SOPA So What?

Screaming in ignorance about SOPAThere’s a lot of whinging, whining, ranting, and raving over SOPA and PIPA. My guess is that very, very few – perhaps as low as 1% – of the people engaging in these histrionics have bothered to read either bill.

That fundamental, self-imposed ignorance, of course,  never seems to stop these cretins from yammering about things about which they know nothing or next to nothing.

Most hilarious reaction is the SOPA Strike or Blackout protest going on today (January 18, 2012).  Well over 99% of the sites choosing to “go dark” are so inconsequential that their permanent loss would go utterly unnoticed by the internet public at large.

NOTE: This blog would also most definitely fall into that 99%, as would virtually all personal websites. I have some comforting illusions but this blog’s importance isn’t one of them.

On the slim chance that you, my dear reader, wish to be one of the 1% who isn’t bleating in ignorance born rage, links to the full text of both SOPA and PIPA can be found below:

Texts of SOPA & PIPA

  • Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [H. R. 3261]
  • Protect IP Act (PIPA) [S. 968]

At least after reading the bills in question one can, if one still has an issue with one or both of them, have complaints and arguments based upon actual verifiable facts as opposed to the drivel certain agendists spoon feed their drones. And it’s not inconceivable that you would still take issue with SOPA and PIPA; like all laws, there’s room for argument over the details – especially over the various amendments and riders that are always added to bills in Congress.

The most strident of the complaints from the willfully ignorant masses, however, seem to fall into three categories: theft of intellectual property is OK; SOPA & PIPA will lead to censorship; and applying nations’ laws to cyberspace is wrong.

Theft of Intellectual Property is OK

Many who hate SOPA and PIPA just hate copyright law the in first place. These are the same sorts of vermin who make up the backbone of the OWS rabble. They support theft from “rich” content produces and want their entertainment or software for free or nearly so.  For them piracy is a form a wealth redistribution that largely bypasses the monetary system.

For them, I believe from what I’ve heard and read, it’s those parts of the bills that allow for the content creators to expand the “take down order” process to an offender’s advertisers and payment processors that bother them the most.

While not a defense for these beliefs, the ongoing punitive foolishness of the MPAA and RIAA regarding copyright infringement does make them unsympathetic and easy targets for spite.

SOPA & PIPA Will Lead to Censorship

Many who hate SOPA and PIPA don’t hate them because of what’s in the bills themselves. They just believe that it will lead to censorship in the future and, hence, have to be killed now.

I’m always leery of slippery slope arguments. As a nation we’ve heard the slippery slope used to justify the Jim Crow laws and our involvement in Vietnam, to name just two historic examples. We’re also currently hearing it in the war over gay marriage, which opponents say will lead to legalizing polygamy and pedophilia.

Objectively this could happen. SOPA and PIPA could be the foundation for later laws that enact internet censorship in America. Any restriction, however, could lead to greater and more onerous later restrictions just as any law intrinsically carries the possibility that it will be abused by those who enforce it.

Applying Nations’ Laws to Cyberspace is Wrong

Many who hate SOPA and PIPA hate the idea of applying a nation’s laws – or any law at all – to the internet. To these sorts the interaction of cyberspace and nation space must always be a one way street, with the internet being what affects or restricts nations and never nations affecting or restricting their populations’ access to- and use of the internet. These are the same sort of idiots that think the internet is Human right and, like all such cult-minded individuals, they can’t be argued with and should be largely ignored.

A subset of these people have a similar but more rational complaint. They fear that America enacting laws such as SOPA and PIPA would likely result in other nations governments to do similarly, in service to whatever political or social policies they value – whether those are restricting: pornography, hate speech, blasphemy, insults to public officials, or political dissent – thus potentially restricting access to foreign – possibly American – content for reasons that Americans find abhorrent.

There’s a wee bit of the slippery slope argument in this fear but it seems reasonable to think that other nations might follow the perceived spirit of America’s lead in this issue but apply their own sensibilities to it, which might be at odds with our own. I just don’t see where this is a problem.

The internet isn’t wholly separate from the world and individual nations have the right to place restrictions on what foreign content is available to their populations, just as any border carries some level of security. If Americans don’t agree with another nation’s restrictions it not the restrictions we really disagree; it’s the underlying sociopolitical structure of the nation in question.

~*~

The truly sad yet ironic thing is that if people weren’t so willfully ignorant and actually read these bills instead of trusting the jabbering of agendists, partisan pundits, and demagogues soon far fewer bills that people disliked would even get to committee.

Then again, expecting more of people than of the politicians they elect – who can’t or won’t read the bills they’re voting upon – is probably both stupid and borderline insane. ๐Ÿ™

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9 Responses to “SOPA So What?”

  1. Ray Says:

    There are two ways that SOPA directly leads to censorship. In fact, it REQUIRES censorship.
    To explore the how and why: sect 103 references U.S.C. Title 17. sections 501 & 1201, as well as U.S.C. Title 18 section 2320 and the Lanham Act, section 34(d). Any site found to have a link to any of the materials listed in any of those laws is forbidden to accept further advertising, solicit payments or otherwise promote itself. The site must be removed from all search engines. The site operator is also subject to lawsuits for copyright infringement from the copyright holder and/or the Attorney General. In effect, it is a death sentence for the website. Continuing to operate just isn’t feasible.

    So, you don’t have to intentionally traffic in counterfeit goods to be subject. I could simply post a link in my comment that redirects to a site that sells them. In fact, it snowballs from there: I could post a link to a site, that has a link to a site selling counterfeit goods.

    Of course, you may have comment moderation in place to look for such things. And you might be diligent enough (and have either the time and/or staff) to research each and every comment. However, like most sites you have a fair amount of advertising posted on your site. Have your researched all of those links to ensure they don’t have links that lead to counterfeit goods? Probably not – and under SOPA, you would be held liable.

  2. zhann Says:

    The fact is, SOPA/PIPA would fundamentally change the structure of the internet. While you may think that you are unaffected, it would make any site that allows user generated content be under the strict control of the government, obviously including yours. For someone that is so opposed to government control and a fat government, I am surprised that you are taking such a soft stance on this. Piracy, in my opinion, is just a front. The real issue is government control.

  3. jonolan Says:

    Ray,

    Read the bills, especially since I can find no codicil in either bill that even comes close to what you’re claiming in either point. The first, involving section 103 of SOPA, being a seemingly utterly unsubstantiated claim and the second being rendered inaccurate by the NO DUTY TO MONITOR statements attached to every title.

    zhann,

    Read the bills and then try that argument again – if you can. You might also want to ask yourself how much of your issue is itself just a front for your preference for stealing from the Hollywood and recording industry “fat cats.”

  4. Ray Says:

    Specifically, sec 103, paragraph 1, subparagraph A:

    “the U.S.-directed site is primarily
    designed or operated for the purpose of,
    has only limited purpose or use other than,
    or is marketed by its operator or another
    acting in concert with that operator for use
    in, offering goods or services in a manner
    that engages in, ENABLES, or FACILITATES” (emphasis added)

    Subparagraph B:
    “the operator of the U.S.-directed
    site—
    (I) is taking, or has taken, deliberate actions to AVOID CONFIRMING a
    high probability of the use of the
    U.S.-directed site to carry out acts
    that constitute a violation of section
    501 or 1201 of title 17, United States
    Code— ” (again, emphasis mine)

    So, what part of that do you have trouble following? Subparagraph A clearly defines that any site that even allows redirects to a site offering counterfeit goods to be in violation of the statute. Sub B clearly delineates that the the site operator is responsible for ensuring the site doesn’t have such pitfalls.

    Personally, I am surprised that you are backing the bill. I think anyone with at least half of a brain wants to protect copyrights. However, I think the current statutes are effective enough: if you’ve been infringed upon, you sue the infringer. If they happen to be overseas and their courts don’t recognize US copyrights, then it’s a matter for the State Department. Effectively limiting our ability to publish is not the way to go about it.

  5. Ray Says:

    Oh, btw…your site is currently running an anti-PIPA ad ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. jonolan Says:

    Ray,

    Section 103 (A) requires that the site in question be either primarily designed for such criminal enterprises or marketed as being so designed. That’s a fairly safe and narrow definition that doesn’t include any “normal” websites or sites with occasional illegal user-generated content.

    Section 103 (B)(ii)(I) would apply to only a few websites, mostly forums & bulletin boards, which are totally and expressly unmonitored, normally for the purpose of the owners being able to disavow responsibility for the criminal activity on those boards. The requirement for there to be provable “deliberate actions” on the site owner’s part places the restriction upon this part of it.

    Ray, you read a lot into these bills that just aren’t there, mostly because you don’t seem to read whole sections and just pick out paragraphs that make you nervous, not that I blame you for that in light of the recent omnibus bills with dozens and dozens of unrelated and self-contained codicils.

    And let us remember that no action can be taken against the site without a court order to the effect being presented to the site’s payment processor / ad service.

    As for the anti-PIPA ad – ROFLMAO Adsense does as Adsense wills.

  7. Ray Says:

    See? People of reasonable intelligence can look at the exact same wording and see two different outcomes. I don’t see the definition as particularly constraining, nor do I see how the restrictions listed relive me of any responsibility for things I cannot control. Again, it seems pretty explicit – if I fail to monitor external links, then I can be held liable. Which is ridiculous, on the face of it.

    Next thing I know, you’ll be telling us you’re supporting the NDAA.

  8. jonolan Says:

    It might also be that we have differing levels of familiarity with reading and interpreting legal documents. I’ve been forced to learn how to do it in a manner that is consistent with the courts’ normal interpretations.

    ๐Ÿ˜† That’s (the NDAA) actually the post I’m working on right now because there’s too many ignorant people still ranting about it.

  9. NDAA 2012 Disinformation — Politics — Reflections From a Murky Pond Says:

    […] SOPA So What? […]

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