Wednesday, January 18, 2012


After considering the language in SOPA/PIPA (specifically SOPA, but PIPA is also a concern), I have decided that it would be a very bad law.

I'll start with a summary of what I have heard and read on the internet. First, if a site has user-generated content, it is at extreme risk. Second, if a site facilitates reaching a restricted site, it too becomes restricted. Third, SOPA/PIPA does not provide an easy method to fight back against the accuser.

Now for my thoughts. Tor, a service designed to help people behind the Great Chinese Firewall would be blocked in the U.S. It is a software designed expressly to get around firewalls and make the users anonymous en masse; you can tell if someone is using it BUT you cannot filter where they go OR tell where they go. Tor, in and of itself, is a very useful tool for whistle-blowers, journalists, and other people who want to remain anonymous when posting online (due to legal concerns or personal concerns). I will say this much about SOPA's hope of preventing access to Tor; look at China (PRC), have they blocked Tor completely?

Also, if the interpretation of this law becomes broad enough (or loose enough; look at the second amendment for example) then sites who have dealt with sites whose sole purpose is to get around firewall's/pirate content/etc. could find themselves at risk.

I'm going to take everyone's favorite (or least favorite) browser. Mozilla Firefox has a massive addon ecosystem with user generated content. So someone who did not like Mozilla or was competing with Mozilla could, conceivably, put copyrighted content in a user review of an addon, or upload an addon that enables others to get around DNS blocking/firewalls/etc., and then Mozilla Firefox is effectively out of business.

Sites that serve as places to upload reviews of products would also be hard hit, since instead of going through a legally arduous process to get a bad review removed, a company could just upload copyrighted content (anonymously) to the website and get it pulled down for that.

Here is something else to consider; I could write a book, self-publish it, and then use the forums of EA to completely (or partially) kill EA's online presence.

By the same token, some smart cracker/hacker (cracker is more accurate) somewhere will crack into the government's website and post copyrighted material there, which would make the government liable (the government probably won't care--they wrote the law, so they could modify to give exemptions to certain parties, but then some people are more equal in the view of the law then others. Just like 1984).

Has anyone out there given any thought to the potential for crackers to take down legitimate sites that had no intention of violating copyright law, but did violate copyright because it got cracked/hacked?

I have no problem with IP laws; it is only how it is enacted, and I think that SOPA/PIPA along with the DMCA go a little to far. I want to own what I purchase, and be able to resell it later.

SOPA and PIPA are just disasters waiting to happen; if you cannot enforce the law, especially one like this, then you have no business passing the law in the first place.

For those in congress:
Oh, and about Tor? Some people already have it. It is open source, anyone can get the source, anyone can build it, anyone can improve upon it. Again, look at how effective it is in places that have essentially the same type of blocking.
Also, don't trust the lobbyists; they have been known to lie to further their interests.

For everyone else:
Join us, get Tor today for tomorrow.

Also, I see .onion domains popping up all over the place. Those are sites only accessible via Tor, and no one can track them back to the originator easily.

BTW, I do not condone or engage in piracy, so please don't say that I'm against it because you think I engage in "piracy."

Also, for those wanting to quote me out of context, please do so after SOPA/PIPA pass. I'll use it on YOU. If you are going to quote me, get the context; if you don't, ask. I'm specifically thinking of the previous paragraph.