Death to SOPA

stop sopaThe White House just responded on the controversial Internet censorship bill SOPA and frankly, it doesn't look good for opponents.

The Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response.

Others are interpreting the White House blog post differently of course and let's hope they are right. In our experience, the minute this administration mentions keyword bi-partisan, we know we're about to be screwed frankly. Just look at the National Defense Authorization Act. That said, the fight against SOPA is heating up.

What is SOPA? It's a bill winding through Congress which is supposed to stop online piracy. The bill has broad powers through vague and ill-defined clauses for pretty much anyone to shut down any website by claiming they are hosting copyrighted material and such. Public Knowledge puts it more succinctly, This Bill Screws the Internet. The domain has been at the forefront of fighting both SOPA and PIPA. The link above goes to their infographic and we reprint one slide with some of the more damning SOPA and PIPA consequences below.

sopa pipa

Passage of SOPA and PIPA means this site could be blocked. Yes, Economic Populist fans, we could be in deep dodo if these bills pass.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an entire site devoted to helping you lobby Congress to stop these bills. EFF labels SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills and by golly, they are right.

If an IP rightsholder thinks you meet the criteria and that it is in some way harmed, it can send a notice claiming as much to the payment processors and ad services you rely on.

Once they get it, they have 5 days to choke off your financial support. Of course, the payment processors and ad networks won’t be able to fine-tune their response so that only the allegedly infringing portion of your site is affected, which means your whole site will be under assault. And, it makes no difference that no judge has found you guilty of anything or that the DMCA safe harbors would shelter your conduct if the matter ever went to court.

You can file a counter-notice, but you’ve only got 5 days to do it and the payment processors and ad networks have no obligation to respect it in any event. That’s because there are vigilante provisions that grant them immunity for choking off a site if they have a “reasonable belief” that some portion of the site enables infringement.

Basically a site can be shut down almost immediately through just an accusation and a filing of a complaint. Don't like what someone has to say? Why file a notice of infringement!



ProPublica is keeping track of Congress members supporting another bad bill, PIPA. One of the more amusing protest activities is proving the bill sponsor, Congress representative Lamar Smith, is actually in violation of SOPA and PIPA by his own election website.

Lamar Smith, author of the Stop Online Piracy Act, has gotten caught up in his own case of copyright infringement.

Jamie Lee Curtis Taete of Vice investigated an archived version of Smith’s official site,, using Wayback Machine, a time capsule that captures different variations of websites as far back as 1996. This led to the discovery of an original background image that did not credit its owner, photographer DJ Schulte.

Did you know big banks are backing SOPA?

Why is the American Bankers Association one of the sponsors of a bill that seems awfully remote from its terrain? The bill allows anyone to send a complain about a purported SOPA violation and get the site disappeared. This faster and more brutal than the execution of Wikileaks via cutting off its access to payment networks.

SOPA 2.0 contains a crazy scary clause that’s going to make it crazy easy to cut off websites with no recourse whatsoever. And this part isn’t just limited to payment providers/ad networks — but to service providers, search engines and domain registrars/registries as well. Yes. Search engines. So you can send a notice to a search engine, and if they want to keep their immunity, they have to take the actions in either Section 102(c)(2) or 103(c)(2), which are basically all of the “cut ‘em off, block ‘em” remedies. That’s crazy. This basically encourages search engines to disappear sites upon a single notice. It encourages domain registries to kill domains based on notices. With no recourse at all, because the providers have broad immunity.

Did you know Rubert Murdoch has started tweeting on how awesome SOPA is? Nuf said!

It is true intellectual property theft is a real problem, but that has more to do with China, who already censors their Internet, just not brazen sites which host full length films before they have even been released. Regardless, this bill isn't going to answer that.

The content providers, media industry have responded to digital media and networks like this time and time again. They turn to laws and wish to turn U.S. citizens into criminals, instead of innovating technology and adopting new business models. The miracle of Steve Jobs is how he got content providers to embrace iTunes. Normally the media industry has fought every innovation tooth and nail. Even when the media industry enters into the technology security fray, they always seem to embrace the worse of the lot, never seeing the value of a digital distribution center or sharing. Why should this be any different?



There is now a media blackout planned to protest SOPA/PIPA on January 18th and this site may join them if nothing changes. There are also many online petitions.

What we like to see are technologists piping up. We see many who actually created a lot of the technology we use daily speaking out about these bills.

At the extremes, the hacker group anonymous just posted personal information on media executives behind the bill.

The online activist group known as Anonymous, which has targeted opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movement and businesses that stopped providing services to WikiLeaks, has set its sights on a new adversary: media executives.

In protest of antipiracy legislation currently being considered by Congress, the group has posted online documents that reveal personal information about Jeffrey L. Bewkes, chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, and Sumner M. Redstone, who controls Viacom and the CBS Corporation. Those companies, like almost every major company in the media and entertainment industry, have championed the Stop Online Piracy Act, the House of Representatives bill, known as SOPA, and its related Senate bill, called Protect I.P.

There also is an app to change your twitter photo. Techology companies of all sizes, from Google to small website owners, are literally turning into grassroots lobbyists. Companies and individuals are walking the halls of Congress, all trying to stop SOPA and PIPA from passing. That's how alarming these bills are.

Will it work? Will the engineers, technologists and even ethical copyright, intellectual property attorneys stop this attempt to get rid of that pesky Internet and free speech? It's yet to be seen but you can help. Get active, get proactive. Save the Internet, stop the bills.





Mr/Ms Canadian person, can

Mr/Ms Canadian person, can you please stop YOUR government from passing C-11!
Unless you have no clue what's going on in your own country?

while the boys are rallying

while the boys are rallying the anit-SOPA support, the men will take down their sites on j18th.

SOPA shelved in the House

The Hills is reporting a provision requiring US ISPs to block websites deemed to be infringing has been stripped from the House version. That said, the Hill is reporting Harry Reid is bringing the Senate version of the bill to a floor vote and what's in it, anyone's guess. Watch out for manager amendments at the last minute too. This is where so often corporate lobbyist wish lists are added, it gets a voice vote and the manager's amendment can change the entire bill.

Washington Monthly is reporting the bill has been shelved, and Obama will veto, but we don't think this is accurate. Politics can change hourly, so unless there is a press conference confirming from the White House, don't bank on it.

Reddit FAQ on SOPA. Reddit has been at the forefront of stopping these bills. Good job Reddit (and we like it when you like us too)!

Craigslist also has put a stop SOPA, PIPA notice on their front page.

Just like us, we're a 24/7 economics site, with a splattering of politics when it relates to all things $$, but many big names are now putting stop SOPA statements and such on their front pages.

Also, I did not go into the technical details on some of this, but the Reddit FAQ explains a few, such as alternative DNS.

why not ?

I don' know SOPA in details, but for me regarding piracy, if the basic principles are :
1) against piracy centers and not end users (always centers in piracy due to the need for catalogs and search amongst other things, "peer to peer" also a lot of hypocrisy in the terms and everybody knows it)
2) No monitoring at all of end users flow, collect of their IPs a formal complaint from somebody about a user acting as a center
3) All procedures are legal and public
Then it clearly is the right way to do it, not to forget that if piracy doesn't create any revenues for authors and creators, it does create some (and not a little) for some people :

Note : above more developed below (but in French) :
And "zero piracy" doesn't matter in anyway (not more than school kids exchanging files), problem is when it becomes the default and easiest access method for works and publications.
But on this, in order to have a real "user experience" added value in buying instead of pirating, and this in a non quasi monopolistic environment (or with just 2 or three "monsters"), clearly something like below would be required :

links and French

This site is on U.S. economics so parsing through articles in French ain't easy for most Americans. ;)

Also, anonymous links are disabled due to referrer spammers being a never ending problem (sorry).

Right, it's the copyright owner, who the rights were transferred too and there are different layers, levels and my favorite, different ones for different media types and when you get into copyright ownership, rights, royalty rights and the different levels going into different countries, ya wanna see an absurd hyrda bureaucracy of absurdity, that's it.

A film, as an example, is owned by the studios. Often screenwriters, directors get a percentage of royalties, gross receipts and such.

On music, yes, the ownership varies, but often it's the recording company who makes the profits and the artist gets too small of a percentage.

It's a business to be sure and similarly to engineers who have the vision, then design the products and write the code.....the ones who reap the profits are not them.

The real copyright, trademark and intellectual property theft is coming from foreign countries, in particular China. There are more than a few problems here and probably need a multi-pronged approach to stopping it all. First, they need China to crack down and frankly they should impose tariffs or something like this. You can pretty much get any movie, film on pirated DVDs and also online in many of these places but in particular Asia. They should make it a trade issue and get serious.

Literally entire designs are ripped off and I in part blame U.S. corporations. They go for their cheap labor and offshore outsource, then whine when their designs are reverse engineered, cloned and knock offs are made. Well, hell, what were ya thinkin' moving manufacturing to a cheap labor destination who doesn't honor intellectual property rights then?

Beyond stupid in my view and seems somehow the fact their IP is gonna get ripped never pops up in meetings when they decide to manufacture abroad. Doh corporate executive, right, somehow all of that lost via IP theft never pops up in their bean counter spreadsheets. Their focus is on squeezing labor to death even to the point of giving away their IP farm to China. Yoozer, I can go to business school and become an executive and put together that plan. ;)

Secondly, it's pretty clear the media industry needs new technological strategies to help them make money from their works. People want to share, there are technological solutions which could generate revenues and allow it, which I won't go into details here for frankly someone needs to pay me for that advice. ;)

We've already had websites, many shut down with almost no recourse by companies when really the sites were saying something about their hiring practices, corporate culture and so on which that company didn't want known.

These two bills will enable corporations to shut down critics, whistleblowers, anyone exposing anything in 2 seconds.

So what if the bill blocks foreign piracy sites from the U.S. Last I saw the U.S. are not the biggest users as it is. This does nothing for the millions visiting those sites from other countries.

The Economic Populist Will Join in the January 18th Protest

We're going to shut down on the 18th and join the black out protest against SOPA and PIPA.

See You Thursday

I can understand that the content creators get frustrated -- that for example, The New York Times has more readers and less money than ever.

Still, this isn't the way to go. It is completely unworkable, as far as I can tell.

Online ads need to pay more IMHO

Online ads are getting away with murder and rates should greatly increase. That's the problem here and media like the New York Times should be pulling in way more revenues from ads because there is no more "pay $1 for the paper" and it clearly doesn't work very well to do subscriptions, unless you do a mixed model but I think ad prices are just beyond belief way too cheap.

A real crime though are sites in Hong Kong and elsewhere when they run ads, they charge subscriptions yet without paying content owners a dime, stream full length, still in theaters, or latest releases and so on sites.

I won't name them but it's some brazen rip off of content providers and it's massive. Then of course there are plenty of other rip offs.

That said, these bills aren't going to stop that at all, it's just w/in U.S. borders when there are 7 billion in the world.

I could go on about additional business models and technologies for content providers but someone has to pay me to talk about them. ;0

speak of the devil, Feds just shut down very site mentioned

I was referring to mega upload, where on megavideo you could watch any damn thing on the planet, being a brazen IP theft site out of HK. The Feds just shut it down. Frankly, this is good, they were charging a subscription fee, plus running ads and not paying content providers a dime. Create a friggin' netflix China and pay up. ;)

Anyway, here's a great example where without SOPA/PIPA the Feds indeed can take action through existing law.

The SOPA/PIPA protest really drew national attention

hopefully it stopped more than a few people from clicking around and scanning to actually write their congressional representatives.

Thanks everyone for understanding. This site takes a lot of "free" information, most commonly government information, statistics, research, but sometimes others and overviews it or comments on it.

If we linked to something deemed "copyright infringement" and lord knows we link a lot, we too could get into trouble with SOPA/PIPA. Why it's important, beyond raising awareness.

details of Megavideo/Megaupload bust

This is straight out of Hollywood, ahem, in New Zealand.

Cops taking saws to doors, safe rooms, guns...clearly the guy watched way too many films he was stealing there.

They are accused of ripping of $500 million. I'm surprised it's that low. I thought the royalties for viewing all of those films would be much much higher.