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  (Source: PetMD)
Even as hardliners entrench, internet protest pushes many Congress people to choose self preservation

Today was a remarkable day on the internet.  Indeed, a massive protest that consisted of editorials on some sites, full blackouts on others, a deluge of social media/microblog complaints, and even some good old fashioned phone calling (to the extent that some phone lines went down today) appears to be on the verge of bringing the controversial Orwellian "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) in the House and "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968) in the Senate to their true death.

SOPA had few friends -- particularly due to outlandish provisions like lengthy prison sentences for petty streaming, takedowns of sites whose users post URLs to infringing content (note: not even posting the content itself), and DNS takedowns of all sites hosted in the same block as an infringer.

But SOPA did have one powerful friend -- big media.  Media powerhouses like News Corp. (NWS) poured tens of millions into funding the campaign.  Our summary of analysis by Maplight indicated that 10 percent of the election costs of (all) active Senators were paid by big media companies lobbying for SOPA and similar laws.  Another helpful breakdown of the numerous payouts is given here by Propublica.

Some thought SOPA was dead when top House Republican, House Oversight Chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blasted the bill, and President Obama's advisors hinted at the threat of veto.  But PIPA's proponents hardly flinched and SOPA's backers agreed vowed to revive it in February, anyways, and force the President's hand.

That was the position of those backers, at least, until they got smacked with one of the most focused demonstrations of populist anger that American has seen in the internet era.

Soon the Representatives and Senators who sponsored the bill were dropping their support.

The original list of supporters was:

SOPA Supporters -- original
[Image Source: Propublica]

But after today at least four Senators and two Representatives have abandoned their support, likely out of fear of what it might do to their election prospects.  The critters fleeing the sinking SOPA/PIPA ship are:
SOPA/PIPA supporters -- post protest

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of those looking to belated retract his sponsorship comments:

After listening to the concerns on both sides of the debate over the PROTECT IP Act, it is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward. Despite the concerns about the unintended consequences of this legislation, the Senate remains on a path to consider this bill next week. Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support and that's why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my cosponsorship of the bill.

Add'l Sources: [1][2][3][4][5]

While it might be tempting to chastise these individuals while they're down, a better thought is to head over to their Facebooks or Twitters to thank them for make a decision (albeit forced) to put the American people and economic prosperity above a small coalition of well-heeled special interests.  After all, as you can see there's plenty of SOPA/PIPA supporters digging in their heels and entrenching for the fight ahead.

That said, one can only expect this is the start and more of their fellow Congressional creatures will follow in suit, panickedly abandoning the bills, now that the American public has smelled a rat.

We will endeavor to keep this list and the numbers who have abandoned SOPA/PIPA up to date.

It appears to be Wikipedia that was the straw that broke the camel's back, possibly.  While readers at DailyTech and elsewhere are well versed in the issues with SOPA/PIPA, the blackout of the ubiquitous Wikipedia crossed over into the "People Magazine" crowd -- members of the American public who typically show little interest in politics.

Note some brave souls in Congress were even inspired to join the list of opposers to the bill -- including Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) who boldly writes on Facebook:

On Wednesday, January 18, I will join others across the Internet in a 24-hour “blackout” to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. These bills give the federal government unprecedented power to censor Internet content and will stifle the free flow of information and ideas. In protest, I have changed my profile picture and will temporarily disable your ability to post independent content on my Wall (although you still may comment under this post). Demand that Congress and the President keep the Internet open and free. Please borrow my profile pic, share this message, and contact your Representatives and Senators in Congress to urge them to protect your right to free speech by opposing SOPA and PIPA.

Here is a list of those who previously opposed the bill:

SOPA/PIPA opponents
 
Note the opposition of (R) Presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

SOPA/PIPA aren't dead yet, so opponents will need to keep up the heat until the bills are fully removed from the Congressional dockets.  And even if that happens, people should take this as a wake up call, both at their own power and at the importance of keeping an eye on these shifty individuals who accept hundreds of millions in campaign donations yearly from biased sources to gain their office.


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RE: Boycott?
By Ryrod on 1/19/2012 2:45:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, however I seriously doubt SOPA and it's lack of due process and it's ability to arbitrarily shut down web commerce, would fall under a "limited Government". Copyright protection is an enumerated power, sure. But SOPA goes FAR beyond that scope.


Granted, I'm not a Constitutional Law attorney either. However, from what I have read of the law (SOPA), there is due process because to shut down a website, an injunction or temporary restraining order must be issued by the court either prior to or after a hearing on the merits of the case. It's not really anymore arbitrary than the injunctions issued in all of the patent cases that are flying around these days or products liability cases.

The whole idea behind the law is to prevent advertisers from making money advertising illegal product, advertising on sites conducting illegal activity, or advocating illegal actions under US law. It is also meant to prevent owners of infringing websites from profiting of the illegal activity. Am I saying that I agree with what is written in the SOPA or PIPA, no, but it is not as though the Federal government is shredding the US Constitution as people are suggesting. They are technically within the Constitutional parameters in this case.

quote:
Control of the web was never meant to be handed over to the Feds- I KNOW this, because it was not one of the enumerated powers. Aside from the 35 or so aspects of existence that the Feds are tasked with in the constitution- everything and I mean EVERYTHING else in the day to day lives of We the People are to be handled BY We the People in our respective states, in different ways appropriate for each.


Normally, I would agree with you on this, but without federal regulation, states could easily become safe harbors for copyright infringement. Furthermore, the state has no place engaging in copyright enforcement anyways and for a state to do so would be violating the US Constitution's federalism clause. I understand that you are for limited government. However, giving copyright enforcement to the states would be equivalent to shredding the US Constitution, but for the opposite reasons that people are claiming SOPA does.


RE: Boycott?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2012 4:12:22 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Granted, I'm not a Constitutional Law attorney either.


Sounds like you're making a go at it :P I hit the old Google and found this. What do you think?

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe - one of the top constitutional experts in the country - wrote a letter to Congress last month stating that SOPA is unconstitutional. On the grounds that it violates the First Amendment in it's enforcement.

I believe he makes several solid points as to it's Unconstitutional nature. Tribe argues the bill amounts to illegal “prior restraint” because it would suppress speech without a judicial hearing.

Additionally, the law’s definition of a rogue website is unconstitutionally vague.

“Conceivably, an entire website containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement,” Tribe writes. “Such an approach would create severe practical problems for sites with substantial user-generated content, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and for blogs that allow users to post videos, photos, and other materials.”

Sourced: http://www.williams-firm.com/CM/Custom/Custom18.as...


RE: Boycott?
By mcnabney on 1/19/2012 9:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
Are you sure you want to stake your opinion on a hard-left professor?


RE: Boycott?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2012 9:53:09 AM , Rating: 2
I stated my opinion on this before I even read his letter. However the fact that a hard-left professor is supporting the Constitution against SOPA, in my mind, lends even more credibility to his opinions.

Again, I'm not a lawyer/expert and he is. But I'm not blindly appealing to authority here. His arguments are solid, well reasoned, and strike the chord of someone who critically thought his way to the conclusion.


RE: Boycott?
By The Raven on 1/19/2012 11:41:32 AM , Rating: 3
No, I'd stake my opinion on everything else we have allowed the gov't to do. Give them an inch and they want to go all the way. Not just in our country, but in countless examples throughout world history.

The federal gov't already has more than enough power to uphold the laws that have been passed.


RE: Boycott?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2012 3:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Give them an inch and they want to go all the way.


Exactly. This is why I'm so against Federal Net Neutrality legislation. The belief that the FCC ie. Government won't expand this into being all-encompassing control over the Internet is, in my opinion, misguided and unfounded. Like you said, if you give an inch, they'll take the whole thing.

In fact I would not be surprised one bit if they tried ramming through some Net Neutrality bill with this SOPA nonsense earmarked onto it.


RE: Boycott?
By Solandri on 1/19/2012 12:38:00 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
However, from what I have read of the law (SOPA), there is due process because to shut down a website, an injunction or temporary restraining order must be issued by the court either prior to or after a hearing on the merits of the case.

The complaints about lack of due process come from the way the whole thing is structured. Normally the alleged copyright infringer is liable, so it is a case between the copyright holder and infringer. Since s/he is only an alleged infringer, s/he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Any action taken against the infringer which materially impacts his/her business or finances needs to be done through court.

SOPA changes it so that the infringer's service provider is also liable. The service provider has no idea if any infringement actually occurred, and (assuming they have lots of customers) little interest in preserving the infringer's business or financial integrity. They just want to cover their own butts to make sure they aren't sued for something someone else did without their knowledge.

So the copyright holder sends a claim of infringement to the service provider. The service provider acts in self-interest and immediately shuts down the alleged infringer's website. The alleged infringer is then put into a position where they have to prove that they didn't infringe in order to restore service. No court, no injunction, no hearing, no due process.


RE: Boycott?
By Ryrod on 1/20/2012 2:30:05 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
SOPA changes it so that the infringer's service provider is also liable. The service provider has no idea if any infringement actually occurred, and (assuming they have lots of customers) little interest in preserving the infringer's business or financial integrity. They just want to cover their own butts to make sure they aren't sued for something someone else did without their knowledge.


I saw nothing in Sec 103 about internet service providers. There is a reference to them shutting down the website in Sec 102 after the Attorney General files a complaint and obtains a court order. An ISP isn't going to shut down a website every time one of their customers gets served with a complaint. The ISP is only going to do so after receiving a court order. There is no added punishment for ISP.

quote:
So the copyright holder sends a claim of infringement to the service provider. The service provider acts in self-interest and immediately shuts down the alleged infringer's website. The alleged infringer is then put into a position where they have to prove that they didn't infringe in order to restore service. No court, no injunction, no hearing, no due process.


That's not how it works. The copyright holder gets a court order after a hearing on the merits or has the website shut down through a TRO or injunction. The only time an ISP is involved is after the case is decided on the merits or a TRO/injunction is issued and they are told to shut it down.

I think you are getting the payment network provider mixed up with an ISP. A payment network provider is like Paypal while we all know what an ISP is. This just makes it so that a copyright holder can sue Paypal to obtain the money they are holding, through transactions, for the infringing website. The same applies to advertisers like Google who makes tons of money off these websites and gives some of it to the infringer. The immunity from suit comes from the payment network provider or internet advertiser willfully handing over the money they are holding for the infringer.

Now the only complaint I can see you having is withholding the money, that a payment network provider has, from the infringer under 103(b). A company can do that if they have a reasonable belief that the person is infringing. That may be done without due process, but once the adjudication is complete, they must either pay the non-infringer or turn the money over to the copyright holder. Now this may cause harm to the website creator, and I am not fond of the provision, but think of this akin to the Post Office holding 2 kilos of cocaine addressed to a drug dealer. Would we still have such outrage if we were dealing with drugs and drug dealers?

This is the main reason why I can't stand a lot of this hysteria over the SOPA bill. A lot of people haven't read or don't understand the bill, legislators included, many of which have a legal degree. Instead, people are throwing around how it is unconstitutional simply because it doesn't allow Google to profit as much from advertising on illegal websites. Most people aren't even railing against it because it might chill speech. Instead they are railing against it because of these supposed Due Process and First Amendment violations that aren't really there.

Chills speech? Yes. Violates the Constitution? Highly Unlikely.

Oh, and sorry for not responding earlier. I didn't notice your post until just a little bit ago.


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