edited January 2012 in General
A new thread has started over at emusic about this - see SOPA. I admit this is something I had never heard of until a few hours ago. I expressed a view that it is probably alarmist, which has now been contradicted. There are a few legal brains here - how likely is it to happen, what impact could it have on eg emusic or itunes, or even emusers or musicisgood? Will it indirectly have an impact upon those of us living with the European Union?


  • No legal mind here. I doubt that legit music sites would be affected--not iTunes, God knows!

    Certainly emusers, musicisgood (or any other blog or website) would be vulnerable. All that needs to happen is a charge of infringement to take down the whole site.

    I don't really know about the overseas question. I imagine they'd love to be able to make EU-based "Sharing" sites like Rapidshare disappear, but unclear to me whether they'll be able to do that.
  • The progressive/liberal blog Daily Kos has been following issues related to SOPA very closely. Opposition to the bill from various online companies is very strong (including Google and Amazon) as well as a key legislators on both sides of the aisle. If passed, I doubt that any online retailer that has a deal with music companies would be directly targeted. It could affect this site and the blog, especially if clips on youtube and soundcloud are shown to have dubious provenance. EU? from what I understand, content would only be blocked in the US or for US users.
  • But it could have knock-on impacts upon anyone, anywhere. And what the US does, someone is bound to pick up here...
  • I don't doubt that it could lead other nations to draft similar laws, but SOPA won't itself reach international internet commerce.
  • Good BT - I'm glad I live this side of the Atlantic!
  • Not unrelated, I've just come across this article 'Piracy' student loses extradition case
  • edited January 2012
    It's probably the youtube links on MiG that could be an issue - wherever we have otherwise streamed music I think it has been from the artist's own site or from netlabels or a legit commerce site. Do we need a youtube links policy or do we carry on until it actually becomes an issue?
  • That's a good point GP. I've half written my next piece and it contains a number of youtube links, at least one or two might be dubious. I agree links to an artist site seem legitimate, as they want the publicity
  • If youtube has them up, MiG can have them up.

    If someone wants to go to the effort of a take down notice with MiG (yet bypassing youtube for some inexplicable reason) more power to 'em.

  • edited January 2012
    From the Ubuweb frontpage:
    If SOPA passes, you can kiss UbuWeb goodbye.
  • edited January 2012
    The thing about SOPA, at least in the USA, is that it would essentially contradict laws that are currently in effect, which means that any use of SOPA once enacted will ultimately lead to a Federal case (possibly in the Supreme Court) to determine which legislation takes priority. But since it's currently a Republican Supreme Court, if the case went there now, they'd probably go with SOPA. So that's part of what makes it dangerous.

    The other thing is that the current law, which is actually part of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), has been very broadly interpreted by the courts, and those interpretations might not withstand much high-level scrutiny. To be specific, that law currently protects "service providers" from liability in most cases in which their customers are found to have used online services provided by them to break other laws. The CDA itself was meant primarily to discourage ISPs from making it difficult for end-users (i.e., parents of young children) to use website-filtering software on their PCs to prevent their kids from looking at online porn or being targeted by online pedophiles...

    But since that's really the only legislation ever passed in the US that even attempts to define what an online service provider is, the courts have been using that definition for everything, and what's more, they've allowed publishers of individual websites to call themselves "service providers" in order to immunize themselves from liability over anything posted by their "users." The term "users" includes forum posters, blog commenters, subscribers, wiki editors, you name it - it only includes the site operator if the site operator also substantially participates in "content creation."

    So in our case, if someone complains about a MiG post and the CDA takes priority, Dr. Mutex could simply claim that he didn't infringe, the poster did, and he'd be fine, and so would MiG. But if SOPA takes priority, then it doesn't matter who did the infringing - the site could be taken down almost immediately, and there'd be almost no chance of putting it back up without getting lawyers involved, even if the original complainers changed their minds about it.

    Like I was saying on the eMu thread, this is really a recipe for legalized extortion more than anything else. People who really want to infringe on other peoples' copyrights will just go offshore; they probably won't even be slowed down. But US-based website operators and ISPs could very easily be driven out of business by the sort of behavior that, in the past, has normally been associated with organized-crime syndicates. Apparently that's what the Republicans want, so I'm afraid that as usual, our best hope is that people will wake up and vote them all out of office later this year.

    Good luck to us all.
  • Leahy is already back peddling in the Senate: Link.

    This is why I don't think the average Joe like me needs to worry too much about SOPA. When you make an enemy of Google, Facebook, et al. you're in trouble.

  • Leahy is already back peddling in the Senate

    (Tired person in the audience, no particular fan of said politician)"What's he peddling this time?"
    This could be MST. "Oh, backpedaling."

    Gotta lead the weak minds more firmly, Craig.
  • Not entirely removed from the subject, but I learned something today about uploading video to youtube (this may or may not be common knowledge)...

    Apparently there's some sort of matching software, so that if, say, you were to upload a song to the site with a generic photo attached because you wanted the option to stream it somewhere. Well, it comes back with a message that says the audio (or video, I suppose) matches something in their database. But they're not calling you a copyright violator or anything, because it may be an error or you may have permission or some other situation may exist that you haven't done anything wrong.

    So what does that mean? Well, they tell you.

    Your video can still be viewed like any other, but now, since it did hit that "matching" criteria, now advertisements may appear over your video. I know you've seen them, your basic horizontal row of Google-commerce residual ads. They now will show on your flagged video.

    I don't know if this money is then sent to the suspected copyright holder or if youtube (who's owned by google) just holds onto it for a rainy day lawsuit, but there you go.

    Of course, if all you're doing is embedding that video in a way so that the only thing visible is the audio bar, and the video screen is removed as part of the resizing adjustment, well, that doesn't seem to be an obstacle of any sort.

    Anyways, just something weird I learned today.
  • This is from the frontpage of Wikipedia:
    Imagine a World
    Without Free Knowledge

    For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia. Learn more.
  • Probably the best response that I have seen is from Eric Meyer, Standing in Opposition.
    ...please believe me when I say the enforcement mechanisms of the bill are deeply flawed and attack the very features of the Web that make it what it is. They are akin to making a criminal of anyone who gives directions to a park where drug trafficking takes place, regardless of whether they knew about the drug trafficking. You don’t have to be in favor of drug trafficking to oppose that.
  • Interesting analogy, Paul, thanks
  • kezkez
    edited January 2012
    But US-based website operators and ISPs could very easily be driven out of business by the sort of behavior that, in the past, has normally been associated with organized-crime syndicates. Apparently that's what the Republicans want, so I'm afraid that as usual, our best hope is that people will wake up and vote them all out of office later this year.

    The solution is not as simple as voting all the Republicans out. I'm not defending the Republicans by any means, but although the House legislation was introduced by a Republican congressman, the majority of cosponsors are Democrats - 7 Democrats, 5 Republicans. The Senate legislation was introduced by a Democrat with 23 Democrat cosponsors and 16 Republican cosponsors. Those numbers may not be entirely accurate right now, as a lot of legislators have flip-flopped on their position in the past few days after highly publicized opposition hit the fan. Maybe the better solution is to vote them all out of office. There's plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the party lines.
  • ... and the head of the MPAA is a former Democrat senator.

    As always, the first step in choosing who to vote for is to eliminate all those who enjoy being fellated by big business. That usually thins the field somewhat.
  • This whole SOPA/PIPA thing definitely crosses party lines. For instance, both MoveOn (staunchly Democratic non-profit org) and the Heritage Foundation (staunchly Repub non-profit think tank) are both strongly opposed to the legislation. Meanwhile, you have Big Hollywood (who typically give to the Dems) and Big Media (who typically give to the Repubs) pushing for the legislation.

    The lines of demarcation are all out of sorts for this thing.
  • edited January 2012
    @ Nereffid Does that leave anyone??
  • Pro-SOPA isn't particularly Democratic or Republican. I would say that at the grassroots level, opposition to SOPA leans left because it folds very nicely into concern for net neutrality.
  • Except that there are a lot of musicians in favor of it, and many of them not big label guys (or gals). Ben Allison, notably, is in favor of it, and a bunch of musicians over on AAJ (no name recognition). And you'd be surprised what level of concern there is for net neutrality on the Conservative side of things; not necessarily Repub (because Big Media and Big Hollywood would love to skew things)... but those hardcore Conservatives are pretty vocal against the type of government intrusion that net neutrality seeks to avoid.

    It's an odd thing to watch unfold.
  • edited January 2012
    the first step in choosing who to vote for is to eliminate all those who enjoy being fellated by big business.

    The true reason the right hated Clinton so much; he preferred to be fellated by women.

    I just can't manage to feel very concerned about SOPA. I think the net is too widespread, and there's too much money in it for it to shut down to the extent the doomsayers predict. At worst it will just decentralize a little more, and then go on with business, and piracy, as usual. Right now you can type in any album at all followed by "blogspot" and chances are good you'll find that album to download. It's illegal but you can't shutdown all those blogs. This law is just an attempt to shutdown blogspot and others itself, but it's first of all not likely to succeed, for the same reasons lawsuits against search engines have never been terribly successful, and second of all, even if they did succeed, the next crowdsourcing, un-shut-down-able thing is just around the corner. I can't imagine this thing causing more than a tiny blip on the radar to the general public.

    I take the fact that wikipedia was still available on my phone yesterday, and Google's only blackout being a cute always, the first step in choosing who to vote for is to eliminate all those who enjoy being fellated by big business. That usually thins the field rectangle, that the big players aren't really as concerned as they let on. If it comes down to it, the Google side could probably outspend the dying record industry side and win the lobby war; the only reason they haven't yet is that it seems like a waste.

    But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should exchange physical addresses in case we need to start circulating stapled 'zines to each other.
  • Or even an email circular? Something like that had actually gone through my mind. A couple of days ago I couldn't access anything your side of the Atlantic for an hour or so, including emusers and emusic, as well as Wikipaedia. Yet BBC News, the Guardian, Amazon UK were all OK. Xtrev and one or two other administrators must have our email addresses anyway
  • It's easy to say vote them all out of office, but one of the big, big problems these days is that many good candidates won't or can't run because of the horrific attacks on one's family or personal life OR the lack of money to run a viable campaign. There are good ones and bad ones in both parties (I haven't voted a straight ticket in all my years of voting). Money talks, and money is the foundation for who runs and, too often, who wins.

    Cynical, huh? Yet I still listen to candidates from all parties, look at the issues that are important to me, how each candidate does or does not address those issues, then make my decision. Sometimes I still don't know who will get my vote until a few hours before I vote.
  • edited January 2012
    What disturbs me here in the US (I am not claiming uniquely in the US, it's just where I am experiencing it) almost more than the individuals and their fellation of choice is the cultural interface that has been developed between political entities (from govt to PACs) and the general public. For some odd reason (we think because of a charity we once donated to), somehow my phone number has ended up on a list of numbers that can be called to rally conservative support. I now regularly get calls whose rhetorical gambit is to open with a chummy evocation of solidarity and the statement either that of course we need to get Obama out of office, and therefore you need to send us money for X, or that of course we need a conservative in this position, so you need to send us money for X. If I tell them that their assuring me that someone is conservative tells me nothing about their record, their policies, or their ethics, and I need to know those things if I am to respond intelligently, (and even more so if I say that maybe Obama has done some good things and some not so good things), they tend to loop around and repeat the initial claim. So it seems as if the general assumption (and it must work often enough to make it worth their while) is that if someone just tells me which word I am for or against I should send them money for their campaign. The whole strategy is based on a prediction of my (i) stupidity (ii) docility and (iii) gullibility and a lack of shame at projecting that expectation in my direction.
  • I'm not sure SOPA itself was the issue, it's just that any and all attempts for business or government to co-opt the Internet have to be fought tooth and nail. Every time some one says "Internet regulation," just read "Printing press regulation" and you're there.
  • Good point, doofy. Not to be too glum but I'd say somewhere in the '90's I had a bad, bad feeling that a 1984 type Ministry Of Truth situation could actually come about through the domination of electronic forms of media - instantly changeable and vulnerable to distortion and revision. What put me more at ease was the existence of the internet and its potential for information dissemination even in the midst of a totalitarian environment. The dark side of the force in this equation of course is what if the internet is censored/controlled/manipulated as well - back to square one? It is a weighty issue with scary potential consequences.
  • edited January 2012
    @amclark2: If SOPA passes you won't type anything into Google anymore. The Media Cartels will have them disconnected. To understand why this so is you need only look at what happened to Napster. First the record companies forced Napster (via the courts) to filter out infringing material. Of course, it's impossible to do this perfectly, so the record companies were able to get the courts to not just shut down Napster's operation, but to give them control of it. Google now filters search results that it receives DMCA complaints for. Search for some popular properties and you may see a box at the bottom of the page explaining that some results have been removed. Why do they do this? Napster. If not for Napster Google could respond to any DMCA takedown notice by pointing out that there is no infringing material on their servers. Now put SOPA on the books. No need to bother to pay your bounty hunters to churn out DMCA notices - just claim Google links to infringing material and have them shut down.

    Some people were surprised when Obama came out against the current SOPA bill. I am not. I expect someone pointed out to him that every one of his campaign sites could have been yanked from the internet if SOPA had been on the books when the AP discovered that Fairey had lifted an AP photo to make the "Hope" image.

    To address the concern about MiG being shut down: I can have it back on the net at say, in about 4 hours (if you review the Great Expectations thread you will note that MiG went from concept to running site in a day - this is one of the things that makes the Net worth protecting). If we had reason to suspect we'd be shut down (say, like if certain badly-conceived legislation passes) I could have everything ready to go and turn up the new site in about 30 seconds (see Disaster Recovery in Wikipedia). Now imagine how effective SOPA will be against the criminals it is supposedly intended to stop. It is also instructive to look at The Pirate Bay. The US media cartels succeeded in getting TPB's servers seized. The press were babbling about the end of an era - and then TPB came back up, thumbing their noses so hard they must have bruised themselves.

    I'm sad to inform you that SOPA is only another few inches of the camel's nose in our tent. If SOPA passes it will do nothing to curb illegal activity, just as the previous few inches, the DMCA, did not. Then the Media Cartels will demand the power to require every ISP to block arbitrary IP ranges they specify, and we can go back to writing letters and mailing out 'zines. That's a bit of an exaggeration. What will happen is we'll get to experience the internet the way folks in China and Iran do.

    @BigD-Blues: Control of the internet is the heart of the matter. If you put the tools to censor the internet in front of that dangerous portion of society who believe that they know what is best for society, they will use them.
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