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How SOPA and PIPA Affect US Websites and Companies ~pj
Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 09:20 AM EST

Khan Academy has provided a very helpful video, "SOPA and PIPA : What SOPA and PIPA are at face value and what they could end up enabling", explaining how SOPA and PIPA would work. It gives the lie to those supporters of the bills who claim it is targeting *only* foreign and illegal sites. Khan Academy, the famous non-profit educational site, shows how this "shoot-first, ask-questions-later" legislation could affect YouTube, Facebook or CNN, any site with user-generated content.

I hope journalists and members of Congress in particular will view the video, because he goes through the wording of the proposed bills, bit by bit. It's the best I've seen, by far. And for the rest of us, if we see journalists making mistakes in covering this story, why not let them know about this resource in a friendly way?

Jump To Comments

And here's how Sir Tim Berners Lee, the "father of the internet", views SOPA, as reported by Nick Farrell at Fudzilla:
Sir Tim said that the US plans were undemocratic and violate human rights.

As major websites including Wikipedia blacked out in protest overnight, the web's creator, Sir Tim-Berners Lee, urged people to let their feelings be known to block it before it is enacted.

"It affects all the stuff on the internet working and something which would affect what you want to connect to, where you want to connect to," Sir Tim said.

He said that if Internet users were in American they should call somebody or send an email to protest against these (censorship) bills because they have not been put together to respect human rights as is appropriate in a democratic country.

Sir Tim's call to arms was made at IBM's annual Lotusphere conference, held in the southern, state of Florida.

And here's an open letter to Washington from some artists who make their living from their creative work, expressing their concerns about SOPA and PIPA. An excerpt:
We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services - artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result.

We are deeply concerned that PIPA and SOPA's impact on piracy will be negligible compared to the potential damage that would be caused to legitimate Internet services. Online piracy is harmful and it needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of censoring creativity, stifling innovation or preventing the creation of new, lawful digital distribution methods.

And when some claim it only affects foreign websites, what do they mean *only*? Here's Michael Geist on what SOPA would mean for Canada:
Canadian copyright expert and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist says the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261, would have the power to work in Canada, shutting down websites for copyright infringement even if they aren't running afoul of Canadian laws.

"The goal in many ways of SOPA is to reach beyond the borders of the United States," Geist said. "It's Canadian sites and sites around the world that would find themselves a target for these kinds of actions."

"...even if they aren't running afoul of Canadian laws."

As for US law, here's the description of two letters sent to Congress from two lawyers, Laurence Tribe and Marvin Ammori. Both write that the bills would violate the First Amendment, essentially for being overbroad, and criticize the penalties framework. The introduction:

Today, both Professor Laurence Tribe and I submitted letters and legal memoranda to Congress explaining that proposed copyright legislation would violate the First Amendment and be struck down in court. (His letter is available here, and mine is available here.)...

From a free speech perspective, the problem with SOPA and PROTECT IP can be stated simply. The bills are not limited; they’re sledgehammers not scalpels.

They do not, as often advertised by the copyright industry, merely target foreign “rogue” sites like the Pirate Bay. They are not even limited to sites guilty of any copyright infringement, direct or even contributory infringement. Instead, the bills would extend not only to foreign but also to domestic websites that merely “facilitate” or “enable” infringement. Thus, in their language, the bills target considerable protected speech on legitimate sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The bills also affect non-infringing speech by search engines, advertisers, and domain name providers.

Coupled with this overbroad scope, the bills authorize remedies that lack the usual procedural safeguards, ensuring that even more protected, non-infringing speech will be restricted. Even though a judicial determination is generally required to remove speech from circulation, the House version empowers copyright-holders to send notices to payment processors and advertisers to shut off funding for non-infringing sites that meet the bill’s broad definitions. The bills also encourage over-enforcement by making companies immune from suit for mistakenly punishing sites outside even the bills’ over-expansive scope.

Both letters are PDFs. So, when folks continue to allege that the bills target only illegal foreign sites, do they know better?


How SOPA and PIPA Affect US Websites and Companies ~pj | 182 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: feldegast on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 09:29 AM EST
So they can be fixed

My posts are ©2004-2012 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic
Authored by: feldegast on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 09:30 AM EST
Please make links clickable

My posts are ©2004-2012 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News picks
Authored by: feldegast on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 09:31 AM EST
please make links clickable

My posts are ©2004-2012 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Comes transcribing
Authored by: feldegast on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 09:32 AM EST
Thank you for your support

My posts are ©2004-2012 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Elevator Pitch
Authored by: davecb on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 10:26 AM EST
The shortest description of the problem is probably "Guilty until proven

A little longer is "To lose your domain, all someone needs to do is make a
plausible complaint against you. It doesn't have to be true, you understand,
just plausible."



[ Reply to This | # ]

Blackout Wednesday: The Time Has Come
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 01:14 PM EST
Wikipedia, that ever-evolving monument to human collaboration in the cause of global enlightenment, goes completely black today, Wednesday, Jan. 18. The blackout is a choice, and a brilliant one, made by founder Jimmy Wales in consultation with the whole Wikipedia community. It is a protest, a statement, a symbolic warning to the world of what can happen if governments attack the free flow of information...
Here's the full article, a good read.

When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth seems utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.

[ Reply to This | # ]

An Internet Super PAC
Authored by: Balance on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 01:15 PM EST
The remaining supporters of SOPA/PIPA will not be persuaded by reason to abandon
the idea, because they were not persuaded to support it by reason. They were
persuaded by money--money which they can use to be re-elected, and thus keep the
money rolling in.

We managed to scare some of them away, because they saw signs that supporting
the bills could cost them their cushy jobs. Most of them will get over it when
another censorship bill comes around with barrels of money rolling behind
it--they will forget their fright, or assume that we have forgotten. If we're
going to hold the line, we need to keep them scared, and we need to spread it to
the ones who think we're bluffing and continue to support censorship.

How do we do that? We need to make it clear that there is a bite behind the
bark. We need to get the legislators who supported the bills out of office,
preferably starting with the sponsors.

That won't be easy. Lamar Smith has held his seat for nearly 25 years, and
clearly thinks he's bulletproof. There doesn't seem to be any opposition to him
in his district at all.

Could we--the Internet opposition to these laws as a whole, not just
Groklaw--form a Super PAC dedicated to finding (or recruiting) and funding
candidates to oppose the sponsors of the bills? How much can we raise? Who
should organize it? Is this something that could be coordinated through the EFF?

"That which can be destroyed by the truth, should be."
--Kirien, Seeker's Mask

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales vs. Sandra Aistars of Copyright Alliance
Authored by: hAckz0r on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 01:26 PM EST
Good debate but apparently she didn't read the bill.

DRM - As a "solution", it solves the wrong problem; As a "technology" its only 'logically' infeasible.

[ Reply to This | # ]

About the money
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 05:06 PM EST
It seems that the big content owners think that pirates are printing money and
they want part of the action. I don't think that the numbers they use add up.
If a person doesn't buy their products but gets them from shady places RIAA and
MPAA claim a lost sale. What is not considered is that there is only so much
money available and if the content was not free it would not be consumed. There
is still rent to pay and food to buy, entertainment is not that high a priority.
Like many content creators who are Internet publishers (both music and video)
have found out, the Internet is a great place to get your work in the public's
eye. If you want to make money from it you have an alternate way of doing it.
Paywalls, physical media, added extras, etc. Digital exists because of the need
to have exact copies, if you don't want exact copies use a different format.
Thank you for your time, that's all this opinion has cost you so far.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Obscene - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 06:03 PM EST
  • About the money - Authored by: Wol on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 06:38 PM EST
Some amusing reactions
Authored by: OmniGeek on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 05:13 PM EST
I have been very amused (it's a useful alternative to simply getting steamed up)
to read the remarks from the sponsors of these egregious pieces of badly-built
legislation, characterizing the outage by Wikipedia, Google (logo), and other
Web sites as an "abuse of power" and a "disservice to the people
who rely on them for information" (from the MPAA statement).

Where to start? The mind just boggles. That characterization is SO upside-down,
so cloud-cuckoo-land, so alternate-universe that it scarcely merits debunking in
detail. Suffice it to say that in my opinion and that of everyone I've spoken
with, the MPAA and its buddies are doing exactly the sorts of things they accuse
Wikipedia and Google of, and worse, while Wikipedia et al are looking like
pretty responsible, informative Netizens in this matter. I think the interested
public hath struck a nerve there.

I remember saying something on the morning of the strike to the effect of,
"A Wikipedia strike? Who'll notice?" I'm glad to know I was very much

Let's hope the legislators have actually learned something useful from this (if
nothing else, to keep their paws off the Internet and freedom of expression

My strength is as the strength of ten men, for I am wired to the eyeballs on

[ Reply to This | # ]

Holey Maps, BATMAN
Authored by: SL on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 06:36 PM EST
To the news readers and magazine writers, PIPA is under 30 pages,
why not read the whole thing before expressing an opinion?
Allowing "qualifying plaintiffs" to self select and make their own
determination of harm is flat out scary.
Aside from the whole "due process" problem the machinery proposed in
PIPA to order alterations to DNS is not only unworkable
it doesn't even make any sense.
Trying to combat websites that allegedly host potentially copyright infringing
material by messing with the Domain Name system may be likened to this
hypothetical scheme for combating drug dealers.
Suppose we enacted a law which compelled major map makers to blank out
areas of their maps based upon somebody alleging that drug dealers were
operating on your street. Suddenly one day the street that leads to your
subdivision has disappeared from your navigation system. Now no-one can
find any houses in the subdivision not just the house where alleged drug
dealing occurs. An old friend who still uses paper maps finds your house
with no problem because his map has no holes. Maps from foreign countries
still show your street. Your street is still there even though there is a
big blank spot in the map, so if you already know your way there it is not
a problem. So alleged drug dealer still has his regular customers and if
he is impacted at all he can either move to a street still on the map, hand
out his own maps or just use maps from outside the map blanking jurisdiction.
The problem is that there are now large holes in everyones maps. No-one
can find your house or anyone in your subdivision regardless of whether
there ever was a drug dealer in your neighborhood. As the drug dealer
moves about this crazy system would cause massive damage and destruction
for everyone using maps without seriously impacting alleged drug dealer.
It would also cause the complete downfall of the major map industry because
no-one could trust the maps and maps from different suppliers would now
all be different. How is this not obvious even to the proponents who
lobby for the system, are paid to listen or those who claim to be harmed?

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is what it's all about
Authored by: Bernard on Thursday, January 19 2012 @ 08:03 PM EST
this "shoot-first, ask-questions-later" legislation could affect YouTube, Facebook or CNN, any site with user-generated content.[my emphasis]

Remember that the people behind SOPA/PIPA are the ones that control the great media empires, that once had a near-monopoly on the generation of content.

I guess they don't like competition all that much...

[ Reply to This | # ]

US on way to being a police state?
Authored by: wvhillbilly on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 03:36 AM EST
I see all these recent acts-the NDA which authorizes arrest and indefinite
detention of any one for any reason just on suspicion, without a hearing or any
due process, the US expatriation act which allows anyone suspected of any
"terrorist" activity (which can be defined as pretty much whatever the
government wants it to mean) to be deprived of citizenship, and now SOPA and
PIPA, which will empower the government to shut down essentially any website it
doesn't like. If enforced to their fullest potential this will give the
government unprecedented control over the citizenry, and open the Internet to
unprecedented abuse.

Say, for instance, if (hypothetical situation) Sony or Disney or Comcast decided
You Tube was unwanted competition all they'd have to do would be upload some
copyrighted content of their own to You Tube, then accuse them of infringing
their copyright by publishing the material they uploaded for that very purpose,
and Boom! they could shut down You Tube for every one just like that. And the
same for Wikipedia, and every alternate news site on the Web.

This is what I call burning your barn down to get rid of the rats. Only this is
burning the barn down with all your livestock in it. Problems with this
-You've not only lost the use of the barn, all your livestock is gone too.
-The rats just go elsewhere and infest some other barn.
-There are much more effective and much less destructive ways of getting rid of
rats than burning your barn down. (Cats are very effective for controlling rats,
for instance.) And the Internet is everyone's barn.

The entertainment industry whines endlessly about the horrendous losses they are
sustaining from piracy and about all the jobs that will be lost if it continues.
(Never mind that they use fuzzy math to pump up the number of alleged
infringements and fuzzy logic to further pump up the losses.) If this turns into
a shooting war-figuratively speaking-the bullets being shut-down orders- and the
Internet is reduced to scorched earth, think how many jobs will be lost as a
result and how many $$$billions will be lost too. Do the people that are
pushing these things ever give any consideration to that? Do they ever consider
if they sink the ship they're riding on, they're going down with it?

All of these bills I mentioned above are blatantly unconstitutional and should
be immediately be declared null, void and of no effect. If allowed to stand they
will truly enable the government to impose a police state on America, and it
would not surprise me to see martial law imposed before this year is out.

"It is written." always trumps, "Um, ah, well, I thought..."

[ Reply to This | # ]

My favorite take was by Tycho from Penny Arcade
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 10:34 AM EST
From this post:

Brenna asked me what SOPA was last night, and I was quiet for about fifteen seconds while I tried to create a definition that would make any kind of sense to someone who wasn’t a Redditor. If you say that it’s a mechanism for curbing the distribution of copyrighted material, that’s not something that people think is “wrong.” This is a huge part of the problem, and if you have been wondering how things managed to get this far that’s a big part of it. Someone asked me my “stance” on SOPA/PIPA last week, and I told them that I had the same stance as every other conscious being; that it’s Satanic. But I didn’t know what to do.
For anyone who's never heard of them: Penny Arcade is a popular webcomic with ties to the gaming community. They are also the organizers of the Child's Play charity which buys video games for hospitals to entertain sick children with. They also run two hugely popular gaming conventions each year called "PAX East" and "PAX West" (PAX = Penny Arcade Expo).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Winter on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 12:03 PM EST
Under SOPA SCO could easily have wiped Linux from the web.
Worldwide. And blocked all bank accounts of those involved.

Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth
lies probably somewhere in between.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It just shows that they didn't pay enough
Authored by: bugstomper on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 02:24 PM EST
It is not a contradiction. Perhaps it just shows that the tech PACs were vying
for the same influential politicians that the SOPA/PIPA supporters were going

It looks like an auction, where the highest bidder gets to buy the politician
who is up for sale. Except a strange kind of auction where the losers still have
to pay what they bid.

But hope is not lost - Maybe the politicians are open to further bids and
companies like Microsoft and Google will be able to eventually outbid the

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hot off PACER -- Third Cockburn Report allowed, BUT ...
Authored by: Steve Martin on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 02:41 PM EST

Judge Alsup has issued a ruling in Oracle v. Google regarding the (by-now infamous) third damages report from Dr. Cockburn. The filing is docket [702], I've downloaded the PDF and sent it off to Mark.

Judge Alsup will allow Dr. Cockburn to submit revision to the struck portion of the report, but it's not at all sunshine for Boies & Co. (quotations from the PDF follow):

  • His full revised report, together with all supporting material, must be served no later than NOON ON FEBRUARY 3, 2012. He may revise only those items stricken by the recent order and the studies referred to in paragraph 4 below (Dkt. No. 685).

    Within seven calendar days after service of the revised report, Dr. Cockburn may be deposed by Google’s counsel for seven hours.

  • Within seven calendar days of the deposition (or the end of the seven-day deposition period if no deposition is taken), the revised damages reports for Google shall be served. Only revisions directly responsive to new material by Dr. Cockburn will be allowed. To streamline matters, no deposition shall be taken of Google’s experts, Oracle may not serve a further reply report, and Oracle will not be allowed to present Dr. Cockburn as a rebuttal witness on the new material. Both sides may, of course, cross-examine the opposing experts and the Rule 706 Expert at trial.

  • All fees and expenses reasonably incurred by Dr. Kearl in responding to the revisions by Dr. Cockburn shall ultimately be borne by Oracle, as follows: Dr. Kearl shall track his time in such a way as to make this segregation possible. Dr. Kearl shall continue to divide his billings as before and Google shall continue to pay its share to him, but Google may demand and recover prompt reimbursement from Oracle for the portion identified by Dr. Kearl as attributable to Dr. Cockburn’s third report.

  • All attorney’s fees, expert fees, and other expenses reasonably incurred by Google as a result of allowing a third damages study by Oracle, including all expense and time discussed above, shall be reimbursed by Oracle. Google shall track such items separately and invoice them to Oracle within 14 calendar days of the close of a calendar month and Oracle shall pay them within another 14 calendar days. These reimbursement amounts shall not be recoverable costs that Oracle may recover back in the event it prevails in this action.

  • If the foregoing conditions are acceptable to Oracle, then Oracle shall so state promptly and the above plan shall be effective. If the foregoing conditions are unacceptable to Oracle, then Dr. Cockburn and Oracle shall be granted no further opportunity to revise the damages report and the case shall proceed to trial without the stricken material and Oracle will suffer whatever prejudice flows from the corresponding lack of proof. By NOON ON JANUARY 24, 2012, Oracle shall file an unequivocal and unconditional statement advising whether it will take advantage of this third opportunity provided by this order or whether it declines to do so. Please do not negotiate over the conditions or insinuate assumptions into the statement; please file either a clear “yes” or a clear “no.”

Oh, yeah... and as for the splitting up of the trial that Oracle proposed, Judge Alsup has this to say:

The piecemeal approach suggested by Oracle as a trial alternative will not be adopted. The docket simply does not permit that luxury. Counsel are unfortunate in having drawn a judge assigned to the massive MS-13 gang prosecution, which has resulted in four lengthy trials, including one underway now, without any relief from the remainder of his normal caseload. This has led to a backlog of trial-ready cases waiting their turn. Between today and June 30, the Court has 28 cases already set for trial, including two patent cases (other than this one) and five other criminal cases, not counting trials set thereafter. In the instant case, the damages methodology must be sorted out before the case will even be trial-ready. Until then, there is no point in setting a firm trial date. If matters go smoothly herein and if other trial settings fall away, the instant case could still possibly be tried starting mid-April and all counsel and witnesses should reserve for that possibility, failing which it will likely occur sometime during the last four months of the year. This order, however, gives no assurances as to when the case can be tried. If Oracle wishes to voluntarily dismiss any damages claim, it will have to do so with prejudice; otherwise, a dismissal is nothing more than an invitation to piecemeal litigation.

"When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffe, "Sports Night"

[ Reply to This | # ]

OK... I think I missed something...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2012 @ 10:22 PM EST
First, let me say that I agree that both are crap and should be scrapped. However, the following part of the article confuses me...
And when some claim it only affects foreign websites, what do they mean *only*? Here's Michael Geist on what SOPA would mean for Canada: Canadian copyright expert and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist says the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261, would have the power to work in Canada, shutting down websites for copyright infringement even if they aren't running afoul of Canadian laws.
Its a US bill... Isn't Canada a foreign country? (Or did I miss something recent?) So if the premise is that it only affects foreign countries, how would an effect in Canada, disprove the premise?

[ Reply to This | # ]

How Patents, SOPA and PIPA Affect US Websites and Companies ~pj
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 21 2012 @ 12:40 PM EST
You can't separate politics and the law. Big money is in the driver's seat
in our capitols! It takes extrodinary efforts to over come the problem.
If only we could bring the same effort to fixing the broken patent
system. How do we do this???

[ Reply to This | # ]

To answer: "We won't use it to censor"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 23 2012 @ 07:43 PM EST

It has already been done using the DMCA by Universal. Several blog sites which post to "Youtube" were shut down when they discussed the topic when UMG sent DCMA take down notices to Google.

These bloggers may have shown a clip of the video running in the background with no audio, sometimes just a photo video while discussing the dispute. UMG censored them all without question.

I wish I could give particulars, but lack the time. And I did feel it important to mention.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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