Stop SOPA

Submitted by Brian on January 18th, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Earlier this year, Thought Equity Motion used the DMCA to get clips this site uses in UFR and other places pulled off of YouTube. The EMU UFR's video was up for only a few hours and a couple subsequent ones were posted without video as I tried to confirm my legal standing.

After several conversations that did not constitute legal advice with helpful lawyers in the relevant field, the obvious was confirmed: the blog had a strong fair use case and the comically named corporation was unlikely to test this because of low upside and high downside. I opened a new account and counter-noticed Thought Equity Motion when they issued takedown notices on two Minnesota plays that were included in a Picture Pages. To date that is the last I have heard from TEM.

This is obviously an unsatisfactory state of affairs. This corporation abused the DMCA's takedown procedure to disrupt normal service here without providing anyone any evidence of infringement. The Minnesota videos took two weeks to restore; TEM hurt the viability of this site at no risk to themselves, without explaining themselves, and got what they wanted automatically.

This is not enough for entertainment companies. They would much rather not have MGoBlog on the internet at all, and they have purchased legislation that could allow a company like Thought Equity Motion to kick MGoBlog off the internet. These bills are the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate, commonly abbreviated SOPA and PIPA.

These bills are awful for many reasons. Key components wouldn't work but would compromise the security of the internet. They would create a framework for censorship. They further erode the ability of fair use to prevent corporations from suppressing content they find objectionable or think they can make money off of. And they could lead to a day where you type in this URL and get this:

our-sites-saisie-usa_01179071[1]

I hereby discharge any and all beveled guilt for a period of one year if you will find your relevant congressmen and tell them in no uncertain terms that these bills are unacceptable to you. If you don't want to bother with a phone call, 50% off guilt is available by using the EFF's extremely simple mailer to fire off a targeted response.

Comments

rockenstein

January 18th, 2012 at 2:49 PM ^

Its awesome to see such a widespread, collaborative effort to bring this legislation into the public eye... something its backers clearly never wanted.

A world without MGoBlog is not a world I want to be a part of...

bluesalt

January 18th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

Scott Brown Senate Office: (202)-224-4543

John Kerry Senate Office: (202)-224-2742

Neither are co-sponsors (surprisingly.)  Brown's staffers say he's against it, while Kerry's say he hasn't "come out with a position yet."

WolverineLake

January 18th, 2012 at 3:04 PM ^

  I was a loud, irate and extremely vocal voter in the 2004 election cycle.  As a graduate of Michigan and lover of nearly all things Ann Arbor, you can probably guess my political leanings.  However, to hear that Kerry "hasn't come out with a position" is hilarious to me.  

 

  He's probably come out with two positions on it.

ziggolfer

January 18th, 2012 at 4:24 PM ^

Is there anyway to see a positive in this attitude? From my French major at U of M( biochem too, don't worry), I know that sometimes people get behind a cause because it seems obvious to support but in reality the issue is more complicated than it seems. Anyone have an idea on how to play devil's advocate? I just want to get the other side of the story (which appears hopeless) before I make a decision.

bluesalt

January 18th, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

The #1 "lobbyist" (although he isn't really an official lobbyist) for this bill is the head of the Motion Picture Association of America.  While you might have thought that would be a former director or producer, you'd be wrong, because it's Chris Dodd, former Democratic Senator (and ineffective 2008 presidential candidate) from Connecticut.  This is why the bill is authored by Patrick Leahy, and has co-sponsorships from most of the major Senate Democrats.   The support for it is purely political.  Kerry hasn't decided yet because its unpopular with the populace, but his friend and colleague of two decades has asked him to sign on, as have most of his other friends.  I frankly think it's to his credit that he was never a co-sponsor, although the cynical voice inside my head thinks that he meant to but forgot.

mGrowOld

January 18th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

For whatever good it does i did lend my voice to the "please stop this nonsense right now" group and signed multiple petitions requesting it be killed.

Everyone can go back to their normal work day.  Now that my Congressman knows that I oppose it that bill has zero chance of being passed.  I'm pretty sure they were just waiting to hear what I thought about the idea and now that they know........

NorthSideBlueFan

January 18th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

and the EFF one now. They combined took less time than this post took me to write.

Get on it people! 

Not to get political but didn't Obama say he was oppposed to these bills and would veto them last week? I could have sworn I read that somewhere....

joeyb

January 18th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

My point is that just because he says he's going to veto it doesn't mean that it won't still get through. As someone else pointed out, just because he said he will veto it, doesn't mean that he won't cave and sign in an effort to get some other bill of his passed. I don't think he's that stupid, though, as signing either bill would be suicide before reelection, so I went with the override alternative.

uniqenam

January 18th, 2012 at 2:53 PM ^

Can anyone give a rational argument as to why this could be a good thing?  I like to be unbiased, and so far I've gotten all my anti-SOPA/PIPA info from reddit and related sites, and am wondering if there's a legitimate reason to support it.

go16blue

January 18th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

It has a perfectly reasonable intention: ending piracy. The problem of course is how ineffective the bill is, and how much is left to the government's discretion. I don't see how anyone outside of the entertainment industry could support this bill as it exists today, unless they legitimately don't care about internet censorship.

bjk

January 19th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

is shifting the burden of resisting capricious censorship to the accused.

You can seek redress for a wrongful action -- AFTER the "offending" content or maybe the entire site has been taken down (see Brian's UFRs earlier this year under existing laws). What does it cost the purported copyright holder to just try and see what they can get away with?

We've already seen the $500,000 fines and the five(?)-year prison sentences with which people are threatened for bypassing a $7-dollar purchase, and we've seen children threatened with these draconian punishments ("cruel and unusual?). On top of this we've watched the compliant congress extend the enforced monopoly of copyright from 25 to 50 to 75 years, far beyond the point where any legitimate creator would be alive to benefit from it. This conception of "copyright" is a mockery of law and order, compelling taxpayers and public law enforcement to be more-and-more involved in protecting access to and collecting private profits on behalf of private businesses, transferring the costs of business to the taxpayers. SOPA is in this tradition.

One other time when commerce ran roughshod over human rights was in Great Britain/UK between the 1640's and, well, to pick an arbitrary cut-off, the 1850's. Hundreds of crimes against property were capital crimes. Three examples: picking up debris from a shipwreck off the shore; picking up coal that fell off a passing train from off the side of the track; reaching inside an already-broken window to nick a bottle of ink from inside the premises. For these "crimes" children as young as seven were hung by the neck until dead, in the event that a complaint was filed by the property-holder. These penalties were not mitigated until it became clear that, in an act of unconscious social protest, juries would generally no longer deliver "guilty" verdicts in property complaints where a capital punishment was a possibility; ie, until cruel and unusual punishment ceased to be profitable. I bring this up as an example of what can ultimately happen when we allow civil complaints to be turned into criminal law, and when we leave the state of our society up to people who are motivated by greed or who are controlled by people who are motivated by greed.

julesh

January 18th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

The argument is that this is only supposed to allow the US to block foreign piracy sites, where there is currently no jurisdiction. The problem is that's not what the bills are actually going to do, and their proposals for how to block sites open up security issues.

BayWolves

January 18th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

and we're mobilizing as many people as possible. Bloggers everywhere and independent website owners may be shut down by the powers that  be, devastating free speech rights. We're on it.

gmoney41

January 18th, 2012 at 2:55 PM ^

My congressman John Shimkus has stated that he is opposed to the bills adn I called his office to support him.  On the other hand Dick Durbin supports the bill, so I called to respectfully disagree and let him know that his constituents won't be too pleased with him if he continues support.

uncleFred

January 18th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

I got off my tail and sent personal emails opposing these to my congressman (who I know personally) and my Senators. I received a meally mouth response from my congressman indicating that he would review it when it hit his committee. He's not in Hollywood's pocket and will face a tough reelection fight in a district where technology is a major employer. With Cantor stopping the bill, he'll undoubtedly send me happy mail that it's dead asking for money. 

PIPA is another matter. We must turn up the heat in both the house and Senate to stop it. 

triangle_M

January 18th, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

I've been all over this for nearly 3 months, but haven't posted anything here due to the no politics ban.  I've sent letters, signed every online petition, spammed my FB friends with it and have called my representatives multiple times.  I went through a similar effort back when they were going to pull down Pandora.  The internet is awesome, and I hate to see people trying to fuck it up.

LB

January 18th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

political staffs on a state and local level. They pay attention to calls, letters and emails. Perhaps our Senators and Congressmen think of themselves as being above all of that (or paid for, if it applies), but I suspect it is not the case from many, if not the majority. Call, click or stop by!

Brian, thanks for the real world example. It is very helpful to be able to show people how these things can impact what they do.

go16blue

January 18th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

As someone who has been following these two bills for a long time, its great to see such widespread action being taken against it today (and I don't mean that in a hipster way). And thank you Brian for realizing your position of influence and using it to make a positive difference here. This post was probably worth plenty of phonecalls in and of itself.

UAUM

January 18th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

congressmen (representative and both senators) and spoke to their people.  It felt really good.  Thanks Brian for motivating me to call.

However, with the entertainment industry bankrolling these two bills and the broad support they have among congressmen, it's not looking good.

joeyb

January 18th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

That gets into a debate of whether we have a representative democracy or a republic. The former means they vote on what the constituents want and the latter means that the contituents elect the official to vote for the official's views, which largely coincide with that of the majority of constituents. I have a feeling that the officials view it as the latter, whereas most of the constituents view it as the former.

StephenRKass

January 18th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

I wrote my congressman personally, and have been in contact with his staff. Without going into detail, I based my opposition to SOPA on grounds other than mgoblog (although personally, I would be greatly distressed to see mgoblog affected adversely.) Because many of you who follow mgoblog are in a professional sphere where SOPA's impact on censoring the free dissemination of fair use information would be disastrous, I would encourage you to research this enough to give reasoned opposition. (In other words, the preservation of a sports blog might not rank high on your congressman's list of priorities.)

I also would like to hear from some who legitimately work in the field of piracy, that is to say, in opposing piracy. I have absolutely nothing to do with this field. However, the piracy of music, and movies, and books, would be something I was opposed to. I also suspect that some of the feeds to live games may legitimately be considered piracy. It would be helpful to think through how one legitimately supports legislation cracking down on true piracy, while allowing for the "fair use" which is within the sphere of Brian and mgoblog.

MGoGoGo

January 18th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^

There is obviously rampant, intentional online copyright piracy.  Those pirates often hide behind offshore service providers and fictitious identities making prosecution difficult.  SOPA and PIPA were purportedly designed to be potentially useful tools to shut down and seize websites that are hotbeds of piracy.

However, Brian's example identifies the lack of clarity in what constitutes fair use and the potential for overreaching by copyright owners.  The solution IMHO probably lies in Congress providing clearer guidance regarding fair use than the vague case-by-case analysis presently used by courts while also implementing some of the strong enforcement tools in SOPA and PIPA once a clear delineation of fair use has been provided.

 

bluesalt

January 18th, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

Flipping him is important.

For all of us who are fascinated in recruiting but don't get to, consider calling your senators and representatives like recruiting.  You want them to think they're the best and you want them on your team.  The other team might offer them cars and cheap home loans and spots in movies, but we offer comraderie, or something like that.

club2230

January 18th, 2012 at 3:58 PM ^

Intellectual property is not real property to begin with so protecting the property rights of owners of fake property doesn't make sense to begin with.  

Seth9

January 18th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

This is a terrible law, but what you're saying is that things like copyrights shouldn't exist. Under your premise if I write a book, anyone should be able to make as many copies of it as they want and sell them (or give them away) without my permission.