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#1 blueEbola   Members   -  Reputation: 464

Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:43 AM

Forgive me if SOPA has already been beaten to death on these forums.. I did a search and didn't come up with much (which seemed a bit surprising to be honest!), but I think that this is an important topic that deserves to be discussed.

I'm all for what the bill's original intent was -- to stop internet piracy. Piracy is the cancer of the internet, and affects us software developers significantly. I think any *appropriate* measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing, and something that we should absolutely support. I'm actually a web developer at my day job so it admittedly affects me less than it would affect say a game developer or a desktop software developer, but I understand the frustrations and can totally see why it is a very bad thing.

With that said, this new bill is the most atrocious and disgusting pile of feces I've ever seen. It's a one way ticket to internet fascism, and if they can effectively pass a bill to censor suspected copyright violations, with enough time and money they can pass a bill to censor even more things that are considered by society to be "not politically correct". I think more than anything, it demonstrates the amount of ignorance that exists in politics today, and exposes the true colors of how our political systems work. The bill proposes one of many things; the most prominent of which is a filtration system that will work on the DNS level: preventing reported websites from being able to resolve successfully to the target IP addresses. It also gives copyright holders a tremendous amount of power in being able to shutdown a site's visibility with a simple flip of a switch. After reading countless reports of folks abusing the available DMCA laws in order to get content taken down (when NO copyright violation has actually taken place), this just plain scares me.

The entire web 2.0 culture is based off of user-generated content. Giving users the ability to share with one another, and to collaborate and create works that they otherwise would not have been able to create and propagate through traditional means. I love being able to hop onto YouTube and finding an awesome cover of a song I love, or discovering new music altogether. I can't count how many times I've surfed through YouTube and clicked through to the video of a guy covering a guitar solo I'm not familiar with, only to discover that I loved the source material and finding a new band I can get into. But sadly, with the vague nature of this bill and the purposeful ambiguity that's been thrown into it, these kinds of videos can be torn down in a heartbeat.

And then you have to consider the effect it will have on internet start-ups and existing small internet companies with little to no legal team. While the big guys may be able to cope with these new provisions with a legion of lawyers, the smaller companies will dwindle and fail. Hosting a site centered around user collaboration and/or sharing will become such a big liability that venture capitalists will bail the first chance they can get. The bill allows anyone to aggressively pursue the shutting down of a website at their own discretion, and will inevitably turn the internet into a retarded legal battleground.

The funniest part about all of this is the bill will most likely fail miserably at preventing piracy. Already there have been several proof of concept plugins have been released for Firefox demonstrating various ways of getting around DNS filtration in the United States, effectively creating a workaround allowing you to get to websites that had been blocked before. And not to mention that if you have the site's IP address memorized, you can get there without a hitch.

The bill appears to have been shelved until early next year when the hearings will resume, but the amount of support I'm seeing for it is honestly quite frightening. The open nature of the internet is exactly what makes it a huge breeding ground of innovation and creativity (and free speech), but something like this passing could very well be the beginning of the end.

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#2 Eelco   Members   -  Reputation: 301

Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:35 AM

Well put, I couldnt agree more.

Im all for property rights and their enforcement. But all policies come at a cost, and if they outweight the benefit, then its a bad idea to enact them.

This seems like just such an example. The actual efficiacy in stemming piracy will be zero, and all it will accomplish is padding the pockets of lawyers and increasing the influence of politicians.

No, please.

#3 ChurchSkiz   Members   -  Reputation: 450

Posted 25 December 2011 - 04:34 PM

You're surprised the government is going to screw it up?

#4 Yann L   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1798

Posted 25 December 2011 - 05:48 PM

As ChurchSkiz said. Governments are notoriously incompetent and technophobic when it comes to technologies they don't understand and that they perceive as a potential threat to their power monopoly. And they're notoriously competent at retaining this said power and associated revenue streams with all means, even if that means undermining the very principles of democracy they are supposedly built upon. Nothing new here.

I haven't followed this SOPA deal, but from a quick look it seems indeed messed up. Then again, copyright law by itself (and patent law even more so) is messed up and is in dire need of a major overhaul to modern standards, especially with respect to the ever more prevalent global networking environments people live in today. Copyright is obviously an important concept, but criminalizing major parts of the population for minor infringements is just ridiculous and archaic.

#5 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7214

Posted 25 December 2011 - 06:07 PM

I have two brief comments to make.
1) Advocacy won't save the Internet.
2) You cannot simultaneously preserve Internet freedom and stop piracy (or other far more reprehensible things like child pornography) in any effective way. Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.

#6 DarklyDreaming   Members   -  Reputation: 363

Posted 25 December 2011 - 06:31 PM

I don't think those holding the power realize just how bad things will get if SOPA passes. The word "shitstorm" pales in comparison.
"I will personally burn everything I've made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames."
~ Gabe

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~ Cavil, BSG.
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There's a club for people like that. It's called Everybody and we meet at the bar."

~ Antheus


#7 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30432

Posted 25 December 2011 - 06:46 PM

So the great firewall of China is expanding to the US?
I didn't follow it close enough to find out exactly how/why it was stopped, but a similar filtering plan was being pushed through the Australian government here and eventually failed to be passed. The plan was to stop kiddie porn (despite the fact it was shown to not be effective), but a lot of people took it upon themselves to demonstrate all of the false-positives and potential for abuse that existed in the filtering system... Don't give up yet.

Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.

Except for the part where they're not effective...

#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21475

Posted 26 December 2011 - 04:29 PM

So the great firewall of China is expanding to the US?
I didn't follow it close enough to find out exactly how/why it was stopped, but a similar filtering plan was being pushed through the Australian government here and eventually failed to be passed. The plan was to stop kiddie porn (despite the fact it was shown to not be effective), but a lot of people took it upon themselves to demonstrate all of the false-positives and potential for abuse that existed in the filtering system... Don't give up yet.

Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.

Except for the part where they're not effective...

I think Promit's statement is is quite correct.



To be clear, I don't like the latest draft of the legislation either.

But unlike the original post, I disagree with the entire premise the law was built on. I believe the concept itself is faulty at its core, it is not the codification that is the problem.



The bill follows naturally from the current law.

Law is nothing more or less than rules and guidelines that are enforced through social institutions.

If social institutions are unable or unwilling to enforce a law, then that law is impotent.

Current IP law (including copyright law) on the Internet is unenforceable in practice.

Currently there are many laws about behavior that is restricted or prohibited online. The current social institutions, in the form of the courts of the world's nations, are unable to keep pace with the actions of individuals online; some enforcement happen if businesses are involved and there is enough money to justify the action, but generally violations are unchecked and the law is not followed.



(The rest is a reply to the original 'blueEbola' post, not to the comment from Promit or Hodgman. The new forum software is not that great at multiple quotes, so quoted lines are prefixed with >>. )

>>I'm actually a web developer at my day job so it admittedly affects me less than it would affect say a game developer or a desktop software developer, but I understand the frustrations and can totally see why it is a very bad thing.

All programmers deal directly with intellectual property and copyright even if they don't know it. Every character we type is subject to copyright law; every algorithm we enter is potentially a process capable of being patented. IP law affects every developer.


>> I'm all for what the bill's original intent was -- to stop internet piracy. Piracy is the cancer of the internet, and affects us software developers significantly. I think any *appropriate* measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing, and something that we should absolutely support.


Let's be careful with that.

What is piracy? The unauthorized transfer of data? Seems to be your definition, but correct me if that is wrong.

You have just stated that you WANT to prevent people from accessing data. Is that correct?

Remember that you wrote this: "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing".





>> With that said, this new bill is the most atrocious and disgusting pile of feces I've ever seen. It's a one way ticket to internet fascism, and if they can effectively pass a bill to censor suspected copyright violations, with enough time and money they can pass a bill to censor even more things that are considered by society to be "not politically correct".

That is a surprisingly absolutist statement. It is full of loaded words, and it is contradictory to your first statement.

Yet it is fundamentally correct as pointed out up front in my reply. You cannot pass a law that will prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials without also being able to pass a law to censor any content. If it has the ability to censor then it is only policy that decides what is censored, if anything.


If the social institution does not have power to enforce the law then it is impotent. In this case we can see that governments do not posses that power in spite of repeated attempts to do it.

Yet if they have power to enforce a law, then the use of that power (or application of ANY law) can be interpreted as facist. Such is the definition of the term.



In order for someone to have those desired measures and countermeasures, they must have control. Without that control one will not have power to enforce the law at all.

This bill is an attempt to gain that control over the Internet, which your initial claim itself says you want. It would present a method to limit access of unauthorized content, or to limit access only to authorized content.

Either the social institution must have the ability to enforce the law or they are impotent at it. If you want the institution to have the control (which you claim at first) then it follows that you are amenable the bill's goal.




>> The entire web 2.0 culture is based off of user-generated content. Giving users the ability to share with one another, and to collaborate and create works that they otherwise would not have been able to create and propagate through traditional means. I love being able to hop onto YouTube and finding an awesome cover of a song I love, or discovering new music altogether.

The culture, from a consumer perspective, certainly is based on user-generated content.

How would you implement that? Keep in mind your own claim: "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing".


You say you want to hop on to YouTube and get "an awesome cover of a song I love". This is usually a violation of existing law. Their cover version is a derivative work as defined by existing law. Unless the group had proper permissions from the copyright owner that is unlawful.

Going back to your first statement desiring "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing", you would have prohibited the cover song from being upload in the first place without written consent from the people or company that own the rights to the original composition.

If you want to enable measures to prevent unauthorized access, which also means measures to enable authorized access, then it follows that you MUST have means to control and enforce it. Either you have the means to enforce the law (which you claim was a good thing) or you have no means to enforce the law making it impotent.



So which is it?

Do you want to violate existing law by allowing and even encouraging unlawful distribution of derivative works, or do do you honestly believe "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing", adding additional provisions to protect the laws which have already broken?

That is the whole reason the bill exists in the first place.



>> I can't count how many times I've surfed through YouTube and clicked through to the video of a guy covering a guitar solo I'm not familiar with, only to discover that I loved the source material and finding a new band I can get into. But sadly, with the vague nature of this bill and the purposeful ambiguity that's been thrown into it, these kinds of videos can be torn down in a heartbeat.

Just as before, it is a contradiction. The copyright holder alone has the power to distribute the work and authorize distribution of derivative works. You said up front that you want measures to prevent unauthorized sharing of those materials.

Do you honestly want them, or do you not?


If we take at face value your claim that "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing", then it naturally follows the the unauthorized distribution of those videos in the first place should be curtailed. You would by your own statement have shut down a large portion of the site you love.


The activity you enjoy is also an activity that is currently generally unlawful.

The bill attempts to curtail that unlawful activity. Just as a traditional pirate may enjoy pillaging and plundering, those activities are unlawful and penalties for violations are enforced through social institutions. The activity you enjoy is also frequently unlawful, but violations are not enforced.

You stated up front that measures which would prevent violating the law are a good thing, yet you then state you dislike it when it is applied to your favored activities.



>> I think more than anything, it demonstrates the amount of ignorance that exists in politics today, and exposes the true colors of how our political systems work. The bill proposes one of many things; the most prominent of which is a filtration system that will work on the DNS level: preventing reported websites from being able to resolve successfully to the target IP addresses. It also gives copyright holders a tremendous amount of power in being able to shutdown a site's visibility with a simple flip of a switch. After reading countless reports of folks abusing the available DMCA laws in order to get content taken down (when NO copyright violation has actually taken place), this just plain scares me.

Didn't you state that "measures we can take to prevent pirates from sharing copyrighted materials is a GOOD thing"?

The DNS filtering specified in the bill is only done after court order issued after due cause and due processes after a copyright holder issues a sworn statement to the court. That is all that is required for existing copyright law to be enforced. You do not cite a problem with existing copyright law.

The law only pushes the existing law into the current age.

The requirements are fundamentally similar to what was required to get a radio or television station to stop broadcasting material in breach of copyright law. It is fundamentally similar to what was required to get a gallery to take down unauthorized copies of works. It is fundamentally similar to what is required to force retailers to remove unauthorized items from store shelves.


Those requirements have not changed with this bill. The will simply be extended onto additional Internet providers.





>> And then you have to consider the effect it will have on internet start-ups and existing small internet companies with little to no legal team. While the big guys may be able to cope with these new provisions with a legion of lawyers, the smaller companies will dwindle and fail. Hosting a site centered around user collaboration and/or sharing will become such a big liability that venture capitalists will bail the first chance they can get. The bill allows anyone to aggressively pursue the shutting down of a website at their own discretion, and will inevitably turn the internet into a retarded legal battleground.

Again, this is no different than existing IP law extended elsewhere.

IP law favors the incumbent. By definition it extends protection to those who have created works in the past and prohibits others from using the thing or derivatives of it.

This has been the law in the country since it was founded; this type of language is even incorporated into the Constitution itself.

What has changed is that the duration of the protection has slowly increased over time, and also that the ability to bring a product to market has reduced over time.

You are not contesting that existing law is a problem; somehow you are not not having an issue with the current law. You are not contesting what is covered by copyright law, what constitutes a derivative work or what is exempted from it, or the term length of copyright protections.

If those were modified then there would be no reason for the bill.



>> The bill appears to have been shelved until early next year when the hearings will resume, but the amount of support I'm seeing for it is honestly quite frightening. The open nature of the internet is exactly what makes it a huge breeding ground of innovation and creativity (and free speech), but something like this passing could very well be the beginning of the end.

>> The funniest part about all of this is the bill will most likely fail miserably at preventing piracy. Already there have been several proof of concept plugins have been released for Firefox demonstrating various ways of getting around DNS filtration in the United States, effectively creating a workaround allowing you to get to websites that had been blocked before. And not to mention that if you have the site's IP address memorized, you can get there without a hitch.



That is the reason the existing law is fundamentally flawed.

The problem is not this bill. This bill is an attempt to fix the existing (unenforcable) law. As you point out, this bill will not cause the existing law to be enforcable by government.

The fundamental problem is the assumption that social institutions can enforce laws on the Internet when the population of the Internet does not want it.

When the society itself rejects the authority of a social institution that would govern, and that institution that would govern have no ability to to sieze control, then it follows that that any law they attempt to impose will be similarly impotent.



This bill is a bad policy not just because of how it is written.

This bill is a bad policy that keeps recurring because the citizenry of the Internet are against it, and external organizations (currently) are not in a position to enforce such laws. This bill and those like it are attempts to wrest control from a population that is unwilling to surrender it. Just as the citizenry of a nation will overturn their governmental social institutions when they disagree strongly enough, the citizenry of the Internet have repeatedly demonstrated they will discard and overthrow any law like this.


The power must be usurped from the citizenry or the citizens themselves must accept the social institutions as government. The pages of history are splattered with the blood of those who went the first route. This law is not unlike many others that are similar to it that have met varying degrees of success or lack of it.

The people have chosen to generally discard IP law on the Internet, although they continue to generally accept and follow it offline. The voice of the people online has been clearly sounded, even though it is directly contrary to the laws that are found in the physical world.



That is the fundamental flaw. No law any nation can pass will change that fact; the two sides are in opposition. Government only works when the people are generally lawful and the institution has the ability to enforce penalties against those who violate the law. In this case the people are generally not lawful (based on the existing law) and also the government has no ability to enforce the penalties in a realistic manner. No law will ever be viable when those two conditions hold.
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#9 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 30432

Posted 26 December 2011 - 07:58 PM

I think Promit's statement is is quite correct.

It may be that I've completely misread the intention behind his post, so to paraphrase Promit, part (1) is saying that it's inevitable for money-and-power to take control of the internet, so instead of fighting against that, we need to mutate the internet into something truly uncontrollable. Part (2) seems to imply that the-great-firewall-of-china is effective.


Part 2 is plainly false. Every filtering system has a workaround, and the sharing of information simply cannot be stopped. Sure, it can be made harder, but people have been smuggling information since the dawn of language... I really don't know how people can argue that it's possible to stop such a thing.

Part 1 is well intentioned, but overly pessimistic IMO. The future doesn't have to be a soulless, bureaucratic, corporate, inequal distopia... The political/power pendulum does swing both ways, and to believe that the greed of sociopathic corporations must eventually rule and take over the common sense of the people is a very grim way to live your life.

Though, if you are going to live under this pessimistic cloud, it would follow that there is no one that you could trust with the keys to the internet -- surely any gatekeeper will be corrupted eventually, right? Even distributed systems with millions of gate-keepers are just a stalling tactic until the tenticles of evil reach out and control them all, through greed or fear or hatred, etc...?

Also, due to the part 2 statement above, the wider internet is already uncontrollable, even if specific parts of it can be ruled tyrannically. Hence the fact that DNS shutdowns, server raids and filtering schemes don't actually stop kiddie-porn or piracy.

#10 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21475

Posted 26 December 2011 - 08:59 PM

I think Promit's statement is is quite correct.

It may be that I've completely misread the intention behind his post, so to paraphrase Promit, part (1) is saying that it's inevitable for money-and-power to take control of the internet, so instead of fighting against that, we need to mutate the internet into something truly uncontrollable. Part (2) seems to imply that the-great-firewall-of-china is effective.


Looking again:


I have two brief comments to make.
1) Advocacy won't save the Internet.
2) You cannot simultaneously preserve Internet freedom and stop piracy (or other far more reprehensible things like child pornography) in any effective way. Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.


As I hopefully made clear, governments currently have no effective power to censor. Governments are taking increasingly aggressive steps to enforce their laws online, but the individuals on the Internet refuse to be governed by them and the governments are unable to usurp control from the people; it still remains a technocracy.

For the first one, advocacy alone cannot "save" it (saved from what, to what, exactly?) as the article Promit linked to explains rather clearly. It is the exercise of power within the political spheres and business spheres that cause change. Advocacy can help push it along, but advocacy alone will never generate enough pressure cause that change.

It takes overwhelmingly strong civic action (not simple advocacy) to override such governmental and business-world changes; historically this generally takes the shape of either crippling governments and businesses until they relent, or there is a revolution.




As for his second item, that was the purpose of my (rather long) post above.

There are two key pieces to such things: They must have the capacity to enforce the law and still must maintain a leadership mandate from the people.

Currently no government in the world has the capacity to enforce the laws they would enact; bills like this one attempt to gain that control, the Great Firewall is an attempt to gain that control, comprehensive wiretaps are an attempt to gain that control, shutting off all non-government-provided ISPs is an attempt to gain that control. Currently no government has that control, with North Korea probably being the closest to achieving it.

Simultaneously the people are unwilling to accept the laws being presented. There is blatant IP theft online, both the blatant IP theft and the more subtle edge cases are seen as government stupidity rather than appropriate policy.

On the one extreme, many groups that track such numbers (including my own company) cite an 80%-90% piracy rate for games. Despite my own pressures I still find my kids watching full pirated movies and TV episodes on YouTube and then complaining when they are eventually taken down. On the other end, even the simple use of caching on servers is being contested as copyright violations (since they are preserving copies and redistributing without express permission); indexing and cataloging by search engines is being challenged repeatedly in countries around the world, almost all the courts finding it is a legal use of IP. These are generally not express allowances made by law, but are exceptions carved out by courts on a case-by-case basis.




If they get the first and not the second, that is if governments gain the technical ability to censor all speech online and then use it without the mandate from the people, there will rather obviously be an overwhelming force applied to government. It will not be a force of advocacy. It will be a force of nationwide and potentially global action in the forms of protests, physical warfare, electronic warfare, and even electronic terrorism, that is taken against that nation. It will be overwhelming and crippling as that government faces a barrage of attacks from around the globe that will eventually overwhelm them; either they will capitulate or be overthrown.

If the will of the people is to enforce rules and no government steps up, the people themselves will form their own government to create and enforce those laws; this is unlikely to happen given the current state of things. Perhaps the opposite may happen, where there is a virtual online government where online policy is dictated by the people, but I cannot fathom that happening because the Internet requires both physical components and virtual components, neither survives without the other.
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#11 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 28 December 2011 - 01:12 PM

On the one extreme, many groups that track such numbers (including my own company) cite an 80%-90% piracy rate for games. Despite my own pressures I still find my kids watching full pirated movies and TV episodes on YouTube and then complaining when they are eventually taken down. On the other end, even the simple use of caching on servers is being contested as copyright violations (since they are preserving copies and redistributing without express permission); indexing and cataloging by search engines is being challenged repeatedly in countries around the world, almost all the courts finding it is a legal use of IP. These are generally not express allowances made by law, but are exceptions carved out by courts on a case-by-case basis.

Firstly, I don't pirate games. Just to make that clear before the rest of this post.

Now, I am very much in the pirate because products are not made reasonably available to me camp. I pirate some tv shows and stream NFL games online not because I don't want to pay for them, but because it is either impossible to acquire them legally for me, or because it is absurd and I have moral objections to the way you get them legally.

For a more specific example, I pirate Top Gear because it's the only show I want to watch on the BBC, and I would have to get an absurd cable package just to watch that one show. I would be fine paying to watch individual episodes or giving ad impressions all day for it, but thus that option is not available where I live.

The other example of NFL games is just that I only really care about the Packers. Living on the east coast of canada means I either have to get another absurd cable package, only be able to watch some packer games, go to a bar to watch (I do this sometimes, but I don't really like doing it every week), or pay something like $200 for just the regular season for all teams. As I just want to watch the Packers, which I would be fine paying a smaller price for, I cannot justify the huge investment into just regular season games, so I'm not giving them any money.

That said, I am totally open to paying either through ad impressions or literally paying once the price and availability is reasonable, but that's something content providers need to adapt to before I'll stop.

#12 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

Posted 28 December 2011 - 02:16 PM

2) You cannot simultaneously preserve Internet freedom and stop piracy (or other far more reprehensible things like child pornography) in any effective way. Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.


Likewise, you cannot perserve personal freedom (and indeed, democracy itself) and prevent all crime (and even then). This is nothing new. We still have murder. People have realized this ages ago and have come to grips with reality. Yet somehow the internet is different?

#13 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21475

Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:32 PM


2) You cannot simultaneously preserve Internet freedom and stop piracy (or other far more reprehensible things like child pornography) in any effective way. Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.


Likewise, you cannot perserve personal freedom (and indeed, democracy itself) and prevent all crime (and even then). This is nothing new. We still have murder. People have realized this ages ago and have come to grips with reality. Yet somehow the internet is different?


Real world law only works when the population is generally law-abiding.

When the masses ignore the law several things happen: Police struggle to arrest the accused due to the sheer number and difficulty in catching them. The AG office and other legal gropus don't have the resources to prosecute (which results in 'catch-and-release' problems). If they do make it to court it is less likely to be convicted; I recall reading that during the Prohibition in the US around 80% of the alcohol trials had a jury nullification. (That's where the jury refuses to find the person guilty even if there is enough evidence to convict). We have recently seen the same trend with marijuana violations not getting convicted, and with 3-strikes provisions where juries resist giving a third conviction even when the violation was blatant.

When enough people stop following the law the government and social institutions that support the law lose their power.



COPPA is a great example of this.

COPPA has two sides, the most obvious is the service provider: Businesses are still largely compliant and block anyone who claims they are under age 13 and does not have the right paperwork. Paperwork is costly and time consuming so many sites take minimal steps to block anyone who doesn't claim to be age 13 or older. The suits are rare, but periodically there is one like Xanga facing nearly $1M in penalties. They follow the law, the law is enforced, and that side is generally satisfied.

COPPA has another side that is ignored: A few seconds on Google pulls up this research paper and others that claim for online pre-teens, 42% of online 12-year-olds report that they use social networks. Another report by Consumer Reports says 7.5 million kids under 13 have joined Facebook. That is in spite of Facebook's policy against it. ... That means EVERY ONE of those parents and children who were involved in getting their accounts are guilty of a federal misdemeanor.


So why don't we have roughly 10 million convictions from pre-teens on facebook? It is extremely easy to find them without help; law enforcement could subpoena their records and compare against other federal databases to turn up a long list of probable violators, so why don't they?


The answer is the same as to why legal attacks on piracy are ineffective. We see a handful of cases, yes. The ones that go through are usually against businesses and large groups. Most are fishing expeditions against individuals by media companies where they ask potential infringers to sign a document stating their guilt, but those that go to court are often quickly dismissed on technical reasons. SOPA and the laws similar to it all suffer the same fatal flaw of too many offenders and not enough resources.

When new copy-protection or anti-piracy laws are enacted they tend to hit the businesses and organizations --- look at Napster and Pirate Bay --- but the massive list of commonfolk offenders make hitting the other half of the equation virtually impossible.
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#14 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 876

Posted 29 December 2011 - 08:26 AM

I'm all for what the bill's original intent was -- to stop internet piracy. Piracy is the cancer of the internet, and affects us software developers significantly.

Software is an interesting point. We're facing similar battles with draconian new laws in the UK, with the Digital Economy Act. The last Government (which introduced the law), in order to argue in favour of the law, produced figures showing the alleged "damages" of piracy.

Even by their own figures, the damage for software piracy was around 140 times that of the damages for music/videos (I forget the exact category - will have to look it up when I'm at home).

Yet all these new laws are brought in to target websites hosting, and people downloading, which mainly affects music/videos, and it's mainly the music and film industry whining about needing new laws. A business that is using unlicenced software isn't going to get chucked off the Internet. (Not that I think they should - but it's just a ridiculous double standard.)

Artist Lily Allen set up a blog arguing in support of the Digital Economy Act, yet then it turned out that she'd used other musicians songs to create a mix tape to promote her commercial work! (Which was still hosted on an EMI-owned website - should EMI be disconnected from the website?) ( http://www.wired.com...rers-bandwidth/ )

I've also read stories where certain tabloids sometimes take photos for their stories without permission, and if caught, then settle (for reasonable costs, e.g., of the order of hundreds). I don't see a crusade to get them shut down.

2) You cannot simultaneously preserve Internet freedom and stop piracy (or other far more reprehensible things like child pornography) in any effective way. Inappropriate measures may be the only effective ones.

I'd say that you can't stop piracy - giving up the former won't allow the latter to be achieved.
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http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#15 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2397

Posted 29 December 2011 - 08:45 AM

An RF transceiver can be made out of 3-ish basic electronics building blocks. In extreme case, their crude counterparts can be home made. But powering it up so it transmits makes it an illegal device just about anywhere in the world. Illegal to the point of governments having specialized mobile equipment for tracking them.

Internet requires some of the most expensive construction projects involving either undersea cables, satellites, precision microwave dishes or underground cables. Needless to say, tens of billions are invested before first packet goes from point A to point B.

RF space has been regulated since forever. Original term pirate meant Pirate Radio Station.

In 10 years, internet will be locked down. But unlike RF, which has been controlled by governments, internet will be controlled by private corporations.

And it is quite possible that running a server will require a license and come with legal disclaimer, enforced by law.


The argument of freedom, innovation, economy - RF transmissions cannot be controlled yet they have been locked down tightly. Internet comes with controls built in today. Just change a config line, perhaps remotely and you're done - a country loses internet.

#16 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7214

Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:13 AM

I only meant the converse of what people are getting from my #2 point: that no appropriate measure can possibly be effective. I don't have any judgement on whether it is possible to be effective at all, though I would suggest that efficacy is probably based as much in culture as technology.

#17 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

Posted 29 December 2011 - 01:25 PM

I only meant the converse of what people are getting from my #2 point: that no appropriate measure can possibly be effective. I don't have any judgement on whether it is possible to be effective at all, though I would suggest that efficacy is probably based as much in culture as technology.


I meant the same, though it might not have been clear.

#18 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 29 December 2011 - 11:00 PM

I think the two things that worry me most are the following:

1. The secondary liability stuff is a VERY VERY serious issue that needs to be handled very carefully. It could in theory shut down any forum, comment allowing blog, or any user generated content site/agregator. I really think this is very touchy and would prefer it not be in at all.

2. One thing Cnet brought up in an editor round table is that they are legislating before they have any solid data, just estimates. SOPA I believe calls for commisioning a study to gather unbiased data, but that should be done before any legislation should be made imo.

One of the numbers that nobody knows that is hugely important is the disparity between the claim that 80+% of content users pirate the product vs that 80% being missed sales. In realtiy a lot of the pirates either never would buy the product or pirate it because there is no trial version. A closer estimate of actual lost sales would be a huge indicator of how much legislation is needed and what actually needs to be legislated.

Similarly, the stuff valve's been saying about piracy shouldn't be discounted. There's a lot to be said for piracy being more about convenience and quality than money; quality in that you don't have to deal with drm or content that might not be localized in the case of what valve found in Russia.

#19 DarklyDreaming   Members   -  Reputation: 363

Posted 04 January 2012 - 12:22 PM

Piracy is driven by a misunderstanding of an evolving business model and customer dissatisfaction -- at a certain price point, mostly the traditional 60$ for AAA titles, people don't want just the product, they want the service to go with it. Sure it's not viable for many types of games, for various reasons, to provide constant updates and other assorted that would make it implausible or tedious to keep up with a pirated version (look at Minecraft, a game which updated so often that pirating it just became silly) but it is what the costumer wants and they're right -- a 60$ game is, for the most part, not really worth its price.

That certainly doesn't justify piracy

But trying to lockdown the internet in an attempt to take a jab at pirates is like gassing the prison to stop a riot -- sure, you got rid of the problem, but now you've got more than your fair share of blood on your hands; including those poor guys who just happened to be inbetween you and those prisoners.

There will always be people who want things for free, sure. There will also be those who thinks the price is unfair, sure. What we should do is to serve our customers what they want, when they want it, how they want it -- the rest sorts itself.

As for those who wanted everything for free... well, nothing you can do about those -- they've existed since the dawn of man; except then they were "poachers" or "thieves" or "pirates". These days, apparently everyone is a "pirate"! :)
"I will personally burn everything I've made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames."
~ Gabe

"I don't mean to rush you but you are keeping two civilizations waiting!"
~ Cavil, BSG.
"If it's really important to you that other people follow your True Brace Style, it just indicates you're inexperienced. Go find something productive to do."
~ Bregma

"Well, you're not alone.

There's a club for people like that. It's called Everybody and we meet at the bar."

~ Antheus


#20 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 04 January 2012 - 12:57 PM

Piracy is driven by a misunderstanding of an evolving business model and customer dissatisfaction -- at a certain price point, mostly the traditional 60$ for AAA titles, people don't want just the product, they want the service to go with it. Sure it's not viable for many types of games, for various reasons, to provide constant updates and other assorted that would make it implausible or tedious to keep up with a pirated version (look at Minecraft, a game which updated so often that pirating it just became silly) but it is what the costumer wants and they're right -- a 60$ game is, for the most part, not really worth its price.,


Article related: http://wii.ign.com/articles/121/1215619p1.html

I read this this morning and I think it's kind of stupid. Here is my take on a recipe for piracy.

1. Have a desirable product.
2. Implement measures that force your markets to be separate more than they naturally are (region based DRM for example).
3. Only release the desirable product in specific markets.
4. Don't even hint at the product coming to a significant other market.

To do these for things and expect people not to pirate the game is kind of silly imo. The writer of the article says that people who pirate need to support the game, but ignores that the developer isn't supporting the game the way they need to in the first place.




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