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Reject the PROTECT IP Act (eff.org)
349 points by apievangelist on June 7, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments

>PROTECT IP = Private Rightsholders Opposed To Emerging Consumer Technologies, Innovation, and Progress

I find it odd that, while I'm uniformly turned off by Stallman's "iBad/iGroan/Swindle" characterizations, I can fully get behind this repurposing of the PROTECT IP acronym. Perhaps because it doesn't reek of Stallman's immaturity, or maybe because it is actually descriptive; I nonetheless find myself supporting it.

I groan at iGroan because it's a bad pun, but Stallman's position seems more or less sound. DRM sucks.

This article from the EFF is too brief and poorly annotated to really lead me to any conclusions on its own. I would like to read a fully fleshed out position paper/article on the deficiencies of the PROTECT IP act. Anyone know of one?

edit: Found this from the EFF themselves:


They link to the bill itself which is only 30 pages. It is pretty poorly thought out.

I don't have a problem with Stallman's positions, just his tactics. He marginalizes himself and the FSF by behaviour that appeals only to his most devoted followers. As a hacker, he should realize that his solution is suboptimal and find ways to improve it. Instead, he brushes off those who criticize him as being in league with the forces of oppression, or at least not caring enough about freedom to see why he's right. He presents a false dichotomy: either you agree with me and my methods, or you agree with Apple and theirs. He ignores the obvious majority opinion amongst hackers: I agree with you, but I find your methods distasteful and ineffective. For that reason, I can't support you or your organization.

I don't think that the majority opinion amongst "hackers" (as in, the general programmer audience here) agrees with Stallman in a meaningful sense. A majority might sort of prefer free software, but don't care to fight for it very much; how many people use and develop for & on proprietary software and locked-down hardware anyway because they care more about convenience and utility than freedom?

RMS calls it like he sees it.

The FSF's cause is by its very nature already marginalized in the wider world. Members of the software developing communities and computing hobbyist communities, probably find the iGroan stuff particularly cringe inducing, but there may be a useful tradeoff there in that at least they are memorable for politicians, random passersby, etc. They may not be memorable in a positive way (and I would say they probably are not...), but given how incredibly little understanding there is of their issues in general, gaining any awareness of the issues at hand is kind of a win for them even if they're perceived as lunatics.

I'm so impressed with your superior maturity in not being able to tolerate RMS's jokes, and how you're able to find a way of taking a swipe at one of the great hackers of his generation even though the topic is completely unrelated.

I have nothing against Stallman as a hacker, or his goals with the FSF. I use the gnu toolchain daily, and run Fedora on my old laptop. I have nothing but respect for what he did in the 80s and 90s with GNU/Linux. That said, I do have a problem with how he presents his case, and the silly rebrandings of any non-free devices. It's germane to this discussion because of the EFF's rebranding of the PROTECT IP Act, which although similar in nature comes across much better than any of the FSF's rebrandings. I think it's disingenuous to call them jokes, as they really don't come across that way.

I hope people who read this story are not just upvoting it but also signing the petition/form.

Politicians sticking their noses in technology is like a pshychopathic criminal with a machine gun. They don't have a clue what they are doing and what consequences thereof will be.

I hope the people who sign the petition also write a letter to their congresscritter, or at least make a phonecall.

A flood of letters will be much more effective than any single petition.

But what really needs to be done is ongoing education and active participation in the political process -- long term. And that means more than just voting once every 4 years, or signing the occasional petition.

It's not a petition. It is a form that emails your congressperson, which it derives from your address (you can either include your own message or use their form letter).

The entire reason acts like the PROTECT IP act even get this far is because NO ONE understands the internet, and the potential of it.

Yeah, we're slightly more enlightened than the politicians, but that's not really saying much.

All we know is that it'd be better to just leave the internet alone for now, until we have a better idea of its potential (which, I acknowledge, may never happen).

Of course, as other commenters have said, the idea that the US can basically say "follow our law, or you have no internet" is disgusting. Unfortunately, this threat will hold until some country decides to call the US's bluff.

Signing petitions is fine, but as a tech expert[1] there are many ways of long-term engagement by which you can have a much bigger impact. I just wrote about some of them (I'm an academic computer scientist who's been involved in policy for the last couple of years): http://33bits.org/2011/06/07/bad-internet-law-what-techies-c...

[1] If you don't feel like an expert, don't worry about it. The bar in Washington for who's considered an expert is fairly low :-)

Edit: I just submitted this here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2630141

submitting the form will mail and fax your congressmen. so, it is not just another online petition. i got replies from two of them, though canned they seemed, but i know they got them at least.

Once mechanisms are in place to block websites encouraging 'IP infringement', how likely is it that these mechanisms will be repurposed?

Although I'm not entirely convinced, part of my wonders whether governmental support for these lobbyists might be partly swayed by the simple proposition that these methods to control the internet could eventually be used for more varied forms of censorship.

Governmental (more accurately Congressional) support for lobbyist-supported legislation is a 3 step process.

1) God I am so fucking sick of dialing for dollars.

2) This guy has a bag of money.

3) I spend all my time dialing and none of it on policy so I can't tell the difference anyways.

Hey, I'll just do what he's telling me.

It's not quite that cut and dried but that's what it comes down to in the end, with a little dancing in between so the congressman can convince himself he isn't being bought.

This is the same government that extended the patriot act. I may be cynical, but I don't think they have any respect for privacy or communication. In the day of no-knock searches and wiretaps, will these guys restrain themselves to their constitutional responsibilities? From one I've observed, no way.

Being from Oregon, the submission is kind of funny. It automatically sends an email to your two senators and district representative. So Wyden got an email from me stating "I urge you to join Senator Wyden". Well, maybe it will buttress his resolve.

You can edit the text... :)

Could someone explain in layman's terms what exactly the PROTECT IP act proposes to do? I'm not much for politico speak and don't really have the time to rummage through the entire text myself to figure it out.

A domain name server(DNS) is what leads you to a particular website, For example when u type http://news.ycombinator.com its forwarded to your ISP DNS and from there it is forwarded to the IP of Hacker news. This new act if passed will have let them have control over all the DNS servers of ISP's. That means the site which they dont want you to see get blocked easily.

I find it interesting some of the stories that get more upvotes here. Is there anyone here that's actually in favor of this? I'm curious to know why. (And I'll be polite about it.)

Maybe it's just cynicism?

You have got to be kidding me... the same idea has haunted us Europeans not too long ago!

The (then) Minister of Family Affairs (,Senior Citizens, Women and Youth) sold it as "fighting against child pornography" and despite every serious expert stating that it is completely useless, it got passed, was taken out of effect later on, then put on hold by the president, it turned out to possibly being unconstitutional and now seems to be scheduled for being lifted again.



For the life of me, I will never understand politics.

Here lets rename the act correctly:


We should ban the united states from the Internet and leave them with their own will.

Simply, disgusting.

We should ban the united states from the Internet and leave them with their own will.

Simply, disgusting.

With a lot of discussion on HN about Eternal September, let me take this opportunity to say comments like these are incredibly group-think, very reddit-hivemind-like, and add very little to the discussion, if not none at all.

I think discussions on HN should focus less on hyperbole and vacuous statements and I wish to read more comments on HN which are serious in intent and more grounded in reality. As other posters mentioned, not only is the suggestion to ban the US to preserve an open internet ironic but it is simply a knee-jerk comment (however awful and disgusting one personally feels about the issue) that I feel HN could do without.

I hope you appreciate the irony in wanting to censor an entire country from the Internet for considering a bill that censors the Internet.

Please don't punish the citizens for what our idiot politicians do. I didn't vote for them anyway. :(

But enough idiot American citizens did, and those idiots have indirect control over much of the world's IT infrastructure. Too much.

But what organizational body can take control? The UN? I don't think the Internet would be any safer in anyone else's hands.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's back up and take a deep breath.

Ok. These politicians get "elected" because they, quite simply, can buy their elections. When you can tell your constituents "look! I got you <latest bill of pork>! I'm doing good for you! Re-elect me!", they will re-elect you.

The only thing we're guilty of is being incredibly short-sighted.

>"The only thing we're guilty of is being incredibly short-sighted."

This has shorter name- Being an idiot, so he is exactly RIGHT. -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiot_(Athenian_democracy)

And speak rather for Yourself(or Your group, im not in).

There are quite a few countries we may wish to ban from the internet, but if we follow through with such desires we'll find that there is no internet left...

I agree with you.

It's hilarious to me that you think Americans should be banned from the internet, after the existence of the network (ARPAnet) as well as a huge percentage of the growth of the internet as a consumer tool (Silicon Valley) can be directly attributed to work done by Americans.

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