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Do as we say, not as we do...

The U.S. House is currently debating the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), better known as SOPA.  As mentioned in our previous analysis, SOPA has the potential to create devastating harm to internet businesses, as it allows sites to be taken down if any user posts links to infringing content.  

For example, if a site's user policy explicitly forbid posting links to copyrighted material and one rogue user posted such content, the entire business could be effectively killed for however many weeks or days it took to remove the offending links and pass a complaint through the gears of bureaucracy.  The solution appears to be sort of like chopping your leg off to fight an ingrown toenail.

I. All Onboard the Congressional Pirates Train

Now a particularly ironic fact has come to light -- it appears that IP addresses belonging to the offices of members of Congress have been downloading content illegally via BitTorrent.

TorrentFreak used Hurricane Electric's handy list of assigned IP blocks (found here) to track down which IP addresses belong to the offices of members of Congress.  And lo and behold, when those addresses were compared to results on YouHaveDownloaded, a torrent tracking site, they yielded over 800 hits.

Now to put this in context YouHaveDownloaded tracks only a tiny portion of torrent traffic, so it appears that Congress -- even as they look to punish lesser mortals for file sharing -- are themselves gleefully committing a "smash and grab" as Vice President Joe Biden (D) once put it.

Much of the pirated materials appeared to be adult self-help or education books such as "Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High" and "How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want".
Pirates life
Argh, Congress knows how to pirate, apparently! [Image Source: Reuters]

A fair amount of useful software -- like Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 7 Ultimate Edition -- was also pirated.

But other pirated works appeared to be purely stolen for pleasure.  For example one individual within the halls of Congress downloaded a season of Sons of Anarchy, a TV show on News Corp.'s (NWS) FX channel.  Another download appeared to be more "adult" in nature -- "Gangland Cream Pie 21" (we're guessing that's not an educational baking special).

Cream Pie
Some Members of Congress or staffers appear to like the cream pie.  No, not this kind of cream pie. [Image Source: Food Network]

II. Editorial/Analysis: Should we be Surprised that Politicians are Hypocrites?

Is it surprising that the office of Congress are pirating even as they plot to chop the legs off of online business, further crippling the struggling U.S. economy, and raise taxes to further punitive punishments for filesharing that are already grossly disproportionate with offline offenses? Is it surprising that federal politicians or bureaucrats are pirating even as they plan to imprison Americans for streaming sports events, injecting even more Americans into the crowded penal system at a time when America imprisons more of its citizens than any nation in the world?

If Americans wants unbiased political representation -- human beings who truly wish the best for their well being -- why would they allow special interests to pay federal politicians' way into office?  Clearly you're the boss of who pays you, and when it comes to politicians, their boss isn't the American people.

Shepard Fairey says obey
Why question are glorious industry installed leaders? [Image Source: Shepard Fairey]

TorrentFreak should be congratulated though, for their excellent armchair gumshoe work.  They've previously exposed busted torrent traffic coming from IPs at the Department of Homeland Security and the RIAAat Hollywood studios; and at the French President's Palace.  (Has nobody ever heard of Tor?)

Is intellectual property protection important?  Of course.  These government pirates are just as much in the wrong as the members of the public, as they're ultimately stealing work, denying hard working software engineers, actors, musicians, etc. funds.

But at the end of the day that SOPA and its propents aren't engaging in some lofty moral stand, they're just looking to smack down the little guy with punitive punishments, even as the nation's economy lurches and as they or their aids merrily pirate away.

Source: TorrentFreak

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RE: Why is online piracy so outrageous?
By Dr of crap on 12/29/2011 12:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's what we all want is to be able to get the movie, or song, or whatever from the studio, and for a monthly fee - get it you studios, you'd be making money! - be able to get to the content I want.

The problem is they don't get it or would rather not be involved in that end of the process.

RE: Why is online piracy so outrageous?
By Shig on 12/29/2011 2:19:59 PM , Rating: 3

It'll be funny to see where this argument is in 10 years. At the current rate of progression in storage, by 2020 you'll be able to store every song, every tv show, every movie, and every book ever written (with subtitles + meta data) in something that costs a couple thousand dollars. What will they sue you for if they catch you using it? 30 trillion dollars?

@MPAA and RIAA, the pirates won, you're just flushing money down the toilet to lawyers at this point. Well not pirates actually, more like Moore's law won. What will they try next, limiting how big a storage drive you can have?

RE: Why is online piracy so outrageous?
By Reclaimer77 on 12/29/2011 5:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
It'll be funny to see where this argument is in 10 years. At the current rate of progression in storage, by 2020 you'll be able to store every song, every tv show, every movie, and every book ever written (with subtitles + meta data) in something that costs a couple thousand dollars. What will they sue you for if they catch you using it?

I wish :P

In my experience file sizes for pirated media have doubled and sometimes tripled. Everything out there is high definition (720p or 1080p) ripped from Blu-Ray's or HD DVR's. Hell a lot of the stuff I see out there are 20+ gig Blu-Ray rips. Even audio files are larger as FLAC has mostly replaced MP3 as the pirate format of choice.

I have a paid unlimited Usenet account and these are my observations. As broadband speeds and media definition increase, so do file sizes.

By senecarr on 1/11/2012 10:59:50 AM , Rating: 2
However, file size increases have a much harder practical limit than connection speeds and drive space.
While we might see people trying to sell past it for a while, there is a limit to pixels per inch and colors a human eye can see. FLAC already represents the maximum size of audio (it is lossless, so compression levels while staying lossless can only go up) for the number of channels (yeah, someone out there will try to peddle 20 channel surround, but eventually, there are only so many directions a human can discern sound coming from).
Meanwhile, there are prototypes of things that can already hold 100x current storage space, they just aren't produced at cost effective scale yet. I pay for the second fasted internet speed in my area, 30mbps. There are people in Sweden who get 1gbps for less than I pay because of fiber optic installs available there.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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