Tech Law

SOPA Support Goes Sour

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) appears to be reeling in the face of growing opposition.

Internet heavyweights like Wikipedia, Google and Facebook have demonstrated their opposition to the proposed legislation, in some cases protesting by temporarily blocking users from accessing content.

A broad swathe of organizations from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum have come out against SOPA, and antipathy to the legislation appears to be growing.

Meanwhile, some members of congress have reportedly begun pulling their support for the bill. It could be that the growing opposition has forced some lawmakers to rethink their positions.

The high-tech industry has also held several briefings recently for congress regarding the bill, which may have led some lawmakers to change their stances.

“The legislation is well-intentioned, and I would personally like to think that anyone who is withdrawing support has thought about the issue more deeply and has some new concerns that they’d like to address,” Meg Marco, executive editor of The Consumerist, told TechNewsWorld.

Lawmakers Lollop Off Into SOPA Sunset

Lawmakers such as Representative Lee Terry and Senator Ben Cardin have reportedly said they’ll withdraw their backing for SOPA.

Further, Rep. Justin Amash has expressed support for the anti-SOPA online blackout on his Facebook page, and Congressman Bob Latta opposes the legislation.

Representative Dennis Ross tweeted that SOPA is dead. “I will not support SOPA if this headlong rush continues,” he added. Rep. Rush Holt tweeted that the legislation will not have his vote.

High-Tech Players Clobber SOPA

Many Internet players have made no bones about their opposition to SOPA.

Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing have blacked out their sites; Google has blacked out its logo on its home page; Mozilla has darkened the start page for its Firefox browser and included a call to action; Facebook has criticized the bill; and Craigslist steered users to a page with a black background bearing a message on the issue in white, for example.

On Wednesday, a protest was reportedly held outside the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Web players have also actively worked to educate congress. On Tuesday, Scribd, Craigslist, Reddit and top executives from other technology companies held a briefing for lawmakers.

Non-Techies Can Play, Too

Groups outside the tech industry are also up in arms against SOPA.

Heritage Action, a nonprofit advocacy group aligned with the conservative Heritage Foundation, has stated its opposition. Campaign finance watchdogs Public Campaign and Public Campaign Action Fund have blacked out their sites in protest against SOPA.

The White House has already come out against the proposed legislation.

Complaints against SOPA “are more matters of policy than technology,” Richard Bennett, a senior research fellow at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), told TechNewsWorld.

ITIF contends that the technology behind SOPA is sound.

The People Are Speaking

Demand Progress and Don’t Censor The Net have jointly launched to back candidates who oppose SOPA.

More than 30,000 people are claimed to have pledged to use their votes to defeat attempts to censor the Internet within the first 12 hours of the new site’s launch.

Demand Progress is left-leaning and Don’t Censor the Net right-leaning, but that makes no difference to them.

“I would like to see our government in general become more well-versed on technology issues, and I hope this bi-partisan effort [to oppose SOPA] has been educational both to them and to consumers,”’s Marco remarked.

1 Comment

  • The support for this was based on the premise, from media companies, that somehow "online" the law wasn’t as effective, or harsh, as in the real world. My own description of the effect was that, if applied to the real world, an entire convention center, or other place of business, could be effectively erased from the maps (the equivalent of removing all DNS entries to it), and kept closed, without presumption of innocence, based on what one person posted on their public ad board, or opted to sell from a booth, without the owners having any clue it was happening.

    Someone else made the much of succinct statement that it was a bit like holding road crews liable for the criminals that shipped illegal goods, or attempted to escape, while driving on the roads they built.

    In short, it doesn’t fit any real world law at all.

    But, I then had a huge thought. Its also bloody useless. These people never heard of peer to peer? What would stop every single person in the world installing something like a p2p DNS service, where the only link in the chain they need to "know" via normal DNS is one of multiple points where one links to the initial network? Everyone on the planet would become a DNS server, and, like p2p sharing, if you don’t have the DNS for a site, someone else in the network you are connected to would. Every DNS on the planet could go offline, and everyone, including the original offending site, would still be accessible, as long as you had the p2p running.

    The only provision in the things that has any teeth at all is the idea that you can, arbitrarily, freeze all US banking assets for the site. Which… is a) useless for most pirates, who don’t need to us them, and b) would bankrupt thousands of people, as a result of legit sites, and businesses, being targeted for everything from "claims" of copyright infringement, not proof mind, but just "claims", to occasional real infringement, which the owner didn’t have the staff, or time, to notice before someone else pointed it out to the Fed.

    All around, the "technology" behind the idea isn’t at all sound, since its so damn easy to effectively circumvent its main, "kill all DNS, so people can’t find it on the map", part. And the parts of it that would work are completely insane, go against the very principles of due process, could be used against the very people that created the bill, without them having any recourse but to shut down, until they could absolutely prove it was false, and would turn large swaths of the internet into wastelands, all over an attempt to stop bootleggers, who are already using darknets, alternative DNS systems (if they are not total idiots), non-US banking, non-US servers, etc. And, all so that media companies can do things like they do in Russia, from what I understand, where if you want a movie, or music, that isn’t 20 years old, you have ***no*** option other than buy the bootleg copy, unless you just happen to have relatives in some place where they "can" get it (getting it from there, to you, however…).

    Heck, I have that problem just trying to buy British stuff in the US, since its the wrong region code. But, its my fault that I have to wait 10 years for them to re-release the same thing in the US? And they wonder why some people find it easier to steal things, and think laws like these are a sound solution instead… :head->desk:

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