Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

SOPA - Is it right?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

The text of the SOPA bill H.R. 3261.IH is here

A plain language recitation of the contents of the bill and the objections to it is here:

H.R. 3261, “Stop Online Piracy Act” (“SOPA”) Explanation of Bill and Summary of Concerns

Due process and specifically procedural due process requires a fair opportunity to affect the judgment. When an attorney general or civil plaintiff present their complaint to a judge there is no one present to dispute the facts. A procedure does not become due process merely by being codified in statutory law, and present due process case law is not consistent with the procedure put forth in SOPA. This aspect is simply unconstitutional.

The In rem jurisdiction countenanced in section 102 ( B) (2) takes a page from the asset seizure tactics employed by the U.S. government in the drug war. Inanimate objects do not have rights and so any expectation of due process is conveniently dispensed with. Legal actions should always be between persons or legal persons (corporations or the government) or in the legalese in personam.

The history leading up to this proposed law is that attempts to sue the individual downloaders in their teeming millions by movie and music industry trade groups one at a time or en masse are impractical and result in bad publicity. Foreign countries are outside of the jurisdiction of U.S. law and unmotivated to cooperate with the mercantilist schemes of RIAA and the MPAA because it does not benefit them in the slightest. As a last gasp attempt this law goes after the connection between domestic downloaders and foreign internet hosts by attempting to censor the internet domain name system (DNS). DNS is simply the database that pairs up a domain name using letters such as google.com with an internet protocol address in numbers such as 173.194.34.16. This is completely useless if the destination numerical address is known as you can test for yourself by pasting 173.194.34.16 into your browser as an address (you don't even need http://) . (lookup IP addresses for domains from within a browser at http://ip-lookup.net/domain.php). Not only is it completely and trivially bypassable, entire non-official domain name systems exist which you can access by instructing your browser or computer to use an alternate DNS server so even the trivial inconvenience of the DNS censorship can be cancelled.

The law as written permits user-provided content such as comments, forum posts and videos to justify taking down entire domains and not just the individual comment, posts or media. This means every host has to constantly self-police to keep from being shutdown, which cancels out the "safe harbor" provisions of Title II of the DMCA of 1998. Everything loosely identified as "Web 2.0" would never have existed without the 'safe harbor' provisions of the DMCA, and I am not interested in a legal experiment to see how long inertia can keep them going without that protection.

And then there is still Usenet. I won't even go into that.

I don't disagree with your analysis of Due Process provided by the 14th Amendment, but it is definitely limited in scope. Due process does in fact also deal with equal enforcement of the law and the procedures provided within that law. One must also not forget that the scope of SOPA is to deal primarily with "foreign infringing sites," which Sec. 201 highlights in its title, and such sites would most likely not fall into the jurisdiction of being covered by our Due Process laws. In fact, Sec. 201 seems to make clear that if such sites operated in the United States ("domestic internet sites), they would fall under current law and would "be subject to seizure in the United States in an action brought by the Attorney General if such site were a domestic Internet site."

As far as the technical details of shutting the sites down, it seems that you are implying that only domain names and DNS servers will be targeted, an allegation made by various anti-SOPA advocates. However, the bill points out other avenues of approach, such as sub-domains, IP, and IP allocation entities. Additionally, taking out whole domains that are full of user-generated content, because of some users' posts of pirated content, is simply not provided for in the bill, unless that site fulfills the definitions required for action--those requirements are not as specific as they can and probably should be, but it is clear that YouTube, et al, do not qualify.

The provision does bring up the topic of immunity for services that have policy of removing pirated material, and you refer to self-policing. Since when did self-policing become a negative concept? While we don't take the concept as far as the anarcho-capitalists, generally Objectivists regard self-policing as being in order when the law is absent or insufficient, or even simply consider it just responsible behavior. I find nothing draconian at all about granting immunity from liability the websites that engage in self-policing as described in the bill; it is just another example of how websites like Facebook would not be shutdown.

Edited by RussK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Due process and specifically procedural due process requires a fair opportunity to affect the judgment. .

They do have a fair opportunity to affect the judgement. The court order regarding any action is not definitive, it can be challenged. They just don't get to continue profiting off of the website, while dodging lawsuits to the best of their lawyers' abilities.

Off the Internet, if you're running an illegal business, you don't get to continue running it while you're on trial for it.Prosecutors can get a court order shutting it down until further deliberations. If you're stalking a woman, she can get a restraining order against you. If there is a civil dispute between two people, one of them can get a court order freezing the funds until a judgement can be made. Etc, etc.

This bill just takes the same practice to the Internet. Due process doesn't include the ability to openly sell stolen goods until you lose a trial in a court of law. That is absurd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those of you who opposed SOPA/PIPA and have enough free time or willpower to do anything about its inevtiable resurgence under some other name,

http://nwlinux.com/what-politicians-received-money-to-support-sopa/

^This is a list of politicians who received money from support groups to vote for SOPA.

www.maddox.xmission.com

^This guy has compiled a list of large companies that supported SOPA/PIPA, which you can choose to boycott if you really want to help get the point across. They're color-coded by difficulty to boycott for your convenience (eg. MasterCard is red because it'd be near impossible to boycott completely).

If we contact the politicians who voted for these bills and boycott or complain to the companies that supported it, we can hopefully discourage Congress from trying to pass similarly invasive legislation in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://nwlinux.com/w...o-support-sopa/

^This is a list of politicians who received money from support groups to vote for SOPA.

Iterestingly Michael Bennet, D-CO, has shown himself to be a dishonest politician. He doesn't stay bought. (He shows up in both lists and apparently made 2.3 million bucks off this controversy.

Actually I would want to know how on earth they determined that these monies were tied to SOPA... those seem like enormous bribes for just one piece of legislation. (Clearly I got into the wrong racket. /sarcasm :angry: ) Furthermore, given that blatant bribery is illegal, how can one prove that that money was paid solely for that vote?

Edit: removed part of quotation that was not germane.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Iterestingly Michael Bennet, D-CO, has shown himself to be a dishonest politician. He doesn't stay bought. (He shows up in both lists and apparently made 2.3 million bucks off this controversy.

Actually I would want to know how on earth they determined that these monies were tied to SOPA... those seem like enormous bribes for just one piece of legislation. (Clearly I got into the wrong racket. /sarcasm :angry: ) Furthermore, given that blatant bribery is illegal, how can one prove that that money was paid solely for that vote?

Edit: removed part of quotation that was not germane.

That's a good question. However, if you go to the opencongress link at the top of webpage referenced, you will see how the contributions were identified as being funds in support of SOPA. Of course, organizing campaign contributions in such a manner is misleading, especially when phrased as "money to support SOPA."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the thing about all this is that the right legal theory and implementation of property rights and i.P to the internet and modern tech hasn't been totally worked out. Do you guys think there's any good legal theorists or political theorists etc. out there that could solve how to protect these rights properly? Or is Objectivist conception of individual rights and the mind as the source of all rights and property the only hope?

How do you guys think these rights could be properly protected in a non-clashing way without violating others?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't disagree with your analysis of Due Process provided by the 14th Amendment, but it is definitely limited in scope. Due process does in fact also deal with equal enforcement of the law and the procedures provided within that law. One must also not forget that the scope of SOPA is to deal primarily with "foreign infringing sites," which Sec. 201 highlights in its title, and such sites would most likely not fall into the jurisdiction of being covered by our Due Process laws. In fact, Sec. 201 seems to make clear that if such sites operated in the United States ("domestic internet sites), they would fall under current law and would "be subject to seizure in the United States in an action brought by the Attorney General if such site were a domestic Internet site."

If foreign infringing sites because they are foreign are not entitled to due process then neither are they subject to any U.S. laws including copyright laws in the first place

As far as the technical details of shutting the sites down, it seems that you are implying that only domain names and DNS servers will be targeted, an allegation made by various anti-SOPA advocates. However, the bill points out other avenues of approach, such as sub-domains, IP, and IP allocation entities. Additionally, taking out whole domains that are full of user-generated content, because of some users' posts of pirated content, is simply not provided for in the bill, unless that site fulfills the definitions required for action--those requirements are not as specific as they can and probably should be, but it is clear that YouTube, et al, do not qualify.

Whole domain shutdowns are not prohibited by the bill either. As I wrote it is a 'legal experiment' to enact this bill and then see what happens. It is also non-objective law.

The provision does bring up the topic of immunity for services that have policy of removing pirated material, and you refer to self-policing. Since when did self-policing become a negative concept? While we don't take the concept as far as the anarcho-capitalists, generally Objectivists regard self-policing as being in order when the law is absent or insufficient, or even simply consider it just responsible behavior. I find nothing draconian at all about granting immunity from liability the websites that engage in self-policing as described in the bill; it is just another example of how websites like Facebook would not be shutdown.

This is not mere 'self-policing', it is 'chilling effect'. This is because checking that every upload does not violate a copyright held by someone, somewhere requires near omniscience on the part of the website host. The current system under the DMCA where someone writes a complaint when they recognize a copyright violation exists is better because it distributes the burden of protecting rights to each person that has such a right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They do have a fair opportunity to affect the judgement. The court order regarding any action is not definitive, it can be challenged. They just don't get to continue profiting off of the website, while dodging lawsuits to the best of their lawyers' abilities.

Off the Internet, if you're running an illegal business, you don't get to continue running it while you're on trial for it.Prosecutors can get a court order shutting it down until further deliberations. If you're stalking a woman, she can get a restraining order against you. If there is a civil dispute between two people, one of them can get a court order freezing the funds until a judgement can be made. Etc, etc.

This bill just takes the same practice to the Internet. Due process doesn't include the ability to openly sell stolen goods until you lose a trial in a court of law. That is absurd.

Copyright law defines a property right, and person to person disputes over property are matters of civil law not criminal law. As a civil law matter the plaintiff must request the injunction not a prosecutor. Preliminary injunctions require the plaintiff to demonstrate "... he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief" which can never happen in a copyright case because the damage is a monetary loss and can be repaired with a monetary award for damages if proven.

Off the internet, you may indeed be permitted to continue an infringing business until the case is over if the conditions for a preliminary injunction are not met. This is true for both copyright and patent law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Feds shut down file-sharing giant over piracy violations" (Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2012):

One of the world's largest file-sharing sites was shut down Thursday, and its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws, federal prosecutors said.

An indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy.

The Justice Department said in a statement that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Feds shut down file-sharing giant over piracy violations" (Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2012):

From the press release by the Justice Dept at http://www.justice.g...12-crm-074.html

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Justice Department Charges Leaders of Megaupload with Widespread Online Copyright Infringement

WASHINGTON – Seven individuals and two corporations have been charged in the United States with running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites, generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners, the U.S. Justice Department and FBI announced today.

This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.

The individuals and two corporations – Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited – were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, 2012, and charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement. The individuals each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering, five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and five years in prison on each of the substantive charges of criminal copyright infringement.

The indictment alleges that the criminal enterprise is led by Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, 37, a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom founded Megaupload Limited and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has been used to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites.

In addition, the following alleged members of the Mega conspiracy were charged in the indictment:

  • Finn Batato, 38, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the chief marketing officer;


  • Julius Bencko, 35, a citizen and resident of Slovakia, who is the graphic designer;


  • Sven Echternach, 39, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the head of business development;


  • Mathias Ortmann, 40, a citizen of Germany and resident of both Germany and Hong Kong, who is the chief technical officer, co-founder and director;


  • Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and resident of both Turkey and Estonia, who is a software programmer and head of the development software division;


  • Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, a Dutch citizen and resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand, who oversees programming and the underlying network structure for the Mega conspiracy websites.

Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested today in Auckland, New Zealand, by New Zealand authorities, who executed provisional arrest warrants requested by the United States. Bencko, Echternach and Nomm remain at large. Today, law enforcement also executed more than 20 search warrants in the United States and eight countries, seized approximately $50 million in assets and targeted sites where Megaupload has servers in Ashburn, Va., Washington, D.C., the Netherlands and Canada. In addition, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., ordered the seizure of 18 domain names associated with the alleged Mega conspiracy.

According to the indictment, for more than five years the conspiracy has operated websites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies – often before their theatrical release – music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale. The conspirators’ content hosting site, Megaupload.com, is advertised as having more than one billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors and accounting for four percent of the total traffic on the Internet. The estimated harm caused by the conspiracy’s criminal conduct to copyright holders is well in excess of $500 million. The conspirators allegedly earned more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and selling premium memberships.

The indictment states that the conspirators conducted their illegal operation using a business model expressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download. The indictment alleges that the site was structured to discourage the vast majority of its users from using Megaupload for long-term or personal storage by automatically deleting content that was not regularly downloaded. The conspirators further allegedly offered a rewards program that would provide users with financial incentives to upload popular content and drive web traffic to the site, often through user-generated websites known as linking sites. The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicized their links to users throughout the world.

In addition, by actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicize infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicize such content on the Megaupload site. Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users.

As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content. For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to launder money by paying users through the sites’ uploader reward program and paying companies to host the infringing content.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section also assisted with this case.

The investigation was initiated and led by the FBI at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Substantial and critical assistance was provided by the New Zealand Police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), the Crown Law Office of New Zealand and the Office of the Solicitor General for New Zealand; Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Department of Justice; the Netherlands Police Agency and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime in Rotterdam; London’s Metropolitan Police Service; Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt and the German Public Prosecutors; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Federal Enforcement Section and the Integrated Technological Crime Unit and the Canadian Department of Justice’s International Assistance Group. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines also provided assistance.

This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to
www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce
.

12-074

I added the bold to the paragraph in the middle. The significance of that paragraph is that there was an alleged willful and repeated flouting of the terms of the DMCA. SOPA was not needed for this arrest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Copyright law defines a property right, and person to person disputes over property are matters of civil law not criminal law.

I added the bold to the paragraph in the middle. The significance of that paragraph is that there was an alleged willful and repeated flouting of the terms of the DMCA. SOPA was not needed for this arrest.

Just to clarify: you are not saying that copyright infringement is a civil matter. Just that if it is treated as a civil matter, then there should be no shutdowns before a trial.

But you are OK with criminal prosecution in this case.

Would you support a bill that would allow authorities to prosecute (and request a shutdown) in cases like this before a site gets to 50 million daily visitors, $175 million in profits, and $500 million in damages (as per the indictment), by changing the criteria under which action can be taken?

Preliminary injunctions require the plaintiff to demonstrate "... he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief" which can never happen in a copyright case because the damage is a monetary loss and can be repaired with a monetary award for damages if proven.

Can it? So, it would be realistic to expect $500 million to be paid to copyright holders, by the end of this case? (and that's an oddly low estimate by the prosecutors, I must say: we are talking about 50 million users/ day, and years of activity)

What if it's a foreign website?

Edited by Nicky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://techcrunch.co...ent-of-justice/

Hacker group Anonymous isn’t happy about

the takedown of file-sharing site Megaupload, and as a result, it’s targeting some big companies and government agencies are going to

Earlier this afternoon, interspersed with a stream of anti-SOPA and PIPA tweets, Anonymous

the main Anonymous Twitter account declared, “The government takes down #Megaupload? 15 minutes later #Anonymous takes down government & record label sites. #ExpectUs.” Specifically, the group claimed responsibility for taking down the Universal Music, RIAA (the record industry’s lobbying arm), MPAA (the movie industry’s lobbying arm), and Department of Justice websites, among others. As of 3pm Pacific, the sites were still down for me, although some comments on Twitter suggested that they were returning online sporadically.

The group also

claimed that the current attacks were “the largest attack ever by Anonymous,” with 5,635 participants. And it looks like the campaign is ongoing — Anonymous says it’s going after the FBI’s website next: “Get some popcorn… it’s going to be a long lulzy night.”

I'm sure Wikipedia will shut down have a large, easily removable JavaScript popup tomorrow, to draw attention to this egregious violation of individual rights on the Internet, amiright?

Edited by Nicky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clarify: you are not saying that copyright infringement is a civil matter. Just that if it is treated as a civil matter, then there should be no shutdowns before a trial.

But you are OK with criminal prosecution in this case.

Correct.

The three areas of law are crimes, torts and criminal fraud. They can be understood as validly distinguishing the three ways to initiate physical force as understood in Objectivist political theory.

Crimes are initiated force that intentionally and violently overcomes the non-consent of the victim to inflict a loss. Crimes are defined by public laws and apply to everyone.

Torts cover violations of agreements made in good faith or accidental infliction of losses. The loss is necessary and the violence may or may not be present but the intent to inflict harm is absent or not relevant. The agreements or contracts involved only cover the parties to the agreement and not the general public.

Criminal fraud covers agreements made in bad faith by one party where there was always the intent to violate the terms. The violence may be absent but the harm and intent to inflict harm remains.

Crimes are always prosecuted by the state against the accused, torts are civil law matters between private individuals resolved by lawsuits, and criminal fraud is a borderline area that is given to the state to prosecute because retribution rather than restoration of damages is necessary to put an end to the fraudulent behavior and because there would be an open ended number of future victims if the fraud continued in the future as it had in the past.

What is alleged to have occurred at Megaupload.com is criminal fraud because of demonstrated bad faith based on their handling of DMCA requests among other things.

Would you support a bill that would allow authorities to prosecute (and request a shutdown) in cases like this before a site gets to 50 million daily visitors, $175 million in profits, and $500 million in damages (as per the indictment), by changing the criteria under which action can be taken?

Yes, but not 10 (ten) downloads in total ever or $1000 of damage which is an amount so small that it would qualify for a small claims court jurisdiction or a petty theft misdemeanor.

Can it? So, it would be realistic to expect $500 million to be paid to copyright holders, by the end of this case? (and that's an oddly low estimate by the prosecutors, I must say: we are talking about 50 million users/ day, and years of activity)

When the damages have no realistic prospect of being made whole then injunctive relief is the only relief possible and is therefore appropriate. As to the numbers, not everything and every user at Megaupload.com was about illegal downloading. Megaupload.com has a wikipedia entry describing the scope of what the business was about.

What if it's a foreign website?
If the foreign country is cooperative in having the same or similar laws or treaty arrangements then a law enforcement action might be possible. If not, then not.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Correct.

The three areas of law are crimes, torts and criminal fraud. They can be understood as validly distinguishing the three ways to initiate physical force as understood in Objectivist political theory.

Crimes are initiated force that intentionally and violently overcomes the non-consent of the victim to inflict a loss. Crimes are defined by public laws and apply to everyone.

Torts cover violations of agreements made in good faith or accidental infliction of losses. The loss is necessary and the violence may or may not be present but the intent to inflict harm is absent or not relevant. The agreements or contracts involved only cover the parties to the agreement and not the general public.

Criminal fraud covers agreements made in bad faith by one party where there was always the intent to violate the terms. The violence may be absent but the harm and intent to inflict harm remains.

Crimes are always prosecuted by the state against the accused, torts are civil law matters between private individuals resolved by lawsuits, and criminal fraud is a borderline area that is given to the state to prosecute because retribution rather than restoration of damages is necessary to put an end to the fraudulent behavior and because there would be an open ended number of future victims if the fraud continued in the future as it had in the past.

What is alleged to have occurred at Megaupload.com is criminal fraud because of demonstrated bad faith based on their handling of DMCA requests among other things.

Makes sense to me.

Yes, but not 10 (ten) downloads in total ever or $1000 of damage which is an amount so small that it would qualify for a small claims court jurisdiction or a petty theft misdemeanor.

In Cali, stealing something worth $1000 or more is already grand theft, actually. Depending on what was stolen, the limit is even lower. But you're right, that is pretty low, probably opens the door on way too much litigation, and makes it easier to abuse the law via frivolous suits.

Would you be OK with setting the limit at $10.000? I can't imagine any jurisdiction where grand theft starts higher than that. And for an indie film or album, that's a pretty significant amount.

As for the ten downloads total thing, that's not very specific. I'm sure there is more to it than that.

When the damages have no realistic prospect of being made whole then injunctive relief is the only relief possible and is therefore appropriate.

So wouldn't such a decision have been appropriate a long time ago, in this case, at the request of copyright holders? Why did the victims have to wait this long for anything to be done?

Shouldn't that practice also be appropriate with other sites, such as rapidshare (another large site very similar to megaupload), bittorrent sites that openly allow torrents of copyrighted material (not audio or video files, just a small data file which IDs and helps coordonate the sharing of the large media file stored on users' computers), and sites dedicated to the posting of links to copyrighted material illicitly uploaded to video sharing sites?

If the foreign country is cooperative in having the same or similar laws or treaty arrangements then a law enforcement action might be possible. If not, then not.

Well, law enforcement action clearly is possible: ordering ad services under US jurisdiction to cut ties with the site, ordering search engines to stop listing the site in search results, and if all else fails ordering ISPs to reject requests for the domain name of the website.

Why do you disagree with any of those actions? I'm aware of the claim that the third option would interfere with the security of the Internet. I'd be interested in why that is (I heard the claim, but no one elaborates on it), and also what's wrong with the other two options.

Another option is facilitating self-policing, by affording ISPs legal immunity for various voluntary anti-piracy initiatives. What's wrong with that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Feds shut down file-sharing giant over piracy violations" (Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2012):

Finally, that parisite known as Kim 'Dotcom' has been brought to some sort of justice. This is an example of the US Codes of SOPA put into practice for the properties in country. I really can't say much more about this. To me it is straight forward: protect IP. Notice, however, that the Kiwis were heavily inovled here, just like how we engage the rest of the civilzed world in IP protection. SOPA needed more work, yet it shouldn't have been thrown out on face vailue, especially since it is such a short bill to read. To me, what happened two days ago was nothing but populist bullshit.

edit: my point is like i've said: there are already US laws regarding what's in this country's jurisdiction. The actions against 'Dotcom' go to prove that SOPA had nothing to do with what anti-SOPA advocates were saying.

Edited by RussK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If foreign infringing sites because they are foreign are not entitled to due process then neither are they subject to any U.S. laws including copyright laws in the first place

Whole domain shutdowns are not prohibited by the bill either. As I wrote it is a 'legal experiment' to enact this bill and then see what happens. It is also non-objective law.

This is not mere 'self-policing', it is 'chilling effect'. This is because checking that every upload does not violate a copyright held by someone, somewhere requires near omniscience on the part of the website host. The current system under the DMCA where someone writes a complaint when they recognize a copyright violation exists is better because it distributes the burden of protecting rights to each person that has such a right.

Due Process* is given by the fifth? and 14 amendments. Foreign operators do not get those protections of our constitution, of which they do not have any support, allegiance, or obligation. No site will be under the obligation to check "every upload," and the bill makes that fairly clear.

**Due process is not limited to the context of which I speak in this instance. What you said above, for criminal law in the US, is crucial.

Edited by RussK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivist professor of IP law Adam Mosoff has written up his take on SOPA. Here is the final bit:

In conclusion, SOPA is a complex statute, and it raises tough questions about copyright, trademark, civil procedure, legal remedies (injunctions versus damages), criminal law, and statutory interpretation -- and that’s just a few of the legal issues. I had to ask a colleague of mine who specializes in copyright and civil procedure for some assistance in making sense of this statute, and I deal on a daily basis with statutes like the DMCA and other similar IP-related legal doctrines. This is in part why I’m ambivalent about SOPA: I think it needs to be better clarified, but the due process, "censorship," and the "break the internet" complaints are package-deals, at best, and vicious lies, at worst.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there are several problems with SOPA, even though there is a due process clause in it and it seems to refer to online piracy made by foreign websites (which is why they were going for domain erasure rather than court cases). I don't think the law is specific enough to mean anything, or rather it is vague enough to mean anything to anybody, which means it is a bad, non-objective law. I am not a lawyer, so I do not understand the intricancies of a new law referring to current law, and if that is all it does, then why do we need a new law and what good will it do anyhow? As far as I know, SOPA did not contain any new definitons of copyright violations (i.e. someone posting a video to YouTube that contains copyrighted music they have not paid for), and did not specify any remedies for breaking this particular law. My fear is that such a vague law would lead to some sort of Congressional subcommittee that would "study the situation" and then write regulations on content presented on the internet. At any rate, I did join the protest by writing an essay and posting it to my home page, along with an update and a reference to an essay I wrote about non-objective law.

You can read the essays here: Internet Freedom Versus On-line Piracy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that very much bothers me about SOPA is the necessity of vettiing every single link on one's website, least one is linking to an offending website and will recieve a letter from the Justice Department ordering one to take down the links or risk having one's own website erased from the internet. The offending websites -- those primarily dedicated to the theft of American property -- are not clearly defined. If a websites is 20% dedicated to stealing American property, are they immune? What does it mean by "American property" in the first place? Why can't they simply specify that it is a website dedicated to violating copyright and other forms of intellectual property? Since this specific law focuses on foreign infringement, maybe FaceBook, YouTube, and Objectivism Online are immune, but maybe not. After all, posting a video that has background music in it is a violation of the copyright of the music producer, and a lot of that happens on all of these websites. Prior law had a clause in it that stated that so long as the website had a take-down notice on it, giving copyright holders the right to identify copyright infringement and have it taken down, then such a website was immune from further legal precedings, so long as they did take it down. But SOPA doesn't have such a clause. It's basically do as the Justice Department commands, or lose your website, and it is not clear what would be a violation of the law.

By the way, I was friended by Adam Mossoff on FaceBook and had a chance to read his comments on SOPA and commented on them -- basically stating what I said in my previously mentioned essays and elaborating further -- and he promptly defriended me. He basically said anyone who compares SOPA to ObamaCare were blowing things way out of proportion, but I don't think so. While SOPA did not assign a government committee to write internet regulations, I think the vagueness of the law would necessitate such a move on the government's part. Ultimately, someone would have to decide what is and what is not an offending website, and no one can figure that out, given the vagueness of the target of SOPA. As written, SOPA seems to leave it up to individual Federal judges, but with no specifics to guide them, how could a judge determine what is and what is not an offending website? I guess they will know it when they see it (like current anti-pornography laws) or we won't know until the bill passes (like Pelosi's statement regarding ObamaCare).

Look, if I am wrong about this, then please point out the specifics of SOPA and PIPA (PROTECT IP) that make it objective law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking more about the idea of a third party facilitators of online piracy and was wondering if there is an equivalent in the regular world? If there is a warehouse that does legal business and also deals in illegal storage of stolen property, one can see where the government would have the authority to shut it down pending an investigation (like they did with megaupload.com). I don't have a problem with that. But if the warehouse put out ads for their business in a newspaper, would the newspaper be held liable for promoting the illegal activity? Would the telephone book be held liable for listing their phone number and address? Would the telephone company be held liable for dealing with them, or what about gas stations, or grocery stores? I mean, I agree that something has to be done about online piracy -- I am a strong advocate of intellectual property rights -- but dealing with third parties who mostly would have no idea of the illegal activity instead of dealing directly with the criminals seems a round-about way of trying to curb online piracy. Don't we have a State Department that can set up agreements with foreign countries regarding the protection of intellectual property rights? And isn't that a better way to deal with it than to assert authority over every website that has outside links? And what about search engines whose main job is to provide links -- do they have to vet every single link and how in hell could they do this anyhow? No,I stand by my statement that they need to come up with something better or leave us the hell alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... they need to come up with something better or leave us the hell alone.
I think that a big part of the problem is that people who lean toward narrowing the powers of executive and toward more individual rights do not play a role in framing such bills. Generally, the more statist folk get to write the bills, and the others tend to be nay-sayers who do not offer an alternative.

Consider the parallel with some other bills. A while ago, there was a move to let the government take certain actions in event of a major cyber attack. Part of this was to let the government cut off parts of the internet if they thought attacks were originating from those parts. Of course, if such a law is written with enough leeway, it could give some future government the power to take people off the net for all sorts of excuses. The law was opposed, but it remains a fact that cyber-warfare is a real possibility and that the government has some role to play in this. The more libertarian-leaning folks are always ready to protest the bad bills that typically get written to address such issues, but this won't work in the long run. Since the underlying problem remains, there will always be pressure on legislators to push through some "remedy" even if it threatens individual rights. If a problem actually strikes, then the pressure will go up and something bad will probably pass.

Analogously, consider the protests against the killing of a U.S. citizen who clearly was part of an Islamic militant group. It is easy for folks like Ron Paul to say that this sets a bad precedent; but, unless people like him push through laws that actually address the underlying issue, the "other side" will try to solve the problem in its more statist way. One can go on with the analogies : things like the Patriot Act or governmental eavesdropping and so on.

Those who are pro-liberty and pro-individual rights need to be pro-active in framing the correct laws to address actual and threatened violations of rights. Otherwise, the other side will get to do it while the pro-liberty folk simply nay-say. Now and then, the nay-sayers will win a skirmish; but, this is not what wins the intellectual and legal "war".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friend showed me this great article, Why I'm a Pirate, that was released on the 18th. It's definitely worth reading.

This I read but was not impressed. The writer steals merely for his own "little petty interests", but others are not permitted to have their own "little petty interests." Very non-objective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...