this company has scammed them before it was divulged that the freaking council members (5 of 7) didn’t even know the NAME of the company they were giving this windfall to.

    • parv says:

      There is only one gutsy Al Franken to go round, sadly. (If there are othres, please do tell.)

  8. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    MAFIAA companies will be very displeased if they don’t see a return on the $23 million in bribe money, errrm, I mean campaign contributions they’ve been paying out to various congressmen.

    • CreditSense-CreditRecovery says:

      $23 million… is that all? I was wondering how my congressman and Attorney General made it on that pre-Christmas cruise.

  9. dark_15 says:

    Just received this from my senator… guess he’s not getting my vote next election time:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about legislation to combat online infringement and digital theft.

    Last Congress, the Senate considered, but did not pass, legislation entitled the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The aim of this legislation was to assist the Department of Justice in tracking and shutting down “rogue websites.” These sites provide unauthorized downloads, streaming, or direct sale of copyrighted material. Similar legislation, entitled the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act, was recently introduced in the Senate. The PROTECT IP Act narrows the definition of “rogue website” in an effort to target only the most egregious purveyors of digital theft and counterfeit crime.

    In an age of advancing technology, it is critical we have laws that protect internet users from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent marketplace practices. Too many consumers today purchase goods over the internet that may pose a significant threat to their health and wellbeing. For example, a consumer may unknowingly purchase counterfeit prescription drugs online that contain incorrect amounts of active ingredients, and thus pose a serious risk to ill individuals.

    Additionally, illegal file sharing and unauthorized copying of digital material prevents musicians, producers, filmmakers, software designers, and many others from reaping the fruits of their labor. Such activity has the potential to stifle artistic creativity and compromise electronic innovation. Ultimately, intellectual property theft costs our economy billions of dollars and can result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

    However, I have also heard from individuals with concerns about the scope of this legislation, as well as its First Amendment implications. I take these concerns seriously. Should this legislation come before the full Senate for a vote, I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.

    Sincerely,

    Sherrod Brown
    United States Senator

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      That’s a similar letter to what I got back from my representative, Charlie Bass (NH). Basically “listened” to what I had to say, then gave me reasons why I’m wrong and he’s right. I’m sorry Mr. Bass, I didn’t know I was wrong for wanting to preserve due process and free speech.

      What a tool (who ain’t getting my vote next election).

    • DarthCoven says:

      Both Gillebrand and Schumer said similar things to me. Neither will get my vote in the future.

  10. IrwinJacobs says:

    In addition to all the other things we can do, it’s time to stop funding the entertainment industry that’s fueling this.

    What’s the best way to kill a monster? You starve it.

    No buying movies or music. No going to the movies. No pay per view. You name it. If the money I’m about to spend benefits the industry behind this legislation, it’s going back into my pocket.

    Yeah, I’m just one dumbass in a sea of sheep but if enough people do this, it can work.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I do this already because there’s nothing out there worth my money.

      …I mean, YEAH! FUCK THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY!!

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      I’m behind this 100%. So much so that I’ve already started. I will no longer spend a single penny on any kind of content whatsoever.

      Get enough people onboard and yes, we can starve the beast.

    • DariusC says:

      Everyone do your part and get out there and pirate! I’m pretty pissed the CR/CU supports Obama’s corrupt negotiations… We all know he is just putting a price point on us. This legislation is BAD. No revisions, no fixing. Just kill it and keep things the way they are. Indie Developers are making due by releasing packs that benefit developers, producers and charities. Those RIAA kids just want more money and are too lazy to innovate.

    • Kuri says:

      Just motivates me to buy used even more.

    • ancientone567 says:

      THIS! I am never buying a thing if those greedy bastards profit from it. I will show everyone I know how to copy everything with or without the internet. Call it my little protest.

      • mollyflogs says:

        There’s a more than even chance that your ISP is involved, in the form of Comcast owning a majority stake of NBC Universal and Time Warner owning… well, that should be obvious.

    • j2.718ff says:

      Of course, every time the industry sees a decrease in income, they use that as “evidence” that they are being hurt by piracy. (After all, it certainly couldn’t be due to the fact that people are less interested in their products than they once were.)

  11. Gee dangit says:

    The battle may be won people, but not the war. Don’t let your guard down.

  12. DanKelley98 says:

    I don’t want to suggest anything, but it would take a whole lot of money in my pocket to make me continue pushing this bill as much as Lamar Smith is. Again, I don’t want to suggest anything…..

  13. gman863 says:

    Putting a law like this into effect would be about as effective as placing a chain link fence along the US/Mexico border: Not at all.

    Just as a fence can be climbed, cut or tunneled under, any rules Big Brother sticks on the Internet can be hacked by even a noob, using IP address blockers, spoofers and changing the name of a web site (If you doubt this, explain to me how services like LimeWire and eMule have tens of millions of users in the US alone).

    Piracy and Illegal Immigration share another common thread: Although targeting the individual downloaders or people seeking minimum-wage jobs is politically popular among conservatives, it totally ignores the ten-ton elephant of organized crime standing in the room: Mexican Cartels in drugs, the Russian and Chinese underworld in software and movie piracy.

    If the government had either brains or balls, they’d realize this and start fighting the real enemy.

  14. jenniferrose76 says:

    Isn’t it nice how a special interest can make our government, which is supposed to represent the best interests of its citizens, roll over? Against all common sense, no less? Our government is getting even more ridiculous than the corporations it happily fellates.

  15. HogwartsProfessor says:

    All I can say is, I blacked my blog out (not literally; the plugin won’t work in free WordPress, but I made it black and posted an infographic) in protest. And I’m not voting for anyone ever again.

  16. BorkBorkBork says:

    Well, it’s official: If I ever lose my brain (and my backbone) in a tragic car accident, I’m gonna run for Congress. Apparently they’re not job requirements anymore.