Special Report

Online Protest Against PIPA/SOPA

Several US websites are protesting proposed legislation that would damage the architecture of the web and censor legitimate free speech.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 18, 2012

A number of high-profile American websites have "gone dark" today in protest against two bills moving through the US legislative process that threaten to damage the architecture of the world wide web and censor legitimate free speech - all in the name of anti-piracy.

People connecting to google.com from the USA will see the Google logo blacked out and a link below the search box reading, "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!" The link takes you to a page articulating Google's concerns about the proposed legislation.

The U.S. Google Home Page has a blacked out logo and a link to learn more about PIPA/SOPA
The U.S. Google home page has a blacked out logo and a link to learn more about PIPA/SOPA

Meanwhile, Wikipedia's English-language site has gone completely dark today:

The English language Wikipedia site has gone dark in protest against PIPA/SOPA
The English language Wikipedia site has gone dark in protest against PIPA/SOPA

As the Wikimedia Foundation explains:

We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States, don't advance the interests of the general public.

Likewise, the homepage for WordPress.com has the links to hosted sites blacked out and replaced with the word "CENSORED" and links to sopastrike.com/strike.

The Wordpress home page has gone dark in protest against PIPA/SOPA
The Wordpress home page has gone dark in protest against PIPA/SOPA

The list of US websites participating in today's strike also includes: Boing Boing, Creative Commons, Copyblogger, Duck Duck Go, the Daily WTF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fark, Michael Geist, GNU, Imgur, the Internet Archive, Make, Minecraft, MoveOn, Mozilla, O'Reilly, Rackspace, Reddit, TechCrunch, TorrentFreak, Tucows and Wired.

PIPA/SOPA

The Protect IP Act (PIPA) [PDF] in the US Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [PDF] in the House of Representatives both seek wide government powers to cut off revenue sources and access to credit and to shut down international websites that are determined to be infringing intellectual property rights.

The legislation would enable the US Attorney General to order search engines and other websites to stop linking to targeted sites, order advertisers to stop doing business with them, and even order Domain Name Servers to stop resolving domain names to their associated IP addresses, based on complaints by rights-holders.

This power would go far beyond the current mechanism under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which already allows rights-holders to issue "takedown notices" to websites that host infringing content.

PIPA/SOPA encourages internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites voluntarily under a "vigilante" provision that protects ISPs from damages for unilateral bans if they act in "good faith" based on "credible evidence".

It would also give the Attorney General broad and vaguely-defined powers to go after websites that provide information on how to circumvent attempts to block access to targeted websites.

Easy to Circumvent

Targeted websites like The Pirate Bay have already announced that they will be able to circumvent the legislation, and a developer has released an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox web browser that will use offshore domain name resolution services to find the IP address for any domain that has been blocked in the US.

Failing that, some people are compiling "emergency IP lists" of websites likely to be blocked in case the legislation goes through so they can connect directly to the site without having to resolve the domain name.

This circumvention will ultimately serve to weaken and undermine the integrity of the DNS system and actually make it easier for harmful websites to spoof legitimate sites.

Opposition to PIPA/SOPA

Various analysts have raised objections to the legislation based on technical, constitutional and economic concerns.

The engineers and scientists who invented the internet - i.e. people who know what they're talking about - have written an Open Letter to the US Congress warning:

both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

The entire letter is definitely worth reading, but the authors conclude:

When we designed the Internet the first time, our priorities were reliability, robustness and minimizing central points of failure or control. We are alarmed that Congress is so close to mandating censorship-compliance as a design requirement for new Internet innovations. This can only damage the security of the network, and give authoritarian governments more power over what their citizens can read and publish.

The engineers are not alone. A group of 17 internet company founders and executives, including the founders of Netscape, Google, Flickr, PayPal, Blogger, Twitter, Yahoo, Craigslist, eBay, YouTube and LinkedIn, wrote an open letter to Washington [PDF] to warn that the legislation would stifle innovation by requiring website owners to monitor what users link to or upload, deny website owners due process in the case of a complaint, undermine the structural security of the internet and "give the U.S. Government the power to censor the internt using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran".

Adam Savage of Mythbusters savages the legislation:

These bills aren't simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the "good faith" assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn't even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

The American Society of News Editors has also written a letter [PDF] stating:

it is our longstanding dedication to First Amendment rights that drives our opposition to SOPA. Navigating the balance between copyright and free speech demands precision, and in seeking to protect the interests of copyright holders, the First Amendment requires Congress to adopt the least restrictive intrusion on speech available.

SOPA fails this test. It allows individual copyright owners to effect the most onerous restriction on speech - the prior restraint - with little evidence and virtually no due process, utilizing vague and overbroad definitions in the process.

Constitutional lawyer Marvin Ammori sent Congress a letter [PDF] arguing:

As a result of burdening speech far beyond copyright infringement, the bills' provisions would not receive the more relaxed First Amendment scrutiny generally available for run-of-the-mill copyright statutes. Rather, standard First Amendment scrutiny would apply, and the core provisions of PROTECT IP and SOPA clearly fail to withstand that scrutiny.

Leading Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe similarly sent a letter warning that the legislation:

runs afoul of the "prior restraint" doctrine, because it delegates to a private party the power to suppress speech without prior notice and a judicial hearing. This provision of the bill would give complaining parties the power to stop online advertisers and credit card processors from doing business with a website, merely by filing a unilateral notice accusing the site of being "dedicated to theft of U.S. property" - even if no court has actually found any infringement.

On the business side, Harvard Business School professor James Allworth argues that this kind of legislation harms innovation by deterring investors and inventors from starting new internet businesses for fear of being caught up in legal liability for user generated content.

If you're the next YouTube, would you want to locate here in the U.S. and risk having the government simply switch off your site at the behest of Big Content?

Canada

Byron Holland, president and CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), warns Canadians that we are not immune to this legislation:

If a Canadian website is found to infringe on copyright, U.S. search engines may be required to stop indexing the site in their results. If the site is hosted by an American ISP, it could be shut down. A Canadian online business could find itself without a system to collect payments if a U.S. online payment provider is required to not do business with them.

Holland compares SOPA to the infamous Helms-Burton Act, which extended the American trade sanctions against Cuba to businesses from any other country that traded with Cuba.

Meanwhile, an anti-piracy bill making its way toward law in Canada reflects the same narrow interests as PIPA/SOPA and takes the same heavy-handed legal approach.

Bill C-11 is an update to Canada's copyright legislation that would impose a blanket ban on "circumvention" of any "technological protection measure" in a product.

That means it would be illegal to make a copy of a legally-purchased DVD for one's own personal use, since DVDs are encrypted. Bill C-11 recognizes "fair dealing" exceptions that allow some limited copying "for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire", but the anti-circumvention measure trumps fair dealing.

It would also be illegal to "root" a device with digital rights management - like an iPhone - in order to protect one's legitimate privacy.

Setback

Just last week, after remaining quiet for many months, the US White House formally announced that it will not support any legislation to combat piracy that "reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

As a result of the opposition, the House has put SOPA on hold until February and both the House and the Senate are talking about taking DNS blocking out of the legislation.

However, the general tenor of the legislation remains the same, and the other harmful provisions are serious enough to threaten the integrity of the internet and the viability of internet businesses even without DNS blocking.

Failure to Innovate

The bills enjoy strong support from the entertainment industry, particularly the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and their sponsors, like Senator Patrick Leahy, receive heavy campaign funding from those industries.

These industries lean heavily on hyperbole about "foreign based thieves" who are "stealing the hard work and creativity of millions of American workers", but the online piracy that supposedly threatens their existence has not stopped Hollywood from steadily-growing, record-breaking box-office receipts year after year.

Similarly, study after study has determined that file-sharing does not hurt music sales, despite the hysterical claims of the music industry.

As venture capitalist Steve Blank eloquently argued in a recent essay, legislation like PIPA/SOPA are the result not of the movie industry fighting for its life against malicious pirates but rather of the industry's abject refusal to innovate in the face of new technology.

The fact is piracy is rampant in all forms of commerce. Video games and software have been targets since their inception. Grocery and retail stores euphemistically call it shrinkage. Credit card companies call it fraud. But none use regulation as often as the movie studios to solve a business problem. And none are so willing to do collateral damage to other innovative industries (VCRs, DVRs, cloud storage and now the Internet itself.)

Remember MPAA president Jack Valenti's infamous words to Congress in 1982?

I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

Back then, the US government stood up to the entertainment industry, and the result was a long boom in VHS cassette (and later DVD/BluRay) sales and rentals that vastly enriched the industry's bottom line despite their early attempts to stifle it.

We see the same reflexive opposition to innovation in the music industry, which systematically sabotages attempts to develop business models that use the internet as a distribution channel for music.

As Canadian legal scholar Michael Geist argues in a summary of a global study by Canada's International Development Research Centre, piracy is a market failure rather than a legal failure.

In effect, piracy supplies markets that rights-holders refuse to supply, and the way to reduce piracy is to correct the market imbalance by embracing new technologies and taking advantage of the efficiencies they provide by passing the savings onto consumers.

Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve Software, described this response to piracy in a November 2011 interview:

Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable.

Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.

Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

31 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:35:12

My family regularly streams movies and TV shows from 1channel.ch - pretty much every day to some extent. I believe 1channel.ch is based in China (if that's not tragic irony I don't know what is!) Recently the kids have been watching Youtube episodes of He-Man and She-Ra (which my wife and I quite enjoy). You could say all for free - except for the exorbitant amount we pay to Shaw for half assed high speed internet (might as well use dial up between 8 and 11).

I gave up on actually downloading copies of music and movies via torrents a long time ago because its such a pain in the ass. We tried Netflix Canada but bailed after we watched the 5 decent movies they offer. I occasionally buy mp3 singles but I haven't bought an actual label CD since highschool (15 years) - although I have bought plenty of indy CDs.

Bottom line, I think the entertainment industry has generally missed the boat on monetizing online content. I would gladly pay a nominal fee for the content that we currently stream illegally - ie I would pay for knowing it was good quality and malware free. But by nominal I mean in the ballpark of less than 25 cents / stream. Even the going rate for mp3s/itunes is too high. If it was 10 cents per song I wouldn't even think twice about paying for it vs finding a torrent.

As a photographer, I do have a concern with copyright infringement and rights management for artists who produce intellectual work. I do make money from the copyright system. But blanket censorship cannot be the answer.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:46:20 in reply to Comment 73142

Meh, it's not like anybody actually puts in effort to protect the property rights of visual artists anyways. So many platforms are obsessively pedantic about their protection of video and audio content but utterly blase about imagery.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:35:15

What's saddest is that many American leaders that are normally strong consumer advocates have jumped on board with PIPA/SOPA because they have strong ties to the entertainment industry. Senator Franken of SNL fame, for example, is a sponsor of SOPA.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 10:39:15 in reply to Comment 73143

You know US politics has slipped into Bizarro World when Al Franken supports SOPA and Michelle Bachman opposes it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:14:31

I would gladly pay a nominal fee for the content that we currently stream illegally - ie I would pay for knowing it was good quality and malware free.

Agreed. During those lean University years, when money was for food, rent, and barely anything else, a music lover (like me) wouldn't have thought twice about spending an hour grabbing the week's new releases from a torrent, because buying $20 physical copies of music was simply out of the question.

Now with some disposable income in hand, and a lot less free time, I'm more than happy to pay the much more affordable and realistic price of about $10 for an album, especially if it's an artist I love and want to support.

$10 for the immediate gratification of owning the music isn't unthinkable, but I think its incredible that it took so long for the industry to settle on a reasonable price tag, and how much less it actually amounts to ($10 in 2012 dollars as compared to $20 in 2002 dollars).

Permalink | Context

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 21:59:48 in reply to Comment 73149

Torrents! I was using 56.6 and Napster 1.0! It would take all night to download 1 song - unless your room mates' girlfriend called and interrupted the connection - then it was back to the beginning. In hindsight, we went to some pretty extreme lengths to acquire media and software.

Of course as you say - a CD cost $20 and MS Office cost a couple k. Its those prices that created the demand for black market media in the first place. Now you can get Office for less than a couple hundred - which I now pay simply because its easier and more reliable than finding a decent torrent.

I still think music costs too much - $1 is on my think about it scale - like a cup of coffee. If it was $0.20 - I wouldn't even blink - hear a new song I like - boom download.

Sooner or later TV and movies will get down to that level and consumers and producers can all be happy. I would much rather spend a dollar or two a night on media than pay for cable - that is for certain.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 06:20:19 in reply to Comment 73172

Now you can get Office for less than a couple hundred

Better yet, you can legally download LibreOffice for free: free as in speech as well as free as in beer.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:02:03 in reply to Comment 73174

Is this better/worse than openoffice?

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:23:04 in reply to Comment 73178

It's forked from the same codebase as OpenOffice, but they've refactored it to clean up some longstanding bugs, speed up performance and reduce the code's reliance on the Java runtime.

LibreOffice and its developer group, The Document Foundation, were formed after the community council overseeing OpenOffice became concerned that Oracle would discontinue support for their efforts after buying Sun Microsystems.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 12:18:19

All else aside, Wikipedia has never looked better. That's sharp. Did Jimmy finally hire a design professional?

Comment edited by moylek on 2012-01-18 12:18:51

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JVRudnick (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 13:01:12

And yes....us too! SOPA must be stopped....our whole internet future depends upon that single premise!

www.canuckseo.com

Jim

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By oldcoote (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 13:02:57

I dunno. The media bias on this subject is rampant. I find it bizarre that Google et al are leading the fight against SOPA under the guise of censorship, when the bottom line is their bottom line. I find it even more bizarre that people are buying into their fear-mongering. The business models of many of these companies is based on sharing content that is not theirs to share. And although Pirate Bay is held up as an example, Youtube and the Huffington Post could be perceived in much the same way. The internet is in its infancy. I think it has a lot of growing up to do. I don't like some of the wording I've read, but this may be a good jumping-off point. While it may mean the end for some, it means opportunity for others.

Permalink | Context

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 22:07:34 in reply to Comment 73154

And ebay - its not just media - its also links to counterfeit goods - which is pretty much all ebay is good for.

However, you are correct that there are a lot of big internet businesses that solely exist to disseminate information they do not own.

How hard would it be to create an IP based royalty system. Create a royalty system for all online intellectual content.

Permalink | Context

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:34:54 in reply to Comment 73173

"And ebay - its not just media - its also links to counterfeit goods - which is pretty much all ebay is good for."

Seriously? That's pretty much all ebay is good for? Hyperbole much?

E-bay is great for many things, and counterfeit goods is not one of them. In fact e-bay takes a fairly harsh stand on counterfeit/unofficial reproduction goods when they're reported.

E-bay, like youtube, google and wikipedia cannot police every single article, item, video, link, etc. that is added to their site, or to the internet generally. They handle violations based on complaints. Could you really ask for anything more?

Who polices classified ads in the newspapers to ensure they aren't selling counterfeit items? What about advertisement for a store selling really cheap DVDs? Does the newspaper have to investigate everyone who pays for an ad to make sure they're not selling pirated DVDs?

We don't expect these kind of safeguards in traditional media/interactions, why is it alright for the MPAA and others to demand this kind of up front security online?

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 13:45:18 in reply to Comment 73154

It's not just Google and other companies that spider existing content, the big risk from SOPA is any site that takes user submitted content. Google owns Youtube, Google Code, Google Plus, Blogger, and a plethora of other sites that users could be using to host or link to pirated content. Google polices all these sites in compliance with various existing laws on IP protection, but there's only so much they can do.

What SOPA does is let IP owners get a site de-listed from DNS with no warning or contact. That is, somebody complains about a video on Youtube that has a pirated song... but instead of complaining to Google who promptly takes the song down, they complain to the US government through SOPA and suddenly Youtube is ripped off the internet.

Now, nobody would actually do the above because Google has big legal teeth.

But what about a site that nobody cares about and has no money for lawyers? What about RaiseTheHammer? Would you still come here if Ryan had to take down the comment box for his own legal protection?

Because let me demonstrate something:

(may contain NSFW advertisements)

http://isohunt.com/torrent_details/14885...

The link above is a torrent of Steamboat Willie, a Disney animated short. By linking to that, I am now making RaiseTheHammer a party to piracy. If SOPA goes through, Disney is now within their rights to order a DNS to remove RaiseTheHammer and basically take this site down, without even contacting Ryan to simply edit or delete this post.

Obviously, a comment box or upload field or anything like that suddenly becomes a terrible liability for any site administrator. Even worse, you get things that aren't merely websites but actually user-driven applications... things like Cube 2, a multiplayer videogame that allows users to collaboratively create maps. One user has painstakingly modeled the Enterprise. Aardapel, the man who made the game, had nothing to do with this model. In Cube 2, I can log onto a server that's hosting the Enterprise for co-op edit and fetch it automatically. So in this case, we've gone beyond a simple website being illegal and into an entire game.

And likewise, Quadropolis (the map-hosting site I made with some online associates) itself is also vulnerable to SOPA.

Basically, SOPA forces developers to tell their users to sit down, shut up, and stop contributing because otherwise they might contribute something illegal.

So your own comment? Wouldn't exist.

That's not just an inconvenience, it would basically mean the end of discourse online. Only carefully authorized voices who won't abuse the input would ever be permitted to speak.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-01-18 13:48:37

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 14:25:29 in reply to Comment 73160

By linking to that, I am now making RaiseTheHammer a party to piracy.

Why you gotta be like that?

Just recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a hyperlink is a reference to a document, not a republication of that document.

The judgment concerned a lawsuit in which the plaintiff argued that the defendant was guilty of defamation for linking to a third-party page that the plaintiff regarded as defamatory.

Now IANAL and I'm not certain whether this decision is applicable to a hyperlink to a page that can be regarded as copyright infringement, but given what Justice Abella wrote in the decision, it seems reasonable:

A reference to other content is fundamentally different from other acts involved in publication. Referencing on its own does not involve exerting control over the content. Communicating something is very different from merely communicating that something exists or where it exists.

She also stated that restricting the use of hyperlinks "would have the effect of seriously restricting the flow of information and, as a result, freedom of expression."

Notwithstanding the narrow scope of fair dealing in Canada relative to fair use in the USA, I believe your comment qualifies as protected free speech under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, PIPA/SOPA would render Canadian law moot. Since the US government controls the .com, .net and .org top level domains, the proposed legislation would apply to any website anywhere in the world that uses one of those domains.


Edited to correct the gender of the personal pronoun used to refer to Justice Abella. Thanks, Robert D!

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-01-19 11:19:57

Permalink | Context

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:49:36 in reply to Comment 73163

Ryan,

The Honourable Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella is a "she".

;-)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 13:36:10

The business models of many of these companies is based on sharing content that is not theirs to share.

Well, this gets to the irresolvable conflict I seem to see: media corps want to use social media, search engines, and "these companies" to promote and otherwise advertise their products, but want to handicap this powerful technology so that it can never provide any further degree of ownership over the material.

They want to replicate the ancient radio model: one-way broadcast, with no ability for the listener to record, manipulate, or otherwise 'own' the content.

It's ridiculous to expect people to turn their backs on nearly 100 years of technological development just so corporate entities can maintain unbroken control over other people's (i.e. artists') content.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 14:00:39

http://youtu.be/1p-TV4jaCMk

and...

http://theoatmeal.com/

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-01-18 14:03:04

Permalink | Context

By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 15:18:37 in reply to Comment 73161

Good links - thanks for posting - humour is a great way to get a message out -

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 15:38:29 in reply to Comment 73164

Thanks.

So I'm obliged to add this one: http://youtu.be/HC42awe6dqo

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Jim west lock (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 18:21:39

When do we get to place freedom over rights?
Over 50 years ago censorship lead a maniacal leader to gain the power to burn books in the streets... slip in to homes in the night and take people to camps,number them and to detain and eventually eradicate them !!!

Stopping SOPA should make the CEO's and leaders of the world stop and ponder what message they speak to the future.

Hope that some of you know that when we lose freedoms and rights we become a less advanced race and more like lemmings

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2012 at 21:41:40

I might have some sympathy for the argument that "pirates" are "stealing" from musicians and writers if even a tiny fraction of the prices we pay for their goods ever made it back to them. Our "creative class" (not my favourite term, but it fits here) is NOT being fairly compensated for their enormous contributions to our society, and that's something most of us who have artist and musician friends know all too well. Where is the money going? To the kind of companies which support SOPA, who own "intellectual property" empires.

Anyone who has a smartphone can see where this is going. An environment where we don't own what's running on our computers, pay for every program and file from small corporate "marketplaces" and pay large monthly fees for all of it. Not only would this be obscenely profitable, but it would also help stomp out the ability of these devices to be used for dissent. As Borrelli points out, they want to turn it back into an old-style one way medium. That's something we all have a very solid interest in preventing.

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 07:48:43 in reply to Comment 73171

Excellent commentary. Thanks for this contribution.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 19, 2012 at 08:48:24

Sooner or later TV and movies will get down to that level and consumers and producers can all be happy. I would much rather spend a dollar or two a night on media than pay for cable - that is for certain

Ditto. And I'm curious as to how this will influence our media consumption habits. Will it mean the end of trash content, y'know, the stuff that you don't really like, but when it comes on you're too lazy to change? Reality TV, Law & Order/CSI/NCIS spinoffs--in a world where you opt-in to buy specific, ad-free content as opposed to buying content pools or packages, where does that leave 300 channels of mediocre cable programming, swiss-cheese-holed with advertisements?

Permalink | Context

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:07:34 in reply to Comment 73176

That has already happened in our house. We watch a little bit of CBC a little TVO (both are free over the air in HD). I cancelled cable when my last resort channels - HGTV, Discovery Channel and OLN started showing non stop realtor-porn, stupid auction shows and Man vs Food.

The problem is that there is so little quality content, I often find I can't think of anything to watch on 1channel.ch (My last love was 4 seasons of Californication and two seasons of Rome).

If only TSN would improve its options for live streaming of CFL games - justin.tv just doesn't cut it - and I really don't want to pay for cable for 6 months just to watch live football.

Permalink | Context

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:05:10 in reply to Comment 73179

I'm a watchseries.eu kinda guy...seems to be a pretty good collection.

I'm often blown away by how much has changed in a decade. Television is dying. My son doesn't have a TV in the house, and most of my friends don't either. Statistically, the trend is starting to spread, especially amongst young people.

Think back to when we used to spend hours watching utter nonsense just to killing time until 'our show' came on. Think about the total corporate control of programming. Think of the children. The internet may not be perfect, but it's a big improvement over that, and it's hard to deny that "pirates" paved the way.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:40:42 in reply to Comment 73186

Think back to when we used to spend hours watching utter nonsense just to killing time until 'our show' came on.

Clay Shirky calls this the "cognitive surplus", and he notes approvingly that the internet allows people to use some of that surplus to create stuff rather than just consume it.

Here's Shirky's TED talk in which he talks more about the cognitive surplus. I also highly recommend his book, Here Comes Everybody, for a deeper exploration of the concept.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By THE GREAT BLACKOUT of 2012 (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2012 at 18:00:18

I first learned of SOPA and PIPA a few months ago. The prospects of thwarting the efforts of behemoths like Disney and CBS seemed dismal at the time. Everyone assumed that these bills were a slam dunk and we would all have to bow, once again, to the power of multinational corporate greed.

I blacked-out all of my websites. The few hundred visitors that frequent them seemed to support the effort. I lost only one subscriber from my mailing list. I salute the subscriber who left because that person exercised the right that I was fighting for – the right to get uncensored information and to choose for him/herself what to do with that information.

Defeating SOPA – PIPA pales in comparison to what is an historic event; THE GREAT BLACKOUT of 2012. The blackout was a demonstration of the FIRST EVER TRULY FREE PRESS - internet bloggers, website publishers , search engines, social networks, classified advertising, and the average day to day guy with a Facebook page – in unison, took down the what is arguably among the most powerful lobbies in Washington – the music and film industry.

Whether you support or oppose SOPA – PIPA you should be in awe of what has happened in the last three days.

This is a demonstration of what can be done by those willing to stand up and be counted.

This is democracy at its finest.

Long live the people.

Dan Laget
The Campus Herald

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2012 at 07:18:56

This is all well and good, but I still have trouble telling the difference between the vampiric wealth of Kim Dotcom and the exploitative wealth of traditional entertainment company executives like Irving Azoff.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By IP Freely (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2012 at 16:52:05

FileSonic apparently got the message.

"All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally."

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds