Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crony Capitalism Targets The Internet

The internet has shattered monopolies everywhere. Journalists have discovered to their horror that the public can now find information without them, and doesn’t need their “analysis.” Self-publishing is killing publishers and is about to hit record companies. Retailers are horrified that you can buy anything from anywhere in the world without going through them. Hollywood is horrified that because people have greater choices, their attendance is crashing. Oh my! What to do?! Answer: call the government!

The issue in question is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Its Senate fellow-traveler is called the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Ostensibly these bills are aimed at stopping “online piracy” by “rogue foreign websites.” But in reality, they’re aimed at controlling the web. And it’s no surprise they’re backed by a bevy of Big Business monopolies: Hollywood, record companies, media companies, drug companies, unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Sadly Republicans are in this up to their necks. Rep. Lamar Smith wrote SOPA because it’s a “good policy that protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit goods and American business from having their products and profits stolen from foreign thieves.” Conservative (read: “idiot”) Marsha Blackburn actually claims this bill is conservative and that: “The same radical left-wing special interests groups that advocated for Obama’s so-called net neutrality regulations are trying to hijack conservative principles and mislead the public about SOPA.”

By the way, radical left winger Patrick Leahy wrote the Senate version, which should tell you all you need to know this... and Marsha’s judgment.

In any event, here’s why the bill is bad and anything but conservative.

This bill allows the US government and corporations to require internet service providers to block access to websites which they allege infringe on intellectual property rights. It also allows the government and these corporations to force companies like PayPal to block payments to websites which they claim infringe. And it allows copyright holders to sue these websites AND to sue sites like Google which link to them and sites like Facebook which host them if they don’t do enough (whatever that means) to block access to copyright-protected content. That’s like being able to sue the phone company because it gave a phone number to someone who stolen your film idea.

How does “conservative” Marsha Blackburn respond? “The fact is SOPA only applies to dedicated foreign rogue sites that are harming American consumers and creators.”

Except, that’s not how it works. The practical effect of this bill will be that search engines like Google will be forced to monitor the content of the sites to which they link. If the content could potentially violate a copyright, then Google must exclude it from the search. Think about that. That’s asking the phone company to make sure you aren’t doing anything illegal so long as they supply you with a phone number.

But hey, who needs Google? You can still get there if you know the name of the website, right? Nope. Your service provider can be sued if it doesn’t stop you from going there. In fact, the bill originally required your ISP to redirect you to a warning page if you tried to visit one of these sites. That language has been taken out and a “voluntary” provision has been put in its place. Of course, “voluntary” is just another way of saying “mandatory” when people can sue you to enforce it.

But wait, this only apply to foreign websites, right? Hardly. The law does say foreign websites, but how does Google know what’s foreign and what’s not when people can post on proxy servers? And if Google develops the skills to exclude copyright violating material in foreign websites, do you really think US courts won’t hold them liable for not doing the same for US websites? Don’t forget, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act is still out there. It provided a safe harbor for ISPs and search engines on the basis that so long as it wasn’t possible to filter these things out, then they didn’t need to do it. Once they show they can do it on foreign websites, that safe harbor goes away for domestic sites.

It’s no surprise that Google, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, AOL, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Mozilla, PayPal and many, many more object to this. Even Wikipedia founder Jay Walsh says this will threaten the way the Wikipedia works. Flikr will apparently be shut down. I would suspect Blogger will too because Google (owner of Blogger) could be sued if, for example, we uploaded illegal content here.

What’s more, while retard Marsha Blackburn thinks this bill is conservative, ask yourself if ANY conservative would ever set up a legal system where you are guilty until you prove your innocence in court. That’s what SOPA does. Once an allegation is made that a site contains copyrighted material, the Big Business complainer goes to court and gets an order shutting you down. Once the order is entered, they send a copy to your ISP, to search engines and to money-processing companies like PayPal. They are then required to shut you out or they face liability themselves. That’s when you finally get involved in the process. Now that you’ve been found guilty, and you are suddenly kicked off the net, you have the right to go to court and prove that you were wrongly black-listed. A year or two later (and minus mucho legal fees), you’ll probably be back on line. That’s a great way to take out a competitor at a crucial time.

I guess Marsha Blackburn learned conservatism at the knee of Joseph Stalin. And for the record, this puts our government in the same company as China, Iran, Libya and Tunisia.

Lest you think I’m blowing this out of proportion, BOTH leftist and conservative bloggers have gone to war against the idiots who are sponsoring this assault on the internet and freedom on behalf of Hollywood, the music industry and drug companies. They are particularly outraged that this could destroy political blogging because it is so easily abused. Erick Erickson of RedState is actually leading the charge. He’s promising to fight to unseat any of the Stalinists who support this thing:

“I love Marsha Blackburn. She is a delightful lady and a solidly conservative member of Congress. And I am pledging right now that I will do everything in my power to defeat her in her 2012 reelection bid due to her co-sponsorship for SOPA. . . . If members of Congress do not pull their name from co-sponsorship of SOPA, the left and right should pledge to defeat each and every one of them.”
Fortunately, much of the corporate backing for this bill is starting to collapse. GoDaddy just found out how stupid it was to support this when people began boycotting GoDaddy en mass. They’ve since withdrawn their support, as have other large corporations and scores of law firms.

Paul Ryan ran into this issue when he gave a noncommittal response when asked if he supports it and found himself blasted. He now firmly opposes it. Naturally, Ricky Santorum, champion of the (non-gay) common man supports it. Newt apparently does too. Romney doesn’t, which makes him the only conservative on this issue.

Sadly, too many Republicans are little more than whores who do the bidding of Big Business. The list of companies who favor this reads like a who’s who of monopolists who have failed to innovate, failed to embrace technology, and simply don’t want to spend time or effort rectifying their past failures. Thus, they have called their minions in Congress and asked the government to cover up their mistakes.

It’s time Republicans stop this crap! CONSERVATISM DOES NOT SUPPORT GOVERNMENT REGULATION TO PROTECT LARGE COMPANIES! And since Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Smith apparently don’t understand that, they need to be voted out.

96 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

good article, Andrew. I had not really been aware of what was going on with this. While I do understand the right of an entity to have a method of redress if their copyright/intellectual properties are stolen, it is clear this bill is overkill by an order of magnitude. It would result in total control.

the other interesting thing about the issue is that it starkly reminds of us the cost of freedom of communication. By that I simply mean that the net has allowed info. to be passed at astonishingly rapid rates (going viral if you will.) Inorder to maintain our freedom, we must to a certain degree accept the good with the bad (porn sites etc.) Electronic banking etc. is a great convenience, but does increase the risk of hacking. There are definite challenges to be faced with the net, but this is not any kind of solution.

Joel Farnham said...

This is Obama's version of Net Neutrality. It is specifically designed for those in power to complain about those not in power and shut down their websites.

The argument of intellectual property being stolen is a straw dog. When you can self-publish and by pass the liberal editors at the publishing houses in New York, and raise your salary at the same time, you are very little concerned with someone stealing your property.

Same as with software. The unix/GNU community doesn't believe software should be sold. Just shared. The point with sharing gives the end user a freedom from having to wait for latest fix from Microsoft. Fix it yourself or find someone who had the same problem and fixed it. Freedom of having Microsoft shut down your computer because you forgot the code that enables your windows product/office/ whatever.

Fairly recently, Kindle users had books stolen from their personal libraries. The novel was "1984" by George Orwell. Now, you might think that Amazon would be upset about this? Well, you see, Amazon did it. They have a back door, and full control over all Kindles. The only thing you can read on it, has to be approved by Amazon and they have to know that you bought it, or in the case of "free" books, downloaded it. It seems, "1984" was free, but Amazon wanted to make money and took it back.

CrisD said...

This was a great explanation of the SOPA issue, Andrew.

I am a neophyte about computers and copyrights but from the sound of this I can't see how this can all be implemented. Are thet going to create a Dept. of Communications??? Then employees of Google would have to deal with them: DOC???

tryanmax said...

Is there a compiled list of SOPA supporters to be found? Either of politicians, companies, or both?

* * *

The only word missing from your article, Andrew, is "unconstitutional." Just off the top of my head, this bill, if passed, would be in violation of at least half of the Bill of Rights. I'm not normally a single-issue guy, but this is a big enough deal to make me one. It also warms me up to Romney a little more. It also baffles me how Mark Levin, who seems so spot-on most of the time, can support Santorum.

Individualist said...

Andrew

The thing that torques me off about this legislation is that it is completely unecessary.

If one is posting illegal content online then they are subject to tort claims and I believe the IP provider could be sued for specific performance to have the material removed.

This can be done through the courts already. People engaging in copywrite violations online are no better than someone doing it in a brick and mortor shop.

You have to prove it but you can't shut a website down you can only force the website to remove the content. Failure can result in financial penalties. You should no more be able to include Facebook than you shlould be able to include the guy that operates the flea market for the acdtions of someone that rents a booth.

More laws are not necessary. Are they?

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! I agree that copyright holders should have the right to redress. But the problem with this, as is always the case these days when Congress acts, is that this goes way beyond it. This is trying to force others to solve their problem for them and it would have an incredible chilling effect.

Think of it this way, this would allow someone to sue a city where a criminal lives for providing roads, water and electricity to the criminal.

It turns everyone into secret policemen. And in that regard, companies like Google will either go broke defending lawsuits or will be forced into dramatic overkill mode and will shut everything down.

This is what happens with out of control government -- they try to solve a small problem by recreating East Germany.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That's absolutely correct -- "it is specifically designed for those in power to complain about those not in power and shut down their websites."

And don't think they won't do it. The record industry, publishers, Hollywood, the NFL have all tried to shut down thousands and thousands of websites and have sued thousands of individuals under DMCA.

I'm not saying pirates are right, but they aren't the real problem for these people. The real problem is that their monopolies have crashed around them because of the freedom the net provides and their revenues have been falling year after year. And they are to blame, not pirates. They failed to invest, failed to innovate, and failed to care about consumers.

This is their answer -- to destroy freedom of speech in this country to try to force people back onto the plantation.

And this bill really shows that because this bill would wipe out whole systems like Facebook and Flikr to stop what exactly?

It's disgusting to me that Republicans keep falling for this garbage. I hope the Tea Party Republicans are listening and pay careful attention to who among their ranks cannot be trusted and needs to go.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks CrisD!

Actually, it will be very simple.

1. The government already does some of this through the Department of Homeland Security. While the public thinks they're looking for terrorists, they actually spent last year shutting down websites that pirated movies and television signals on the basis that those could be helping terrorist somehow. At one point, in the name of stopping "child pornography" they mistakenly shut down 84,000 websites including many businesses and slapped up a nasty warnings that these sites had been seized for illegal activity.

The new bill envisions this continuing and the Department of Justice handling the litigation.

2. Even worse, this bill lets private individuals enforce this through the courts. Thus, I could allege that Huffington Post violated my copyright, go to court, get a court to give me a shutdown order, and then I could shut down Huffington Post until they could prove their innocence in court.

BUT... do you really think a court will shut down Huffington Post or Coke's website as easily as they will Commentarama?

3. Worse yet, because of the potential for getting sued, companies like Google and Facebook will need to monitor content now and exclude you if they think you are likely to get them sued. And your own provider will need to try to stop you from reaching bad sites too. In effect, internet providers and web providers will need to become secret police.

That's why this whole thing is so potentially devastating.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, There are lists. I'll have to go find one and link to it.

Unconstitutional is right, but that rarely stops a system that has gone out of control, and there is nothing this bill which hasn't already been accepted by the courts before.... always in the name of stopping the most heinous of crimes of course and with a promise that it wouldn't be abused.

That's the problem with the modern law -- Congress makes vastly overbroad/draconian laws, which used to be struck down for being overbroad, but today they get through. And they are always passed to stop some fake crisis or emergency with a promise they won't be abused, and then they get abused -- because promises are worthless once everyone figures out how useful the law is.

I suspect the Santorum support is a lack of research, just like how conservatives jumped on the Christie bandwagon without looking at his record.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Andrew
Copyright protection is justifiable and is law, but control of how a business functions is not. I don't feel any such controls are justifiable.
Business needs to be allowed to evolve without government interference.
For example, what happened to business as recording media changed ,evolved, from reel to reel thru MP3 for an iPod? Answer, business changed some died some new ones came to life.
Same for electronics solid state came to life and electron tubes went by the way side. These comparisons could go on and on covering every facet of our life in todays world.
That is natural selection and if left alone will produce the best for the least.

LawHawkRFD said...

Internet guilt by association. A whole new legal concept. Conservatives want government out of their daily lives. This puts the government right on top of our virtual desktops.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, No, more laws are not necessary. The problem is this.

1. There are some people who steal/counterfeit their products/property. Those people can already be sued. BUT what they do is rarely worth suing over because it is such a small dollar value. For example, what does Hollywood really lose if one person posts a 5 minute clip out of a movie on their website?

2. But these companies have monopolies that have collapsed and their sales are falling fast. But rather than address the underlying problem of their own failure to satisfy consumers, they would rather try to rebuild their monopolies by shutting down any outlets that competes. That's the real goal -- the bring the internet under control and make it less of an attraction for entertainment. That will force people back into theaters and back before their televisions, and will force them to again get their news from the professionals.

3. So they blame "pirates" for their collapse and call on Congress to save them, even though pirates have nothing to do with it. And the idiots in Congress fall for it.


Also, as usual, they are mixing issues. For example, the drug companies are on board because of claims that piracy is "dangerous" because it includes counterfeit drugs. Yeah, BUT that's not their target. Those pirates can already be gotten under a dozen laws and are. Their real target is people buying from Canada, where drugs are cheaper... and thereby breaking their monopoly.

Hollywood also talks about downloading movies "before they even reach theaters" but they are also targeting things like putting up a single image from the film or short clips.

The NFL targets anyone who puts up video clips of games or stream their own local over-the-air television broadcast of a game. Why? "Counterfeiters stealing jobs from Americans."

It's that kind of garbage.

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, That's true. Copyrights should be protected, but failed business models should not. And this legislation is about protecting companies from their own failures to adapt.

Hollywood, for example, is in trouble not because people are downloading their films but because they are struggling to compete in a crowded market place. They want to the power to shut down the competition.

And even more importantly, this bill is simply unAmerican in its enforcement powers. Americans do not believe in guilty until proven innocent, they do not believe in letting people sue you in secret, they do not believe that a company should be able to shut down your livelihood of a minor property dispute. They do not believe their fellow citizens should be made the eyes and ears of the cops or that they should be forced to prejudge you even before anyone has complained.

Yet, that is what this bill does.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's absolutely right and it drives me nuts that Republicans (and Democrats) are signing up for this just because a couple big businesses ask for it and scared them with "we need to protect jobs!"

This really shows how far out of touch with America, the American spirit, and the American Constitution they really are.

ScyFyterry said...

I hate Congress. There really is a war between big business in this country and the little guy and Congress is on the wrong side.

Capitalism YES
Crony Capitalism NO

DUQ said...

This is disturbing stuff. Thanks for outlining it Andrew because I hadn't heard anyone explain why this is bad.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I should have known, the Wikipedia has a list of the companies that support SOPA:

Crooks

And here is a cool list of Congressional supporters/opponents:

Critters

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I would not have agreed with that a decade ago, but I think there is definitely something to that right now. I think Big Business has decided that the most powerful tool in their arsenal is Congress and they are using it to bludgeon competitors and milk taxpayers.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome DUQ. It is a hard issue to get your head around because it involves complex matters. But it is a vital issue.

tryanmax said...

I suspect that Republicans and self-described conservatives get pulled into these fiascos because they believe they are protecting private property rights. But what they end up doing is trampling over several other rights in the process. As several have already observed, there is sufficient law in place to defend copyright.

Government in the light socket.
Government in the automobile.
Government in the drain pipe.
Government in the TV set.
Government in the paint.
Government in the carpet.
Government in the bed sheets.
And now, government in the computer.
Remind me what that nonsense was about "right to privacy" during the last Republican debate?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think that's right. I think they hear "property rights" and "business wants it" and they jump. I don't think they ever bother to think these things through -- especially because the people they talk to the most are K-Street types who represent these companies and who actually wrote the bill.


Right to privacy? You have a right to privacy, it's just not very private... nor is it really a right so much as "something we tell you about but don't honor, now shut up and do as we say." And it's certainly no right to be left alone.

I have to say, I get more and more cynical about our government as the years pass and as I see more and more invasions of our lives from both sides. Are they so stupid they don't understand what they are doing? Or are they so cynical that they know and they just expect us to believe the lie?

Ed said...

Andrew, Excellent breakdown. This needs to be stopped and the Republicans need to be taught that this sort of thing is unacceptable. I hope Eric succeeds in defeating Blackburn.

Ed said...

tryanmax, Don't forget:

Government in the wallet.

And through thought/hate crimes laws, censorship laws, speech codes, etc.:

Government in the mind.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Andrew
Business is the purest entity in the world. A business exists to generate a gain for the owner/stock holder.
A business has no ethnic, national or racial bias.
Maybe that is the problem for the government there is to control except for method of operation.

T-Rav said...

Funny thing, some liberal friend of mine tried to pin this on conservatives because a Texas Republican sponsored the bill. (Surprisingly, not Rick Perry.) I set him straight pretty quick, though.

Thanks for an interesting article. This sounds like a bad idea from every direction.

(P.S. check your email.)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! I hope the Republicans get some sense.

Nice additions to tryanmax's list!

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, I wouldn't call business "pure," it just has a different set of loyalties than others. And I do think most businesses do try to align their interests the people of the society in which they live.

The problem in this case is that the government has decided to sell its power to the highest bidder and too many businesses see that as easier than actually competing, the same way they use the government to get subsidies and dump their costs on the taxpayer. That's why they favored ObamaCare because it shifted their costs healthcare costs onto the taxpayers.

Patti said...

i have maintained from the beginning of this fight, that young folks will be disinterested until the government comes for their internet. i do believe we will see an uprising that will have youth behind it.

NOT MY INTERNETS!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, E-mail checked.

While there is no way this is a conservative bill -- it's actually rather Stalinist -- your friend is sadly correct to a degree because there are several conservative sponsors of this turd. But there are also leftist Democratic sponsors. Indeed, there is bipartisan support. This is what happens with Congress. They do the bidding of their donors, rather than doing what is right.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, That's probably right. And this issue has mobilized a lot of people -- with more coming around to the issue every day.

Let's hope the Republicans wise up.

BevfromNYC said...

Correct me if I am wrong in this, but the most insidious is that MSM news sites are in on this too. It would essentially shut down aggregator sites like Drudge or any site that posts links to news article without prior permission from the author/journalist. No more information sharing.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Each of the "media" companies is in on this because they hate the fact that bloggers have replaced journalists. It's killing their ratings and it's killing their influence. They've been trying for some time now to shut down the opposition and this would give them a great opportunity because they would claim that their news is copyrighted and thus bloggers are violating their copyrights when they repeat it. Indeed, they've already made this argument several times in the past, but failed each time. This bill would give them more power to try again.

CrispyRice said...

Sooo, when Obama decides that he doesn't like what goes on here at Commentarama, he can have his minions decree that you're using images from Futurama or movie posters illegally and shut you down just like that?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

It looks like the "so-called" paranoid ones who only deal with Linux/GNU programs are right all along. It might be time to set up your computer along linux/GNU lines and reconfigure your computer or one you don't mind sitting idly by into an internet node.

Essentially, when you hook your computer up as an internet node, you hook it directly into the internet and then anyone can use it to get to another node.

The internet is a group of websites and individual computers that transfers information from one computer to another. The reason you can get to it almost any where is the nodes. An internet provider really is just a larger collection of nodes and repeaters. If one section of the internet gets burned or broken, another section takes up the slack.

If you have a satellite dish, you can access the internet through it. Sometimes it requires an advanced degree to transform it, but it can be done.

If you use torrents to download and upload information, you actually are doing part of what the internet does. That, the POWERS-THAT-BE really don't understand it. Their comprehension of the internet is that it comes out of the wall. It is far more complicated and much simpler than that.

When the internet came into existence, what the POWERS-THAT-BE didn't realize is it is designed to withstand a nuclear attack. It is also designed to withstand a cyber attack.

This legislation, while intended to stop people from communicating with others, will just force people to do without the big three (ABC,CBS and NBC) info and Microsoft as well as any other big conglomerate (such as AP-news) you can think of. What will happen is no longer will Microsoft dominate.

So if they do try this, we will no longer be using Microsoft. The more they clutch, the more they lose.

Google GNU. You will be surprised at the level of sophistication that has been achieved.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Yep. And if I was to say release a film critical of Obama through an independent website right before an election, his minions could bring false claims against me and shut me down for several months as we sort out who is right or wrong.

This thing is meant to be abused.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, There are two problems with that. First, I don't think most people are sophisticated enough to sidestep the "new net" and go underground. Secondly, even if some people can do this, it will choke off the mass of the public who are out there causing this shake up. In other words, while some people will no doubt find their way around this, their audience will be much smaller and their ability to change the world will be all but gone.

That give the power right back to the likes of ABC/NBC/CBS.

By the way, even the supporters of this bill largely admit that this won't solve the problem. So we are destroying the world for a fix that won't actually fix anything. If that doesn't define government then nothing does.

T-Rav said...

It's hard to imagine that this bill could solve the problem. What piece of anti-pirating Internet legislation actually has worked? The best that can be done, it seems to me, is to apprehend if possible and then punish the culprits; as well as education about the nature of property rights. But then the Left has never been too keen on property rights, so that may not work out.

Individualist said...

OK Andrew

From reading the comments on this blog and your answers the people supporting this bill are the *gasp* free thought liberals that work in Hollywood.....

*No*** the Horror***

tryanmax said...

Ed, wouldn't it be nice to just forget the government for a day?

Patti, I think you are too correct!

Joel, I wish more people were savvy enough to set up their computers that way. In fact, I have the skills but I lack the specific know-how to do it myself. SOPA makes me feel like I should remedy that.

Andrew, I think you and Joel both make fair points. If SOPA becomes law and is subsequently (inevitably) abused, I could see either outcome occurring. In Joel's case, what is rather esoteric now could become commonplace if a response was consumer solutions manufactured for end-users. I don't know what it means for the Amazons and Facebooks of the web, though.

CrispyRice said...

Wow, Andrew. Yikes.

Maybe I should learn some Linux, eh?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It really can't work because you can't really prevent crimes in advance. People will always find the hole in the system. Even police states like the Soviet Union were awash in crime because you can't foresee everything.

And in any event, I don't think the primary focus of these companies is really to stop piracy. I'm sure they wish it would go away, but they have other interests here.

1. The drug companies want to stop the importation of drugs from Canada... they are incredibly cheap by comparison (like 10% of the cost).

2. Hollywood/record industry want a new revenue source and what better way to get it than to be able to sue millions of people for small amounts of money.

3. Media companies want to stop bloggers and force everyone to go back to newspapers/television, which they then want to put behind pay walls.

And all of them want to make the net less useful/entertaining because it's the net that has freed people to compete with them and break their monopolies.

If they happen to stop piracy in the process, then that's great... but that's not the real concern.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Yeah, this is bad stuff. And just looking at the people who support it should send off huge warning bells to the Republicans who are supporting this.

When has Hollywood, the record industry, or Patrick Leahy ever done anything friendly to Republicans or the American people?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It would probably mean the elimination of "user content" at those sites because Amazon and Facebook couldn't risk getting sued. Or they would need to find a way to monitor everything that gets uploaded and delete any links, images, quotes, videos that could potentially violate copyrights.

How they square that with Fair Use is a good question?


I think the problem with what Joel says is that 95% of people just aren't capable of doing that. Few of the people I know would even consider it, much less do it. My mother is the perfect example. She barely knows how to include links in e-mails and how to upload updates. There is no way she could start configuring her computer. Unless someone came along and found a way to do it automatically for her, hundreds of millions of people would find themselves stuck on the "approved net."

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, It won't help. The issue isn't that YOU won't be able to go where you want, the issue is that everything will chance. Sites like Flikr and Blogger will probably cease to exist or will be heavily censored. Google and Yahoo will need to start censoring searches so you won't even know the stuff is out there. In effect, a huge chunk of the net's content will vanish. And with it will go the ability to bring the innovation that have made the net so great so fast.

Ed said...

Journalists have tried to claim the news is copyrights?

BevfromNYC said...

Joel - I am coming to live with you after the Apocolypse.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Yes. That was their first attack on bloggers. They went after "aggregators"... guys like Drudge who link to their sites. They claimed that "the news" was really their work because they researched and wrote the story. Thus, guys like Drudge were stealing their work by linking to it.

That didn't fly because they gave it away for free. So the next round was to try to put things behind pay walls so they can claim there is value in their work which people will pay for. That would help them try again.

Now we get this attempt which will let them try again, only this time, the law will reverse the burden. Rather than having to prove that the blogger did something illegal, they can get it stopped and the blogger must prove that what they did was legal. That shifting of the burden is very important in court.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Tell me about it! Joel knows his stuff and he will do fine when the zombies come. He'll have internet and everything! :)

BevfromNYC said...

But seriously, if sites like ours do not generate income from linking to articles, how can we be stopped under our Bill of Rights?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

Just how fast is the internet?

How hard is it for a non-pc user to build a computer today?

How much has GNU created? How fast can a non-tech install linux/GNU?

How hard is it to set up an internet node/repeater from home?

All these questions can be answered by you today, and tomorrow you can buy all the necessary stuff on line to create a super-fast computer. Faster and better than the one you have now for under $2000. It won't have a taint of Microsoft on it.

Also, you will have the luxury of knowing that the government might be able to cut power to you, but your signal won't be stopped by government fiat. :-)

The unintended consequences of the government attempting to stifle the internet will be the down-fall of Micro-Soft, most news organizations, Hollywood and freeing up more people than you ever thought possible.

Oh, at first, they will crow, but you really don't know what has been bubbling up because of Micro-Soft and Apple. Not yet at least.

This is fact, not fiction. Check it out for yourself.

Oh, to maybe help you along the way, this video will start you on the way to a nice computer.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, In two ways.

1. Violation of copyright law does not require an economic motive. You could pass out millions of copies of some movie for free and they could still sue you for their lost sales.

2. This law lets them go after Google, who does have an economic interest in letting bloggers use its platform.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, In my experience, going off the computer reservation becomes a problem unless you're really tech savvy. Printers stop working, routers crash, etc.

I keep hoping that Linux gets more user friendly because I'd love to switch. But at this point, I'm not prepared to leave the Matrix.

BevfromNYC said...

Obviously, what is at stake is not intellectual property, but the free flow of information. Like that next new renewable energy source, those who control the information highway and can charge for it will be king.

Any kind of academic scholarship whould be shut down, if information could not be be freely shared.

I wonder if this is how the church and the monarchies felt after the invention of the printing press in the 1450's. It's all Gutenberg's fault.

tryanmax said...

Joel, lend me $2000? ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That's exactly what this is about. It's really about controlling the flow of information, not stopping piracy. Piracy is just a pretext here.

And that's why this is so dangerous. This is an attempt to put all of us back onto the plantation form which the internet let us escape.

BevfromNYC said...

Well, Andrew, that clinches it. I'm moving in with Joel. I don't require much, just running water and 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets...;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I believe that's in everyone's post-apocalypse survival kit. LOL!

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

If you could, when you had a problem with your old computer, all you needed to do was swap out one component and been on your way in less than five minutes, would you have done it?

If I knew then what I know now, I would never have bought a Hewlett Packard, nor let my wife buy a Dell. I would have rebuilt my old computer and upgraded.

Here is a stupid question. Do you guys know what computer and operating system you are using?

It is easy to find out. Go to start, right click mouse on "My Computer" or "Computer", left click mouse on "properties". The information is all there.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Now you're sounding like these Indian scammers who keep calling me trying to convince me that my computer is infected with viruses.

"Is it hot in India?"

"No sir, please just turn on your computer and read me the following numbers..."

"Sure, I'm retarded, here goes..."

;)


In terms of what I'm using, it's an HP, but I needed something fast when my Toshiba exploded like a supernova and that was all the big box store had -- I needed to replace my computer within the hour because of a project I was working on otherwise I never would have bought an HP.

Replace what?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

The component that burned up.

Unless your toshiba was a laptop, and my assumption is it is a desktop, it is a matter of turning two screws for the side panel, removing any where between 1 and 10 screws inside the box, taking the part to a big box store that sells computer parts, handing a clerk the part and asking for an exact replacement or one that does exactly the same thing, returning home and reversing the removal of the part.

It is a little more complicated with a lap top. It takes approximately 5 to six screws to gain access to the inside of the lap top and you have to be very careful with the interconnecting cable from the screen to the motherboard.

Truthfully, it isn't hard to fix a computer. It is harder to trace down a intermittent fault. Oh, and if your Toshiba had a solid state drive, there is a little tutorial about how to take care of those drives and speed them back up to factory specs. It involves a small clean-up program appropriately nicknamed, taking out the trash.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It was a laptop. I switched to laptops years ago and have never gone back.

Unfortunately, in this case, it was the motherboard that flamed out. And since the replacement cost was steep and I already had the HP which has more everything, I just stuck with the HP, though I hate the keyboard.

Plus, at this point, laptops have gotten really cheap and are making huge leaps in terms of power and memory so I don't mind upgrading whenever they break.... which is good because my laptops have all been cursed and have all died through other than natural causes in under two years. One died in a "cola incident" a month after I bought it -- and ironically, the cola that killed it was across the room.

Joel Farnham said...

LOL!

Do you remember the old IBM keyboards? Do you like those?

AndrewPrice said...

The old IBM keyboards? Hmm. I'm not sure I do. I had a 386, but I don't remember anything special about the keyboard except that it was nice and solid compared to modern keyboards.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

daskeyboard.com
has a cool keyboard. I am thinking about upgrading. If you have a spare usb 2.0 port, you could have the solid feel of an IBM 386 keyboard. The website also has the history of the keyboard, from the manual typewriters to present as well as why modern keyboards almost always have QWERTY in the top left.

Oh, why do you like laptops? I have used them and because of the limitations of the keyboard, I don't I like them. I feel that in miniaturization they lost too much.

Yes, you can take it to class and work and be instantly at work. With the small keyboard, the mouse that isn't, and the small screen, it isn't for me. It is the batteries blowing up and destroying the whole lap top that decided me.

tryanmax said...

I'll play. My primary computer is a Vostro 1000 running XP Home Edition SP3 with an AMD Turion 64 Mobile that I installed. Now I have to check my properties, b/c I've never upgraded the memory on this thing. 1.87 GB. I probably should do something about that.

I'm one of those crazy folks who actually fixes laptops. If I count every laptop I've owned, I've replaced every component there is at least once. Even on Macs, which is apparently sacrilege. I've fixed some friends' laptops, too, but never anything major.

tryanmax said...

BTW, this thing has a broken hinge. Of all the stupid things.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice keyboard. The unlabeled one is an interesting idea. I rarely look at the keys when I type -- years of legal writing -- and I actually find that when I start looking, it slows me down.


On laptops, I never thought I would get into laptops until one was forced upon me at work. Since then, I've come to realize how convenient they are. I like the mobility because I like taking them from room to room. I also like being able to work either lying down or sitting. Basically, desk tops are too restrictive for the way I like to use computers.

On the laptop-keyboard, I tend to get larger laptops with nearly full size keyboards. That's one thing I won't accept is a small keyboard.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, My laptop before last had a broken hinge because it got kicked by a clumsy idiot after it was knocked off a table.... long story. It worked for about two more months that way, except it the screen would suddenly go blank sometimes. But eventually it went into the light when the wires ripped. All attempts at CPR failed.

In terms of specs, this laptop is an HP POS. It has an AMD Turion II dual core processor (2.5 GHz), 4 GB installed RAM and a 64-bit operating system which really pissed off my printer.

Joel Farnham said...

tryanmax,

Ah. Another lap top user.

Tell me. Are you sitting with the laptop in your lap or on some desk or table? Do you use it away from home? Like, Andrew, do you use it every where you go?

Andrew,

That is what drew me to it. I thought it was a mistake, but it does come that way. It is more so that the end user can change any key to what they want.

I, at one point wanted a lap top. the keyboards still are too small and the prospect of the battery blowing up while in my lap is troublesome.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, For me the issue (as I've discovered) isn't the keyboard (so long as the keys aren't angled... I hate that) but it's the area before the keyboard. If there's not enough space then I start getting carpal tunnel because the edge of the laptop cuts into my wrists. So I always make sure there is plenty of space for my wrists.

In terms of using it everywhere, it rarely leaves the house because I don't tend to go anywhere I would use it anymore, though I have in the past taken it to libraries or things like that.

tryanmax said...

Joel, I got this laptop before my lifestyle changed (read: had kids) so when I am ready for a new machine, I might go desktop, not sure. But I do still haul this thing from room to room. It's a biggie like Andrew's b/c I do design work on it. Plus, I have a station with a bigger screen for occasions that I need it.

I've never been bothered by the keyboard, probably b/c I'm a clumsy typist anyway. What bugs me is the touchpad. I always use a regular mouse with my laptops.

90% of the time I'm using this thing in a chair, in bed, on the floor, or wherever. I really only work at a desk when I'm doing some serious design work, which I don't do much at home anymore.

I also like being able to plunk down in a coffee shop and do some stuff.

BevfromNYC said...

So when will you guys start speaking English again?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! It does seem that way doesn't it when people start talking about technology. It's even worse with medicine. I still can't understand why they can't use normal words to describe body parts?

Myocardial what?

BevfromNYC said...

LOL!! Myocardial infarction I understand! "Nodes" and "Vostro 1000 running XP Home Edition SP3 with an AMD Turion 64 Mobile that I installed"?? I know they look like English words, but I have no idea what they mean!

tryanmax said...

LOL! I remember when I reacted the same way to tech-talk and now I'm doing it myself. It's funny how normal it seems to me now.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! I know what you mean -- that's English, but it doesn't mean anything to me!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's something lawyers fall into as well (as I expect all fields do) but the good lawyers are the ones who know how to translate it all into recognizable English.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I wrote what I hope is an article which starts people thinking differently about SOPA.

tryanmax said...

Here's hoping that it does some good. I wrote to my Representative and Senators inquiring their positions, expressing my concerns, and sharing a link to your article with the suggestion that the proposed legislation has the potential to take away such conveniences. I'll be happy if I receive anything other than an autoreply.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Nice article. I hope an alternative to Microsoft does catch on at some point.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I hope so too. I just get the feeling that these people rarely listen. With this kind of anger from left and right and from people like Red State, you would think conservatives would walk away from this... and yet they haven't so far.

I fear this falls into the pattern of elitist thinking: "people may be upset now, but they'll get over it."

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I don't think this will pass. Think of all the people Jonesing when the Internet gets taken away. Oh, Microsoft knows it is vulnerable attacks have increased on the GNU site. The problem is that it is all open source code. You can't damage something that isn't hidden. The only way is to shut down that site and when that does....well, there are ways around it. And Microsoft doesn't stand a chance.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I use the term Jonesing all the time! LOL!

I hope you're right because I would love to see an open source operating system replace Microsoft and become the dominant operating system. I think that would make computing a whole heck of a lot better and safer.

rlaWTX said...

I'm with Bev! English in an understandable order, not random words tossed together with pretend words smushed in between!

What's sad is, I am the office "expert"! Luckily, I have a good (albeit pricey) tech service. Problem is, even if fixing is relatively simple for them (NOT me), the labor charge makes it more expensive than getting a new one.

I love my laptop. Got one with 10-key because I was still my old church's treasurer back then.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Good point about the labor. Unless you can fix these things yourself, it's just too expensive to get most electronics fixed.

And you would be surprised how many organizations have "tech people" that have no tech background. It seems to become a default position for whoever seems to know computers best.

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting update. First, Patrick Leahy sounds like he's backing out of this monster. Lamar Smith isn't, but they also just caught him violating a copyright on his own webpage.

He's not changing his mind however. Here's what the Stalinist said:

"It is amazing to me that the opponents apparently don't want to protect American consumers and businesses."

LINK

tryanmax said...

Lamar now says he will remove the domain name system blocking provision from the bill. But he is still pressing forward. LINK

What bugs me is that this isn't SOPA's first rodeo (something I didn't know yesterday). I hate the way some CongressCritters just never give up on their pet legislation no matter how many times or way the public says, "NO!"

And here is a LINK for Joel.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's because they are usually doing the bidding of donors who really want these things and they realize that the public will stop paying attention at some point and then they can sneak these things through. If this fails, they'll try to attach it to a budget appropriations bill where everyone will be too busy to notice what they've done.

The domain name blocking bit is the least end of it. Eliminating that is just perfuming a slime monster.

thundercatkp said...

Andrew,

I was listening to Glenn Beck on the radio a couple days ago...he was going off on a rant about the public being able to find info about journalist...and the lack of outrage from the journalists.

People were using the 1st Amendment as a defense against this...but isn't the 1st Amendment just for congress...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I thought those freedoms were just a given not something we had to fight to protect...guess I was wrong.

If it does pass it'll be interesting to see how they are going to police SOPA. I wish they would censor my blog...at least it means they read it and it got to them :)

AndrewPrice said...

thundercat, The First Amendment is supposed to protect us from our government. But the problem is that our government is now making the rules about what does and doesn't count as a violation. So it's all a bit messed up.

As for going after journalists, there is no reason the public shouldn't be allowed to go after journalists if the journalists lie or slander or libel. The First Amendment doesn't protect against that. What's protecting journalists is how the law has evolved about public figures. It makes it harder to win against public figures.

That's something Congress could change if they wanted to. Personally, I think they should.

Joel Farnham said...

Thanks for the link tryanmax.

Yep, but that is just some of the basics. Wait until some idiot who knows some knowledge of Microsoft Windows gets the idea that the government can force Microsoft to shutdown individual computers with the backdoor shutdown Microsoft has developed for Windows.

You do know that Microsoft can shutdown all of the computers with Windows installed?

AndrewPrice said...

But Joel, they promise they will only do that to bad people.

// rolls eyes

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

The trouble is that most people will only find out about that backdoor shutdown when Microsoft shuts them down. As more people become aware of what Microsoft did, more people will turn to alternatives to protect themselves from Microsoft. Linux/GNU is going to be there waiting for them.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I've heard they snoop on your computer too to see if you've got things like illegally downloaded music.

Joel Farnham said...

Yes, Andrew, they can. As long as you are hooked up to the internet and have Windows they can snoop all day long and the only way you can combat it is with having something that Windows can't control like an operating system that has no secret programming.

thundercatkp said...

Unauthorized snooping...nah they'd never do that ;)

"They" can't snoop through the peephole either...can they...heehee :)

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