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Al Gore Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA (techdirt.com)
169 points by dmuino on Jan 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments



Stage two of this whole SOPA initiative is telegraphed quietly within the Al Gore speech:

"As in all things, some compromise must be possible."

I've believed for quite some time that SOPA itself was never really seriously thought to be passable by anyone. Rather just an extreme first salvo to make the next set of oppressive measures seem like a reasonable compromise in comparison.


Ah, herein lies the genius of experienced lobbyists. It's straight from the regulatory capture playbook - in Canada, for example, telecoms know they need to approach the CRTC (which regulates telecommunications) with an extreme list of demands so that they can negotiate down to their desired items while making it seem like a compromise has been reached.

I think the only right way to do it is in reverse... start with a list of idealized demands from a citizen/consumer point of view, then let industry push back on the really egregious items until an actual compromise has been reached.


When I first saw the Al Gore headline I immediately thought of South Park and ManBearPig, but that made me think something like southpark (i.e a comedy that's not afraid to get a bit political) might be an excellent way to raise awareness of exactly this issue.

Shame the law will probably have passed by the time they make a new season.


The same thoughts here :) and I am really happy that he is fighting for something real. I hope this time it will work!


was that a reference to manbearpig, or you don't think global warming is real?


Why does it matter, given the conversation.


It seems likely the people creating South Park (and not just Trey and Matt) would be pro-SOPA. After all, most people in the entertainment sector see it as a threat. (Yes, we may argue that South Park is popular because of the Internet.. but it's entirely likely they'd see it a different way.)


A quick Googling didn't turn up anything, but I'd be shocked if Matt and Trey supported SOPA. Comedy Central, maybe, but not them.

Allegedly from the South Park Studios FAQ: (http://www.idealog.us/2006/10/matt_and_trey_w.html):

> Matt and Trey do not mind when fans download their episodes off the Internet; they feel that it’s good when people watch the show no matter how they do it.


Matt and Trey are actually pretty strong libertarians, so I doubt they'd support it on ideological grounds.

Source(s):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Park_Republican

http://www.libertarianism.com/pop_celebrity/trey-parker


That is possible. However southpark does not usually represent establishment thinking. I remember they did an episode years ago about Napster and they were quite critical of the RIAA position on it.

They would probably have some point like "these laws are bad , but if you don't want people trying to pass them then you should stop pirating stuff"


I'm glad the subhead of the article made the joke we were all thinking as soon as we read the title on HN so none of us has to make it.

Too bad it sounds like there's no actual proof that he's talking about SOPA/PIPA, although it would be pretty hard to argue otherwise. If true would Gore be the most notable politician to come out against these acts? (As much as some of us might wish otherwise, it's not all that notable for Ron Paul to come out against it.)


No, of the current politicians, Nancy Pelosi is the most notable to come out against it:

http://sopaopera.org/P000197/ (entire list at http://sopaopera.org)

I'd also argue that Sen. Rand Paul is more prominent than Ron Paul because he's a Senator...at least in terms of real influence. He's 1 out of 100 votes; a filibuster of the Senate variant of SOPA needs 40 votes.


Senator Ron Wyden has already promised a filibuster for PIPA.


The point is that without 40 more people on his side, they can just shut down Wyden's filibuster as soon as it starts.


"This video has been removed by the user"


Better than "This site have been remove by a single user"


Trevor Strong of the Arrogant Worms thanked me for downloading their music. Of course downloading the music made me a big enough fan of theirs to drive 300 miles to see them in concert as well as buying several CDs there. I also introduced many people to their music.

Point being I think many artist are open(ish) about sharing music (for example). It does seem things like SOPA come from far larger groups like the RIAA.


He's to be commended for making SOPA's "unintended" consequences easy to understand for the masses. He essentially came up with the best argument as to why SOPA should not be passed (i.e. internet censorship in Tunis and Egypt at the height of the Arab Spring).


The video is no longer working.


Shouldn't creative people support SOPA?

Is SOPA really a war between creative people and analytical people?


SOPA is severely limiting creative people. I mean how many of those started out editing some other youtube-video, performing a well-known song and putting it on the internet, just googling some images and throwing them together in a new way, etc...


SOPA represents a complete destruction of protections for free speech and due process on the internet. An allegation of wrong-doing is sufficient to trigger the government enforced complete shut-down of a website.

Why should anyone support that regardless of what sort of pretext is used to justify such an abuse of power? Should we round up all single adult males over the age of 40 out of a fear of pedophilia in order to "protect the children"?


(devil's advocate) Your analogy is bad because "rounding up" is something one Does Not Do Without Due Process, whereas deleting an intertube site is not. (America managed for 200 years without any intertubes at all, you know, so it can't be all that important.)


Perhaps take a look at the NDAA? Due process was just signed away. http://boingboing.net/2012/01/03/missing-portion-of-obama-ho...


The lack of outrage over this is...saddening.


A closer analogy is shutting down a printing press. America survived for 100 years before offset printing existed, so why not craft a law that excludes newspapers that use offset printing presses from first amendment protections?


The hyperbole around this law is getting irritating. Congress can't restrict First Amendment rights online any more easily than they can in print; laws cannot override the Constitution.


The constitution and other agreements on human/civil rights are frequently violated by the American government. Why do you expect this case to be any different?

(My favourite example is that America hasn't had a constitutionally-authorized war since World War II. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war_by_the_Unit...)


Look, either you believe the Constitution limits the powers of the government, or you believe it doesn't.

If it does, then SOPA would be subject to those limitations as much as any printing press law would (the example to which I was responding).

If it doesn't, then why does SOPA matter at all? The government could just shut down websites left and right tomorrow regardless of what the law says.


The problem is the gray area in between. Once passed, the law is the lay of the land. Its constitutionality can only be challenged once you've been charged with it. In the meanwhile, your livelihood is offline.

It's not uncommon for a law to be passed that is unconstitutional.


Just because the government sometimes gets away with unconstitutional things, it doesn't follow that there is no check whatsoever on the government's power.

For example, the government might get away with indefinitely detaining a few people without trial; but they might still forbear to arbitrarily detain more than a few percent of the populace for fear of popular revolt.


The constitution is just a piece of paper. It only has force so long as people allow it to. And local and federal laws can violate the constitution up until they are overturned by the courts (potentially a lengthy process).

It took nearly a century for the 14th Amendment to achieve the full force of law everywhere in the US.

We should not be the least bit blase about allowing unconstitutional laws to be passed, as though they would be null and void upon passing.


Why? It's not like ripping creative people off through piracy/whatever isn't already illegal...


But copyright enforcement needs to get stronger to give creative people a better chance of making a living from their creative work.


SOPA and the people who wrote it don't give a shit about creative people making more money out of it. This is all a move organized by the agencies, corporations, etc. who used to be essential for every creative to market himself and reach his target audience. The internet made them more or less obsolete and now they're fighting against it.

There are numerous examples of "creative people" making good money out of their work on the internet, without worrying about piracy too much.


Regardless of the motivation, one might expect that iOS developers for example would make more money with SOPA.


How? with SOPA you are enabling the copyright holders to go after apple's entire distribution center because someone cloned tetris and the owners of tetris came after apple with an infringment claim. This takes down all of distribution not just the clone. Since the distribution is over the internet and name resolution is based on dns this is actually possible. unless apple changes it to be static IP addresses it would shut things down. (which would hurt scalability and end user experience because they couldn't load balance easily).

Just think about this, your revenue as an iOS dev could be culled because someone in the app store ecosystem infringed. How is that a good way to combat piracy? The pirates are going to pirate no matter what road block you set up.


The thing with this is I just can't imagine the App store getting shut down because of this, or even youtube.

There would be a serious uproar if that happened, people wouldn't stand for it.

More likely is that some pirate sites will die and others will just go deeper underground. The people who are likely to be scared into shutting up shop all together will be smaller distributors of independent or amateur content.

I would be saddened if the Internet became like the high street circa 1996 with a few large companies and producers setting the agenda for what we will watch and listen to.


That's why in a country which operates under the rule of law SOPA should never pass. If the plain reading of a law results in outcomes which you can't imagine, then the law is an ass.

The attitude of "yes this law applies to the app store but it will never BE applied to the app store" is basically an exercise in double-think, and in my view is morally suspect.

What is the criteria then for who the law SHOULD be applied to? People the RIAA don't like? People legitimately disrupting established industries? People competing commercially with the friends of senators? The whole point of the rule of law is to prevent arbitrary exercise of discretion. The law either applies equally to everyone or applies to no-one.


The people who are likely to be scared into shutting up shop all together will be smaller distributors of independent or amateur content.

I would be saddened if the Internet became like the high street circa 1996 with a few large companies and producers setting the agenda for what we will watch and listen to.

That's exactly what we have to worry about, and exactly what old-school content providers have been fighting for ever since the Internet was created.

We use YouTube and the App Store as examples that appeal to the common person's awareness of the Internet, but we have to be far more concerned about the effects of SOPA/PIPA/etc. on the next YouTube.


> The thing with this is I just can't imagine the App store getting shut down because of this, or even youtube.

Viacom was essentially trying to drive YouTube into bankruptcy with its lawsuit against them. Granted, they lost.


Okay, maybe they wouldn't take down Youtube. But the chances of someone uploading a copyrighted video to Justin.tv? Or a thousand other small video hosting sites? Very high.

Right now, someone files a notice, and Justin.tv says "oh crap! Lets take that down." and they do and everyone is happy.

In the future, someone might file a notice, and then Justin Kan shows up at work one day and finds that his entire business has been taken offline by the government.


The thing with this is I just can't imagine the App store getting shut down because of this, or even youtube.

Those two are so well known and have so many lawyers at the ready they would be safe.

But, there are plenty of smaller, legitimate services and sites that would be shut down because of SOPA.


I wouldn't expect that at all. Can you explain why you think that?

And even if that were true, it's not automatically a good thing. iOS developers might end up better off through eating into consumer surplus, rather than creating more aggregate value.


could you elaborate on that thought a bit?


OT/Meta: comments that consist solely of "Could you elaborate" or "Please explain" without quoting from and referring to the original idea may be perceived as a lazy way of pretending to engage in the conversation, while placing the burden of actual communication entirely on the other party.


Two scenarios that I can see:

Without SOPA: Let's pretend that there is an innovative site that is going to be made in a few years that allows people to submit things to it and sell. This site gives some creative person a chance to make a full living. (this is actually happening now in many places)

With SOPA: Two options: Site either does not get created at all because of fear of creating sites that might cross SOPA at some point or this site gets taken fully off the internet because some other user on it posted some sort of infringing material for an indefinite period of time. in either case the creative person is out of luck with respect to making a living from their creative work.


I think you're missing one. With SOPA, the website could still get built and maybe it never gets taken down for whatever reason [1]. I'm against SOPA too, but I think the two options you provided in the scenario with SOPA present a false dichotomy. I don't want to see SOPA pass, but fallacies won't sway the opinions of intelligent people.

[1] Could be that the website owner polices their site effectively, or maybe they grease enough palms to keep their site. The reason doesn't matter. The point is, there are other possible outcomes.


The point is, there are other possible outcomes.

None of which are good. Either the site is taken down, an onerous burden is placed on the site owner to do the copyright owners' job of policing content, or yet another arbitrarily enforced law sits on the books, waiting for some enterprising media exec or prosecutor to contort it around their case of the day.


Although you could argue that without some piracy control the creative person will just have their content ripped off anyway so can't make a full living.


You can argue that but it's not really true. There are controls already in place. Giving them the ability to take down whole domains without any mediation is way too much power. The world needs checks and balances. The smaller artists will not benefit from this because they are not able to police things at that level.

The content producers need to make lawful content delivery a better experience than pirating things. I love steam because it makes things much easier to download, install and keep up to date. It's a better experience all around.

I am all for taking down websites that are gross offenders but this legislation is like cutting off your foot because you stubbed your toe.


No, SOPA will only favor the people who take their cut from selling the work of the creatives. Metallica never lost a dime from Napster, the artists make all their money from touring, the Record label itself makes money from record sales. If only there were some mechanism where creatives could market and distribute to the masses on their own, they could cut out the middle men distributors who support SOPA..... ... ..


What makes you think that piracy (and counterfeiting, etc) would cease without middlemen?


I'm not sure that's true. To be completely clear, I am strongly against piracy.

But I am not sure enforcement measures against piracy would actually help "creative people" much if at all. Cory Doctorow is a prime example who makes his work freely available but makes his living through his creative work. Perfect enforcement of copyright wouldn't have virtually no impact on his situation.

Obviously, that is just one anecdote. But we can see every single person making their living off of creative work as a counter-example right now as a counter-point since Piracy is currently rampant and while there is enforcement it is minimal compared to the emount of piracy that happens.


Sopa isn't copyright enforcement, its so much more, it's all the weapons the content holders could ever wish for.

Plus there's a certain amount of inevitable piracy. But mostly it's the bought-out politicians who are just trying/lying too hard.


So we should start executing more people in order to make "murder enforcement" stronger? Maybe we should start grabbing people off the street and hanging them to cut down on crime.

Eliminating our civil liberties will not strengthen copyright enforcement. Nor is strengthening protections of intellectual property a sufficient excuse for such.


I mean, he invented the internet what else do you expect? :-)


There's really no sense of humor here, guys! Downvote me here too! :-)


Pro tip: Humor is better-appreciated when it's FUNNY. :)


That's what she said :(


You've been here for over two years, so I'm surprised you haven't learned that HN considers such posts to be noise.


I know, but I like to tease, thanks for looking at my profile!




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