SOPA Soap Opera

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    Media lobbyists seem to know no bounds. With a steady stream of successes under their belt, perhaps they have gone too far.

    I remember when Lessig took them to the Supreme Court last time on the Mickey Mouse act, and lost, again. Every time Mickey Mouse comes up for expiration of copyright, Congress somehow finds a reason to extend the length of copyright.

    Then there was the DMCA. That has been a frustrating exercise for me as lawyers working for Dreamworks and will,i,am have pulled down media that they don’t like from my flickr and youtube streams, with no justification or legal basis. One of my Obama photos was even used by Lessig to fight the AP on fair use.

    Then I read in Lessig’s latest book on the corruption of Congress that he faced $1 billion lobbying against him.

    “Since 1995, Congress has enacted 32 different statutes to further refine and strengthen the protection of copyright.” (56)

    “Between 1998 and 2010, pro-copyright reformers were outspent by anti-reformers by $1.3 billion to $1 million—a thousand to one.” (59)

    Many in Congress never even heard the counter-argument to Disney. Today’s protests may change that.

    (More infographics from

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    1. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      I'm afraid the forces involved in this are much more sinister than you would normally associate with power, money and politics in Washington. Sonny Bono was just a patsy. When he threatened to talk - well we all know what happened to him.

      That's right, Black ops, don't always need helicopters

    2. scleroplex 39 months ago | reply

      funny with all the crying about piracy they always have billions lying about for lobbyists....

    3. Pieces of Eye 39 months ago | reply!/rupertmurdoch

      I thought reading candid tweets from Rupert Murdoch would steel an anger toward him like it did for @newtgingrich.

      It hasn't. He seems to me to have 'legitimate' concerns for his employees. I think it has biased his view and I don't think hes a person that sees clearly the big picture when it comes to his actions and opinions. I don't think its that he doesn't care about the broad ramifications of these bills I think its that hes chosen to ignore them because that's easier for him.

      He points out reasonable concerns for the GOP candidates he supports while at the same time neither sympathizing with nor acknowledging all the stances that make the GOP bat shit crazy.

    4. gsikich1 39 months ago | reply

      Thank you for presenting this and getting the word out.

    5. TrombaMarina 39 months ago | reply

      While SOPA is the most current, most public "Intellectual Property" bill and it raises serious issues, I also think it is the tip of the iceberg of even more serious issues. I am concerned by the recent stream of legislation (Protect IP, and Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011) all aimed at strengthening copyright and/or patent law. What scares me the most is patenting genes (Monsanto). Here is where I think the real action is at:

      While I'm not sure whether software should not be patentable, I do think it should at least be subject to weaker patent protection, such as shorter terms of protection, a narrower definition of what is patentable, and a more thorough review before patents are granted. When tech firms get into financial trouble, they start suing for patent infringement. There's an arms race of software patents going on right now. If any of the major players (Google, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc.) fired their arsenal, it would completely change the industry forever. In order for companies to compete on innovation more than legal wrangling, some sort of scaled patent disarmament is needed.

      Microsoft has what they call a "licensing program" for Linux which sounds very reasonable at first. But it means that $5-$10 of the purchase price of any Android phone goes to Microsoft for "licensing" to use Linux - a product Microsoft had no part in developing. This licensing program is essentially blackmail and extortion involving over 250 unproven and so far not court-tested claims of infringement of Microsoft patents by the Linux operating system. Out of 250 claims, I'll admit they probably have something legitimate. But based on my quick skim, fully 1/3 of those patents should not have been granted in the first place and another 1/3 are clearly not infringed by the Linux operating system. The remaining 1/3 will probably take years or decades to sort out in court. Here's the first big suit:

      Finally, the record industry cried foul when cassettes came out, claiming that music sharing would destroy their business. Again with DAT, again with CDs... And despite the gnashing of teeth and dragging of heals, each of those technologies made the record industry more money. The iTunes store paved the way for the latest renaissance of profit. And it was brilliant. It basically gave people a legal way to get their music in their preferred format and pay the record industry at the same time.

      I love this infographic showing the immediate reward for piracy and punishment for paying the producer of a movie under the current system:

      I think what's needed is a web site that lets people make payments for the content they like, regardless of how they get that content. That lets people support the entertainment they like (so that the producers can make more of it) by making donations directly to the authors/producers. This is more or less the way public television and radio work now, and they produce some of the highest quality and socially redeeming entertainment available.

      I'm imagining something along the lines of:
      But for existing, already produced entertainment. Artists register and get a check every month. Each contribution can be made anonymously or can be attributed to the giver. Like programs you see on Fox? Contribute to them. Upset that Fox cancelled Firefly? Contribute directly to Joss Wheadon or Mutant Enemy Productions instead. Basically, create a market around the existing distribution channels instead of trying to extinguish those channels.

    6. seatonsnet 39 months ago | reply

      My take on this... we are looking at the beginning of the beginning. The reaction here is much more important than the action itself. As we can see from the Megaupload bust the Feds really don't need a new law to act, the desire is to intimidate and it isn't working, we are looking at a real rebellion in the making. The open rebellion is even more significant than the cause, which is very important:

    7. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      I am not too clear on how you have an open rebellion in cyberspace. If you want to show your rebellious nature by sending things like airport and military site photos with cryptic messages in Arabic, that decode and link to knee slapping comedy, a variation of the "I am Spartacus" strategy - just to PO and overload the people who have to watch this stuff, that has been done already. What you will find is that the terrorists have better senses of humor than the people hunting for them. "Anwar, you know too much strong Yemen coffee makes you tense, lighten up already." Could be cause for arrest if we keep going down the extra stupid path; the airport security model applied to the internet. Some of the stuff that goes on out there is really eye opening to say the least. How about a real rebellion, a true web jejune. Quit using it for a few days. No not that! What will we do?

    8. linux-works 39 months ago | reply

      a delay is not a promise it won't come back, buried in some 'anti terror' or 'save the children' bill. you and I and most others who have lived long enough know this!

      just like all flair-ups, this is put on ice until some other distraction comes along (or is created) and then it will return, disguised but still essentially having the same overreaching goals.

    9. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      I see nothing but clueless, stupid, and totally out of it everywhere I look from people in charge of oversight and legislation to people in charge of major technology spending, people who think they are getting ripped off, people who are creating lies about getting ripped off for the people who think they are getting ripped off to give them money. etc. etc. Most of these people will not ever be able to tell an RFID from a biometric access device or a VPN token code if it were explained to them by Aristotle, Annie Sullivan, Miss Lois, John Dewey along with Bill Gates and Jimmy Wales offering $1B and their lives depended on it. Oh, they will just have experts figure it out for them? Well, the experts don't really understand it either, are out to steal everything they can from everyone, are working for foreign governments, are lawyers, corporate lobby and PR slimebags, blog and think that is programming, or worse. The Christopher Soghoians of the world are few and far between. They will no doubt be compelled to follow the example of Ronald Reagan where he liked all the world's critical issues to be presented in the form of Hollywood infographic film documentary cartoons. Let me see if I can locate a few.....
      Ahhh, just substitute "internet" for "soviet space program" to get an idea of what I mean I like the sound effects.

    10. scleroplex 39 months ago | reply

      they seem clueless and stupid only if one assumes a good faith approach.
      one should not do that.
      start from the position that they did this knowingly in order to please the people bribing them
      and things become easy to understand.

    11. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      They seem clueless and stupid because they are clueless and stupid. Even when they act in good faith, whatever that is in DC. They want to prevent Chinese from ripping off the next Pirates of the Caribbean by writing some absurd web legislation? Oh, but Pirates of the Caribbean is just the tip of the iceberg, they are stealing everywhere from $700B to $1T a year, costing us 2.1 M jobs due to lack of IP enforcements. Blah blah, and that is just China, not to mention Russia, Brazil, and everyone else. Therefore, write absurd web legislation? That means the people bribing them, lobbying them, drugging them, providing hookers for them etc. are also clueless when it comes to things like how the GFW woks, what big mammas do, how to make drugs in Brazil, etc.

    12. jurvetson 39 months ago | reply

      ooh, what do big mammas do?

    13. seatonsnet 39 months ago | reply

      Rebellion is simply a state of not doing what you are ordered to do. The "Whiskey Rebellion" of 1789 was about not paying taxes on whiskey a similar rebellion in France the same year was more far reaching and we call it a revolution. Service denial attacks using this new technique that Anonymous has developed could shut down important web based operations even on a govt level. I would call that a genuine rebellion.

    14. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      2:10 or so Content moderator. Disqus would be a big mama group, Amazon has really awful ones. Soooo sensitive.

    15. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      Rebellion is different from civil disobedience, acts of anarchy, vandalism, etc. Let's see, I am a bit fuzzy on insurrections vs rebellions, uprisings, revolutions. Rebellions seem to need arms as opposed to just general violence....

      rebellion n. an act of armed resistance to an established government or leader: the authorities put down a rebellion by landless colonials | [mass noun] the Bretons rose in rebellion against the King. - [mass noun] the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention: an act of teenage rebellion. Middle English: from Old French, from Latin rebellio(n-), from rebellis (see REBEL).

      insurrection /nsərεk(ə)n/ n. a violent uprising against an authority or government: the insurrection was savagely put down | [mass noun] opposition to the new regime led to armed insurrection. insurrectionary adj. insurrectionist n. & adj. late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin insurrectio(n-), from insurgere ‘rise up’.

      Denial of service and service blackouts do not even rise to the level of disobedience:

      disobedience n. [mass noun] failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority: disobedience to law is sometimes justified. disobedient adj. refusing to obey rules or someone in authority: Larry was stern with disobedient employees. disobediently adv. late Middle English: from Old French desobedient, based on Latin oboedient- ‘obeying’ (see OBEDIENT). disobey v. [with obj.] fail to obey (rules, a command, or someone in authority): around 1,000 soldiers had disobeyed orders and surrendered.

      This was a protest, nothing more.

    16. seatonsnet 39 months ago | reply

      We might define a revolution as a rebellion which changes a regime: thus we could call the digital era a "technological revolution". As to the present situation, the effectiveness or impact of a DNS attack its only measure: some have cost their victims a huge amount of money.

      Disrupting, intercepting and/or corrupting communications are strategic objectives in any conflict. That is really the question: is their a conflict? The next question would be: are many people joining in? And I repeat the idea of masses of people engaging in acts of sabotage to protest the actions of the authorities is the most important part of all of this... great oaks from little acorns grow.

    17. seatonsnet 39 months ago | reply

      This new way of organizing the DNS attacks is very interesting. Here from the FT

      (...) security researchers also identified a new tactic in its latest attacks. Rather than asking its supporters to download a tool – known as the Low Orbit Ion Cannon – which effectively volunteers the user’s PC into the zombie army, Anonymous activists on social networks such as Twitter and Tumblr passed around a simple web link.

      “If you visit the webpage, and do not have JavaScript disabled, you will instantly, without user interaction, begin to flood a website of Anonymous’s choice with unwanted traffic, helping to perpetuate a DDoS attack,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

      “The hackers have combined technological and social engineering to further their political aims,” said Kate Craig-Wood, managing director of Memset, a cloud hosting company. “I must admit some admiration – it is an elegantly simple method of empowering the people with the hackers’ skills, massively amplifying their capabilities.”
      This is a quantum leap in social activism.... almost Tunisian considering America's communication system.

    18. jgury 39 months ago | reply

      Scientific revolutions are now part of the vernacular thanks to Thomas S. Kuhn et. al.
      I like the concept of scientific insurrections, rebellions, and uprisings. For example, that would be the case if a group of scientists got fed up with politics and decided to stage a coup d'état or give local rebels some wmd materials. Another example. If J. Craig Venter began sporting a Che Guevara beard and beret, quoting Mao's little red book while his associates in cammo fatigues started building a compound off the coast of Venezuela. That would be a pretty good sign of a scientific revolution in progress.

    19. jurvetson 37 months ago | reply

      My friend Rob Reid's funny TED Talk on the subject of the absurdity of MPAA Math just went live.

      Stay tuned for his upcoming book on alien music piracy. I am reading a pre-print

      Rob Reid’s Year Zero

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