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SOPA not Dead. Hearings to Resume in Feb. (house.gov)
483 points by cjoh on Jan 17, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

Why is the tech sector always on the defensive? Tech companies should pitch in to start a lobbying campaign to limit all copyright to 25 years or something like that and pursue it relentlessly, if only to keep the RIAA and MPAA lobbyists busy instead of letting them have all the time in the world to make trouble.

This is especially strange when you stop to think that Apple's profits alone are around double the total revenue of all RIAA members. It's hard to imagine that the RIAA is the one that gets to bully apple around.

Has Apple actually clarified their position on SOPA?

With iTunes, Apple is one of the media companies' best friends in Silicon Valley. I don't think either of those parties is really interested in attacking the other.

If that is the case those companies don't know it. The labels hate Apple even though they gave them a business model to survive in the digital age. The studios think the same will happen to them (it will eventually) and they're afraid of Apple and every other tech giant.

A lot of the MPAA members also own a majority of the news stations and newspapers. They sway voters a lot more than Apple ever could.

Apple makes some of that money from works more than 25 years old, so it's not necessarily in their interest.

Hm, really? 25 years ago was 1987. I'm sure if Apple lost the copyright to 1987-era NeXTStep, virtually all of Mac OS X would still be locked down. There's scarcely anything else they still make money from, in copyright terms. Unless you mean iTunes revenue, but that's a break-even for devices anyway, and I'm not sure their profits would be hurt that much by music from before 1987 going into the public domain. In fact, it might help because there's a lot of movie and even TV content pre-1987 they'd suddenly be able to offer without one bit of negotiation.

What can the tech industry do to really disrupt the film and music industries?

What innovations can really change their business model?

What can really take the power out of the hands of these huge companies with their armies of lawyers and lobbyists?

If Silicon Valley is all about innovation, how can that strength be used to win this fight once and for all?

I know it's probably not right, but I was thinking this morning of one way to get rid of the control. I would love to see one of the big tech companies go to each one of these politicians and offer them a ridiculous amount of money to publicly declare their new found opposition and vote it down.

And then I want to see that company public remand that politician for being all about the money. Taken to an extreme, if there were a handful of these guys that would take some cash to turn around (and I know that may be lots of cash) and then for the company to then take out a full page ad in the major newspapers: "This person is so easily swayed by money... do you really want them in charge?". Destroy them. Publicly humiliate them and see how quickly they all stop playing these games.

Who knows, you might even be able to skip step one and just take out the ad "This person gets paid $X a year by the recording industry and they are destroying your freedoms".

That's what I'd love to see, at least...

This is the logical next step.

This Ars Technica story contains a quote from Chris Dodd (former Democratic Senator, now MPAA head), illustrates their attitude, and the misleading nature of their rhetoric.


Contrary to what he says, the blackouts were driven from sites' user-bases, rather than the reverse. And negotiation and planning for them began well before the Administration's statement (limited in scope as it was, to boot).

Of course, most of us here know this. Just remember, you're dealing with (consummate) liars.

In this statement. And when they say things are "dead". And basically, as the saying goes, whenever you see their lips moving.

I would love this gentleman's actual address, email or physical, so I could be certain he was reading what I would like to say to him.

We're all doing a pretty good job of making our representation know we don't like this legislation, I wish it were as easy to let the people responsible for engineering this crap just how horrible a thing they're doing.

I have been worrying that I let my emotions get the best of me in my grandparent comment.

I have some thoughts about how to effectively address the politicians who are the tools in this (note that Dodd would now be in good part a tool wielder rather than a tool, having moved to the other side of Washington's revolving door). However, talk's cheap, and I've restrained myself from posting them when I don't have any further, concrete steps to take or taken, personally, with respect to what I think might be effective. (I've communicated to numerous parties, including written letters to my legislators.)

As for his address, the MPAA office address is readily available. But I doubt anything would actually get through to Dodd. He's not interested in listening.

> legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property

What is SOPA going to do to stop foreign thieves? I thought it was limited to American ISPs? Unless they mean domestic thieves who use foreign sites...

I think you're missing the strategic issues here. SOPA is really about the 2012 election.

On the content providers' side they see a close election for both the Presidency and the Senate (the House is likely to stay GOP no matter what). This means two very important things...

1. Control of the entire federal government is up for grabs

2. All Senate races will be under the microscope. Even those that don't usually get attention. Meaning Senators who aren't used to raising large sums of money are going to need large sums of money.

Both these factors mean the content providers' money is worth even more and they know it. So now is the time to push.

But the politician's are scared by protests. A close election means even a (relatively) small group of Internet activists could turn it. That makes politicians scared of laws that get people riled up.

So the content providers need to both pay off policitians AND find a strategy that gives them political cover. The best way to do that in a bad economy is to frame it as a "jobs bill". Especially since it's the exact strategy that worked in Spain just a few months ago.

That's why you're hearing about jobs and foreign thieves.

You can't get traction in the US fighting Americans. If you present something as fighting foreign evildoers, though, you basically get carte blanche.

They already have the power to fight domestic IP "abuse", though—that's what the DMCA does. These acts are basically just to try to fill in the cracks the DMCA can't touch (foreign companies which allow domestic consumers breach IP law.)

It refers to foreign-hosted sites that sell to US-based customers, or who use US-based advertising agencies, or US banks. The idea is that the largest audience for US-made IP is in America, so blocking US users would cripple foreign pirates who traffic in US IP.

First step: create "online borders" around US (they tried to do this in Europe) to "protect our jobs" and all that.

Second step: filter the information you get in US. Make the Internet more like TV. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2XPiqhN_Ns)

I think crippling foreign pirates isn't even the biggest goal, the biggest goal is that US customers can't benefit from foreign pirates. They'll care much less about that Russian/wherever site hosting their content if everyone in America has already paid for it.

Want to buy your medicine from an evil Canadian e-commerce site for much cheaper? Only if you know how to get to their site without a domain name or using a non-US DNS server, bwahaha.

Unlike traditional, physical, theft, the damage of IP theft comes not when the file is put online illegally, but when it is downloaded/viewed illegally.

Essentially their aim is to stop foreign theves from having any domestic (US) customers/downloaders/viewers.

The "damage" is even more removed than you give it credit for. Assuming the goal of the IP owner is to sell the content, the "damage" occurs when the subset of downloaders who would have bought, don't buy. Clearly not all downloaders are in the category, and some both download illegally and buy legally.

There's also a counteracting benefit to the IP owner, if illegal downloads serve to advertise his IP and induce more people to buy. Overall the connection to "traditional, physical theft" is weak.

Learn to stop it tomorrow during the blackouts: http://www.informationdiet.com/blog/read/better-activism-day...

That's the first time I've heard of SOPA being described as protecting consumers. It seems to me that consumers are knowingly buying the counterfeit goods or consuming the IP that is targeted by SOPA.

Oh yeah, it's just another set of nice-sounding words to make the bill sound more friendly. Just like how NBC's VP called it a "jobs bill," playing on the hot 2009-2012 buzzword "jobs." If anything, older consumers are way less willing to pirate a product; they tend to look for legit brands. It took a lot to convince my mom that streaming TV shows online was (mostly) legal before she would do it. As for younger generations, they know very well what they're doing when they pirate.

SOPA is a crime bill, and we need to make sure any attempts to paint it as a "jobs bill" are corrected. We can then move on to how it's a crime bill where the costs are far out of whack with the benefits, but I feel we're playing from behind when their first card is the "jobs bill" card and we don't immediately call them on it.

Blaming the site operators for tricking poor innocent Americans into pirating stuff is a better spin than blaming the downloaders. For example, if you pirate Windows MS says "you may be a victim of counterfeiting". I suppose there might have been some people who thought AllOfMP3 was legitimate, though.

AllOfMP3 was legitimate in Russia according to Russian laws.

I wish we had a truth in politics law that would punish these guys for lying or cheating the public

Who's gonna pass it?

well it might be done.

Seems like congress people bend over backwards for companies that donate as little as $100K to their reelection campaigns.

There are 535 people in congress, so we'd need to raise 53,500,000 to make it happen. A small price to pay if you think about it

To be safe, might want to support both candidates, so double that number to 107 million. So if 1 out of 3 Americans donates a dollar to the goal, it could happen.

So Congress would accept some money up front to stop the gravy train forever? (Noting that some Senators serve for a half century or longer at a time)

The next question: who will enforce it?

Federal Election Commission?

Is there a specific lie you can point to?

To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy

Even this isn't technically a lie. SOPA would protect some businesses and jobs from some thieves.

I don't think it's a good way to go about it, and I think the other consequences outweigh the benefits, but as it stands your comment doesn't really make sense in this context.

I don't think that's exactly it (though I don't understand the down votes you're getting). The bigger issue is proving the lies. The problem we have is that people allow their leaders to be vague and imprecise. Whether or not something is truthful becomes largely based on interpretation and perspective. The art of bullshit elevated to a career.

(The downvotes kind of prove both our points, and point to the kind of behaviours we should expect from politicians: you get more votes for saying what people want you to say than what you believe the truth is.)

Regarding "proving the lies" sites like http://www.politifact.com/ are quite good.

People have started using downvotes to indicate disagreement. Ironically, on this site at least, sufficient downvotes result in that post being hidden from view. Imagine that, censoring opinions with which you (in the proverbial sense) disagree.

How would an internet-related act protect anything from any thief?

How would an internet-related act protect anything from any thief?

Under current US law - downloading sharing unauthorized digital goods is theft under at least some circumstances, and therefore any rules about truth in politics are unlikely to be activated by that statement.

(insert disclaimer about how I understand that digital goods are an infinite resource and therefor making a copy cannot be theft. Please be assured I understand your objections - I am confining my point to the impossibility of "truth in politics" being used against the statement made, given the law at the current time)

SOPA was never dead. At most is was just revised or slightly watered down, and I don't think anyone really believed that "Big Media Co" was going to back off that easily!

What I expect is that it will eventually get passed and attached to something that will create a bad situation if vetoed. If nothing else, they will probably scale back a provision or two, and reintroduce those at a later date.

Of course it's not over. Our corporate overlords haven't gotten their money's worth yet.

Wow look at that gorgeous parseable plain text. I miss the web of old sometimes...

What do you mean? I'd say the markup for that page is a bit lousy (e.g. pointless layout tables, abusing the strong tag just to make text bold), but it's hardly the worst thing I've ever seen. I can't even tell if you're being sarcastic or not.

I think he meant to reply to "What the first web blackout looked like" here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3475813

ack sorry. Indeed I did.

I suggest creating a list of special interest groups (strong pro- or anti-) paired with websites supporting their view that is a potential SOPA target. This list could be used by activists to inform each of these organizations of the risk that SOPA could effectively make it possible for their opposers to censor these websites with a false takedown request.

This would essentially reframe the issue from a piracy/copyright violation issue to a censorship issue. It would then be a censorship bill, not a jobs bill.

In my opinion, the only way to kill the RIAA/MPAA. They seem to be the 'tap root' which produces weeds long after the ground appears barren.

Killing the RIAA/MPAA will do nothing - another organization under a different name will simply spring up to take its place. Plus, it would only address a single issue out of what is really a systemic problem.

The main problem is how much influence industry and lobby groups have on our politicans, and the vast majority of this isn't some conspiracy-laden secret-hand-shaking secret, it's just campaign financing.

Despite some attempts in that direction, we haven't done enough here. I'm convinced that, if we slam the door shut on lobbying groups' ability to fund politicians, their influence will vaporize overnight. If corporations are people, then they need to be on a level playing field - they shouldn't be able to simply outspend regular citizens in contributing to politicians.

Can you say more about "The main problem is how much influence industry and lobby groups have on our politicans, and the vast majority of this isn't some conspiracy-laden secret-hand-shaking secret, it's just campaign financing." ?

I ask because stuff like this is used to abuse Google (see the Viacom vs Youtube lawsuit) and they have oodles of money and a super PAC and everything. If one can simply buy a politician why haven't they bought them all off? Seems expedient.

That they haven't has made me wonder how causative this problem is with respect to bad public policy. I'd be interested in ways to validate where the problem is.

I suspect Google's PAC is underfunded because it mostly employs the kind of people who hate the whole concept of a PAC and find it morally loathsome.

When you're paid hundreds of thousands (millions?) by a lobbyist, you don't give up that easily.

I'm surprised that big media companies are spending so much time and money lobbying, instead of doing more creative things. The current generation of youth is growing up in an era where media can be copied instantaneously and easily. IP is a hard sell, since we're individually far removed from the mechanics of the economy (we don't work in car factories, for example), so there's no strong material goods basis from which to build an IP metaphor.

They could be creating PSAs. They could be backing television shows and movies which portray piracy in a negative light. They could do this skillfully, and in a manner that isn't laughably heavy handed (like the pre-movie PSAs that were mocked on The IT Crowd). Look at that article about diamonds from awhile back, and how stunningly successful De Beers was in inserting diamonds into the public mind. Compare that with the heavy-handed, simplistic legislation approach that the MPAA and friends are following.

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