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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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Not just congress
By TSS on 12/29/2011 1:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
We're all hypocrits. I mean when you really, REALLY look at it, copyright isn't logical, nor reasonable. We've finally moved to a point in history where we can copy certain resources with little to no effort. You all do realise we are typing on replicators from star trek? Atleast the first version of them.

Something that can be copied at no cost has no value. Scarcity is value. Gold has value because we can only pull so much out of the ground, aside from costing alot of effort to get it out of the ground. Anything digital can be copied ad infinitum at a minute cost of electricity and no human effort. Yes the replicators themself still cost effort to make, it's that we can't print out PCB's yet. There will be a time when even that's possible.

And when you really think about it, we are currently compensating people with..... nothing. Paper and ink. Money we belive has value, but it does not. That money is just as easily copied as anything else. Numbers on some computer.

I mean we are limiting virtual copies in favor of real world compensation. And that real world compensation is based on a virtual commodity! Doesn't anybody else see that it's just complete and utter insanity?!? We are already working for nothing yet we demand to be compensated with more nothing!

At some point we will have to accept this. Maybe as a first step, switch the money system from a "high score" system to a "rank" system. How it is now is just like gold in WoW. You can do stuff to gain more, you can trade it in for items and whatnot. But you never lose money if you don't want to spend it. You can litteraly hoard cash, both in wow and the real world. Enough to manipulate the auction house with by buying and selling in volume, creating scacity and oversupply, all in order to make even more money (i know i've leveled 3 blacksmiths off just selling golden rods in vanilla WoW).

If we switch to a ranking system, where the amount of money everybody has decays relative to the total amount of money they have, nobody can hoard cash. People can still get "rich", but unless they actually produce something that keeps compensating for that wealth, they will end up poor. The best example would be current day musicians. Instead of making a few crappy song then munching off royalties, unless they keep producing music, they will lose their elevated standard of living. Patent trolls will have to produce, or be left with a worthless patent etc. The bottom of the society though be a fixed income of points which'll allow you to live a comfertable life.

For all our speedy advancements in technology, societal changes move incredibly slow. I doubt i'll ever see something like the above in my lifetime. But we will have to accept it, sooner, or later.

RE: Not just congress
By Scrogneugneu on 12/29/2011 5:20:33 PM , Rating: 2
So your argument, basically, is that we shouldn't ever get to retirement and instead continue to work our asses off as long as we need compensation to live, and when we finally can't go on any longer, we just... quit?

RE: Not just congress
By RealTheXev on 12/29/2011 8:22:59 PM , Rating: 4
Sir, this is the dumbest thing I have ever read.

Our cash is already worth less then the day before. Hoarding it doesn't do any good already.

The real solution is make money worth something again, but... apparently ending the Federal Reserve is some kinda insane idea! It's not like its misleading name implies that it is part of the Federal govt (it isn't).

Money was recreated the way it is now so these same companies could make more of it! Your idea was already implemented in a much keener and invisible way. So invisible in fact, that inflation is simply accepted as a FACT that no one can do anything about!

Then again, the idea of ending the Department of Education is also seen as extreme, even though it would give states back the power it lost upon its founding.. hence giving states the flexibility to fix their own education problems.

Yeah... yeah.. the way we currently do things makes lots of sense.

RE: Not just congress
By Fritzr on 12/29/2011 9:07:13 PM , Rating: 1
Not only does 'wealth' decay. The decay is "sound monetary policy".

High inflation: Bad ... hoarded money decays quickly. Loans are often cheaper than cash (effective interest rate is loan rate minus inflation)
Medium inflation: Good ... hoarded money decays faster than ordinary interest bearing savings can regen but financial experts can earn faster than inflation
Low inflation: Bad ... hoarded money decays very slowly. Ordinary savings allows you to get ahead ... people stop spending.
stagnation: Very Bad ... hoarded money does not decay ... interest bearing accounts are profitable, loans are much more expensive than saving ... people use savings instead of borrowing.
deflation: Very Very Bad ... hoarded money grows in value ... loans cost their rate+the deflation rate pushing cost of borrowing through the roof ... people stop spending and put as much as they can in savings to watch it grow in real value.

Our economy is measured by dollars spent. If people don't spend money on goods and services, the the people who earn their income from providing those goods and services see a loss of income.

This is why the financial analyst talking heads get scared whenever inflation gets to a low value. They are seeing the death of the economy that they milk a living from.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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