I wrote about this in a fax to Congress yesterday, as one of three topics which should be of profound concern to American Citizens, A Great Week in America for Freedom, Democracy, and the American Way of Life.
What I said still holds true.
The Senate and House were on the verge of passage of the Kill the Internet so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (House) or the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act (Senate); better known as the “We the corporations and governments will take over the Internet and destroy any site on which people dare to speak truth to power act.” The bill was written, of course, not out of an act of conscience by members of Congress, but by Motion Picture Association of America. It is very important that the 99% ability to communicate and speak truth to power be squelched as soon as possible by a bill that pretty much abolishes the role of the judiciary and due process, and puts the corporate oligarchy in control of shutting down just about any web site they want to, on their say so alone. We don’t need no stinkin’ due process or judiciary anymore.
It appears that Congress is beginning to feel the heat from the rational thinkers in the technology and business communities as the week came to an end.
There is little more that can be said about the currently awful bills proposed in both houses other than this: if the American people want to preserve the free and open Internet and the revolution in freedom to communicate it has offered, and the profound impact it has had on the course of history, the greatest since the Bible was printed over 500 years ago, then they should be calling Congress and demanding that the current bad bills be thrown in the trash where they belong.
The problems can be handled with rational action under existing law and trade agreements, as part of the judicial system of due process and review. Is Congress just intent on totally and completely ignoring the rule of law in every aspect of America life? It certainly has seemed that way for the past 12 years.
As reported at ars technica:
Here’s the plan, according to a draft seen by Ars Technica: online piracy from overseas sites will be taken away from the Attorney General and moved out of the courts. Instead, power will be vested in the International Trade Commission, which already handles IP disputes relating to imports (the ITC is heavily involved in the recent patent wars around smartphones, for instance).
The government won’t bring cases, either; rightsholders can petition the ITC for a “cease and desist” order, but only when the site in question is foreign and is “primarily” and “willfully” violating US law. Sites would be notified and would have a right to be heard before decisions are made in most cases, and rulings could be appealed to a US court if desired by either party. (“Urgent” requests could get preliminary and temporary letters based on a one-sided hearing, but the process also envisions “sanctions” for any company that tries to abuse the ITC process.)
Sites which are truly bent on counterfeiting and piracy are unlikely to pay much attention to a US-based cease and desist order, of course, so the new plan envisions two remedies. If such an order is issued, Internet advertising firms and financial providers would have to stop offering credit card payments and ads to the site in question. Website blocking by ISPs and DNS providers is not part of the plan, nor would search engines or others be required to remove links to such content.
The two-page draft of the plan is being issued so that “the public can provide us with feedback and counsel before the proposal is formally introduced in the House and the Senate.” And clearly, feedback would be useful. Can such a “follow the money” plan do anything about noncommercial piracy, for instance? Should it try to do so? But the whole shift in tone marked by the new approach looks far more promising than anything likely to come out of the mess that is SOPA.
Who’s behind all of this sweet sanity? Senators Wyden (D-OR), Cantwell (D-WA), Moran (R-KS), and Warner (D-VA); Reps. Chaffetz (R-UT), Campbell (R-CA), Doggett (D-TX), Eshoo (D-CA), Issa (R-CA), and Lofgren (D-CA).
Also covered by Huffingtonpost this morning.
bipartisan cadre of lawmakers proposed a new framework for an anti-piracy bill late Thursday night, hoping to derail leading legislation that hundreds of law professors and web experts believe would crack the foundation of the Internet.
At issue is how Congress should deal with foreign websites that pirate American goods, particularly movies and music. For months, broad majorities in both the House and Senate have been promoting legislation that grants radical new tools to both the American government and private corporations to take action against rogue foreign websites, but the tactics deployed have alarmed Silicon Valley giants and free speech advocates alike.
Foreign piracy has traditionally been an international trade issue. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative keeps a formal, public blacklist of nations that do not respect American intellectual property — a list which U.S. administrations frequently use as a foreign policy cudgel against other governments on behalf of favored American businesses. The U.S. International Trade Commission, moreover, regulates imports of foreign goods that benefit from unfair trade advantages. Both the World Trade Organization and the World Bank arbitrate trade disputes between nations.