Thursday, 19 January 2012

A State of Paranoia

"There does seem to be a serious risk that paranoid Americans are going to destroy the good things about the Internet by effectively stopping all sharing of information - since any part of any website might accidentally contain material which someone else regards as copyright and the legislation punishes the website and web-user on the basis of accusation alone - if I understand the proposals correctly, they are particularly aimed at websites outside of the US."

This is a statement made on Facebook by a friend who used to be a newspaper Editor and is likely to be fairly knowledgeable on this subject. He may well claim copyright to that statement. I may well have a defence (in English (sic) law) to using it on the grounds of fair comment. However it would appear that the US Senate and Congress on 24 January intend to pass legislation which would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months.
A full explanation can bee seen at Wikipedia.
I am aware, of course, that I am unlikely ever to be challenged and if I were to be I could remove the material and Blogger's host would be unlikely to suffer. However just because something so unimportant is unlikely ever to be challenged doesn't mean that it should be outlawed with such draconian measures. Because if you do outlaw something, at some stage in the future that law can be used at will.
It is said that the Hollowood industry is one of the biggest lobbies for this legislation. I have also seen it said that the US Government wants a legitimate way of preventing Wikileaks (which is nothing to do with Wikipedia) to save them hacking into or trying to hack into servers in other countries. Whatever the purpose the remedy is a step too far.
This is an update from the Campaign against the US Senate proposals
Today was nuts, right?

Google launched a petition. Wikipedia voted to shut itself off. Senators' websites went down just from the sheer surge of voters trying to write them. NYC and SF geeks had protests that packed city blocks.

You made history today: nothing like this has ever happened before. Tech companies and users teamed up. Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms. The free network defended itself. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is clear: from today forward, it will be much harder to mess up the internet.

The really crazy part? We might even win.

Approaching Monday's crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA. Last week there were 5. And it just takes just 41 solid "no" votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate. What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach.

But don't trust predictions. The forces behind SOPA & PIPA (mostly movie companies) can make small changes to these bills until they know they have the votes to pass. Members of Congress know SOPA & PIPA are unpopular, but they don't understand why--so they're easily duped by superficial changes. The Senate returns next week, and the next few days are critical.


  1. I would love to comment constructively but I feel anger. One would think the US senate would have more pressing matters to occupy them.

  2. A saying from the Bible comes to mind: "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel..." (Matthew 23:24)

  3. And we in Britain will happily extradite our 'offenders' and the US sends whom in return? Our extradition treaty with the US goes something like this:- You tell us who you want and we'll send them. Would you maybe, please, oh go on, send us someone, who may have committed a real offence in this country, because we'd like to try them in our courts. We won't execute them, we don't do that here. We won't torture them, we don't do that here. Oh go on. No? Ok then.