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Stop SOPA, save the Internet (boingboing.net)
883 points by CodeMage on Nov 14, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

Do you remember when the Italians shut down Italian wikipedia because the Italian government was going to pass something stupid? Since this legislation would make it possible to sue wikipedia in the united states, it would make sense for wikipedia to shut down in the US in protest to this bill.

I was going to say that Wikipedia content is licensed under CC BY-SA, but that's just wrong. There's tons of fair use content, and plenty of quotes pulled from various sources. This really could pose an existential threat to them were someone to get it into their head to shut them down.

edit: On second (third?) thought, why just Wikipedia? SOPA threatens youtube, facebook, and just about every other site with user-generated content. Why not a Universal Blackout Day, with every site that could be threatened by SOPA displaying the same message warning about its dangers and directing users to contact congress and the white house?

There is already an organized movement for this, American Censorship Day: http://americancensorship.org/

All we need is committment from a few of the major web properties to get this issue some momentum in the mainstream media. Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube.. Where are you when we need you?

I posted a story on it yesterday but it didn't get momentum: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3231343

Even if they just changed their landing page, and said 'this is an example of what you'll see if SOPA passes.' I would commit to this.

We're doing it for Glossi so hopefully other people follow. It's much easier to do this when you're a smaller company though.

We have an explanatory blog post too for whoever cares to read: http://blog.glos.si/post/12868376174/american-censorship-day

Many of these companies sent a letter to the judiciary committee, although it doesn't seem convincing enough: http://www.protectinnovation.com/downloads/letter.pdf

Can we lobby Wikipedia to send a similar message? Does that make practical sense?

Just sent an email to info-en-o@wikimedia.org:

  Dear Wikipedia,
  I admire your stance last month against the Italian wiretapping
  law when you shut down the Italian Wikipedia.
  I encourage you to please consider a similar protest against the
  SOPA legislation which threatens many websites, including
  Wikipedia. I believe raising awareness will do a lot of good,
  and Wikipedia has tremendous reach.
  Thanks for your time!
I have low expectations, but if anyone else is interested you're welcome to copy/paste my email.

EDIT: formatting

I received the following response:

We, too, feel that civil liberties are crucial, and by spreading knowledge, the Wikimedia Foundation strives to liberate minds. However, we cannot get involved in matters that do not directly affect our ability to spread such knowledge, as we need to keep an unbiased stance, both within our encyclopedias and in our interaction with society at large. Also, please be aware that Wikimedia is a global endeavour and the English version of Wikipedia is only one of many, and the United States is just of many countries where it is published. As a matter of fact, less than half of the contributions on Wikipedia originate in the US.

I got the same response. At least they heard this message from many of us. Thanks for the template.

"less than half of the contributions on Wikipedia originate in the US." I think they should look at it the other way around: "almost half of the contributions on Wikipedia originate in the US".

I got this response as well. It was worth a try

Just got the same response. Bummer :P

Thanks for the template Greg,

I've written the address a similar please. Good work!

I don't think lobbying Wikipedia makes any practical sense. There's no leader or central governing body. Is Jimbo going to order the sites closed?

But you could try to start a discussion about it on Wikipedia's village pump, though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump

Agreed, this would do a lot to raise awareness in non-techies.

I'd like to put a small overlay on PadMapper to point people to this. Does anyone know of a really good, engaging, layman's summary of the issues with Protect IP and broadly applicable, actionable advice that I could link to?

Perhaps someone more skilled in visual design than I could put together a common banner that people can drop on their sites/blogs to raise awareness.

EDIT: The source of that video ( http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/ ) seems like a decent option, so I've put that up on PadMapper. Any others?

Ok, you've convinced me. Now what? I have time and money, so give me a call to action dammit.

This is the script I'm using for calling and emailing my Senators and Congressman. Feel free to adapt it.

"I'm a voter in Congressman Rush's district, and I'm calling to ask the Congressman to vote against SOPA, HR. 3261. As the owner of an internet business in Chicago, I fear that I'll be forced to close shop if SOPA passes. SOPA would make it easy for anyone to have my websites shut down, without having to prove that we've violated any law. Our only recourse would be an expensive legal process that we simply can't afford. Thus, if SOPA passes, my company and others like it will be out of business, and many people will be out of work."

Also, EFF makes it dead-simple to email the right politicians based on your address. They even have a template email for you. You can be done in under a minute:


BTW, if you're afraid to call in because you think you'll sound silly/scripted/unimportant, don't be! The people who answer phones at political offices get lots of calls, and they're used to hearing all kinds of weird stuff. Believe me, even if you read your script in a Ben Stein monotone, you'll still sound twice as smart and engaging as a lot of what they hear. So don't be afraid to call your politicians.

I wonder if perhaps paper based letters would make a larger impact than email. A huge bag with hundreds of letters stands out these days.

They stand out if they are hand written and and unique. They can even be e-mails, but just remember to keep it precise and unique. Copy/paste responses are clumped together and given much less weight in terms of consideration.

One thing to note is that mail sent to Congress faces long delays due to the requirement that it be irradiated. If it's time urgent, then calling, faxing, or emailing is probably preferred.

Complete waste of time. To politicians; "Done completely online" = "not much effort" = "not really that bothered about it". Phone calls get a similar response.

Call your Representatives. On the phone. http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Seriously, there is nothing more powerful than a switchboard full of angry constituents.

Seriously, there is nothing more powerful than a switchboard full of angry constituents.

And the sad reality is that there are not nearly enough of us angry about this to fill the switchboard.


I depressed myself and wanted to add something constructive:

Lobbyists exist because groups often want more political clout than their members could achieve simply by voting.

With lobbying it is possible for a small group to achieve an out-sized influence on politics. I think the most effective thing we can do is organize a lobby group.

The first thing I would look for is how do industry lobbying groups form. Is there another industry which was threatened by government action and organized to defend itself? How did competitors come to agree on shared goals to lobby for? What was the first step?

Why are there some industries where one lobbying body represents all very effectively, and other industries where, even on shared goals, individual companies have more lobbying power than an industry wide lobby? Here I'm specifically thinking of the EFF vs Google and Microsoft and IBM and some others.

Here's your chance to lobby. Stop philosophizing and do it!

"I think the most effective thing we can do is organize a lobby group."

There already is one, http://publicknowledge.org

If you are on android, I made this quick app to go from zip code to a list of your representatives and a call button for each of them.


This is where real world and coding collide. Great work.

Ugly but really useful. Thanks!

a few things to do:

- if you have money, donate to the organizations opposing it: EFF, Public Knowledge, etc.

- if you have time, call your Representative. get your friends to call their representatives.

- in any case, help get the word out: share links on social networks and email, vote stories up, bring it up with your family over Thanksgiving, tell people about EFF's action alert at https://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?... and other feedback mechanisms

I've been asking a question that I think the EFF and others have been asking: How the heck is this Constitutional?

The problem isn't just free speech issues, but rather due process issues, since the takedown orders can occur without any adversarial hearings. In other words, the prosecutor goes to the judge, presents evidence, and the judge, without hearing from the defence, decides to issue the order.

The 5th Amendment to the US Constitution states in part that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. This seems to fly in the face of that. How fast can you say "Star Chamber?"

I would certainly hope that should this pass the first time a prosecutor goes to a judge with a request for this, the prosecutor strikes down this provision of the law on these grounds. I would certainly hope that such a ruling would be upheld on appeal.

and there is some precedent for this. The Third Circuit recently had a magistrate judge refuse to sign a subpoena for cell site location data holding that the request might constitute a 4th Amendment search and as such a warrant was required instead. When appealed, the 3rd Circuit sided with the magistrate, much to Prof. Orin Kerr's surprise (on whose blog I followed this story).

Generally speaking, seizure doesn't require any adversarial hearings beforehand, and possible procedures afterwards are used to justify the "due process" requirement. This has been a big deal going back decades with the police finding people with large amounts of cash on them, and seizing it on the grounds that only drug dealers use large amounts of cash. This has caused all sorts of problems: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/05/police-i...

Somewhere, someone is buying stock in Kenwood and Icom on the theory that amateur packet radio is about to make a giant comeback. :)

I wonder how feasible it would be for private citizens to wire up an alternative U.S.-wide internet out of above-ground fibre and ethernet.

I bet we could get Cambridge/Somerville MA pretty well hooked together, at least. Comms to the Bay Area may involve flying backpacks of DVDs back and forth, though. Get ready for some latency.

I predict the rise of Tor in the next decade. After that.. maybe a new free (as in speech) physical layer..

Something in the line of recently mentioned darknet maybe http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/11/the-darknet-...

Comms to the Bay Area may involve flying backpacks of DVDs back and forth, though.

Supplemented, perhaps, with low-baud HF links.

Tell everyone you know. Share it on your favorite social network. The first step is getting as many people as possible aware of the ramifications of this bill.

1) Put your money in an envelope

2) Mail it to your elected pimp

3) Beg for freedom of speech

What would happen if we did what you're saying. Put a $1 bill in an envelope with a letter to our elected officials. Can they accept bribes by mail? Or is it only at campaign fundraisers?

I believe they need your name, address and occupation for their records to take the donation. There are exemptions for donations of less than 50 bucks but I'm not sure which circumstances they're valid in.

1) Track down your representatives personal/work email address

2) Send your opinion in

3) Share and repeat

Email is not a good way to reach your Congressman. They get too much of it to address, and most of it is automated. Call, send a letter, or visit in person.

I just called mine. You should too.

Be it call, email letter or in person. Volume is the key.

4) Watch as nothing happens.

Don't get sucked into defeatism. The system is designed to be able to ignore the average person, sure, but here's the thing: you're not the average person.

Be smart, be motivated, and figure out how things actually work. Then apply the maximum amount of force to the place it can do the most good.

I'm not sure that place is actually phone calls, but there's a reason phone calls are suggested so often. They do work. You might be able to find something better though and if you do let us know.

Edit: Well that was dumb. I replied from memory without reading the thread again. I totally agree about email.

If you hit them where they live (personal Emil addresses and public facing forums) at least they will have to respond. These people are elected to represent the public if they aren't responding during their normal work day, we have a right to pester them until they respond.

> at least they will have to respond.

No, they won't.

Write to your representative and let your friends know that you did (on facebook). Start here:


Same question here from a non US resident.

News of this law makes me ill, yet I see nothing I can do to help.

Convince the military of wherever it is you live to invade at their earliest convenience.

Not trying to provoke you and yes, it'd be easier that way - just trying to make a point.

But you are, apparently, not really convinced. Otherwise you'd see what's at stake here and a ten-second google search wouldn't stop you from donating, to say the least.

What's wrong with asking for suggestions on how to act?

So.. The great firewall of America, Seems only 2 years ago when Obama was defending the freedom of the internet. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1939572,00.htm...

I'm surprised that there isn't a huge rally on sites like 4chan and reddit which would be hit the most..

He wasn't defending the internet, he was fighting a hearts and minds campaign against China.

Direct quote from linked article: "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable." He also spoke frankly about the benefits of individual freedoms when saying, "We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation," before adding that unrestricted access to information and political participation are not principles held by the United States but "universal rights."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1939572,00.htm...

While you might be right, I still read into it as a huge U-turn in thoughts and policy. I hope it will not affect the UK, but inevitably it will in some form or other.. probably as an extension to ACTA :(

I'm sorry, I've dried out to a hard, cynical husk in my old age. Yes, he did say those things, but I still say he didn't care jack about internet freedom, these were convenient rocks to throw at China. Any rock would have sufficed.

And if the administration's actions now don't reflect what was said before, it's just coincidence.

Did he actually take action at any time to defend internet freedom, or did he merely speak?

The administration today, and congress, are opposing internet freedom by their actions. An example for the administration is their defense of the law that says any email on an internet server older than six months is considered abandoned, and they therefore have a right to look at it without a warrant.

The only thing that counts for me is action, and that only lasts until the next hostile act.

I agree with you, I meant that from outside America it just seems rather pathetic, I hope it doesn't pass. Its a bit like the UK Digital Economy act that went through in 2010 which is similar to the French HADOPI law. How is it in the public's best interest?

I do find it ironic though that the US argues that the great firewall of China makes doing business with US companies difficult while supporting this bill that will do the same with local/national companies. http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Internet-China-Great-Firewa...

"On September 22, 2011, a letter signed by greater than 350 businesses and organizations — including names such as NBCUniversal, Pfizer, Ford Motor Company, Revlon, NBA, and Macmillan — was sent to Congress encouraging the passage of infringing website censorship legislation this year."

"Opponents of the bill include tech giants such as Google, Yahoo!, and eBay, as well as human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Human Rights Watch." [1]

I've lost respect for the companies in the first paragraph, and have gained some for the companies in the second.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

Netflix appears to be in the first category, as well. They would do well to clarify their position. The last thing they need is more bad press in the tech world.

I strongly agree. Though if I had to guess (I DO NOT WORK FOR NETFLIX), I would imagine that they're trying to stay on the good side of their content providers, since they're the ones keeping Netflix in business.

I can see where there coming from, but cannot take the same stance as them.

Not surprised by categories to be honest. I didnt lose respects for the first ones. They didn't have any to begin with. I only gained more respect, for the second set.

I'm looking forward to this bill passing. As soon as we drive normal internet activity underground, there will no longer be any stigma to being underground. Everything will be encrypted and hidden to people that don't "know the key", and Hollywood and the government will be the last people to know the key. Reading BoingBoing and downloading the latest Hollywood crap will look exactly the same to everyone monitoring the Internet except the person actually doing the downloading, ushering in a new era of freedom.

Just like there are no laws regulating the sale of illegal drugs (and the market is flourishing), soon we will have an Internet that the government can't censor. Illegal is the new legal.

Be careful what you wish for. This is not Tron or the Matrix where hacking against the system takes you to magical adventures. Censorship sucks no matter how you look at it.

And I don't get your drug analogy. Buying drugs legally means you know what you're buying, you can easily track the quality and strength like you would for your favorite brand of coffee. You can know where it comes from, who worked on it, if it is sustainable. You can use drugs legitimately, you don't need to hide. You can be open about it with people, and share how it has a place in your life. Illegal drugs on the other hand have none of this. The only thing you can do is build a relationship with a good dealer and cross fingers that the quality will stay the same most of the time. And there's obviously no way it hell you will trace the product back to its production. You can even go to jail for using it. And the unreliability of the product makes the experience unsafe, unpredictable, unhealthy, and dangerous. How is that "freedom"?

Edit: Seeing how popular the parent comment is, I urge readers to think twice about it. The parent comment's "looking at the bright side" stance is a coward and lazy attitude. Sorry for being harsh but it's true. It's much easier to invent yourself a wicked reason why it would work for your own individual best, put your mind at ease and just sit back instead of going through the mental effort of worrying about this and putting the energy to stand up for everybody's rights.

The more interesting point in his comment to me is that sometimes it is worse in the long term if your adversary restricts themselves.

Yes, if this passes it will wreck lives and businesses, but it might also just be bad enough to get ordinary people to start waking up to how damaging the copyright lobby is.

Now copyright and patent issues are mainly relevant to business and a small subset of people being pursued for torrenting etc. The pain point for average people have not been reached in any way - they don't notice.

But push far enough, and the backlash the copyright lobby will face may lay waste all of them.

Whether or not SOPA constitutes pushing far enough remains to be seen.

You're reading it different than me. I don't think he's literally wishing for it to pass, or is it really "the bright side" that he is describing. He's just trying to rationalize that the worst-case scenario is not the end of all freedom yet, and there will still be ways to fight/circumvent it. More like a small bright dot on a very dark background.

How are you able to see how popular the parent comment is?

It was #1 (and ~ one hour old) when I commented, and stayed #1 for a couple hours, in a highly popular thread (3 hours old and almost 400 votes at the time I believe). My comment stuck as the top child with just a couple votes, hence all children had a low voting count. So I assumed the parent was #1 amongst dozens of other comments thanks to its individual number of votes.

I kept an eye on this because its popularity is unsettling to me. I don't usually miss the vote counters but in situations like this one I really do.

You can't but you can infer it's popularity based on the time elapsed since it was posted and it's current placement on the page. In this case it is the number 2 comment at the moment and it was posted more than several hours ago.

That made me laugh:"This is not Tron or the Matrix where hacking against the system takes you to magical adventures". So true!

Yes, and just like illegal drugs, the government will have yet another unrelated crime it can arrest you for when you happen to antagonize it or do some other legal-but-looked-dimly-upon thing. What a utopia.

I have always thought that police are just keeping the status quo instead of really protecting the people.

We all break the law. Whether it is Jay Walking, smoking a joint, or being drunk in public. With the number of laws that exist today, it's hard NOT to break one every once in a while.

The only true law that is enforced is to fit in with society.

I drive like a maniac, but I am a young clean cut white male who dresses like the rest of us and drives a yaris (no tinting). I have been doing 30% over the speed limit, noticed a police cruiser directly behind me (for a few minutes), and casually moved out of his way. Didn't get much more than a glance. (No sirens, they were highway police so they were fully within their jurisdiction, should have gotten a ticket basically..)

A friend of mine who drives incredibly cautiously (because he is driving around a brand new Escalade, you know the cars all the rappers used to talk about) has been pulled over (and harassed) no less than 10 times in the past 3 years. It doesn't help that he "looks too young" for the car he drives.

Anyways... that sure is one hell of a utopia like mquander suggests.

You reminded me of one of the few Ayn Rand quotes I actually like. "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

I was thinking something similar. A darknet (or something like that) will become necessary, and it will become commonplace for people to use. It is currently like this in China, were many non-tech savvy individuals commonly use anonymizers or proxies.

However, what is really scary is the prospect of the government having this ability, but only exercising their power to silence dissent in secret, low-profile cases. Then, people who use TOR or similar will continue to be viewed as paranoid/criminals/conspiracy-theorists.

they still screwed people over during prohibition...

You just rocked my sleepy afternoon brain. I guess soon we'll all be outlaws. Here's to flying under the radar?

Thanks for reminding me of the bright side.

I'm not a US resident but I've donated to the EFF. U.S. policy dictates what happens for many other countries and it's not acceptable to have such policies become mainstream. http://eff.org

Why isnt there a crowdsourced lobbying startup? Essentially everyone votes on a particular topic and also donates money for that cause. If the cause collects enough money its sent to a non profit which actually has some lobbying clout to fight the battle on Capitol hill.

Teh startup can take a small %age and ensure that people can quickly swarm together and effectively beat shit bills like this.

Is there a problem with this idea?

There have been several attempts, and they usually quickly turn into nonprofits or PACs themselves. They tend to reflect particular points of view because people who want socialist-type policies are unlikely to use a crowdsourcing mechanism that's already popular with, say, the Tea Party crowd.

I have often wondered why someone doesn't just set up Republican and Democratic versions of the same service, with appropriate color schemes and so on.

So imagine it being a marketplace. When some bill needs to be beaten and a lot of money collects then the voters can select which lobbying firm to give it to.

And this would lead to them getting the money and having to prove what they are doing with the money.

So its like a marketplace connecting lobbyists to constituents.

Organizations like the EFF already lobby on this sort of topic. There's no secret sauce or suitcases of cash involved; lobbyists are just people who know how to sell policies to politicians.

Personally, I'd say that the the best way to move forward on this is to publicly write large checks to the EFF (with whom I am not affiliated, btw). Inventing a new market mechanism for this purpose is equivalent to saying that you don't understand how the existing marketplace works. This isn't something you can simply automate away, for the same reason that government by plebiscite is not historically effective.

I wouldn't argue against contacting your representative, but I'm curious: Has there ever been a documented occasion where a politician actually switched their stance based on e-mails, letters, phone calls, or anything other than a significant amount of money? I've never received a response from my local or state representatives that wasn't a convoluted and cordial "fuck you."

Sure. In Baltimore, I witnessed debate prior to a vote on a highly contested bill (smoking ban). Several city council members gave a 'call count' of the # of constituents in favor vs the # opposed, and voted strictly in line with their constituents' preferences. I'm sure there are many documented instances of individual politicians doing this, although you can never strictly be sure that it's not just coincidence that their constituents are on the side of their big donors.

The first bank bailout (in 2008) failed in the House of Representatives. Then the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked ~900 points and the call volume to many representatives went from half-and-half to 3:1 in favor. That was the deciding factor in the lot of representatives decisions.

This. My representative (Adam Schiff) is one of the cosponsors. I find hard to believe that anything a lowly college student can say will seriously affect his chances of changing his vote.

As a Pasadena native I've always known Adam Schiff to be very open to communication with his constituents. However, I can't recall him ever changing his position based on complaints. Also, his district contains cities that employees of several major studios (Universal, Disney, Dreamworks) call home which may help to explain his position.

Remember, he's a politician. He can change just how hard he works to pass the bill based on how many people will hate him if it passes, even if he never flips.

That said, feel free to replace him in the next election, if possible.

Tell him that, as a college student with lots of social connections, if he neuters the internet like this you're going to have a whole lot of spare time--and you'll devote all of it to organizing protests against his re-election and/or any enterprise he chooses to pursue after leaving office.

Do it nicely of course, but basically that's what you should say. Play to your strengths. You don't own a company -- maybe you don't even own a suit -- so you play to a college student's strengths which are social media connections and spare time.

Still, you should say something, and tell him how this will impact you. While he is a co-sponsor, that doesn't mean you can't add your voice.

In New Zealand I do remember a instance where a politician voted against what they personally believe in due to what their electorate wanted. Sadly the details escape me at the moment.

In case anybody is interested, this looks like the bill [pdf] http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/112%20HR%203261.pdf

EDIT: Here's the TOC:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Savings and severability clauses.

Sec. 101. Definitions.

Sec. 102. Action by Attorney General to protect U.S. customers and prevent U.S. support of foreign infringing sites.

Sec. 103. Market-based system to protect U.S. customers and prevent U.S. funding of sites dedicated to theft of U.S. property.

Sec. 104. Immunity for taking voluntary action against sites dedicated to theft of U.S. property.

Sec. 105. Immunity for taking voluntary action against sites that endanger public health.

Sec. 106. Guidelines and study.

Sec. 107. Denying U.S. capital to notorious foreign infringers.

Sec. 201. Streaming of copyrighted works in violation of criminal law.

Sec. 202. Trafficking in inherently dangerous goods or services.

Sec. 203. Protecting U.S. businesses from foreign and economic espionage.

Sec. 204. Amendments to sentencing guidelines.

Sec. 205. Defending intellectual property rights abroad.

I'm not a US citizen.

1) To what extent am I really going to get affected by such a bill?

2) Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

Hey, I'm one of the protest organizers. Here's how it affects non-US citizens:

1) Links to any blacklisted site will get removed from US search engines, directories, and maybe even blogs through lawsuits. Google, Twitter, maybe even HackerNews.

2) Your non-US site can get blocked to all US users (ouch) and lose most of its search / social traffic (see #1)

3) Non-US sites can get cut off from US-based payment processors and advertisers. This will push sites you use into bankruptcy, and discourage others from starting.

4) Hollywood and (I'm ashamed to say it) US trade representatives and embassies will be busy convincing other countries to pass similar laws. If this law passes, that process goes better.

5) Countries that want cover for their own internet censorship regimes will be able to say "The US does it". Russian politics in particular loves these (sometimes false, sometimes not) equivalencies as excuses for anti-democratic measures.

As for how you can prevent it, if your run a site or product with content in English, your site has American visitors, potentially lots of them. Same goes for just spreading the word on social networks.

Participate in American Censorship Day and direct them to call their reps!

Also noteworthy in this context, a site owner who issues a counter-notice automatically consents to being sued in U.S. courts (a strong disincentive for sites based abroad) (http://torrentfreak.com/the-privatization-of-copyright-lawma...)

5) Countries that want cover for their own internet censorship regimes will be able to say "The US does it".

This is what I am most worried about. (America says "Jump", Australia asks "How high?")

From my limited recollection, Australia has tended to implement such restrictions even more aggressively than the US legislation/policies they took inspiration from. So the 2nd-order trickle down effect could be worse in Australia, and presumably other countries.

5) Is what bothers me the most. If the US goes to hell, I have no doubt the first world will follow.

> Links to any blacklisted site will get removed from US search engines, directories, and maybe even blogs through lawsuits. Google, Twitter, maybe even HackerNews.

It doesn't work that way anymore. Google, fb , twitter etc operates across the world. Assuming the worst case, US residents will face the some error page like "This website is blocked" etc .. but rest of the world will be OK.

If even that is restricted, then this will raise a opportunity for clone solutions across the world. Like china has its own search, social software, blogs etc , now rest of the world will have a new opportunity. Many in HN would mint gold if this happens!

All in all this looks like the familiar path to take for US politician. (remember how the created the platform for screwing up the economy.

> Non-US sites can get cut off from US-based payment processors and advertisers. This will push sites you use into bankruptcy, and discourage others from starting.

Its the competition from US sites that is restricting clone solutions in local markets. US is not the target market for many-many businesses !( is it so difficult to understand)

> Its the competition from US sites that is restricting clone solutions in local markets. US is not the target market for many-many businesses !( is it so difficult to understand)

The problem is you need a critical mass of customers with cards handled by someone other than Visa and Mastercard. This is not currently the case in most countries.

Doesn't help if you're not targeting US consumers if a large portion of your customer base will go elsewhere if they can't use their existing credit cards.

1) If you are an Australian I'd be worried, because if this passes I'm pretty sure that the Australian Government will be quick to enact similar legislation under the guise of the AUS-US free-trade agreement to appease the copyright cartels and their own political egos as they finally have an excuse to implement the great firewall of Australia (which in turn will appease the Australia Christian Lobby).

2) This I don't know, but I do think it's time that we as consumers started boycotting the copyright bullies. Stop buying, watching, listening, reading and yes absolutely downloading (legally or otherwise) their stuff. It's time to take away their power. If you consume only copyleft materials then it won't matter how draconian they get on using copyrighted material* they will just further restrict who will consume it.

(*I understand the issue with SOPA is to do with censorship and freedom of speech)

(which in turn will appease the Australia Christian Lobby).

At the risk of dragging this off-topic: I think it's becoming increasingly obvious that politicians are just using the ACL as an excuse to do whatever they want.

I may be able to answer #1. If you have a site that is based outside of the US, and a copyright holder accuses you of infringement, the US Attorney General could order your DNS record removed (as well as disable payment processing and advertising services). If you file a counter-notice contesting this action, you implicitly consent to being sued in the US court system.

On the flip side, foreign nations may benefit from this legislation, as it will indicate the US is relinquishing their leadership role as custodian of core internet features such as DNS, and may open up opportunities abroad.

1) I don't know about (I'm not a US citizen either), but you could just write to US representatives pretending to be one of their constituents. They're not going to do some ID check, and it'll count towards the "X number of people have contacted us about issue Y" count, which'll count for something.

> They're not going to do some ID check, and it'll count towards the "X number of people have contacted us about issue Y" count, which'll count for something.

First of all - yes, they do check, and they have no obligation to listen to you if you are not a constituent.

Second, calling someone who isn't your elected official is legal, but calling and pretending to be a constituent is not.

Maybe you're right about them doing a check. It's been a while since I contacted a US representative (and I didn't claim to be a US citizen) but I remember that at the time I could simply enter any address / zip code in his/her contact form, so you could have easily claimed to be from their state.

And regarding the legality remember that this would be a foreign national contacting a US representative. It's not like they're going to go to the trouble of finding out who you really are and extraditing you for such a small matter.

There is a small but non-zero chance that engaging in any deception about this will rebound upon you if you are seeking a US visa or green card at some time in the future.

If you are a US citizen, you can take action right here:


You can go to OpenCongress.org and "vote". They'll help you find your congressional district representatives and draft/email a letter to each for you.


I don't expect this bill to pass as it is. Enough large, powerful corporations should be against it (most Internet companies).

Much more likely: the major provisions will be added as riders to a bill that passes in haste, to get a few congressional votes.

So this bill seems to target any link on your website. Let's say that you have a blog that allows for people to post things as comments using a service like DISQUS. Could one request essentially take down the entire DISQUS service? Same with Facebook comments that are becoming more and more popular: could one request take down something like Facebook?

Or a whois site, linking to every domain on the internet?

Someone should make a short list of "best practices" for contacting your representatives. For instance, is there an easy way to set up a second google voice number so you don't end up getting called a million times during election season? And does anyone have apps to recommend for finding your representatives phone numbers, such as songrabbit's below?

The Internet != USA. If America wants to shoot itself in the foot w/r/t one of their only competitive advantages in the global marketplace, I say:

Let them.

Think of how fast that will accelerate the solution!

I just emailed my representative and senators. I also called my representative and left a message with a very confused sounding secretary/intern/lackey. You should too. Do it. Do it now.

Response from Maria Cantwell:

Thank you for contacting me about the internet streaming of copyrighted material. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue, and sincerely regret the delayed response.

On May 12, 2011, Senator Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. Under current federal law, U.S. law enforcement officials and holders of copyrights, trademarks, and patents, have limited legal remedies available to combat internet websites that are registered in foreign countries but operate in the United States by selling products, services, and/or content that violates U.S. intellectual property law. If enacted, the proposed legislation would create an expedited process for the Department of Justice and intellectual property rights holders to shut down through a court order these websites by targeting, the owners and operators of the Internet site, if known, or the domain name registrant associated with the Internet site.

The proposed legislation would require the Department of Justice to demonstrate to the Court that the Internet site accessed by the domain name is "dedicated to infringing activities." Such a website would have no other significant use other than engaging in, enabling, or facilitating infringing activities. Once a court order is issued, domestic operators of domain name servers would be required to effectively prevent online users from accessing the infringing Internet site. Providers of online information location tools would be required to take technically feasible and reasonable measures to remove or disable access to such an Internet site, including not providing a hypertext link. Finally, financial institutions involved in online transactions and Internet advertising companies would be prohibited from doing business with any Internet site subject to a Court order under the legislation. Intellectual property rights holders can take Internet payment and advertising companies to court if they believe these companies are not complying with the law. This legislation was reported out of the Judiciary Committee on July 22, 2011, and is awaiting action by the full Senate.

While I am supportive of the goals of the bill, I am deeply concerned that the definitions and the means by which the legislation seeks to accomplish these goals will hurt innovation and threaten online speech. Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to vote on this or similar legislation regarding intellectual property rights.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

There's nothing I want more from a politician's response than a simple, "Yeah, you're right, this shit sucks."

a response like that would make me a fan and a contributor for life

That makes a lot of sense. We need more responses like that.

Looks like an automated response to get you signed up to a bogus spam mailing list. Why would I want to hear updates about things she isn't interested in my opinion on anyway?

If you thought bogus, automated, DMCA takedowns on youtube were bad, you haven't seen anything yet if this passes.

Wondering , who the hell are these people who write such laws, I Googled John Conyers. In the results was a story that his wife had been sentenced to Federal prison for bribery. I hope this is the nadir and the only way forward is up, but I'm not hugely optimistic.

I reckon people here are the most likely to know, so sorry for the slight derailment, but..

I am Irish, with a .com site hosted on servers in the UK. How does this affect me? I'm sure the US still claims a lot of influence over .com so it probably does some way.

The US authorities can already seize domains under their jurisdiction (as to whether or not the process is legal, I think the jury is still out on that). This includes .com/.net/.org/.us.

Google 'ICE domain seizures'.

Get involved by writing your representative and making sure your facebook friends know about this:


1. Can Google pay $1mn to each senator and buy them out? 2. Can/will Obama veto this?

In all honesty at this point I don't care. It's part of the evolutionary cycle of the internet, the laws cannot keep up with both the demand and the technology, close one door and several others open up.

This might not be the best way to say, but whenever I see the patent and IP situation in US, I fell very happy that I live in India.

Are there enough lawyers and courthouses to take on this potential mass of extra stupid lawsuits?

Who are the Congressmen and Senators for the bill?

What is the WH position?

What are the chances of passage and signing?

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