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[liberationtech] US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) proposal

Katrin Verclas katrin at mobileactive.org
Wed Nov 16 08:45:43 PST 2011


Cynthia - thanks for this. SOPA is a truly horrific piece of legislation that may very well pass in the Senate version.  This group better pay attention. I hear that there are hearings on the Hill today.  Who is coordinating the civil society campaign against this one? What is the plan?  With the Senate version having 40 sign-ons, we better get organized and fast.  Who is leading this and what is the game plan? 

And, as an aside  - really starting to get sick of this defensive crap we have to engage in every day.  It seems to me that we should start hitting harder on the legislative front to be less reactive and more pro-active and strategic.  I think it might be time to have a legislative working group of key players on this to start applying some pressure on key issues we care about.  If there is such as thing, lets hear it. If now, let's convene it.

Katrin 

 
On Nov 15, 2011, at 3:39 PM, Cynthia Wong wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> 
> As some of you are aware, a new copyright enforcement bill, SOPA (H.R. 3261) has been introduced in the U.S. that could greatly harm freedom of expression, access to knowledge, and privacy online.  
> 
> For a summary of the bill and a list of concerns, see CDT's briefing paper here: http://www.cdt.org/paper/sopa-summary
> And blog post here: http://www.cdt.org/blogs/david-sohn/2710house-copyright-bill-casts-dangerously-broad-net
> 
> I've also copied a shorter summary in text below.  
> 
> CDT is compiling all the blog posts and other writing that has been done on SOPA, which we are passing onto policymakers in the U.S.  You can see the current list here: http://cdt.org/report/growing-chorus-opposition-stop-online-piracy-act
> 
> If you have also written about concerns on the potential impact of SOPA on human rights, civil liberties, or economic innovation and would like your voice added to the list we're sending to the hill, please get in touch with me -- we would love to add them to the list.  
> 
> Best regards,
> 
> Cynthia Wong
> 
> //
> Cynthia M. Wong
> Director, Global Internet Freedom Project
> Center for Democracy & Technology
> 
> CDT  •  1634 I Street NW  •  Suite 1100  •  Washington, DC 20006
> E cynthia at cdt.org P +1-202-407-8835 F +1-202-637-0968
> 
> Keeping the Internet Open, Innovative & Free!
> 
> Follow our work on Twitter @CenDemTech @cynthiamw
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Our concerns are many, but the most serious include the following:
> 	• CDT remains opposed to the bill’s ISP blocking provisions.  The DNS-blocking required will be trivial to circumvent, potentially quite overbroad in its impact on lawful expression, is inconsistent with key cybersecurity initiatives, and sets a dangerous international precedent for Internet blocking.  SOPA goes beyond the DNS-filtering proposed in the Protect IP Act, imposing a broader, open-ended blocking obligation on ISPs.
> 	• The definition of the sites that the U.S. government can bring actions against sweeps far too broadly.  Even innocent sites may be found to "facilitate" infringement and thus find themselves caught up in enforcement actions.  A video-sharing site with thousands of innocent users sharing their own non-infringing videos, but a small minority using the site to criminally infringe, could find its domain blocked by in the U.S.
> 	• Similarly, the definition of sites that may be subject of private actions is dramatically overbroad, in ways that could create de facto monitoring obligations for websites.  Any rightsholder could cut off the financial lifeblood of user-generated content sites unless those sites actively monitor and police user activity to the rightsholder’s satisfaction.  
> 	• The private action provision risks creating unprecedented incentives for user-driven sites to implement elaborate user-monitoring systems to "confirm" whether individual users are infringing.  These and other sites have flourished under current protections from intermediary liability in U.S. law, which expressly reject a general obligation to actively track and police user behavior.  Creating incentives to perform such burdensome monitoring (or risk losing financial means of support) would be hugely damaging to free expression and user privacy.  
> 
> You can read the full text of the bill here. 
> 
> Summary of relevant sections of SOPA:
> 
> Section 102 allows the government to impose new obligations on a range of intermediaries to block access to sites that facilitate criminal copyright infringement
> 	• Section 102 defines new actions that may be brought by the U.S. Attorney General against a “foreign infringing site” or portion thereof.  “Foreign infringing sites” are websites that commit or “facilitate” commission of criminal copyright or trademark infringement.  
> 	• The A.G. can bring an action either against the operator of such a website, or in rem against the site itself or its domain name. The court can then order the site to cease and desist further activity as a foreign infringing site.
> 	• Once a court has issued an order, the A.G. can serve a copy on any of several intermediaries, who must take action specified in the bill within five days:
> 		• ISPs must comply with an open ended blocking order (whatever is “technically feasible and reasonable”), including but not limited to DNS blocking;
> 		• search engines must take measures designed to prevent the site (or portion thereof) from being served as links;
> 		• payment networks (credit card companies, Paypal, etc.) must take measures designed to prevent transactions between the site and U.S. customers;
> 		• ad networks must take measures designed to stop serving ads on the site or for the site, and to stop receiving payments from the site. 
> 	• The A.G. can bring actions against these intermediaries to compel compliance.  
> 	• Finally, the A.G. can bring an action to stop anyone who provides tools to circumvent the intermediary measures SOPA requires. 
> 
> Section 103 creates a private notice-and-cutoff system that allows private parties to target a website’s financial resources if the website does not monitor for infringement
> 	• Section 103 codifies a private notice-and-cutoff system that allows a rightsholder to demand that payment and ad networks stop doing business with any site that the rightsholder believes is “dedicated to theft of U.S. property.”  Such websites include any sites that take “deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability” of infringing activity.  
> 	• If the intermediary does not cease business with the site, either based on its own judgment or because it receives a counter-notice from the site, the rightsholder can then initiate a private action similar to the A.G. action above.    
> 	• If an intermediary still does not comply, the court may issue an order to show cause why the intermediary should not be ordered by the court to comply and possibly to pay “an appropriate monetary sanction.”
> 
> 
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Katrin Verclas
MobileActive.org
katrin at mobileactive.org

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