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Details explained thanks to a reddit SysAdmin


If you noticed, a few sites have gone black or have posted up something to spread the word to people.

Wikipedia = black unless you have a direct link.

Google = black banner

Reddit = Main page is now down (8:40) same with all sub reddits.

Craigslist = redirects to a blacked out screen with sopa information, link at bottom to continue your craigslisting

What other sites have you noticed today, and what is your take on SOPA? Good or Bad?

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I personally think what these sites are doing is a good thing. Even if the sopa thing passes, i think within a couple years a "second internet" will rise, sort of based on the concept of ham radios, free from the big company crap and government intervention type stuff

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I personally think what these sites are doing is a good thing. Even if the sopa thing passes, i think within a couple years a "second internet" will rise, sort of based on the concept of ham radios, free from the big company crap and government intervention type shit

If they want it passed they can do it in 6 months. Its a knee jerk reaction from someone who does not understand the issue. Either way it will pass in some form in the next few years and it needs to. Just not in its current incarnation.

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Either way it will pass in some form in the next few years and it needs to. Just not in its current incarnation.

Truth in that...

There are plenty of power players on both sides of this bill. I would much rather see a bill committed on what sopa stands for pass, then what it currently stands for in terms of what is actually written in the bill.

Regardless, there are already a few programs out to help navigate through this mess if it does pass.

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Its going to be serverside of client side, and personally I would must rather have my business under the looking glass than my personal life. The bill itself is fine, but they need to change enforcement. They also need to impose some epic fines to help bankroll the dept they will have to put in place as oversight. In the end the only people bitching are the ones who know they have been opperating in a gray area for a long time.

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If they want it passed they can do it in 6 months. Its a knee jerk reaction from someone who does not understand the issue. Either way it will pass in some form in the next few years and it needs to. Just not in its current incarnation.

Curious on why you believe it needs to pass?

Why does there need to be a restriction on passing through copyrighted material?

I used to do business development for the biggest DRM company in Hollywood and we had conversations with all kinds of cryptologists and engineers who believed the best approach was to embed the restrictions into the devices themselves. But none of them could answer the inevitable question - how do you prevent people from cracking your code / reengineering your chip? The answer was always legislation but we saw what happened when the RIAA started going after individual sharers under existing legislation.

I walked away from the whole experience with the firm belief that the whole effort was intended to keep honest people honest but that won't accomplish the goal of resolving the losses. If you look at the studies done by the Business Software Alliance, the RIAA, and others, you find that the bulk of that loss is coming not from the casual sharer but from nation states (China anyone) and sophisticated criminals who build enterprises around selling pirated material.

To me, this is just like gun laws. Only the criminals will be "armed" - meaning free to share and exchange data across the net. Who decides what is acceptable speech and at what point do they start clamping down on unacceptable speech outside of things like child pornography?

In my mind, the opportunity is out there to build better business models that facilitate sharing not restricting it. I'm with Cory Doctorow, what's needed is evolution in thought and business models - I'd link to his writing but he too has gone black for SOPA so I'll point to this video instead.

This isn't really a conversation about piracy, it's about control over what you are allowed to do with the content you purchase or even create. If I buy a book, I can share that with my friend without any concerns. However, move that text into a published book in the DRMd Kindle format and suddenly, I can't freely share it any longer - not without running into restrictions that it has to only be for so many days and you have to provide all these details on who you're sharing it with, etc. Same goes with a movie, I buy the VHS, but once it comes out on DVD or online download, while the content hasn't really changed, I now have to pay the same amount or more in order to acquire that same content in DVD. They're selling containers for the content when they really should be simply licensing the content. If I own the DVD, why shouldn't I have the right to copy it onto my computer, and my iPod and my iPad to view where and how I want?

What is lacking is innovation. Apple actually has opened up the music they sell because they found the DRM was causing more issues than it was worth. What the industries fail to appreciate is that the biggest consumer pirates are actually the biggest purchasers of music, or movies, etc. They attend concerts, and screenings, and purchase memorabilia - but when you go after them for sharing, you're killing one of your biggest avenues of spreading word of mouth and developing interest in that particular genre, actor, film, director, song, entertainer, etc.

Here's what Doctorow and Neil Gaiman say:

I recently saw Neil Gaiman give a talk at which someone asked him how he felt about piracy of his books. He said, "Hands up in the audience if you discovered your favorite writer for free -- because someone loaned you a copy, or because someone gave it to you? Now, hands up if you found your favorite writer by walking into a store and plunking down cash." Overwhelmingly, the audience said that they'd discovered their favorite writers for free, on a loan or as a gift. When it comes to my favorite writers, there's no boundaries: I'll buy every book they publish, just to own it (sometimes I buy two or three, to give away to friends who *must* read those books). I pay to see them live. I buy t-shirts with their bookcovers on them. I'm a customer for life.

Neil went on to say that he was part of the tribe of readers, the tiny minority of people in the world who read for pleasure, buying books because they love them. One thing he knows about everyone who downloads his books on the Internet without permission is that they're *readers*, they're people who love books. People who study the habits of music-buyers have discovered something curious:

the biggest pirates are also the biggest spenders. If you pirate music all night long, chances are you're one of the few people left who also goes to the record store (remember those?) during the day. You probably go to concerts on the weekend, and you probably check music out of the library too. If you're a member of the red-hot music-fan tribe, you do lots of *everything* that has to do with music, from singing in the shower to paying for black-market vinyl bootlegs of rare Eastern European covers of your favorite death-metal band.

The problem for most artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity. And Hollywood and the music labels want to control the channels they own not because they want more music, movies, etc to be created but because they want to make sure that only the movies and music they care about are created and that they get paid for them.

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I know this applies to a great deal more than music and movies. But the poster boys for the whole bill on pushing to pass it have been Hollywood and good old Chris Dodd, former Senator but now CEO of the MPAA. The RIAA is going along for the ride too.

So tell me, why is it such a good idea to pass this? What online industry are we protecting if it's not digital content, i.e. software, music, video?

Because if you tell me it's to protect us from nefarious websites (terrorism, viruses, etc), then you have to completely break the backbone of the internet to accomplish that.

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I know this applies to a great deal more than music and movies. But the poster boys for the whole bill on pushing to pass it have been Hollywood and good old Chris Dodd, former Senator but now CEO of the MPAA. The RIAA is going along for the ride too.

So tell me, why is it such a good idea to pass this? What online industry are we protecting if it's not digital content, i.e. software, music, video?

Well for one it should have almost 0 effect on users. The most profound effect will be the drastic reduction is spam right away. Trickle down will involve a reduction of viruses spyware and so on. There will be some down sides I am sure, almost reminds me of DPC. Again they need to addres the safe harbor issues and the actual enforcement, but make no mistakes some form of this bill will pass.

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Why it’s wrong

But no, it’s a lame analogy. Digital content is its own thing; clumsy, analog-style analogies are the stock and trade of liars on both sides of these debates. Lobbyists claim that digital piracy is no different than a break-in at a brick and mortar store, both in terms of the dollar cost to the industry and the best ways to combat it. Meanwhile, spokespeople representing the radical anti-copyright We Don’t Like Paying For Stuff movement (mascot: a Dyson vacuum, or a least a photo of one that was downloaded from a Google Image search and used without license) insist that it’s impossible to “steal” something that never physically existed to begin with.

We can do away with misleading analogies. SOPA and PIPA (which only deliver parts of the total package the Associations want) are simply wrong.

Start off with the marquee-level power of the Acts: with these laws in place, copyrightholders can complain to the US government, who can then issue a court order that simply makes the offending foreign website invisible to any user in America.

Whoosh! That whole site disappears. After a site’s been placed on a government blacklist, search sites like Google will be prohibited from showing search results from that source, and your internet service provider must block all access to that domain name.

This approach won’t slow piracy. The domain name system only matches easy-to-remember words to hard-to-remember sequences of numbers, just as the names in your phone’s address book match “Bob Kefauver” to “312-555-1212.” Typing the blocked domain name wouldn’t get you to the site, but plugging in the address would have still worked just fine. If ISPs were forced to block even direct-address access, they’d need to intercept and examine all of your Web traffic to the slightest detail, which is (a) wholly impractical and (B) not quite legal.

No, the sole real effect of this DNS tinkering would have been to weaken the security and privacy of the Internet. It would force all ISPs to handle DNS in a way that would make future enhancements and protections damned-near impossible to implement without violating he law.

Number one on that list: DNSSEC. It’s an improvement to the worldwide DNS system that makes it much harder for criminals to trick your web browser into sending you to the wrong site . . . a site that looks like your bank’s online portal, but is actually there to steal your account login data. DNSSEC is being implemented worldwide, but it couldn’t be done in the United States because it doesn’t comply with SOPA/PIPA. Even the head of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies has come out saying that SOPA undercuts efforts to secure the Internet, joining experts from every branch of the Office of People Who Actually Know What They’re Talking about.

And what constitutes theft of intellectual property, anyway? Without a physical object that can be removed from an actual store, it’s a tricky question.

Is it theft?

Let’s use my comics as an example. There are lots of sites that host unauthorized scans of comic books. Name a comic that was published within the past 10 days and I can probably point you to a link from which you can download a free, unlocked copy, usually hosted on foreign sites.

Well, okay: that’s definitely theft. But I’ll warn you: the answers get trickier from here on out.

I read about thirty or forty comic strips every morning via a webapp called The Darkgate Comics Slurper. It visits the sites of each of my favorite strips, grabs the strips, and puts them in a custom RSS feed that I can read with Google Reader instead of visiting dozens of URLs manually.

Is that theft? Maybe not. Darkgate isn’t republishing and redistributing the material so much as it’s just acting as a better kind of web browser for this kind of content. The “Yes, it is” argument points out that Darkgate divorces the strip from everything that makes it profitable (site advertising, and offers to buy other work by the same creators). Hmm.

(Don’t try that URL today. It’s one of the many that have gone black to protest SOPA.)

How about The Comics Curmudgeon? Josh Fruhlinger makes daily comic strips like “Mary Worth” and “Mark Trail” readable and enjoyable the only way that any mortal man can: by mocking them. This involves reproducing the strip he’s making fun of. Okay, he’s definitely downloading and re-hosting content . . . but it’s a form of commentary and parody. We’re all thinking “protected under the ‘fair use’ exceptions of copyright law” here, right?

The Non-Adventures Of Wonderella? It’s at but don’t bother . . . SOPA blackout. Definitely check it out later. It’s a funny adventure strip featuring a superheroine who’s clearly based on Wonder Woman. Okay, this one’s easy: it’s clear parody. The only slight complication is that it’s an ongoing parody, and the creator sells books and merchandise featuring the character. But no, we still reach for the “Fair Use” rubber stamp and then move on.

In reality, all of these sites would be unaffected by the legislation. They’re hosted on US servers. The point is that there are, like, lots of sites hosted outside the U.S. and the question of “what constitutes a copyright violation?” is open to such a wide interpretation that abuses of these powers are almost inevitable.

Heavy-handed risk

We’ve already seen what can happen. In December, Universal Music Group abused YouTube’s anti-piracy filters to have a popular video pulled despite a complete lack of any infringing content. The video was in support of Hong Kong-based file host Megaupload (which often hosts pirated material) and it featured an all-star cast of recording artists. YouTube soon put the video back online after a review, but then UMG had another video pulled: an episode of the TWiT Network’s (Ed. note: Andy co-hosts MacBreak Weekly, a TWiT program) nightly newscast “Tech News Today.” Why? Because the show aired a clip of the Megaupload video during their reporting. Again, YouTube quickly reinstated the video after a review.

This incident demonstrates how easily powers like these can be abused to control speech on the Internet. Any topic, take your pick: any discussion of any musician, celebrity, politician, product, service . . . any of it can be taken down by a sufficiently-offended party who can claim, however lamely, that the content violates a copyright.

Both the Megaupload and the TWiT videos were taken down and then reinstated by a company with a speedy reviews policy. Under SOPA/PIPA, there are mechanisms to evaluate and reinstate a blacklisted domain. But it’s a long and expensive process and by the time justice prevails, enough time can pass that the momentum behind a conversation or even a whole site can be completely killed . . . assuming that the affected site can even afford to mount a defense.

SOPA and PIPA also prohibits any technologies that can successfully be used to interfere with the application of the blacklist. So an anonymity tool like Tor becomes a big problem; it masks the IP address of the original source and hides the trail between a series of intermediate anonymous hops. Tor is popularly used by oppressed groups worldwide to safely speak out against local corruption and violence. Its users aren’t trying to hide from the MPAA . . . they’re trying to conceal themselves from the local chief of police who’ll likely kill them on sight for criticizing the government. Under SOPA/PIPA, none of that online traffic would make it into the U.S. with its anonymity intact.

It’s yet another example of the widespread collateral damage that would result from cutting off the United States’ access to the real, free, unrestricted Internet.

What’s next?

SOPA and PIPA have been making progressively-denser stinks over the past couple of months as more and more people have examined it and seen how poorly-built and over-reaching they are. Sponsors are backing away. Popular and influential sites are protesting. The White House has released a fairly strong statement against SOPA and PIPA.

(In response, the MPAA has released a statement that can be described as “hysterical,” creepily insinuating that every site that’s joined in on the January 18 blackout protest should be investigated by the government for antitrust violations. I am now seriously suggesting that Jack Valenti’s old office be evacuated until environmental inspectors can examine the MPAA’s suite for some sort of gas leak. I suggest that they wear hazmat suits with independent oxygen supplies.)

The components of the bill that tinker with DNS have already been withdrawn. But SOPA and PIPA aren’t dead, by any means. The White House statement clearly communicates a hope that this kind of legislation will reappear in an improved form later this year.

I’m not necessarily opposed to legislation that offers functional and specific tools for combatting piracy. But I’ll certainly continue my opposition to SOPA and PIPA if they return with the same two fundamental problems:

1) They redefine the Internet for the whole United States of America.

If the success of the Internet can be attributed to one basic principle it’s this: information should move freely from one place to another without restrictions. That’s not a hippie-dippy drum-circle philosophy, either. It’s simple engineering. It’s the reason why Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Twitter, The Comics Curmudgeon, and all of the other sites I love and rely on happened. Good ideas get to prove themselves in front of the worldwide Internet community immediately, and they’re adapt to changing needs.

SOPA and PIPA redefine the Internet as “the place where copyrighted materials are protected.” This new American Internet is estranged from the rest of the world and designed to serve the needs of one single commercial industry. Defending against piracy becomes the prime directive; things can happen here on the American Internet provided that it couldn’t somehow be seen as potentially in conflict with the interests of the MPAA and the RIAA.

To put it more simply: the current definition of the Internet is one of “Yes, do that.” The definition of the SOPA/PIPA-controlled Internet would be “No, don’t.” It’s a fine concept for a vending machine but a terrible one for a fundamental network that’s supposed to connect every human on the planet with every other human. And it’s galling that we can redefine the definition of complete and utter freedom just to offer a legislative boondoggle to a private industry that’s already quite profitable.

2) SOPA and PIPA won’t work.

It simply won’t. Copyright holders should be against these bills because they won’t curtail piracy.

Which isn’t to say that piracy isn’t a problem, or that the recording industry should have no means of redress. Nothing they’ve done in the past has worked and this scheme will fail like all of the rest.

I’ve been a good boy about avoiding analogies this far and now I feel entitled to indulge.

You press the button for the elevator and it lights up. But the elevator seems to be taking an awfully long time to arrive. So you press it again. And again.

Most people will do this and conclude that nope, pressing the button more frequently has no effect on the arrival of the elevator.

Others will conclude that the only reason why this didn’t work is because they haven’t been pressing the button fast enough. Still no elevator? OK, then they haven’t been pressing the button hard enough. WHAM-WHAM-WHAM they go, until the panel is destroyed and building security has arrived to drag them away.

“If it doesn’t budge, go get a bigger hammer” is a successful answer to very few situations outside of railroad construction. It’s certainly not the answer to piracy. The recording industry keeps trying to swing heavier hammers at the problem and they’re just creating more and more collateral damage. Now, they really want to break the back of the Internet.

A simple maxim of digital content has come into sharper and sharper focus with each passing year:

There are people who will never pay for a certain piece of digital content under any circumstances. The remainder of the pirates are merely a market that you don’t understand yet.

Good business is mostly about removing obstacles between yourself and your audience’s money. Any obstacles you erect to prevent piracy are also obstacles that the “willing to pay” and even the “eager to pay” people will need to deal with.

RIAA, MPAA need to live in this world

But, nope: the RIAA and MPAA refuses to learn. They keep trying for bigger hammers and tighter lockdowns on content, serene in the knowledge that everything will be fine once there’s only one studio-approved place to view the trailer for the upcoming big-budget “Knight Rider” movie, and that every iPhone transmits a streaming checksum of screen data to detect the viewing of pirated content and deliver GPS data to the local authorities.

I wish they could grasp the brilliance of a certain “Peanuts” Sunday strip. Charlie Brown is complaining to Lucy about not fitting in. She leads him to a hilltop. “Have you seen any other worlds?” she asks him. “There are no other worlds but this one to live in? I suppose so,” CB replies.

“Well, LIVE IN IT, then!!!” Lucy screams.

The commercial sponsors of SOPA and PIPA shouldn’t be lobbying Congress for a bigger hammer. They should stop, catch their breath, wipe the sweat from their foreheads, and ask themselves why these bigger hammers aren’t working.

Lucy has the answer. The world has changed. The way that people discover and purchase new content has changed. It’s a new world. They should try living in it -- and continuing to prosper in it -- instead of trying to shove it back the way it was when Groucho Marx still had a hit TV show.

Please write or phone your Congressperson and note your opposition to SOPA, and also contact your Senator with your concerns about PIPA. Letters and phone calls are stronger than emails and short, sensible statements are stronger than manifesto-type rants.

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Its funny you guys always come back to music and movies. Everyone is so pissed off about SOPA look up WIPO laws and the crap ICANN already pulls. I have delt with it from both sides. DHS/DoJ and with a IP law firm. This whole situation is funny. Youre not going to stop this. In the end I think we should just pull the china. I am sick of spam and Rx bullshit, and frankly do not care if you can read spider man on-line. Speaking of you guys do know the gov reads everyone of your emails. Even the encrypted ones. Just saying. The means are more than there.

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The fact of the matter is the country is so far in debt that we are never going to dig ourself out, so they try to pass laws like these to get their foot in the door and then take complete control over the whole internet for revenue purposes. This bill isnt about pirated movies or music its about taking away more of our freedoms. I mean look at this bill which passed which gets hardly any coverage by mainstream news http://thinkprogress...bill/?mobile=nc it takes away our freedom to a trial or free speech, and isnt it strange that it was timed so perfectly to be signed while everybody was out celebrating new years. The only reason I can see this bill is they know their is going to be a war or a uprising, its pretty scary. I believe the sopa bill is the last resort to block the alternative media who reports on the real issues and what really is going on.

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