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SOPA and The-RiotACT?

By Jethro - 19 January 2012 37

So I just read an opinion piece in the SMH regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act that is currently working its way through the legislative process in America.

I’m by no means an expert on things like piracy law, or even really how the internet functions at a structural level, so I don’t really have any idea how this law might affect  the websites I use, such as The-RiotACT.

According to a source quoted in the article, “A link placed by a user in the comment section of an article in a regular internet magazine could result in the magazine going bankrupt and the owners being charged with a crime.”

So, my questions are:

– How do people think this law might apply to a site like this one? Would it simply being a case of the moderators having to more carefully vet the links that people place in their comments?

– Even if people did post links to websites where people can access pirated material, does anyone seriously think that the authorities would shut the site down and arrest our fearless leader?

– Does anyone think this law could be used as a back-door way of shutting down opinion sites that put forward opinions that those in power do not like?

– Is the negative press about this law justified? (ie. does it really pose a threat to the internet as we know it?)

What’s Your opinion?


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37 Responses to
SOPA and The-RiotACT?
Henry82 12:27 pm 19 Jan 12

Myles Peterson said :

remove DNS control from the Americans.

this is what is required

watto23 12:08 pm 19 Jan 12

My thoughts will all this piracy business is the fact that many industries are not sitting on their own self controlled cash cows any more. They are too stubborn to change their business practise, or don’t want to take a loss of income now to make greater gains in the future.

Yeah I’ve illegally downloaded stuff. I’ve also paid for probably a lot more, because it was priced fairly, available promptly and its the right thing to do. We have the added issue in Australia, that we are seen as a cash cow, so lets hike prices on electronic media formats over what other countries pay, even though its being supplied from outsiode Australia. So really, companies are allowed to rip people off and now we have a way of forcing competition, lets force government to change the laws so they can keep doing what they were doing.

PantsMan 11:59 am 19 Jan 12

Just in: in protest to the Stop Online Piracy Act, City News treatens to continue publishing online.

adamthebastard 11:54 am 19 Jan 12

– How do people think this law might apply to a site like this one? Would it simply being a case of the moderators having to more carefully vet the links that people place in their comments?

The amount of leg work required to validate third party sites for the very broad category ‘The owner or operator of the site is “committing or facilitating the commission of criminal violations”‘ is huge. Doing that for every link that’s ever posted as well as checking back on sites that might have changed and now meet that criteria would be days of work.

– Even if people did post links to websites where people can access pirated material, does anyone seriously think that the authorities would shut the site down and arrest our fearless leader?

Arrest them no. Shut down the site? Yup, the legislation is designed to make it require much less oversight when someone makes a claim of infringement. Piss off the wrong person and they could have you shut down.

– Does anyone think this law could be used as a back-door way of shutting down opinion sites that put forward opinions that those in power do not like?

There are so many examples of the DMCA (a precursor to SOPA and PIPA) being used as a censorship tool. Google searching “DMCA censorship” gives plenty of them. RA has had legal threats in the past. If they made spurious comments about someone they could potentially have SOPA/PIPA used as an attack tool.

– Is the negative press about this law justified? (ie. does it really pose a threat to the internet as we know it?)

The reddit blog has a great guide of what this is all about, how dangerous it is and how crippling it would be for anyone caught up in it.

http://blog.reddit.com/2012/01/technical-examination-of-sopa-and.html

qbngeek 11:54 am 19 Jan 12

harvyk1 said :

johnboy said :

Yes, but they’ll be coming for us on that pretty much after they’ve taken out the other 500,000 websites in the world with more traffic than us.

SOPA is awful, but it’s relatively low down our list of problems at RiotACT.

Actually it’s believe the laws will be misused as a competitor take down. Basically a competitor \ someone you’ve pissed off goes over your website \ blog looking for links, and if (let’s face it, when) one is found they report you.

So if these laws are passed, the trick would be not to piss anyone off who has loads of free time \ loads of money.

Nah-ah, if these laws are passed the trick will be to do what I intend to do with the sites I control and my blog. IP block the USA from visiting your site. If they then claim anything under these laws it means they have circumvented the reasonable actions you took to remain within the technicalities of the law. I don’t host any pirated material, but I often link to youtube and plenty of other sites.

It is something I read on an android developers forum and the general consensus is that it should give you a reasonable defence if they ever come for you.

Jethro 11:49 am 19 Jan 12

johnboy said :

[

Yes, but they’ll be coming for us on that pretty much after they’ve taken out the other 500,000 websites in the world with more traffic than us.

This was kind of my thought as well. The act seems to be so encompassing that if it was followed to the letter the entire internet would be shut down. I imagine it would mostly be aimed at sites that are either giving people pirated material or solely focussed on giving people links to pirated material.

harvyk1 11:38 am 19 Jan 12

johnboy said :

Yes, but they’ll be coming for us on that pretty much after they’ve taken out the other 500,000 websites in the world with more traffic than us.

SOPA is awful, but it’s relatively low down our list of problems at RiotACT.

Actually it’s believe the laws will be misused as a competitor take down. Basically a competitor \ someone you’ve pissed off goes over your website \ blog looking for links, and if (let’s face it, when) one is found they report you.

So if these laws are passed, the trick would be not to piss anyone off who has loads of free time \ loads of money.

Mysteryman 11:34 am 19 Jan 12

harvyk1 said :

I wouldn’t be sitting too comfortably there Johnboy, from what I know SOPA would mean that if you allowed a link to be published on the RiotACT, and on the page which you’ve linked to has any sort of illegal material they have the ability to go after you, because the RiotACT even though it’s Canberra centric can be accessed from the US.

It’s also not just links in future posts, its links in any post you’ve ever allowed on RiotACT. Furthermore, if you link to a page which has no illegal material at the point in time you create the link, but they later change that page so that illegal material is now available they can still come after you.

Also don’t feel that because you’re not in the US you’re safe, the US has recently extradited a UK resident on piracy charges that didn’t host any illegal material, but simply linked to it. Now this person who lives in the UK, and has never been to the US, has to answer for breaking US laws (because his site was accessible in the US). Now here is the kicker, he broke no UK laws in his actions.

These laws are like unleashing a nuclear bomb on a city because they think a terrorist cell might be operating there, and that’s exactly what the movie and music studios want.

I think SOPA is a total scam. I’m not really one for piracy, but heavy handed “submit or we crush you” approaches to controlling internet content make the thought of committing acts of piracy about 1000 times more appealing to me.

This comment on the SMH opinion piece sums things up pretty soundly:

“Just another attempt by rapacious corporations to shovel more loot into their insatiable coffers. This is an excellent demonstration of why the US government is almost completely at the mercy of big money interests. Without campaign finance reform there will be no meaningful democracy. With politicians utterly in the thrall of money, the interests of ordinary citizens and small businesses will be steamrollered by the corporations every time. To him that hath shall be given.

johnboy 11:18 am 19 Jan 12

harvyk1 said :

I wouldn’t be sitting too comfortably there Johnboy, from what I know SOPA would mean that if you allowed a link to be published on the RiotACT, and on the page which you’ve linked to has any sort of illegal material they have the ability to go after you, because the RiotACT even though it’s Canberra centric can be accessed from the US.

It’s also not just links in future posts, its links in any post you’ve ever allowed on RiotACT. Furthermore, if you link to a page which has no illegal material at the point in time you create the link, but they later change that page so that illegal material is now available they can still come after you.

Also don’t feel that because you’re not in the US you’re safe, the US has recently extradited a UK resident on piracy charges that didn’t host any illegal material, but simply linked to it. Now this person who lives in the UK, and has never been to the US, has to answer for breaking US laws (because his site was accessible in the US). Now here is the kicker, he broke no UK laws in his actions.

These laws are like unleashing a nuclear bomb on a city because they think a terrorist cell might be operating there, and that’s exactly what the movie and music studios want.

Yes, but they’ll be coming for us on that pretty much after they’ve taken out the other 500,000 websites in the world with more traffic than us.

SOPA is awful, but it’s relatively low down our list of problems at RiotACT.

Duffbowl 11:09 am 19 Jan 12

If a site is hosted in the US, it will be open to censorship under these bills and could theoretically be shut down.
If the site is not hosted in the US, it may be open to censorship under these bills and have entries removed from DNS in the US.
Reasons for censorship include:
– hosting content deemed to be in breach of US intellectual property laws.
– discussing methods or tools to circumvent the bills or their intent.

I think RedDogInCan has hit the nail on the head; it will be interesting to see if the law is replicated through FTA.

harvyk1 11:09 am 19 Jan 12

I wouldn’t be sitting too comfortably there Johnboy, from what I know SOPA would mean that if you allowed a link to be published on the RiotACT, and on the page which you’ve linked to has any sort of illegal material they have the ability to go after you, because the RiotACT even though it’s Canberra centric can be accessed from the US.

It’s also not just links in future posts, its links in any post you’ve ever allowed on RiotACT. Furthermore, if you link to a page which has no illegal material at the point in time you create the link, but they later change that page so that illegal material is now available they can still come after you.

Also don’t feel that because you’re not in the US you’re safe, the US has recently extradited a UK resident on piracy charges that didn’t host any illegal material, but simply linked to it. Now this person who lives in the UK, and has never been to the US, has to answer for breaking US laws (because his site was accessible in the US). Now here is the kicker, he broke no UK laws in his actions.

These laws are like unleashing a nuclear bomb on a city because they think a terrorist cell might be operating there, and that’s exactly what the movie and music studios want.

Myles Peterson 11:06 am 19 Jan 12

“does it really pose a threat to the internet as we know it?”

Short answer, yes. Long answer, no.

A good outcome would be SOPA passing followed by an online revolt that removes DNS control from the Americans.

RedDogInCan 11:01 am 19 Jan 12

The real danger to us is that if it becomes law in the US then, as part of the next free trade negotiations, they will then insist that we implement a similar law in order to ‘protect’ US economic interests – just the same way they have inflicted us with their copyright laws.

Mothy 10:55 am 19 Jan 12

As well all know, on the Internet, haters are gonna hate. So imagine someone has a gripe with RA (yes yes, surely not, etc *cough*). Link away to a few pirate sites in a comment, somehow it gets through moderation, and ta dah! You have a way/reason to shut it down.

But it doesn’t have to be that malicious – how many YouTube items are linked here in a week? How much of that content is licensed? Take the “Salmon Mousse” Monty Python item, for a start.

johnboy 10:46 am 19 Jan 12

Our main concern would be a vexatious complaint.

We believe that all material we use comes under fair use and if anyone’s got a complaint they’re welcome to let us know.

And I’ve been to the USA plenty of times, so can live without making another visit.

Extradition would be interesting if it was attempted for linking to something.

But given the hyperlocal scope of this site I suspect it will be more of a problem for others.

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