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SOPA vote is now December 21 (cbsnews.com)
248 points by hsmyers on Dec 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

So the delay is just to put it under the radar while everyone is off on Holiday break?


This is a classic dirty trick in politics. Organize an unpopular vote when a lot of the voters have left for xmas holidays. Just make sure there's a majority left when the vote is on. As an example: the federal reserve act was established in the same way on the days before xmas when a lot of the opposition had already left for holidays.

Since it's holiday season, the news will be a lot quieter than usual and the public can be left in the dark.

In France, they do the same thing but in August, when pretty much everyone is away on their summer holidays. Democracy has become a funny thing.

It seems to me like the opponents (there are only a few anyway) in the House are just as eager to attend this vote as the proponents. So perhaps I am missing the deviousness?

Plus, since more people are at home during the holidays, wouldn't more people actually be watching the news?

(I'm not saying there isn't a well funded conspiracy to get this bill passed at any means possible, but it seems that we may be seeking out things to get angry about)

Now, this is the committee vote, though, right? It means it ends up front and center in front of the full body after the holidays, right?

Well, it's been nice having our US friends with us on the internet, and it's going to be quieter without them. So long and the best of luck with that government of yours.

Ugh. One thing I oddly haven't seen mentioned at all: if it passes, will Obama sign it? I disagree with him on many things, but he's not stupid, and given his support base there have to be some geeks close to him that can explain how awful it is. Of course, his support base also includes Hollywood...

He is not stupid, but he is unfortunately very right-wing.

Like someone else said, the internet is going to be weird without all you americans around. Good luck.

Also, I do detect a bit of the old "first they came for the..." dynamic going on here. Why wait until now to kick up such a fuss? This nonsense is utterly trivial when held next to the mistakes and crimes of your leaders over even the last 5 years, let alone the last 10, 20 or 50 years.

Aren't you guys currently passing a law authorising the indefinite detention and torture without trial of your own citizens? They're probably loving the fact that they've got you all distracted with the possibility that tumblr might go away.

I doubt it will be that drastic. I'd really like to see how this plays out. I get the feeling like the Zenith of USA has passed but overall I could just be that my info sources are libertian/biased.

Obama doesn't give a flying fig about his support base. Sorry to be so blunt, but that bastard just threatened to veto the NDAA unless the provisions allowing indefinite dentition of Americans without charge or trial were put pack in. His base is screaming bloody murder, and the White House remains utterly unmoved.

Added irony: the Senate passed this abomination on Bill of Rights Day, precisely 220 years after the (now gutted) Bill of Rights was ratified.

Separately, this same base has been howling about ACTA, which has been spearheaded by none other than Joe Biden. So no, he isn't going to veto the censorship bill either. But you better be careful about how you choose to protest. Obama has also out-Cheneyd Cheney in claiming that the President has the power to hunt and kill Americans without charge or trial if the Executive (not the Courts) determines that the 'target' is an 'enemy combatant'.

And what's the standard for making this determination? Top Secret, naturally. According to Obama, it's all about "remaining flexible". And that brings us to Christopher Hitchens, who observed that "The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law."

The really scare thing about all this is the prospect of Democrats going into open revolt, ejecting Obama from the White House, and inadvertently handing this basket of unspeakable nasty to Newt Gingrich.

He's counting on the Republicans selecting someone crazy enough to bring out his disenfranchised base, and it might just happen. Still, Newt will quickly calm down after the primaries. He is many things, few of them good, but an idiot is not one of them. He won't say anything too crazy and risk scaring up support for Obama.

This election could go either way, and quite frankly I don't give a damn. I tried the Hope thing with Obama, and I got burned. They can all die in a fire. The very best I can hope for government at this point is that they ignore the things I care about (fat bloody chance).

I sincerely hope Newt doesn't come anywhere close to being our president. He's set a new bar for hypocrisy.

too late :-(

Actually that would be great. As long as the Democrats keep the Senate and the House the entire thing will be locked so tightly that they can't do anything.

Of course with Ron Paul trailing so close to Newt, we might have a very, very interesting time ahead.

Obama likes to be the "stern and discipline" "law & order father figure" which is what sucks in some of the independents that are more right leaning. As a progressive I could not be more disappointed in him for so many reasons. The left keeps going back to him like the abusive partner (oh he only hit me because it was my fault really).

He's going to sign this regardless of the consequences.

I am particularly upset by his failed campaign promise(s) to close Guantanamo. Friends tell me that there are "political realities" that prevent this from happening, "What if the detainees do something bad once they're freed? How would that look?" When did our ideals become props that can be abandoned when the popularity contest has been decided?

Obama likes to be the "stern and discipline" "law & order father figure"

I have started calling him "Reg Regum" and "Pater Patria" if only to suggest that our republic seems to be dying. I am sure those who study Rome will get the point (Rex Regum, i.e. "King of Kings" and Pater Patria, i.e. "Father of the Fatherland" were both titles bestowed to Augustus).

One thing Obama has shown consistently throughout his administration is that he wants there to be a very strong executive with powers that can be exercised in largely arbitrary ways. This has been the case with state secrets privilege in arguments, the proposal to allow indefinite detention back in 2009, and more down to the present. There is no way he would veto SOPA.

Have a look at what Joe Biden's been up to.

(I.e. He'll sign it. Biden's been the Administration's poster boy on this topic.)

Obama sold out a long time ago. Look at his pre-election videos and compare to what he's doing. He's not much better than Bush. I had such hopes for him, but he turned out to be just another politician, just more intelligent than the previous president.

I'd say that besides the fact that he actually brought the troops home from Iraq (sort of), he's worse than Bush. He's been asking for totalitarian powers that even Bush didn't have, and pretty much everything he promised in the campaign he did the opposite when he got in White House.

As for the Iraq part, well if he starts a war with Iran already, he's really not better than Bush at all. Check out how they want to collapse the Central Bank of Iran in 60-180 days, and also a bit of history between Iran and USA:



Also, even Bush thought bombing Iran would create blowback (which is exactly what Ron Paul has been saying all along):


Also, Bush's foreign policy before he got elected was almost identical to that of Ron Paul, of non-interventionism and not being the world police:


Someone in CBS News site's comments pointed out an interesting thing: there were already two bill like that.

"Communications Decency Act" and "Child Online Protection Act", which both were tossed out by Supreme Court.

Both of those bills attempted to create new restrictions on speech. SOPA simply creates new censorship measures against forms of speech that are already illegal.

New censorship measures which a lot of people believe violate due process.

I can't quite decide which option would be better in the long run:

(a) stop SOPA, only to have similar ideas come up every single year, or

(b) let SOPA pass, then build a case and take it all the way to the Supreme Court hoping that measures such as SOPA would be ruled unconstitutional once and for all. If this succeeds, it would set a precedent to seriously discourage similar ideas from coming up again. The anti-SOPA camp definitely possesses the financial and legal resources to mount such a challenge, too. But it would take years, and there's no guarantee that the Supreme Court will be any more reasonable than Mr. Lamar Smith.

The SOPA bill states that even if one provision is deemed unconstitutional, the rest of the bill remains intact.

What else can be expected from a bunch of old people who hardly understand the internet? When the internet to you is a search engine, Facebook and typing URLs into the IE6 address bar, I'm sure SOPA seems mostly harmless.

Let them plow it through committee and play their games. These are tumultuous times. People, globally, are unimpressed with leadership. This is being watched carefully by the public. Hopefully it will be a watershed event.

When the internet to you is a search engine, Facebook and typing URLs into the IE6 address bar, I'm sure SOPA seems mostly harmless.

The problem is that describes a large segment of the general population as well.

Most of the people I see using the Web now type the title of the site they want to access into Google. Getting them to type an actual address into a Web browser address bar is hard work.

Good luck over there. In the UK most things are allowed until they aren't (see the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and its updates).

German here, can somebody explain to me what it means when this passes?

As far as i understand it, the US controlled tld's like .com .net are done. Every time someone posts something on these sites they could be shut down, what is impossible to prevent by sites like Tumblr and Facebook. Probably for every domain when the company is US based.

So this will result in a more diverse domain landscape and a competitive advantage for non-US internet companies.

Or did i miss something?

Really depends on how it plays out. My guess is that there will be some favoratism and de-facto lenience towards large companies, because no agency will want to be the one who seized google.com and ruined everyone's day. The downside is that just opens up a large new avenue for corruption and, even when not outright corruption, selective enforcement of laws.

Sounds like a real threat to the valley, could this kill the internet startup culture?

I tinker with the idea to get there, but i am really concerned now with all these developments.

> A controversial measure aimed at stopping online privacy...

Heh, I've made this mistake too when speaking, although privacy certainly could be affected by the SOPA.

I wrote my Congressman about my objections to this the bill, and his auto-responder gave me some bs about understanding my concerns about "Internet Privacy," not "Piracy." Our tax dollars at work!

That's why I've been calling mine.

I know it's just a coincidence that they chose the darkest day of the year for this, but I still find it a little poignant.

To me, the most shocking about SOPA has been the way it is portrayed in the media. Imagine reading this passage if you weren't "in-the-know" (as many of us would like to think we are):

"But most of the major players in the technology industry, including Google and Facebook, are strongly opposed to the legislation because they say they would be forced to police their websites for possibly illegal content. Google, which owns YouTube, says the language is so broad that videos of teenagers dancing would be banned because of the copyrighted music playing in the background. And that would stifle innovation, they say."

The media is minimizing the issue to corporate laziness, and thats really not okay. I sense snarkiness, especially in the last line, and I think an outlet like CBS has an obligation to do better than that.

>To me, the most shocking about SOPA has been the way it is portrayed in the media......The media is minimizing the issue to corporate laziness....I think an outlet like CBS has an obligation to do better than that.

The media are the ones that are lobbying for this bill, did you really expect them to cover it with anything approaching impartiality?

CBS is owned by Viacom. Getting the media to join the fight against SOPA is not very likely.

I absolutely agree with you. As crazy as it is, most people don't realize that news programs project the agenda of their corporate parents -- the media just "speaks the truth."

Here's an idea, might be ridiculous: Can you file court papers electronically in the US? What if say youtube, wikipedia, etc had a fully automated SOPA compliance system which automatically filed court papers to have the take down notice 'reviewed' however that works thereby overloading the system. There must be some way to reflect the work back at them and DoS a manual process somewhere in the legal machinery. 'OK we'll do it, but your not going to like it...' fight bureaucracy with more bureaucracy.

Court oversight? In SOPA? Not AFAIK and that's why everyone is so pissed about this.

I don't think lawyers have ever been particularly upset about having more billing clients. I imagine our current glut of law school students would thank them.

Isn't that more or less what RIAA lawyers have been doing, though perhaps not electronically?

There must be serious money to be made - or rather already made for the representatives plowing this through - there is simply no other explanation. Money is definitely deep in pockets.

Looking at the "donation" list it's to both sides of the aisle and HUGE amounts, these aren't little $10k donations but $100k and even $1M

I am starting to understand the fall of Rome a little better.

This is known as "concentrated benefits, dispersed costs", and it explains much of modern politics. A focused, motivated special-interest can reaps millions from some policy change (usually a tax loophole), but the costs spread across the general public are quite small, so there's no similar force in opposition.

I am starting to understand the fall of Rome a little better.

You may not be far off the mark. See "The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples" by Herwig Wolfram. He points out that the Western Empire (which fell over a thousand years earlier) had a far greater disparity of income than the Eastern Empire, and that this meant they couldn't raise the taxes necessary to defend themselves. The Eastern Empire spent a third of their budget on their army, and this was more than the Western Empire collected in taxes. He also points out that this doomed Ostrogothic Italy.

However, the thing that's missing from this analysis is that the Senatorial families that Wolfram is talking about as the super-wealthy weren't just family businesses. They were the equivalent of major corporations of their day. They were huge profit-seeking enterprises, owning sometimes tens of thousands of slaves and having thousands of freed slaves attached. Some of these had annual budgets that were as much as a third of what the Western Empire would collect in taxes in the same period.

We are headed down the same road, I think.

I just don't understand how with this bill being so clearly bought by the rich media companies, why there isn't a counter from the rich internet companies. I mean if the RIAA can give $1 million to Senator X, then why can't Google give $2 million to Senator X to ignore the RIAA? Sure it's dirty politics, but at this point it's just semantics as to who is dirtier.

The media companies are throwing money at Washington to get their laws passed, and the best Google or MS or Yahoo can do is send some representatives and give those uncaring congressmen a stern talking-to? Obviously these companies realize that SOPA will crush an open internet, which is directly related to their bottom lines. Start lobbying already!

How to say this without trolling?

This isn't the RIAA's country, it's not Google's country, it's not Microsoft's country, and it's not Yahoo's country. It's our country. Until we, the people, accept our responsibilities and stop this from happening, it will continue to happen. More corruption is not the answer.

How to say this without trolling?

This isn't the RIAA's country, it's not Google's country, it's not Microsoft's country, and it's not Yahoo's country. It's our country. Until we, the people, accept our responsibilities and stop this from happening, it will continue to happen. More corruption is not the answer.

Look at it from this perspective: as a practical matter, today, corporations have significantly more power in politics than individuals, and media companies more than tech companies. If something isn't done right freaking now, SOPA will pass from committee in three days.

There is nothing you, as an individual, or we, as a collective, can do against the millions of dollars spent on lobbying and campaign contributions by the media companies in the next three days. Talk of what "ought" to be will not solve the immediate problem.

An analogy: suppose you are poor (or bootstrapping), and you are $150 short of making rent for the month. Rent is due in five days. You can talk on and on about how you should have got a better job, didn't iterate on customer development, etc., but if you don't come up with $150 right now, you will "die." So, you might go to a payday loan shark, get a cash advance from your credit card, or sell something to make rent and live another day.

What's my point? When your very survival is on the line right now, you have to do whatever you can to live to fight another day. That's where we are now with media companies and the Internet.

This situation has no parallels with 'the fall of Rome' whatsoever, unless I'm misreading your intent.

This is exactly the point of the Rootstrikers campaign[1], supported by Larry Lessig[2]. I encourage all of you who live in the US to take action.

[1] http://www.rootstrikers.org/

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik1AK56FtVc

We won't have a situation like the Fall of Rome before we have accepted violence as a means of political change.

What killed Rome wasn't just the corruption but the fall of the Gracie brothers. You can't have Marius and Sulla without that. No Sulla, no Cesar, no fall of Rome.

And while we are at it, there are no barbarian hordes that can ever invade the US -- unless you count those in the backwater areas of the flyover states -- simply because the US is so monstrously huge.

Rome fell partly because the treasures stopped coming in from conquest. And the US is being invaded faster than any other country in history, to the best of my knowledge. It's odd that so many people are unaware of this. Had 1-2 millions entered Rome every year, as with the US currently, it wouldn't have taken centuries to fall. This is just math of course--people differ in their judgements.

I hear the world's tiniest violin playing for a country that consistently attracts the world's brightest and most entrepreneurial people from other countries. With a population density that starts off small before you even consider that almost all of the entire country is habitable...

You're right. It's just math. You just don't understand that math.

Math is non-subjective. If you like the flow, great, but that doesn't relate to the math.

It is ironic that the "creative" film and music industry has become a leading force in suppressing speech and innovation.

The artists being represented by these lobbying groups are probably just as ignorant of the consequences as the legislators.

There is exactly one bit of news in this story.

"The panel later scheduled a vote for Wednesday, December 21."

Thursday and Friday morning, the sad, small opposition (Lofgren, Issa, Polis & Chaffetz) did a good job of slowing down the markup process. One frequently repeated suggestion was that since it was likely that the markup would continue past the holiday recess and need to be resumed in January anyways, that they may as well take the time to convene a hearing where actual tech experts could respond.

Does anyone know, procedurally will it be possible for Lofgren et al to prevent or delay an actual vote in the committee, or is Smith with his large support able to force the matter? I suppose, if worst comes to worst, the four opposing committee members could each agree to impugne the integrity of each of the others, obstinately refuse to revise their words in the record, take a break to consult with a parliamentarian, and then relent.

Can someone elaborate on the addition to the title:

   ... with no one to stop it 
I understand it's close to Christmas but is it really that unusual to have hearings in late December? Are they really going to have a better showing of proponents vs opponents with this new date?

Otherwise can we tone down the added sensationalism to an already emotional topic? (Unless, of course, this is indeed an important point to make, and then I request some one elaborate)

I am concerned that a lot of the anti SOPA complaints I've read are fear mongering, and I want to be better informed. Is there a website to visit that debates specific line numbers of the bill?

The data is freely available of the amount of money raised by different members of congress, right? I've got an idea for a little mashup to try to raise money against the backers of this bill.

What is going on in this country?

Money. Money buys legislators. Money buys institutionalized corruption. The Supreme court says that organizations can make unlimited campaign contributions, yet individuals are limited. Until we take money out of politics, it will only get worse.

Can someone copy/paste this article? The mobile version is just a big ad that I can't seem to dismiss.

P.S. Quick, before SOPA takes effect.

Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, decided against holding a committee vote that had been expected on Friday. The panel later scheduled a vote for Wednesday, December 21.

The rest is a description of SOPA.

Gah! At lest the 10th major site I've run into recently that does this (including google groups). If you want to forward me to a mobile version of your site, at least drop me at the content I was trying to find.

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