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:


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.



January 18th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^


Intellectual property is not a scarce resource, therefore it is not real property and shouldn't have a price.  Copyrights and patents shouldn't exist.  They are nothing more than protections for businesses, and they result in slowing the transfer of knowledge and the growth of wealth. 


January 18th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^


Your incentive could be that you always wanted to write a book.  Your incentive to write the book could be to make money by selling your script to a publisher.  Your incentive could be notoriety making new books that you write easier to sell to publishers and getting them to compete for the material that you produce. 

Things would still be invented.  It is naïve to think that the only incentive to produce anything is for royalties.  Necessity is the mother of all inventions. 


January 18th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

Without copyright, the publisher could publish your script, cut you out of the loop, and never suffer any consequences for it. Other publishers could also publish the book and sell it cheaper than the first publisher without any consequences, making their incentive to publish your book to begin with absolutely nothing. You would never receive any notoriety because either the publisher or another author could just publish it under someone else's name.

Medicine companies won't spend the money to research existing drugs for new purposes because the drugs are already dirt cheap and they won't gain their investment back in sales. What makes you think that they would research anything if one of the other companies could steal their formula and sell the product for dirt cheap?


January 18th, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

Under your premise, I could copy all of the content from Brian's site and post it to my own site without any attribution whatsoever.  You're OK with that? 

Similarly, I could buy a single copy of a newly released video game, sellcopies of it for $1 a copy, thereby destroying the market for the game.  Still OK with it?

Oh yeah, the video game production company would not be able to recoup its cost of production for the video game, and would have to fire the dozens of employees who they pay to create video games.  Still OK? Some of those employees may be indpendently wealthy and continue to work together for free to produce video games for their own "notoriety", but most of them would probably need to find paying jobs.  Most video game companies would fold and there would be very few complex video games produced.

That's why most people believe in protection of intellectual property (at least copyrights).


January 18th, 2012 at 5:23 PM ^

Contracts still will exist and we are legally bound to contract.  Fraud should still remain a crime, so stealing a script and reprinting it in someone else's name could be prevented through a contract and punishable due to a violation of contract and anti-fraud laws.  Theft is still a crime, so an individual does not have the right to steal written formulas/code.  Don't underestimate the ability of an individual to be creative with how they write contracts or when they are applied.  

When it comes to video game producers, they wouldn't have to fold.  If demand exists for new and exciting games then they will be produced.  They could produce a game and distribute it once there are a certain number of registered buyers.  They could sell advertisement in the game.  There are a number of ways to get around not having royalty income.  


January 18th, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^

Regarding the video game example, why would anyone register to buy the game from the producer when they could buy the copy that I sell for $1 a day later?  Market destroyed.

Advertisement could generate some income, but in a copyrightless world, I could remove the advertisements and sell my copies for $1 and tout my copies as advertisement free!!! 



January 18th, 2012 at 6:24 PM ^

The thing that you call fraud and stands in the way of theft of written formulas/code, is what everyone else calls copyright. Unless, of course, you are saying that stealing the actual paper that it is written on is the crime. In that case, you still don't have any way to prosecute people who make a photocopy of the piece of paper.

On your video game idea, the company would basically have to say "We need 100,000 people to register to purchase this game before we can release it. We can't show you a demo of the game or tell you anything about it, especially what makes it unique, because then someone else will steal the idea and we run a risk that they are able to release theirs before ours. But, it's cool. We promise that this game totally kicks ass and knocks your socks off." I'm not quite sure who would put $50 down for that game.


January 18th, 2012 at 6:36 PM ^

This will be my final post on the matter.  I am engaging in the impossible task of attempting to predict how the market will provide a product.  What actually happens I can only speculate about, and with all the responses I can imagine that what I speculate is probably not accurate.  I do know that when there is a product that is in high demand, individuals will find a way to produce that product and  they will find a way to make money off of it.  

Lastly, for clarity, I do not propose the immediate elimination of all copyright and patent laws as there is much built up around them.  I was just noting, going back to my original two posts, that intellecutal property lacks scarcity and thus is not real property that can be owned by any one person.


January 18th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

Copyrights and patents should exist; they shouldn't be transferrable. That would solve 90% of the issues. In the music industry, the labels couldn't sue people for copyright infringement without consent from the artists. Large companies couldn't offer Joe Schmoe a billion dollars for something that could revolutionize the world; either Joe Schmoe makes it big off of his idea or he goes under and everyone can use the idea.

Without copyrights and patents, Joe Schmoe has no protection from large corporations stealing his ideas and he has no incentive to create or invent anything, which slows the innovation process. Basically, 1,000,000 people in corporations innovating at 100% of their capacity is not as good as 10,000,000 people innovating at 25% of their capacity due to patent restrictions.


January 18th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

u r an idiot. period. IP is critical to the economy in a zillion ways. patents, trademarks, copyrts, trade secrets. trillions of dlars ride on them. investments exist because of them. you need to go to high school first before saying moromic things like that. you dont have to lime sopa or pipa but man get a fraking life.


January 18th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

I've been telling people about this day for weeks. Literally no one that I told had heard of SOPA or even considered it a threat after I told them. The problem is that MSM won't cover it until it's a big deal and it's not a big deal until the media cover's it. Once Google, Wikipedia, and a few other big sites made a big deal out of it, everyone suddenly became aware of it. I'm guessing that no one is going to worry about a bill until they need to because how many bills die on the slate compared to the number that actually get through? Basically, people are numb from arguing over political issues that no one is willing to budge on.

Clarence Beeks

January 18th, 2012 at 5:57 PM ^

I love that everyone is freaking out about Wikipedia being "down" and praising Wikipedia for what they did, but uh... Wikipedia isn't down.  They just have a redirect written in.  If you just refresh the page and hit stop before the page fully loads, the redirect doesn't happen, and you have access to all of the content.  Just like normal.  I would be MUCH more impressed with Wikipedia if they actually HAD shut their page down for the day.  Instead, knowing that the site isn't actually down, their action comes across as Wikipedia trying to look like a martyr for the cause without actually putting any skin in the game.


January 18th, 2012 at 6:28 PM ^

From their link that they offer to you after the redirect. Basically, the whole point is to raise awareness, not "make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia" or appear as a martyr.


Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?
Yes. During the blackout, Wikipedia is accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. You can also view Wikipedia normally by disabling JavaScript in your browser, as explained on this Technical FAQ page. Our purpose here isn't to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it's okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message.

Clarence Beeks

January 18th, 2012 at 7:33 PM ^

Ah, that makes sense.  Thanks for posting that.  I admit that I hadn't seen the message on the redirect page.  I immediately realized that it was a redirect and focused on that and never even read what was on the redirect page (which is OK, I guess, since I already knew what the issue was all about).  Still, my apologies.

oriental andrew

January 18th, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

SOPA and PIPA are going to die before they even go up for vote: 


PIPA co-sponsor Florida Sen. Marco Rubio pulled his name from the bill Wednesday, and SOPA co-sponsor Arizona Rep. Ben Quayle pulled his name Tuesday.  

Update 2:45 p.m.: Lead SOPA sponsor, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, said Wednesday that he was not discouraged by the criticisms SOPA has received and that he continues to stand behind the bill, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Update 3:25 p.m.: Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a PIPA co-sponsor, and Arkansas Sen. John Boozman withdrew their support for the bill.

Update 4:05 p.m.: Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch announced he would no longer co-sponsor the bill on Twitter. 


January 18th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

I have a political question on this issue:

Is this bill being pushed by the democrats or the republicans?  Not asking because I want to spark a political discussion (my favorite rule of MGoBlog is no politics), but knowing which side is pushing this will help me direct my efforts at trying to get my voice heard.



January 18th, 2012 at 5:27 PM ^

Unfortunately I have more confidence in the average squirrel to save enough nuts for winter than I have confidence in lolBoehner and his tanning bed to do the right thing. But I did my small, insignificant part.


January 18th, 2012 at 5:44 PM ^

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy:

  • "If people are downloading our music, they're listening to it. The internet is like radio for us."
  • "I don't believe every download is a lost sale."
  • "I don't want potential fans to be blocked because the choice to check out our music becomes a financial decision for them."

Now granted, Jeff doesn't speak for all of the recording industry, but I think most musicians would think that suing their fans is counterproductive.


January 18th, 2012 at 6:59 PM ^

While I have not read the legislature line by line, it does seem righteous in that it is protecting our right to private property as defined by the fifth amendment. I understand that the ramifications of censorship is too harsh, but would instilling harsh financial penalty (instead of censorship) for stealing someone's property sit better with everyone?
<br>Overall, I'm pretty open, so if you can provide a rational and justified explanation join the masses, I'm all ears.


January 19th, 2012 at 5:48 PM ^

As a result of Brian's post, I sent a personal opposing e-mail to Congressman Peter Roskam. He responded with an e-mail sharing his own opposition to the bills. He writes, among other things:

There is agreement among all involved that online piracy is a problem that has to be addressed. However, as SOPA is currently drafted, I would not be able to support this legislation. In order to successfully combat online piracy, an effort must include all those involved, from internet service providers and search engines to content providers. Until some broader agreement can be reached among interested parties, I do not believe the House will advance this piece of legislation.

I am committed to keeping the internet an open, vibrant medium, and a continued source for innovation. Given the fact that the internet has become an incredible engine for economic growth, we need to be especially careful in implementing any new federal regulations on an industry that is so important to our economy.

I couldn't agree more with Congressman Roskam. I am opposed to piracy of music, movies, books, and other IP, but the proposed legislation is a disaster, and wouldn't stop piracy anyway. Thanks, Brian, for highlighting how this would affect mgoblog.