1. Excellent introduction and overview of the debate by Chris Hayes
2. NBC General Counsel makes three interesting (cringe-worthy) points:
-this only applies to international sites
-the internet is a lawless place
3. He is mostly shot down by Hayes who said if it really only applied to international rogue sites then people wouldn't be making such a big deal about it
4. Alexis makes the points:
-the problem of piracy will best be solved by innovation, not legislation
-the internet is not a "lawless" place and the DMCA is effective
-"piracy is a service problem" ie, if you provide better access to information you will win
5. Random other dude chimes in and says the government did a massive study and can't conclusively say that piracy is killing jobs at all... the entertainment industry is actually growing
6. NBC GC talks a little bit more, mostly being hysterical about how piracy is rampant and terrible.
Great job Alexis!!
I really didn't expect him to so adamantly lie like that. And then to first be called out by Chris about it and boldly say "Chris, seriously, that is wrong" and then declare that we're making it up -- that takes stones.
I'd really love to know what the best way to confront this in such a format (my first time doing live TV debate).
"No, you're wrong. Anti-circumvention provisions affect US sites, US sites with foreign domain names (like .it) are affected, and US companies who would have to remove links from search results are all examples of how you're wrong."
I worry I've lost the average TV viewer by the second sentence.
And then there's dealing with someone interrupting you... I'm curious to see what the HN community thinks about optimally handling that one.
When they say, "This is a jobs bill," you say, "This is a typical big government attempt to meddle in something they don't understand."
When they say, "This won't affect American sites," you say, "Search engines don't pirate movies. Neither do Visa or Paypal. Going after them is just unfair." [Note: Search engines. Not DNS. The minute you say DNS you lose.]
When they say, "Google profits from pirated software," you say, "Not as much as the congressmen are profiting from the $95 million dollars in lobbyist money that paid for this bill."
Other talking points: "How come congress can't seem to agree on anything that matters to the country? Unemployment, the deficit... they're totally gridlocked. But when the entertainment industry pays lobbyists $95 million to get a bill they wrote passed, both Republicans and Democrats line up to co-sponsor it."
Trying to say something that actually gets to the merit of the bill is a waste of time on a Sunday morning talk show... it's just too complicated an issue.
1. The exec was a complete ass and Alexis didn't call him out for being rude and condescending of alternative interpretations. There was a lot of potential to completely bankrupt his opinion using other perspectives from individuals with less at stake in the fight then this executive.
2. As you pointed out, his counter points were too dense for natural consumption by "average" americans. Its not just DNS but the internet in general is mostly an entertainment to most Americans. You critique of the language modifications that have to happen is dead on.
3. Mr. Cotton had one point and Alexis seemed to wander all over. Judicial process + wholesale theft + non-domestic vs. (Alexis') dense and theoretical arguments revolving around feasibility and implementation.
As tech people, we can all agree that this is important. With out the soundbites, we'll never get the critical mass to prevent this. Alexis did do a good job of maintaining his composure with the really inconsiderate tactics. Just needs to put together a few key "talking points" and hammer. Thats the way this works in these news formats.
I'd further argue that the key talking point should be something like:
This is a battle between old established interests who have long controlled congress's wallet versus the leading innovators in the United States.
Who do you want leading technology decisions in this country? Congress and cable providers or Google/Apple/Facebook/Microsoft?
Follow the money. It's as simple as that. There's a reason why every innovative tech company in this country is against it. This will stifle innovation. Follow the money and you'll see how old established industries who have fought innovation for years are the same ones pushing this bill down the throats of the American people.
Tell them how one server can be hosting hundreds of American businesses. If one store in your mall is selling fake Nikes, imagine if the entire mall would be raided and shut down?
This bill does that. This bill shuts down the entire mall because of one bad store. Hundreds and thousands of American businesses can be shut down for no reason leaving even more people unemployed.
I understand how much we want to argue about free speech and dns filtering. But welcome to politics. This is where we learn from these folks: talk about the topic of the day. Today, that is jobs. Find an angle to link this shit to jobs. The opposition certainly did. We haven't quite(you made some headway by talking about Ford).
I see one thing that could defeat this: convincing smart people who have the ear of Congress that this really is bad. I don't think we have convinced those people. Some may interpret that as corrupt Congress ignoring the people again, but I interpret that as maybe our arguments against it aren't really all that great.
Congress is going to to see these slogans just as they do the "SOPA will break the internet" stories.
Maybe our only real complaint is that we don't want Congress meddling with our Internet and that reason just isn't good enough to convince anyone?
You're right, if you spew a bunch of technospeak you will lose the audience. It is important to remember that you are engaging in a performance, not a debate. You might want to consider taking some acting lessons.
The most important thing is: don't get emotional. Don't get indignant. Use a tone of voice that you would use with a child who has told you a fib (or made a mistake). So, for example, don't say "That's a lie." Instead say something like, "No, that is simply not true" and then immediately follow that with a short citation that shows it's not true. Example, "SOPA only affects foreign companies." Response, "No, that's simply not true. Section blahdeeblah specifically refers to U.S. companies..." or whatever. Then immediately transition to one of your own talking points. "And even if it were true that the letter of the legislation exempted U.S. companies (which it doesn't) that would be nearly unenforceable because the jurisdictional boundaries on the internet are unclear..." or whatever.
The second most important thing: know what they are going to say before they say it, and have your answers ready. A crucial part of the performance is appearing secure in your position, and any hesitation or stumble hurts you. So be prepared for them to lie. Expect them to lie. Study their arguments ahead of time so you know in advance what the lies will be. This is not hard to do. The lies are carefully crafted and scripted, and it's unlikely that you will hear one that hasn't made an appearance somewhere before.
I'd be happy to do some debate prep with you if you like.
This, absolutely. For some inspiration on this point, one of the best real-life examples of someone keeping cool on a heated debate show, and neutralizing his opponent in so doing, was John Kerry vs. John O'neil on the Dick Cavett show in 1971.
O'neil opens with a three minute tirade, calling Kerry a 'little man' and 'coward' among other things:
Kerry responds in a completely unreactive, nonplussed, measured manner, and supports his case with data:
Regardless of your opinions on his politics, that's the way to handle such a situation - unreactive, unresponsive, data-driven.
Regarding SOPA, there are a couple points to keep hammering home:
1. The people pirating movies would not otherwise be paying for them if they couldn't get them for free. They just wouldn't buy them. Many of them lack the disposable income, or they are foreigners circumventing DVD region restrictions, or they're just doing it because it's available, etc. (Can you make a supporting case for that with the data? I'm not familiar enough with the issue and available data here.)
2. Businesses that provide innovative delivery options are booming - iTunes Music/TV/Movies, Amazon MP3, Netflix. Torrenting media, even MP3s, is enough of a pain that people will pay for a good user experience (a/v quality, reliability, on-demand, etc., everything torrents lack). Sometimes people will even buy high quality versions of stuff they've torrented and really liked. Companies that take advantage of that opportunity are rolling in it.
3. The content industry has fought every delivery innovation ever - radio, TV, VCR, and now even the Internet. Are we really going to let them compromise the greatest platform for social, political, educational, technological, and business innovation ever created, over a shortsighted attempt to squash the genie back into the bottle so they don't have to adapt and adjust?
As long as no one challenges the assertion that piracy is this terrible thing and the only way to deal with it is to censor the Internet, they'll keep coming back and back until they finally get what they want. On the off chance you haven't read Tim O'reilly's argument on this point, it's well worth it:
Regarding the lying: you're going to have to expect that. This is a fight the media industry feels is worth winning at the expense of the truth. When confronted with it however it will always look best to give a level-headed and reasoned response. You have the moral high ground and you should keep it.
The same point above applies to being interrupted etc. I think you'll look much more in control and certainly more comfortable if you keep to the format. Having to run interference while your opponent is making their point looks weak. Wait your turn and look professional.
Keep up the excellent work Alexis!
For your part, you did extremely well to not even acknowledge that he was trying to interrupt you at all.
But of course, I walked in with a bias on the subject.
If you were at all nervous about that, it didn't show. Most people (myself included) cannot speak truth to power so easily without being visibly phased. From your comment it sounds like you know the bill to a T, so my one criticism would be that you could have conveyed very unambiguously that he was wrong on three counts (with respect to the bill not affecting US sites). The details that follow might be lost on the audience, but the "wrong on three counts" is what people will walk away with.
> Mr Cotton mentioned due process a few times
How exactly does BensFreeMovies.eu (I made that site up) hosted in Netherlands get due process from being potentially banned by the US courts?
If we want to maintain the sanctity of due process then that works both ways and we have to give the defendant the chance to represent themselves. What if that entity's management are nationals of a country not normally allowed to enter the US?
> This is costing jobs
How does stopping Americans from accessing pirating assets that are perceived to be American-owned, but hosted on a foreign site, really help save jobs? The rest of the world can still access said content. SOPA is just about covering the US entertainment industry's eyes so they can't see the pirated content - it doesn't actually make the content go away.
Etc. I would fight back on these kinds of points rather than the trying to philosophically debate at a higher level, sadly. This is how you win hearts and minds with the 'normal' people because you can demonstrate flaws that they can more easily relate to.
When they lie, you need to quote a chapter and verse. Viewers will take the assertion of whoever sounds like they know the bill best as the truth. If you list section/subsection numbers and recite part of the bill, it will make you more credible than him. If you just memorize a few small parts verbatim you can win the battle.
When they are rude, you need to say something that calls them out on talking over you and evokes sympathy, but isn't rude. The best I have so far in this regard is "Mr. Smith, if I could just be allowed to finish, Mr. Smith, I'd like to add..." But I think a better response is possible that meets the criteria.
Should I get the chance again, I'm going to be ready for whatever madness they throw at me.
edit: just saw your response. Thanks!
The foundation of the web is links. SOPA attacks any internet company that links to sites that host copyrighted content. Well, Google links to sites that host copyrighted content. So does Reddit, and so does any other company that allows the public to create and post content.
Our founders called this nation the United States of America. United. They knew that where their is unity and community, there is power.
By persecuting companies for linking to illegal content, SOPA threatens the unity and connectivity that the internet provides.
When an internet company like Reddit, HN or Facebook gives its users the freedom to post content, it gives its users the freedom to post anything they like. SOPA introduces the fear that a user might post something illegally. If SOPA passes, web companies could be forced to disallow user freedom altogether.
Invaluable resources like Wikipedia have been created by allowing user freedom. Who knows what incredible resources user freedom could lead to in the future?
By persecuting companies when its users post copyrighted content, SOPA threatens freedom on the internet.
Television is not about facts, it's about communicating feelings and emotions. It's about painting an image of your opposition.
Memes we need to spread:
The moguls and their political puppets that support these bills are dinosaurs.
These bills were written by lawyers who don't understand that this will break the internet.
These bills are created by "media moguls" or "media elite" afraid of innovating.
SOPA / PIPA needs to be painted as radical and extremist.
Computers and the internet have been the backbone of innovation and economic growth the past 20 years.
The censorship meme (sadly) doesn't matter to Middle America. We need to drop it.
I'd suggest the following talking points and sound bites for the next debate:
-"Kauffman Foundation says that 2/3 of new jobs are created by high growth technology startups. This bill breaks the internet, and kills startups that could be the next Facebook, YouTube, Google or Ebay."
-When faced with the lying... "Are Google, Twitter, Facebook, Ebay, Yahoo all lying then?"
-"Media companies and their lobbyists tried to kill VHS, the cassette recorder, the phonograph, the MP3 player and now... now, they are trying to kill the internet. They were wrong then. They're wrong now."
-"The people who created this bill are lawyers not engineers. They don't understand how the internet works."
-"SOPA and PIPA are radical copyright protectionism"
-"SOPA and PIPA are corporate welfare of the worst kind, protecting industries that are afraid of innovation"
-"We are in the worst economic conditions in a century. This the the worst possible time to ram through radical legislation created to protect media moguls sitting on mountains of cash".
-"In this terrible economy, we need to do everything we can to support technology companies who are one of the few bright spots in this economy"
And... for what it's worth... after we beat SOPA / PIPA, we need a Startup PAC to take a proactive long view on educating legislators and their staffers on these issues, rather than constantly reacting to awful legislation like SOPA/PIPA.
I love this: keep pushing things further out of whack and all of a sudden the previous onerous policies start looking pretty good. The DMCA takedown provisions do give the little guy some power to defend copyright without going to federal court, but there is little recourse when abuse occurs and many of the other provisions of the act were a pure profit taking by industry giants.
10 years ago? No it was not. It only seems ok to a perspective that has been warped by exposure to SOPA.
The anti-circumvention parts of the DMCA are insane, but the takedown stuff isn't bad and benefits the little guy just as much as the big guy.
This completely ignores the blatant due process issues.
Aside: WTF? Everyone produces "IP". These are not a separate class of people.
I think he meant "people who produce IP professionally" or "people who earn a living off their IP". Certainly between here and reddit and other sites I've probably produced hundreds of pages of stuff, some of it even borderline insightful, and I'd be pissed if someone stole it, but it doesn't pay my rent or buy my dinner.
> To say that "big guys" and "little guys" are on equal footing with takedowns is to be willfully ignorant of reality.
I'm not saying it's perfect, and I don't know overall whether I like that it exists or not. But I also don't see how it's as much of a problem as people make it out to be, and I don't see how it only favors the big guys.
Let's say you're a small time photographer, and someone steals your pictures and posts them online. A DMCA claim and you can have them taken down. That is in the interest of small folks, who may not be able to hire lawyers or file law suits in whatever jurisdiction is necessary to prevail.
I have explained why I believe it helps small and large business equally. If you'd like to have a discussion, I invite to explain why you think what you think, and open yourself to criticism by the community.
What you think is the "reality of the situation" requires explanation. If you aren't willing to provide that explanation, this discussion forum may not be a good fit for you.
Who said anything about businesses?
That reality? Because you're not entitled to your own.
It's certainly possible that actions like those you outline (which essentially amount to barratry) could happen. I never said that the content provisions were perfect; I'm not a big fan of some language and some behaviors that are in the content takedown sections of the DMCA. It could certainly be modified and improved, and I'd be all for that. But I'd argue that it, as-is, remains a useful course of action for the "little guy" IP producers who essentially have no other recourse, and that that outweighs the abuses perpetuated by a small group of content creators.
"That reality? Because you're not entitled to your own."
Ok troll. Fuck off.
I see this argument time and again and as much as I agree with it, it just doesn't sound very convincing to the mainstream argument against piracy. This is gonna be a huge-ass debate and HN, in some ways, is preparing ground for our folks. One of the things I hope we will do is be dicks and challenge the arguments laid out by folks we like and support, including Alexis, so that the next time they go on, they are better prepared.
I know personally when I prepared for debates in debate class, I'd purpose take a completely opposite position to my own and try to crush my own arguments. It helped me lots - better me crushing nuances in my arguments than my opponents.
To play devil's advocate, here's a counter:
Indeed, piracy may be a service problem. But that does not keep it from also being an enforcement problem. Even in the best case scenario where we have optimal innovation, piracy will require enforcement. We believe there isn't enough of enforcement right now. This has little to do with innovation.
China also knows that their censoring doesn't stop everyone, but it stops an awful lot of people. So saying it's not going to work and then criticizing China for censorship feels like talking out of both sides of our mouth.
The broader implications are that his has a chilling effect on any type of user generated content and free speech in general.
It turns international business entities into enforcement arms for the government. Particularly problematic is that it's an attempt to extend the reach of our laws into jurisdictions with different laws and to do so through a business. People get all fired up when someone violates one of our laws, but they don't like it when China or Muslims attempt to push their laws into our jurisdictions.
I think the argument here is that the Internet was invented, developed, and commercialized in the US and Western Europe (and not in China) precisely because our belief in freedom of communication provided the room for the explosion of communication technology (and all the jobs that enables). If it had been heavily regulated and litigated as SOPA/PIPA propose, it would have taken off somewhere else.
Attempts to regulate the flow of information always sound like a great idea to those who propose them. But (aside from it being contradictory to our fundamental values as a nation) what no one can predict is what future revolutionary innovations it will be killing off.
I disagree. Copyright, at least in the US, was created as a tool to encourage innovation. If innovation is at its maximum potential, there is no need for more enforcement.
People need to be shown, not told. Look at iTunes: it came after Napster, when everyone knew how to get MP3s for free. Or the O'Reilly Safari.
Part of the problem is that many businesses don't know how to adapt. Maybe some of them simply aren't capable of doing that for whatever reason. Thing is, I'm convinced that they have to, for their own survival, because I don't believe that piracy will be stopped any time soon, SOPA or no SOPA. So I think the best way to help them recover is to help or convince them move to new ways of doing business, but that's a pretty tall order.
* I say 'could'...whether they do or not is unknown to me.
Once everyone agrees DNS filtering is just wrong, _then_ we can talk about their problems. Otherwise we're just being held hostage.
And if that means fewer people care about copyright, well, it's their job to make people care about copyright for the right reasons. Not because they'll otherwise blow things up.
Your response is a perfect example of why we are failing the communication war. We simply want to get to the technical end: dns filtering is wrong.
Meanwhile, the opposition is saying: SOPA means more US jobs. You tell me which idea has a better chance of sticking in the average consumer's mind?
A better counter would be something like: SOPA means Americans going to jail for watching a YouTube video. Let them counter with "that's not true!". Well, it is as true as saying SOPA means more jobs.
When you're right, you want to move the argument to principles and facts. You don't want the debate muddled, b/c the more people know the likelier they are to agree with you.
(Unless you mean that Youtube really does mean jail? I haven't tracked the less bad parts of the bill so closely.)
Innovation is the answer and without innovating they are just losing millions/billions of dollars due to their foolishness!
Create an Internet license where each site who distributes and or facilitates distribution pays up!
If that is true, the act seems ineffective. How hard would it be to shut down The Pirate Bay and open up an identical site like The Buccaneer Bay, followed by the Corsair Bay etc?
Of course this may invite another round of legislation, which would contain more severe provisions...
... or it could be that Cotton is just wrong.
Copyright infringement is not "Piracy". The special interests that brainwashed the masses into using the term "Piracy" have scored a major win.
Every time you use the term "Piracy" you play by their rules.
The situation is the same with the P-A-T-R-I-O-T act. Every time you pronounce it simply as "Patriot Act" - you are playing by the rules of those who crated it.
Alexis will get better as he continues to appear in the media, and I'm sure he's getting media coaching, but he needs to be more aggressive in, for example, telling Richard Cotton to shove it when he rudely interrupts.
It's as simple as "Richard, Richard... I let you speak, now let me finish my point. The problem with..."
Still, props to Alexis for actively fighting against these awful, awful bills!
Cotton knew his brief, and the presentation of that brief, much better than Alexis did his. Add in decades of political and rhetorical training and this isn't even a fair fight.
Guys like Cotton can be beaten, but only with 1) a much better case on the facts and 2) a complete mastery of the presentation of that case. This is a long way from home.
EDIT: One of the hardest things in what Alexis is doing is having people criticize how he's doing it. I congratulate him for putting himself out there for his principles and his community. He's up against people who have spent their entire lives training in interested (as opposed to principled) advocacy. He can be a lot better at this, and he can win -- after all, he's right! But he has to get a lot better at the execution.
Exactly. Alexis was making an emotional appeal. "It scares me, it concerns me". Why? I'm most of the way through the debate and I didn't hear any arguments against Cotton's point.
Wikipedia seems to agree that it's only foreign sites:
> The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders against websites outside U.S. jurisdiction accused of infringing on copyrights, or of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement
So what is the expected impact on US sites?
Wikipedia also seems to agree that the burden of the sanctions are quite high. There needs to be a court finding that a site is facilitating copyright infringement (perhaps not a full finding, like the closure of a case; but an intermediate finding).
Though I'm a technophile, I haven't followed this debate much at all until watching the MSNBC video. I found myself relatively influenced towards Cotton's side -- and a brief investigation seems to suggest that his points are correct. What am I missing?
I agree that, even if Cotton's points are true there may still be harmful consequences from the bill. But it seems we would be having an entirely different discussion depending on whether we agree on whether Cotton's points are factual.
This forces DNS nameservers into censorship administration.
It breaks DNS as users seek name service not engaged in censorship. That means fewer DNS servers, outside US territory, which means less cross-checking (ie, easier fraudulent imitation), less reliability and slower name service. It also means breaking security measures based on back-checking IP addresses with domain names.
EDIT: Those are the _technical_ problems. The civil liberties problem is the effective excommunication of bad actors, by some particular definition. People doing X are prevented from communicating with others. Well, here X is blatant and cynical copyright infringement. But what of X as incitement, or unpopular opinion? Even if the US were immune to such impulses, doing this for copyright gives China precedent for their censorship "in the interest of stability" and "to avoid irresponsible inaccuracy".
A sorta reverse effect similar to this happened to Google in China. By standing up to the Chinese government Google had a disadvantage compared to the Chinese search engines and has be greatly affected by this over there.
The definition of foreign sites is also problematic. At this time the US government thinks it can seize any domain for which the top level domain administrator is in the US. Thus any site with a .ca, .is, .uk etc could be blocked by a weird definition of foreign. What I find funny is the use of the pirate bay as poster child of evil site. It's a .org domain it could be seize today. Wikileaks also a .org could have been seize by ICE (http://www.ice.gov/). ICE having that power is weird since they have gone after American sites.
Essentially the government can now block both American and soon Foreign sites if this bill goes into action. American Internet users are the ones who will suffer most by this. This affects Americans much more than international people.
Also, kn0thing should ask the guy next time if a Job in the entertainment business is worth more than one in other fields because this is what I feel they are saying.
The internet tends to be (or should be) borderless. What if the next Google or Facebook doesn't come from Silicon valley but instead from India? How do we already feel when foreign governments are blocking the current Google and Facebook?
Cotton came out as the rich, smiling shark that he is, which makes smart people dismissive of anything he has to say. His very first line "let's make a step back: we are talking about jAAAAAbs" sounds like something any two-faced lying politician would say. He did get more airplay, because he was incredibly rude, but I don't expect anything less from an executive of the network that is producing the show in the first place (it was actually kinda ballsy for Hayes to tell him he was flat-out wrong).
So, all in all, I don't think Alex should change much in his presentation; the only mistake he made, I think, was that he was too eager to push the "piracy is a service problem" soundbite before he had actually explained why that is the case.
(a) DEFINITION.—For purposes of this section, a foreign Internet site or portion thereof is a "foreign infringing site" if—
(1) the Internet site or portion thereof is a U.S.-directed site and is used by users in the United States
The term foreign used in this case is quite misleading.
"A foreign infringing site is a FOREIGN SITE for which it is true that (1)... (2)... (3)..."
FOREIGN SITE is defined in section 101 as "an Internet site that is not a domestic Internet site".
DOMESTIC INTERNET SITE = "an Internet site for which the corresponding domain name or, if there is no domain name, the corresponding Internet Protocol address, is a domestic domain name or domestic Internet Protocol address". It is open to interpretation whether a site with a US and non-US domain is a domestic site.
Exactly. There is a lot in this bill which is open for interpretation.
The issue should be framed as not just blocking access to foreign sites, but as blocking Americans from talking about them.
To me, that made him a clear loser.
Most people, by definition, are closer to average or dumb. This war unfortunately requires convincing large numbers that SOPA is a really, really bad idea.
Cotton said "this only applies to foreign sites which are wholesale devoted to copyright infringement". Is that true or not? If it's false, why didn't Alexis say so?
This is by no means an indictment of Alexis' intellect or his understanding and ability to present evidence of his hypothesis (which we've seen he and other opponents can do effectively in writing), rather the fast-paced, time-limited format of live televised debate, particularly on UP!, is a brutal gauntlet with no exits.
Richard Cotten seemed to sort of be given a bit of a pass on his interuptions. Interuptions, I might add, that are seldom as long or loud on previous episodes of UP!.
If you want to win in politics, you must be able to win on these shows, or win by a much greater margins elsewhere.
We need to push a clear explanation of why and how this legislation does actually affect US companies in a negative and unjust way. I believe it does, but not having read the legislation (neither will 99.9% of Americans), I don't know exactly how, or why. SOPA supporters' strongest argument seems to be that this act will not harm lawful, job creating US companies. We need a concise explanation of how this harms US companies that is easy for the non-technical American to understand.
Not only is he running a media company (which ostensibly should be in favor of SOPA), but also he's the same generation as the lawyers, lobbyists, and legislators supporting SOPA.
Most other creators are just churning out low rate disposable content. Their business models are struggling under the legal alternatives the internet has come to offer, just look at what happened to newspapers.
Now that distribution is solved, competition has sky-rocketed and they're fighting a market that wants to show them just how little their product is worth these days. Steam may be the internet distribution posterboy, but think of any other type of media producer who looks at steam. There are rock bottom prices on everything that isn't a AAA title released in the last 6 months.
They're stuck fighting the new marketplace realities, they can't afford to see piracy in the periphery (like O'Reilly can), so they do the one thing they know how to: give cash to congress to make that problem go away.
People (on the show and in this thread) keep saying that what Cotton said isn't true and is deceptive - but where are the factual arguments?
2. As Alexis said, it introduces penalties to US citizens for using foreign-hosted sites deemed to be in violation of the act.
3. the notion that it only applies to "wholesale" piracy is garbage. that might be what the NBC dude thought it would mean, but there's no way to unambiguously define what is wholesale piracy and what is casual or inadvertent piracy, and it is ultimately up to the courts to decide who the law applies to and who it doesn't. If some judge wanted to, he could probably use SOPA to take down just about any website with user-generated content. a good law isn't one that's broad and over-reaching and you just hope that it's implemented fairly. a good law is one that is specific, targeted, and difficult to abuse.
4. the point that i'm disappointed that nobody made: the pirate bay is a .org (and nominally a .com), which technically makes it a US site. the NBC guy's prime example of why we need SOPA is immune to SOPA.
> (a) Definition- For purposes of this section, a foreign Internet site or portion thereof is a `foreign infringing site' if--
> (1) the Internet site or portion thereof is a U.S.-directed site and is used by users in the United States;
> (2) the owner or operator of such Internet site is committing or facilitating the commission of criminal violations punishable under section 2318, 2319, 2319A, 2319B, or 2320, or chapter 90, of title 18, United States Code; and
> (3) the Internet site would, by reason of acts described in paragraph (1), be subject to seizure in the United States in an action brought by the Attorney General if such site were a domestic Internet site.
Understanding this requires understanding criminal copyright infringement. 2319 references 506 (a)(1)(B).
> (a) Criminal Infringement.—
> (1) In general.— Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed—
> (A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;
It does not seem these requirements can be met casually or accidentally.
Could you cite the parts of SOPA that led you to this conclusion? I looked here: thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261: (there's a colon at the end of the URL) and found only provisions that apply to search engines, ISPs, payment processors and ad networks, not generally "US websites". With regard to anti-circumvention, I found only references to "product or service designed or marketed for the circumvention". I don't think that encompasses "content describing how to get around the blocks".
Upon some brief research (Wikipedia), it seems that Cotton's claims are true:
"The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders against websites outside U.S. jurisdiction accused of infringing on copyrights, or of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement"
A court finding that a site is facilitating copyright infringement seems like a high bar to meet.
The bill defines "foreign infringing sites" as those infringing sites that have their domains registered outside the US, are "US-directed" and "used by users in the United States." This would include, for example, all the sites that use Libya's top-level domain, like bit.ly, but would not include a site like thepiratebay.org, as the US controls the .org top-level domain.
You can check that this is true by reading Sec. 101.3-8 and Sec. 102.1.a. (13 lines of text in total) on the Library of Congress website here:
I think there's a better explanation that is linked to the enforcement of situations such as "someone googles Pirate Bay and gets a link to the site". SOPA puts Google at fault for this, and I assume the enforcement mechanism could very much harm a US company (Google). Unfortunately, time ran out on the segment right as they were getting to this point.
That is probably not the only reason, but I suspect it is sufficient reason for most opposition.
NO TECHNOLOGY MANDATES.—Nothing in
title I shall be construed to impose a duty on an en-
tity described in section 102(c) or 103(c) to design
its network, technology, or service to forestall or pre-
vent acts that would actually or potentially create a
cause of action under such title, or to utilize any
particular type of technology to comply with the re-
quirements of such title.
1. A US entity does not have to redesign anything to slow or prevent infringing search results/credit card payments/etc in order to avoid liability
2. No particular type of technology must be utilized to comply: they're explicitly saying they won't require firms to "use PiracyBlocker2001 on your network" or "filter search results with the ProtectLouisVuittonsProfitMargin algorithm" or something to that effect.
Do you know any details about the "wholesale piracy" portion of the claim? Is it just a matter of setting a dangerous precedent (who defines "wholesale", etc) or is there a more concrete counterpoint in the bill?
About the "wholesale piracy" bit: that's also wrong. The bill would apply to an "an Internet site, or a portion thereof" ... "primarily designed or operated for the purpose of" piracy. (Sec 103.a.1.A-B) Links on bit.ly (for example) that pointed to illegal downloads would fall into that category. The phrase "portion of" is not compatible with Cotton's "wholesale" description.
For me, the worst part is that the bill targets sites "facilitating the commission of criminal violations," (Sec 102.a.2) related to copyright law, rather than actually committing the criminal violations. If this were in the realm of guns rather than copyright, it would make every gun magazine publisher a criminal. In general, speech about crime is different than crime itself, especially when the activity at hand can be criminal or noncriminal in different circumstances.
Regarding the "facilitating" part, notice it is just one of three items in a definition. ALL of these items have to be satisfied. Let's not spread FUD here.
Yes, you are correct. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.
I see no evidence that it would effect reddit's operations in any way. From googling around for 5 minutes, it seems that Cotton is correct on this point.
(D) INTERNET ADVERTISING SERVICES-
(i) REQUIRED ACTIONS- An Internet advertising service that contracts to provide advertising to or for the foreign infringing site, or portion thereof, that is subject to the order, or that knowingly serves advertising to or for such site or such portion thereof, shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order, designed to--
(I) prevent its service from providing advertisements to or relating to the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order or a portion of such site specified in the order;
(II) cease making available advertisements for the foreign infringing site or such portion thereof, or paid or sponsored search results, links, or other placements that provide access to such foreign infringing site or such portion thereof; and
(III) cease providing or receiving any compensation for advertising or related services to, from, or in connection with such foreign infringing site or such portion thereof.
(ii) NO DUTY TO MONITOR- An internet advertising service shall be considered to be in compliance with clause (i) if it takes action described in that clause with respect to accounts it has as of the date on which a copy of the order is served, or as of the date on which the order is amended under subsection (e).
I'm not sure how to quantify the number of sites Google would be forced to deal with on a daily basis if this legislation were to pass, but I suspect the number could be quite large. Registering hosting and/or domains is a trivial task.
Cotton's proposal that immunity was provided to Search Engines and Ad Networks is laughable. Here are the bill's actual claims:
(A) IMMUNITY FROM SUIT- Other than in an action pursuant to paragraph (4), no cause of action shall lie in any Federal or State court or administrative agency against any entity served with a copy of a court order issued under this subsection, or against any director, officer, employee, or agent thereof, for any act reasonably designed to comply with this subsection or reasonably arising from such order.
(B) IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY- Other than in an action pursuant to paragraph (4)--
It promises immunity... Except for repercussions due to not correctly acting on the courts orders in a timely manner. So not only is there no real immunity, but there's a burden placed on businesses to immediately comply or 'else'.
Moreover, imagine that later down the road you were unlucky enough to purchase one of the domains that had been blacklisted. In order to be listed in a search index, receieve advertising revenue or conduct payments, you would need to file a motion with the court to lift the ban. An innocent person, who has never been found guilty of doing any harm, would be required to jump through legal hurdles in order to exist on the internet.
(d) Modification or Vacation of Orders-
(1) IN GENERAL- At any time after the issuance of an order under subsection (b), a motion to modify, suspend, or vacate the order may be filed by--
(A) any person, or owner or operator of property, that is subject to the order;
(B) any registrant of the domain name, or the owner or operator, of the Internet site that is subject to the order;
(C) any domain name registrar, registry, or other domain name registration authority that has registered or assigned the domain name of the Internet site that is subject to the order; or
(D) any entity that has been served with a copy of an order pursuant to subsection (c) that requires such entity to take action prescribed in that subsection.
(2) RELIEF- Relief under this subsection shall be proper if the court finds that--
(A) the foreign Internet site subject to the order is no longer, or never was, a foreign infringing site; or
(B) the interests of justice otherwise require that the order be modified, suspended, or vacated.
I'm going to continue paging through the bill, but I think this response is adequate to rebuke Cotton's assertion that this only effects "wholesale piracy websites outside of the USA". None of the parties I mentioned above were pirates, nor were they necessarily foreign entities.
"The internet is a lawless place."
Alexis responds by citing DMCA. DMCA is probably the weakest thing to cite when trying to show that the Internet is already regulated. How about citing all the myriad other laws that are applied everyday to prosecute and jail folks for fraud over the internet?
You could literally make the guy look like a fool over that one word: lawless. The good thing is, this is such a common argument it will come up again and again. Just remember: everyday folks get arrested and prosecuted for crime over the internet; is that common in a lawless place?
I suspect that someone at his level who is speaking publicly on the issue knows exactly what is in this bill. After all, it is his lobbying money that is buying the bill in the first place.
How can Alexis defend against this bald-faced lie in future debates? It seems like a tough thing to defend against.
This needs to change. There is an art to hyperbole, and as much as it makes us all cringe, we need to start engaging in it and framing the argument in a way that will get the visceral juices flowing a bit. "This bill will cause Facebook to delete your account and any of your friends if you post a video", "This bill will force youtube to delete all the videos you took at your childs birthday party", etc. You lose the argument when you accept a compromise when starting from the position you want to finish in. You have to pull back much further, like SOPA proponents are doing, and hope that the middle ground falls further in your interest than others.
I think the only successful response to "shutting down illegal foreign websites stealing american content" is to point to industry experts and other various authorities that claim SOPA goes beyond that goal. Hayes attempted to do this at one point, but was quickly contradicted by Cotton. At that point Alexis needed to reaffirm that Hayes was correct and hammer home the idea that the legislation is far from clear.
Search is a commodity. Look at the bottom of HackerNews. HackerNews is also a search engine. It seems that there can be no secondary liability because SOPA basically addresses all of the internet as we know it.
Also, what is to stop Google and other sites opposing SOPA from simply blocking results to NBC and SOPA supporters? Throw them off the internet and let them taste a bit of what they're asking for! Don't we have the right and ability to do so?
It was never refuted on the interview, and I don't see it refuted in this comment thread anywhere. Is this actually true?
I feel like I should be uploading episodes of 30 Rock to every site I can find just to even things out.
I know that having everyone at podiums or at a table is a very human thing for debates, making them seem like they're open discussions, but tactics like this prevent such discussions, and are fairly obnoxious for people who are actually trying to listen.
I'd rather just put everyone in sound booths with cameras and then mute them when it's not their turn.
We need someone like Doctorow, Rick Falkvinge, John Perry Barlow, or Tim O'Reilly to keep fighting this on TV and in debates. We need someone who can argue philosophically against bills like SOPA and PIPA, and someone who has studied the bills well enough to be able to defend and attack every single point SOPA-supporters can make.
Reddit and Google will only be able to keep fighting this as long as it directly impacts them. There needs to be someone to argue against SOPA even after they say it doesn't affect US sites. Just because it doesn't affect US sites, doesn't mean it still won't break the Internet if it shuts down foreign sites with little due process.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, SOPA also makes copyright infringement a felony, which I believe is a first in US law. It also makes the service provider responsible for the user's content. Again, this is unacceptable. There are more examples like these in the bill, so there are other reasons besides the DNS provision why this bill is bad. Someone needs to study it properly and challenge them.
i.e. he should have been able to specifically point to clauses that he disagrees with and why.
For example, how the media companies force you to watch commercials that can't be skipped when you purchase a DVD. People HATE those and using that as an example of a world where SOPA/PIPA are the law of the land would win a few points.
He should have also been much more forceful or accusatory and mounted a good offense that Cotton would have been forced to defend against. This is an effective debating strategy, nearly equivalent to the question "when did you stop beating your wife" and can totally change the win/loss column.
But the BEST way to frame this debate is to discuss how INTRUSIVE the methods will be. The ISPs will HAVE to install means of monitoring everything that is done online in order to protect themselves from liability. This same technology, once installed, could be used to block access to offshore poker/gambling sites and that it s HUGE business in the US. There is literally NO END to the kinds of disfavored businesses or information sources that could be censored and if you don't know about them, then its likely to completely change the open nature of the Internet. Making the point that this censorship regime would look exactly like China's Great Firewall is effective. For all intensive technological purposes, the two are the same.
None of which he did. I felt like that could have been me talking - when it shouldn't have felt like that. It should have felt like someone that is intimately familiar with the legislation and have talking points about why it is bad with specific examples. i.e. what you said :)
I'm not sure why in any broadcast I've seen someone doesn't give examples, why doesn't someone opposing SOPA say that "If a person goes to Facebook and posts a link to thepiratebay.org then Warner Brothers can request Facebook be taken offline"? Surely that is more than enough to explain the problem.
1) thepiratebay isn't targeted by SOPA.
2) Facebook isn't a foreign site, and not targeted by SOPA.
3) A court would have to agree that the site be taken down.
4) The entire site wouldn't be taken down because it isn't primary designed or operated to enable or facilitate infringement.
Given that content producers do things like claim every pirated copy as lost income even though in reality they know this isn't the case I think taking the powers given by SOPA to the extreme case could be a good tool in the argument.
Is Richard Cotton a liar or just ignorant?
The guy Alexis was up against is assine. He stuck to his talking points, as instructed, which many are blatantly incorrect, but were portrayed in a way that joe public is able to understand and get behind.
During these kinds of talks, I'd like to see Alexis point out more how this is censorship in it's highest form, and list the reasons/examples why. Impassioned approaches are great, but the moment you step on the big stage you have to become cold blooded and go for the jugular.
A big part of what I like about Alexis is that he's not that kind of guy. However, if he's going to be representing us in this fight then he needs to arm himself with the same drivel and talking points that his opponents have. Otherwise, he himself is just a tool to help drive home the point of the SOPA-PROS.
It's because of the capricious nature of this bill that we are left with the prospects that this could be used as a method to squash speech deemed undesired by those with the power to control it. Pointing out a hypothetical case where someone in an elevated position, like Rupert Murdock, could have had (online/third party) magazines, who were reporting on their recent phone tapping scandal, shutdown for any number of reasons would be a perfect example.
Many of us agree that piracy is primarily a service problem. The fact that Netflix makes up over 30% of the United States nightly internet traffic is proof. That's a whole lot of bandwidth that people are using because of the convenience. However, this can't be the only argument we make to say why this is poison legislation.
That said, I'd also like to have the talk that this legislation is still easily circumvented not even mentioned. It's worth noting, but once again it can't be a talking point as to why this legislation is bad.
Point out that it's the media companies that are eroding any goodwill that remains for them by criminalising their best customers instead of taking the opportunity to listen to them. Unless I'm very wrong, a majority of the audience will be people who both pirate at times and consume legal content when its easy and fairly priced. I think the average Joe would be against SOPA if they realised the ramifications - don't be afraid to point out horrible scenarious that could happen uner the letter fo the law, and don't accept "oh it would never realistically be used in that way". Make people realise what is being given away here.
The NBC exec successfully skated around any scenario that may happen in which a US company gets punished due to SOPA. At the very end of the interview, the talk was getting there ("So Google HAS to take Pirate Bay down from search. What happens if it doesn't?") but the segment ended.
We need someone to get out there and clearly enumerate the scenarios in which generally law-abiding US companies can get burned by SOPA. This was not accomplished in the interview.
I'm wondering whether he was receiving a live brief from his counsel backstage during the debate? I doubt he'd be connected to the production room's on-set talkback system, even the host didn't seem to have talkback in his ear.
EDIT: Talkback is the industry term for the closed radio connection between production room and studio floor where the host will receive timing cues, which camera to look at, etc.
The most dangerous part of SOPA in my opinion is not the damage it'll do immediately but the incredibly shortsighted legal precedent it'll make for future legalization to use as reference.
A few people never got a chance to speak, Alexis is rightly looking a bit frustrated at not being able to respond at times.
Why can't a debate last for 5 hours instead of 20 minutes?
Then we could see the details explored further (such as the act supposedly not affecting US sites) instead of frustratingly brushed over due to time constraints.
1. Will the websites that are blocked by a result of SOPA only affect US citizens?
2. Can a foreign TLD such as .dk, .se etc. get blocked?
3. What happens if you use the IP-adress to ThePirateBay instead of the domain name?
2. Yes, blocking access to foreign websites is the whole point of the legislation. Note that this would only mean that US-based users wouldn't be able to resolve your .dk, but everybody else (i.e. in Europe or Asia etc) would still be able to do it.
3. Good question. Again, this will depend on the technical implementation; I believe at the moment they're only talking about blocking DNS resolution. The minute they block IP-based connections, you basically have the Great Firewall of America in place.
2. Are you talking about the entire TLD? Then, no. If you are talking individual domains, then, yes, those are the targets of this bill.
3. ThePirateBay is exempt from SOPA DNS-blocking since it is a dot-org. IP-addresses are exempt of course from DNS-blocking. Plus, it looks like DNS-blocking has been pulled entirely from SOPA (but let's watch that play out). AFAIK no one is exempt from interfering with payments from advertising and payment processing companies.
Compare this to the ability to download a movie literally days after it is in the theater, or a show hours after it shows on TV, and then to play it in whatever manner you choose, instead of being tied to a specific medium by the company producing the content (for instance, Google TV is blocked by many "approved" content websites, you HAVE to watch on your computer.)
I'm not advocating the piracy, just showing how much more convenient it really is. And until the media companies start innovating in how the content is delivered and can be accessed, piracy will be appealing and more convenient.
One of the biggest problems with ProtectIP/SOPA is that they would stifle the need for the media companies to innovate, which is exactly what they want. The media companies do not want to innovate or find better ways, they want the status quo from 10 years ago.
Amazon ran experiments like this in the past, offering products at different prices over short periods of time, according to the person or according to market factors (supply). There was a huge community backlash against the idea that price discrimination might be going on.
I don't know what the solution is, but I agree it would be vastly preferable to me if all content were available immediately and online at some price, even if it's a high price. It should never be arbitrarily unavailable.
I don't know how to prove whether or not that's true, but it tends to explain things like our response to the Ultimatum Game. And that's essentially what we're dealing with here: people who make deals that are too one-sided (huge price discrimination, etc.) may trigger a backlash, even if the offer is an improvement on the status quo.