CISPA: worse than SOPA

Of course, CISPA does not replace SOPA, it is a separate thing altogether.  The backroom negotiations to re-introduce SOPA are already underway…

JotForm’s domain suspended for user-generated content

JotForm is a web company that lets people easily generate forms for whatever they need.  Now, their domain has been siezed and their site has been blocked in a SOPA-style action.  From the JotForm blog:

‘UPDATE: Many people on the comments assumed the content was posted by us. This can happen to any site that allows public to post content. SOPA may not have passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced. All they have to do is to ask Godaddy to take a site down. We have 2 millions user generated forms. It is not possible for us to manually review all forms. This can happen to any web site that allows user generated content.’

(Emphasis added by me.)

So, here we have yet another confirmation that despite of SOPA itself having been scrapped, the practices it was normalizing already exist and are being followed by state agents.

This is outrageous on so many levels…and yet, it is even worse on the other side of the pond

We must shine the light under all these proverbial rocks, or we’ll be overrun by the creepy-crawlies!

Another example where copyright laws are being used to censor one’s critics

Yes, ThunderF00t and William Lane Craig have some serious disagreements on the topic of science.  And both have been speaking up on this topic on YouTube.

ThunferF00t is a bona-fide scientist, with the credentials to prove it.

William Lane Craig is a theologian, self-described philosopher and calls himself ‘Dr.’.

They got into a bit of a spat – ThunderF00t used clips of Craig’s videos in his rebuttal videos:  this is perfectly legal and ‘protected se’ under the DMCA rules.  Despite this, someone has, on behalf of Dr. Craig, filed false DMCA claims against ThunderF00t and others.  (We know they know their claims are false because they have filed these DMCA notifications many times on the same groungs – even after being repeatedly told that this use is not a violation of their copyright – yet they continue filing…)

The purpose of these types of actions is clear:  to force the filer’s critics to spend so much time and energy fighting against these false claims that they will not have the time and energy to criticize him.

The reason we must pay attention to this is because it demonstrates how laws already passed with the good intent to protect copyright are already being abused to stifle speech – and these laws are nowhere near as intrusive as the ailed SOPA bill was…and we all know that those promoting these tools of censorship will not stop.  They will simply try to pass these types of laws more stealthily, a tiny increment at a time.

Constant vigilance!

Thunderf00t documenting DMCA abuse

If things are like this under existing laws (DMCA), imagine the situation under SOPA or SOPA-like laws!

Michael Geist: The Behind-the-Scenes Campaign To Bring SOPA To Canada

SOPA may appear to be officially dead, but that does not mean that the lobbyists will not try to convince legislators to sneak SOPA-style provisions into other legislation:  whether as bits attached to other bills in the US, or trying to incorporate aspects of it into laws of other countries.  We must remail vigilant!

That is exactly the message from Michael Geist:

‘While SOPA may be dead (for now) in the U.S., lobby groups are likely to intensify their efforts to export SOPA-like rules to other countries. With Bill C-11 back on the legislative agenda at the end of the month, Canada will be a prime target for SOPA style rules. In fact, a close review of the unpublished submissions to the Bill C-32 legislative committee reveals that several groups have laid the groundwork to add SOPA-like rules into Bill C-11, including blocking websites and expanding the “enabler provision”to target a wider range of websites. ‘

‘The music industry is unsurprisingly leading the way, demanding a series of changes that would make Bill C-11 look much more like SOPA. ‘

‘Several lobby groups also want language similar to that found in the infamous Section 103 of SOPA. That provision, which spoke of sites “primarily designed or operated for the purpose of…offering goods or services in a manner that engages in, enables, or facilitates” infringement, raised fears that it could be used to shut down mainstream sites such as YouTube.’

This is something we must stay on top of!

Technorati: List of Sites Going Dark Over SOPA Today

As you may have heard, many sites are going ‘dark’ today over SOPA today.

 

Technorati has the list – and instructions on how you can, too!

‘Just as they’ve been warning for a few weeks now, a variety of websites, some small and others large in scope and influence, have shut down their virtual doors today in response to the possible passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act, otherwise known as SOPA.

The controversial legislation, before the House of Representatives, has caused nothing less than outrage from Internet service providers and their customers. The legislation, meant to stop companies from copying, or “pirating” content or software from others and reselling it, has been seen by many as over-reaching, a “sprawling new regime” of laws which will “stifle investment” and further “chill free speech” across the Globe.’

Why is SOPA not part of the evening news?

Perhaps because most of the parent companies of TV news broadcasts are staunch supporters of SOPA:

‘Dimiero based his report on Lexis-Nexis searches which includes transcripts of nighttime newscasts.

Comcast/NBCUniversal (which owns MSNBC and NBC News), Viacom (CBS), News Corporation (Fox News), Time Warner (CNN) and Disney (ABC) are all listed as supporters of the bill. ABC and CBS are also listed as separate supporters of the bill.’

Just in case you were wondering why TV news is igniring this, if it is such a hot topic…

Isn’t a lie of omission still a lie, when it comes to building up trust in your news-sources?

Or is it unreasonable for us to expect news reporters to report news honestly and thoroughly, regardless of how it affects their corporate owners?  Because if we cannot, we must openly realize this and re-categorize ‘news reporters’ as ‘corporate spin officers’ and view all they say through the appropriate lens…

…and people wonder why the legacy media is in its death-throws…

GoDaddy: a case study in how democracy is being lost

December 29th, 2011, is the official ‘Boycott GoDaddy Day’:  everyone is being encouraged to move any domain names they may have with GoDaddy

Why GoDaddy?

Let me count the ways…

Yes, GoDaddy has backtracked on their support of SOPA – but this is more than just a case of ‘too little, too late’.

GoDaddy actually helped draft SOPA – and is already one of the go-to companies when the US government  (long before SOPA ever becomes a law) wants to blacklist websites:

“That was good enough for Judge Kent Dawson to order the names seized and transferred to GoDaddy, where they would all redirect to a page serving notice of the seizure. In addition, a total ban on search engine indexing was ordered, one which neither Bing nor Google appears to have complied with yet.”

Yes – right now, long before SOPA, a judge had ordered that a website be transferred to GoDaddy in order for it to make it easier to blacklist them – following a court proceeding where the accused may not even be notified until after the ruling is made.

(Aside:  this shows that the stated goal of SOPA – to protect copyrights from pirating – is unnecessary, as all of this is already being accomplished under current laws.  The scales of justice are already very strongly tipped towards the copyright holder and against regular citizens – SOPA would not only tip them even further, it would destroy the internet as we know it.  If, say, one copyright holder complained that one single blogger at WordPress were to publish a link on their blog that led to a home movie of their kid singing a (copyrighted) pop song, under SOPA, the whole of WordPress and all the innocent blogs on it would be blacklisted!!!!  Yes – this is what life under SOPA would be, and not just in the US because the effects would be internet-wide!)

It seems GoDaddy is a willing tool at best, an active collaborator in the process of oppressing people without just process at worst.  This is the type of behaviour which enables totalitarian governments to keep their populace ‘under control’!

It is easy to see why it is so very easy for people to hate GoDaddy – even before one considers their idiotic commercials or their CEO’s weird hobby of shooting and killing elephants…

In other words, GoDaddy is a poster child for the collusion of government and business – the result of which is that government policy is increasingly shaped by the concerns (and thus passes laws to the benefit of) of a smaller and smaller circle of businesses.  This leaves the citizenry unable to affect political change, since legislators of all stripes are dependent on these corporate interests to raise sufficient funds.

Have you ever heard of the ‘four boxes’ necessary for constitutional democracy to function?

  • Soap box: A box you stand on in the street trying to explain your views to the public. Figuratively, building public opinion for your case.
  • Ballot box: Public, free, democratic elections. If the laws don’t work, and the elected representatives don’t get it, replace them.
  • Jury box: If no public representatives get it, neither the elected nor those available to elect, the second to last line of defense is the judicial system, which can overturn laws that go against the most fundamental rights.
  • Ammo box: If the system has been so thoroughly corrupted that the entire establishment is acting as one, and it is not possible to change the laws to safeguard fundamental liberties, then only one option remains.

Think about this while keeping in mind the lessons of SOPA:

  • Our soap box is being taken away on the internet using anti-piracy and anti-child-predator laws so badly written that once passed, they can be used to ‘disappear’ any voice on the internet the government does not like – at the same time as anti-terrorism laws coupled with classifying even non-violent protesters as ‘low-grade terrorists’  and the rise of anti-blasphemy legislation is stripping our rights to speak our minds in public.
  • Our ballot box has been made irrelevant:  the political process has been so twisted that now, in order to get elected, governments are less reliant on the citizenry than they are on an ever-narrowing circle of corporate and special interests.  We, the regular people, no longer believe that it makes any difference whom we vote for, because all the politicians are responding to the needs of this circle,, not to the citizens.  THAT is why the voter turnouts are falling so rapidly:  ordinary people believe that the ballot box has been lost to irrelevance…
  • The Jury box:  that is where we are now!  We are now relying on the last of the checks and balances – the judiciary – to protect us.  But, if the above-linked ruling and the Austrian ruling against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff are any indication, we are quickly but surely loosing our third box, on both sides of the big pond!
  • Which inevitably leaves us with the very last box:  the ammo box…  This is not something I would like to see happen, but we must never forget that all our rights exist only as long as we are prepared to take up arms to defend them…which is why there is such a direct link between how oppressive a government is and how much it wishes to disarm its citizens.

So, how did we get from the GoDaddy boycott to taking up arms in defense of our innate rights?

GoDaddy has highlighted just how close we are to having lost our first three boxes.

It has highlighted just how high the stakes are.

It has shown us just how hard we have to fight so that our society does not devolve to that fourth box!

The power of your fingertips

Improving the internet, one click at a time!

GoDaddy is a company that hosts domain names.  (If you have trouble remembering them, their most memorable ads show Danica Patrick, a race car driver, claiming she is a ‘GoDaddy girl’.)  GoDaddy also vocally suported SOPA – the oppressive Stop Online Piracy Act  that would not only give the US government unprecedented warantless surveilance powers but would also extend their legal reach far beyond their borders, violationg (among others) Canadian territorial jurisdiction.

(Yes, SOPA would actually give the US government the power to warantlessly monitor all internet communication in domains within the North American sector, including all internal emails of the Canadian government.  And that is just the tip of the proverbial ice-berg…  It is being presented as a copyright protection act, but the way it is written will do little to protect copyright while givving unprecedented tools of oppression into the hands of US government and select large corporations.)

So, GoDaddy says it could not understand why good, law-abiding people would not support SOPA…

Reddit was not impressed:  SOPA will definitely cause injury to the online community – so adding an insult to it did not strike Reddit as cricket.  They called for a boycot of GoDaddy and advocated that people move their domains to other sites.

The news spread through the online community like wildfire!

Immediatelly, these ‘other sites’ publicly announced their opposition to SOPA – and began offering ‘special deals’ for domains being moved from GoDaddy to themselves.

GoDaddy has announced that it no longer supports SOPA…

Is it a case of too little, too late?

It is nice to see that regular people can indeed have an impact.

And let’s hope the anti-SOPA momentum keeps building!

SOPA: uniting the internet against collusion by big business and big government

SOPA

Sounds so innocuous:  Stop Online Piracy Act.

After all, ‘Pirates’ are all ‘bad’, so anything to get them off ‘our internet’ must be ‘good’, right?

We, surely, the Orwellian language is only a part of the trick here.

The SOPA hearings are being held today and it is difficult to believe that anyone who does not directly benefit financially from this legislation would be willing to support it.  The effect of this legislation would be to chill free speech in ways to give Richard Warman and his Section 13 co-oppressors wet dreams in perpetuity!

Right now, even with the ‘moderate’, much less draconian legislation in place, the copyright infringement laws are being used to silence critics of big business – or even just independent voices (lest they become critical in the future).

In this example, a DMCA claim was used to censor a daily tech news episode which criticized a big-music corporation:  under the law, a mere DMCA claim was enough to force a takedown of the episode for a minimum of 10 days.  If you are running a daily news show, 10 days is an eternity…  At least, under the DMCA rules, the news show could appeal to a judge…

And, of course, we all know that the US government has been known to censor a blog for over a year, denying them due process of law to get their property restored and name cleared.

Just to add injury to injury:  not only are you guilty until proved innocent under SOPA, getting to court to prove your innocence will be much harder.  And even if you were victorious and the courts found you innocent of all charges, you would not have a recourse to sue for damages suffered as the result of the false SOPA accusation!

Is this type of legislation even needed?

The Swiss government certainly does not think so:  they have gone the opposite route.  After studying the data for a long time, these legislators have concluded that downloading music/videos for personal use is not just perfectly legal, they claim it actually channels money away from copyright holders and  helps the music/movie industry in the long run.

Even US judges are suggesting that if you buy a DVD, you just might be allowed to rip it under ‘fair use’ doctrine!

And what about the people who have been the most vociferous about the need for crippling the internet in the name of copyright protection?  Surely, they themselves do not indulge in the very behaviour they wish to stamp out with knee-jerk legislation like ‘three accusations and you are permanently banned from the internet’, right?

Well, not exactly.

“French President Nicholas Sarkozy is a man who has championed some of the most aggressive anti-piracy legislation in Europe. But today it’s revealed that the occupants of his very own office and home are responsible for a nice selection of pirate downloads using BitTorrent. Three strikes? Those with access to the Presidential Palace’s IP addresses have already doubled that quota. “

But, surely, those entertainment legacy industry movers and shakers who have lobbied the legislators for SOPA – the ones who claim that downloading movies and music for free would bankrupt them – surely they are not doing this themselves, are they?

Of course they are!

“With increasing lobbying efforts from the entertainment industry against BitTorrent sites and users, we wondered whether these companies hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others. After some initial skimming we’ve discovered BitTorrent pirates at nearly every major entertainment industry company in the US, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment and NBC Universal. Busted.”

And those ‘evil Pirates’ – they must be up to even more vile things…

…but only if you call building a school and bringing high-speed internet connection to a small farming village (which only had one dial-up connected computer for the whole village before) to be a bad thing…

Let’s hope the unanimous screams of protest from the citizens of the internet get heard!

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