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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 Reclaimer77 on 1/19/2012 6:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is no right to visit a specific website in the Constitution,


And this is where you prove you don't understand the Constitution at all. At all! Whatsoever.

quote:
However, I can remove myself from the fray and look at the law objectively and say that, according to my knowledge, it doesn't infringe on any Constitutional rights as it is written.


Excuse me but I've already provided links, and I can find more, of experts who have FORGOTTEN more about the Constitution than you or I will ever know, who soundly disagree with you.

You're being deliberately obtuse to the point of ignorance, sad to say.


RE: Boycott?
By Ryrod on 1/19/2012 10:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And this is where you prove you don't understand the Constitution at all. At all! Whatsoever.


You know, the funny thing is that I understand it better than you do and I love seeing your continuing analysis of Constitutional law that is completely out of touch with the Supreme Court, except for maybe Justice Thomas. As I noted above, there is no Constitutional right to visit a website and I highly doubt the Supreme Court will ever say that there is. We aren't talking about the fundamental right to travel, associate, right to privacy (which came about through Roe and Griswold and is probably the closest), or any property right. Now I can't prove a negative, so if I am wrong (which I am not), please prove it to me with real evidence (specifically a Supreme Court or Circuit Court of Appeals case) as opposed to the Constitution according to Reclaimer.

quote:
Excuse me but I've already provided links, and I can find more, of experts who have FORGOTTEN more about the Constitution than you or I will ever know, who soundly disagree with you.


I'll see your copyright attorney quoting a Harvard Law professor, that apparently did not read the bill completely and assumes voluntary private compliance is equal to state action, and raise you a practicing constitutional attorney (yes, I know it is an attorney hired by the MPAA, but he is still bound by ethics): http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/1227ef12-e209-4edf-b...

I am well aware that Mr. Tribe disagrees with me, but what Mr. Tribe proposes is that individuals, in their own capacity, are equivalent to states and the federal government, and they can run afoul of the First Amendment. There has been no case where the Supreme Court has ever stated this to be true. Mr. Tribe's whole argument is based on the grounds that an individual filing suit and notifying a service provider or advertiser on the website is tantamount to the government telling individuals they cannot leaflet in the public square. That is where Mr. Tribe's analysis fails - equating personal private action with state action.

quote:
You're being deliberately obtuse to the point of ignorance, sad to say.


As I noted above, this law does have a chilling effect on speech, but there is no prohibition in the Constitution regarding laws that chill speech. This is why we have lawyers. Two lawyers can come to opposite conclusions about the Constitutionality of a law and ultimately, a court has to decide the issue.

Constitutional law is so amorphous because the Constitution was made intentionally vague to avoid situations where Congress would be unintentionally denied a power necessary to govern. Same thing was done to avoid unintentional denials of necessary rights for individuals that were inconceivable at the time of writing.

Ultimately, you just don't like what I have to say because it doesn't comport to your version of reality. Whenever you feel like someone is gaining the upper hand over you, you resort to ad hominem attacks in your replies.

Furthermore, I noted above that I don't like the law because of the possible inadvertent effects that it could have, including chilling speech and self-censorship. However, this doesn't make the law unconstitutional. You for some reason equate every law that you don't like as one that is unconstitutional, which is inaccurate.

Now if you bring me a link to Erwin Chemerinsky, Kathleen Sullivan, or Gerald Gunther saying the law is unconstitutional then I might be more inclined to believe that the law is unconstitutional. I would especially believe it, and post that you are correct, if you got Gerald Gunther to say it was unconstitutional, but I don't think he will be weighing in on the issue.


RE: Boycott?
By Ryrod on 1/20/2012 12:25:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am well aware that Mr. Tribe disagrees with me, but what Mr. Tribe proposes is that individuals, in their own capacity, are equivalent to states and the federal government, and they can run afoul of the First Amendment. There has been no case where the Supreme Court has ever stated this to be true.


One thing I do want to correct before someone addresses it, is that the Court has said individual actions in denying African Americans the right to frequent establishments was in violation of the Civil Rights Act which was supported by the 14th Amendment, and enforced under the Commerce Clause (Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US 379 US 241 (1964)). A minor splitting of hairs, but I also don't want to be accused misleading people. So the government has, in effect, made the 14th Amendment apply to individuals' actions. However, it still stands that the Court has not imposed the observance of 1st Amendment protections on actions taken between private individuals.


RE: Boycott?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/2012 9:28:40 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
As I noted above, there is no Constitutional right to visit a website and I highly doubt the Supreme Court will ever say that there is.


That's like saying because the Constitution doesn't specifically say I have a right to walk and chew bubble gum, that Congress can pass a law saying I can't. Again, you prove you just do NOT understand the Constitution and enumerated powers.

quote:
Constitutional law is so amorphous because the Constitution was made intentionally vague to avoid situations where Congress would be unintentionally denied a power necessary to govern.


Again, proving your ignorance. The Constitution is not vague at all. Not even close.

And in those situations where a specific power "needed to govern" isn't granted, they allowed for that. It's called an AMENDMENT'S system, maybe you've heard of it? If you want to change or add something, you're supposed to pass Amendments, not simply throw our hands up and say "oh well, it's vague, so we need to ram this law through".

Basically your supporting the same mindset that has lead up to the mess we have now. Interpreting the Constitution so the commerce clause, for example, can be cited as to allow the Government to do everything and anything. Even things specifically NOT granted to them in this document you call "vague".

quote:
(yes, I know it is an attorney hired by the MPAA, but he is still bound by ethics)


That's bullshit and you know it. He's bought and paid for, I'm not even reading this tainted drivel.

quote:
Now if you bring me a link to Erwin Chemerinsky, Kathleen Sullivan, or Gerald Gunther saying the law is unconstitutional


All of those people are JUST as respected and accredited and qualified as Tribe. Yet because they haven't spoken out on SOPA yet, and Tribe has, that automatically makes him wrong and my source not count? Man that's a terrific debate tactic you're using. I'll have to remember to try that sometime...

And Sullivan? Jesus Christ, could you possibly find someone MORE Liberal than her? I'm sure she thinks SOPA is a great idea, and clearly "Constitutional". This is someone who thinks it's "Constitutional" for Obamacare to force citizens into buying federally ran health insurance for christ sake.

quote:
Furthermore, I noted above that I don't like the law


No. If you're against me on this, then you ARE supporting the law.


RE: Boycott?
By Ryrod on 1/20/2012 3:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's like saying because the Constitution doesn't specifically say I have a right to walk and chew bubble gum, that Congress can pass a law saying I can't. Again, you prove you just do NOT understand the Constitution and enumerated powers.


I never said that they could pass such a law. Great straw man argument by the way. Once again, there is NO Constitutional right to visit a specific website. If you think there is, then by your thinking: healthcare is a right, internet access is a right, being rich is a right, etc. NONE of these are rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. Please find me a case, US Supreme Court or Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case where it says that accessing a website is a right, or for that matter, any of the "rights" listed above.

Oh and by the way, the Constitution does say you have a right to walk on a public road. It's part of the fundamental right to travel.

quote:
Again, proving your ignorance. The Constitution is not vague at all. Not even close.


You just astound me. Look at Article I, Section 8 and look at the 1th Amendment and tell me that those are not intentionally vague. The Constitution is only 4440 words long. It has to be vague! I could write a short story that length. Compare the US Constitution to any state constitution and you will see that the state constitutions are much more specific and much longer. The states can throw away their constitution and start anew, but we don't have that luxury with the US Constitution.

quote:
Basically your supporting the same mindset that has lead up to the mess we have now. Interpreting the Constitution so the commerce clause, for example, can be cited as to allow the Government to do everything and anything. Even things specifically NOT granted to them in this document you call "vague".


Basically, I am supporting what the Supreme Court has stated regarding the US Constitution. The commerce clause is restricted in that it has to deal with the channels or instrumentalities of commerce or the activity must have a substantial effect on interestate commerce. Laws have been struck down because they've been pushed through under the commerce clause. Read up on the gun prohibition in school zone case and the violence against women act case. Both lost a constitutional challenge even though they were enacted under the commerce clause.

Oh and by the way, the vagueness comes from the wording of the constitutional provisions. For example, what does it mean to regulate commerce among the several states? Or, how does the government provide and maintain the navy? Do they build the ships themselves, buy them, or give out letters of marque to privateers? You might want to go back and read the Constitution again because even Supreme Court Justices have said the document is vague.

quote:
All of those people are JUST as respected and accredited and qualified as Tribe. Yet because they haven't spoken out on SOPA yet, and Tribe has, that automatically makes him wrong and my source not count? Man that's a terrific debate tactic you're using. I'll have to remember to try that sometime...


You already have used a form of it and it's better than ad hominem attacks, but let's not digress. I cannot honestly say that I have ever read any of Mr. Tribe's work, except for the piece that your copyright lawyer's post quoted. I've seen and read numerous articles and treatises written by the three I have listed, not to mention personally attending a lecture by Chemerinsky. Forgive me if I prefer that specific group of individuals' opinions over a different individual who I have never read prior to yesterday. Now we aren't dealing in the absolutes of physics, it's law and it is open to interpretation in many different ways.

quote:
This is someone who thinks it's "Constitutional" for Obamacare to force citizens into buying federally ran health insurance for christ sake.


And who is to say it is not? I already know that you don't like the Affordable Health Care for America Act, so therefore, you think it is unconstitutional. However, there is a split as to it's Constitutionality of the individual mandate, which taxes individuals extra to encourage them to buy health insurance (which is not the same as forcing). With half the courts saying it's constitutional, who's to say that she won't be found to be correct in her assessment?

quote:
No. If you're against me on this, then you ARE supporting the law.


This is just stupid. If I am against your misinformed view of the constitutionality and nature of the law (not to mention your skewed view of the Constitution itself), then I'm automatically for the law itself? No, you're wrong. As I said before, I don't support the law, but it is Constitutionally permissible, as I have read it.

Now Supreme Court Justices have time and again found laws constitutional that they have not supported and vice versa. That is why judges are considered neutral arbiters. They have the ability to look at a law dispassionately to determine its constitutional legitimacy. Are you saying that others cannot do the same? Or are you saying judges can't do it either?


"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken














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