POLITICAL observations & opinions

* a well intentioned but over-reaching attack on the freedom of the internet … it behooves all of us to become informed on this issue … there must be a way to control internet piracy without strangling the benefits of free exchange which are the very hallmark of the internet

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 18, 2012



  • Some lawmakers are rethinking their support of controversial anti-piracy bills that led to some websites shutting down in protest.
  • The protest was in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, a piece of proposed legislation that is working its way through Congress.
  • The protest seemed to change the minds of lawmakers, including those that had strongly backed the bills in the past.
  • “We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that’s why I’m withdrawing my support. #SOPA #PIPA,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt wrote on his official Twitter page.
  • Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who was an initial co-sponsor of PIPA, reversed his position.



  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in May, 2011 in the Senate, which would give the Justice Department the power to take down copyright-infringing websites.
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) followed with SOPA on Oct. 26, 2011 for the House, also introducing sweeping anti-piracy legislation intended to empower the U.S. Department of Justice—-and copyright holders-—to fully crack down on websites that are suspected of hosting their copyrighted material.


Julian Sanchez wrote in the New York Post (12/21/11) …

  • The goal of SOPA (and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT-IP Act) is legitimate enough: To fight copyright violators and counterfeiters who run sites beyond the reach of US courts. The trouble is the method. These bills empower the attorney general to seek orders compelling thousands of Internet service providers to block purported “rogue sites,” forcing search engines to redact their results and requiring ad networks and payment processors to sever ties.
  • As Uncle Sam’s own cybersecurity experts at Sandia National Labs have noted, the measure is “unlikely to be effective.” Anyone with a tiny bit of technical know-how can easily bypass the proposed blocks in any number of simple ways.
  • But SOPA wouldn’t just be costly and futile: It would deter innovation, interfere with legal speech protected by the First Amendment and (as the geeks at Sandia put it) “negatively impact US and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.”
  • Perhaps even more troubling, SOPA would lead to the creation of a sophisticated legal and technological architecture for censorship — a single Internet blacklist implemented across the entire country.

Once that machinery is in place, it would be easy, and all too tempting,

for future administrations to turn that blacklist to other purposes.

Citizens would have to trust the government

to only block truly criminal sites.

  • These are high costs to pay for a law that would, at best, amount to an impotent symbolic gesture against piracy. Lawmakers should be wary of meddling with technology they admit they don’t understand, and instead focus on measures aimed at shutting off the flow of money to criminals, without starting down the dark road of Internet blacklists and government firewalls.



Wikipedia … 

  • Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time.
  • these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet.
  • Detailed information about these bills can be found in the
  • GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The EFF has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.


Google …

  • “Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” Google said in its statement opposing the legislation.


Politico …

  • What’s happening now on the Web, the bills’ backers say, is nothing short of rampant unpoliced theft of American goods. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so-called “rogue” sites draw hundreds of millions of clicks a year — at a huge toll to the American economy.
  • The business lobby cites research by brand protection firm MarkMonitor estimating that illegal sites cost legitimate businesses more than $130 billion in revenue annually.
  • Google and First Amendment scholars like Harvard’s Laurence Tribe argue that SOPA would squelch free speech by giving private parties power to effectively cripple sites that allegedly — but not conclusively — steal copyrighted content.
  • The simple filing of a complaint, they say, would exert huge pressure on the Internet ecosystem to blacklist an accused site. They also say it would give the feds dangerous new powers to go after sites for political reasons.
  • The biggest backers of the antipiracy bills are the industries hardest hit by online piracy: the makers of music and movies.
  • The Internet, and the explosion of illegal copying and sharing of music and movie files that came with it, has been economically devastating for Hollywood and recording studios, and they’ve been pushing lawmakers for years to hold Internet platforms more accountable for the illegal content that flows through their servers.
  • The bills are also backed by makers of pharmaceuticals and luxury goods that want to strangle the market for knockoff goods.
  • All told, hundreds of businesses led by the chamber are pushing hard for the bills.



It behooves all of us to become informed on this issue … there must be a way to control internet piracy without strangling the benefits of free exchange which are the very hallmark of the internet … who is behind this Congressional initiative?



One Response to “* a well intentioned but over-reaching attack on the freedom of the internet … it behooves all of us to become informed on this issue … there must be a way to control internet piracy without strangling the benefits of free exchange which are the very hallmark of the internet”

  1. The Protect IP Act will almost certainly get rid of the world wide web which is the sole truthful method for free speech.

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