On the surface and in the talking points, the Stop Online Piracy Act is designed to quell the distribution of intellectual property like software, movies and music.
US lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.
The Stop Online Piracy Act has received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act or Protect IP Act.
The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.
“Rogue websites that steal and sell American innovations have operated with impunity,” Smith [House Judiciary Committee chairman] said in a statement.
“The online thieves who run these foreign websites are out of the reach of US law enforcement agencies and profit from selling pirated goods without any legal consequences,” he said.
“The bill prevents online thieves from selling counterfeit goods in the US, expands international protections for intellectual property, and protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit products,” Smith said.
The bill, if passed, would require Internet Service Providers to initiate a China-style lock down of web sites, foreign or domestic, that engage in activities violating provisions of the new law. Essentially, once the regulatory entity in charge decides that a particular web site has gone ‘rogue’ they will have the ability to shut down access by blocking the IP addresses in question, in effect taking the web site offline to all U.S. internet users.
But the Stop Online Piracy Act isn’t just about piracy of music, movies and software. It goes much further than that. Like everything emanating from Washington, the devil is in the details, and the details (all 78 pages of them) suggest their is an ulterior motive for pushing through the new bill:
…the authors of HR 3261 would require advertisers, credit card companies and other payment processors to stop providing ads or payment services to any site that a copyright or trademark holder claimed was “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.” No court would need to be involved unless the operator of the site filed a counter-notice asserting that it didn’t fit the bill’s definition of a dedicated infringer.
That definition is so broad, it could snare all sorts of cloud-based services, said Markham Erickson, executive director of the NetCoalition tech advocacy group. The problem starts with the bill’s focus on Web “sites,” which as a technical matter can be a single page within a domain. An eBay listing could be considered a “site,” as could a Facebook timeline, a Flickr page or a Dropbox folder.
“This bill is a direct attack on technology,” Erickson said. “Technology that allows for sharing of informtation … anything that could foster infringement can be covered by this bill. To me, that’s the headline of this. This is a dramatically different approach from what we’ve seen.”
This bill raises serious red flags. It includes the most controversial parts of the Senate’s Protect IP Act, but radically expands the scope. Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs. ISPs would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rightsholders allege hasn’t done enough to police infringement. The bill represents a serious threat to online innovation and to legitimate online communications tools.
Source: LA Times
In the last decade, as traditional press and television media sacrificed truth and metamorphosed into nothing more than propaganda arms for government policies and their corporate sponsors, millions of citizens journalists have risen up to fill the void. Whether you’ve created a web site to distribute information and news, or regularly contribute to an online community by sharing news links, excerpts, or video clips, you are part of this growing truth movement referred to collectively as ‘alternative news media.’ Unlike the officially recognized members of the fourth estate, easily identified by the press passes they wear or the news vans they drive, alternative news is driven not by the whims of centralized producers and presstitutes willing to sell their souls for more access, but rather, by those concerned with disseminating and acquiring the real truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
The Stop Online Piracy Act would essentially force web sites that offer users the ability to generate content to constantly monitor and police their comment areas, forums and social networks for “pirates” who have shared news clips or article excerpts with other community members. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the vague language in the new law would not only give private companies the ability to request an all-access shutdown of a rogue web site, but government as well – and not just for content generated by users visiting a particular site.
The government recently made headlines when they attempted to censor videos and stories on the internet surrounding police brutality, and while these instances cannot be categorized as piracy, the government argues that they fall under definitions of “defamation,” and as such the consequences for web sites that refuse removal would be the same as for suspected internet pirates:
“US authorities also called for the removal of 113 videos from YouTube, including several documenting alleged police brutality which Google refused to take down.”
The reason listed for the removal of a You Tube video in one instance is “government criticism”. The exact identity or content of the video is not divulged. The report states that the removal requests pertaining to “police brutality” were done on the grounds of “defamation” and are included in that separate category, meaning the takedown order on the grounds of “government criticism” was made by the “executive,” ie the federal government.
Source: Prison Planet
One of the key provisions of the law indicates that those corporate entities or government agencies that feel violated would have the ability to shut down a particular web page or site without intervention by the judicial system. Though the regulations are not exactly clear, this basically means that if a complaint is filed the web site operator is presumed guilty and their site would be shutdown. They would then be forced to prove their innocence – a process, that given the expediency of government bureaucracy, could take weeks or months.
Earlier this year, the government shut down numerous web sites for selling pirated sports content. But they didn’t stop there, they also punished web sites that simply linked to that content. One day soon it may be illegal for web site likes this one and many others in the alternative media sphere to publish excerpts like we have within this article or even to link to other web sites that have published material that may violate a copyright.
Make no mistake, this is a thinly veiled attack not on pirates (because laws for this kind of activity already exist, whether on the internet or offline), but alternative news media and controversial online communities. When there existed only three “news” channels and a handful of influential print newspapers the message could be easily controlled and repeated to the masses. With the advent of alternative media in the last decade, those who would rule us no longer have the ability to control the message. And this scares them.
It is the ability of the alternative news media network to identify key stories and issues, and then spread that information to millions of people instantly, which has become a serious threat to a system in which politicians and their corporate partners have lurked in the shadows of lawlessness, greed and socially engineered control for decades.
If you happen across this or your favorite web site in the near future and see the following image, now you’ll know why: