Lindsay Newland Bowker


This conversation is closed.

How Far is Too Far in Enforcing Copyrights on the internet?: SOPA, It's Precedents & Implications

"SOPA, introduced Oct. 26, would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders to stop online ad networks and payment processors from doing business with foreign websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.

The DOJ-requested court orders could also bar search engines from linking to the allegedly infringing sites and order domain name registrars to take down the websites and Internet service providers to block subscriber access to the sites accused of infringing

"This is a bill that would eviscerate the predictable legal environment created by the DMCA, subjecting online innovators to a new era of uncertainty and risk," said David Sohn, senior policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. "It would force pervasive scrutiny and surveillance of Internet users' online activities. It would chill the growth of social media and conscript every online platform into a new role as content police”

Copyright Infringements have been at issue since the birth of the internet and social networking. Music Companies, Pharmaceutical Co's and others claim losses of $135 billion per year.

SOPA, already introduced and on the floor places responsibility with service providers, eg. You Tube could be closed down for a family video positing of a two year old singing a copyrighted song.

What responsibility should internet providers and search engines like google have for any user generated illegal content ( ege child pornography)?

Should the same level of action apply to any illegal user content?

What about the "deep pockets" issue? Is it reasonable to hold corporations responsible for the acts of individuals who are not their agents or employees? Is that like suing the company that made the knife for its use in a murder?

What responsbilities do we have as users who want a free open and uncensored internet to copyright law?

  • thumb
    Dec 27 2011: Wikipedia and others who are hosted at Go-daddy pressured Go-Daddy to withdraw its support of SOPA

    "(WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) -- A few weeks after being named CEO of web hosting provider and domain registrar Go Daddy, Warren Adelman has had to address customers concerns on its stance on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill pending in congress that could change innovation online.On December 23, Go Daddy retracted its support of the bill, and Adelman said in a statement that it would only support it "when and if the Internet community supports it." The Internet community, and more specifically web hosts and service providers, have been very vocal about their opposition to SOPA and the Protect IP Act, even forming the Save Hosting coalition to raise awareness about how it would impact the industry. The coalition recently solicited 300 signatures on a letter to the US House Judiciary Committee in opposition to SOPA, and submitted a letter with 275 signatures in opposition to sister bill PIPA. Save Hosting hopes to foster communication between the Internet infrastructure industry and the legislators responsible for passing bills".
  • thumb
    Dec 16 2011: A brief respite..deliberation on SOPA suspended til eraly in the new year amidst growing opposition and concern by tech companies

    "On the second day of discussions committee chairman and chief sponsor of the legislation, Rep Lamar Smith (R-Texas), conceded to calls for further investigation of claims that the legislation will damage the infrastructure of the internet.
    Top media firms, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood, have been lobbying hard for the legislation claiming online piracy is costing them billions in lost sales and jobs.
    But executives from Google, Wikipedia and other high profile tech firms have accused the committee of pursuing the same strategy used by China to censor its internet and claimed the legislation as drafted would damage the Internet's global structure.
    The online community has rallied against Sopa. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales threatened to pull his website offline if the legislation wasn't amended. The hashtag Sopa has been trending on Twitter this week as people worried about its implications.
    At the hearing, Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) urged Smith to postpone the session until technical experts could be brought in to discuss the impact of altering the internet's domain-naming system to fight piracy.
    The tech industry's biggest names have come out against Sopa, including computer scientist Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the internet. He recently warned Sopa would begin "a worldwide arms race of unprecedented 'censorship' of the Web." Stuart Baker, former homeland security assistant secretary has also warned Sopa would do "great damage to internet security."

    What are your thoughts? Have you expressed them to your elected officials?
  • thumb
    Dec 12 2011: A major advertsining campaign has just strated running on briadcast TV:

    It supports the "Stop Online Piracy Act" and focuses on theft of creative and intellectual poduct urging all americans to urge their reps to support "Stop Online Piracy Act". The ad of course doesn't discuss the delegation of police power sto private corporations authroizing them to close down or block pay exchange support (pay pal credit cards etc.) to any site "suspected" of violation.

    The ACLU has vigorously opposed "Stop Online Piracy Act" for thiese police power provisions but I have not seen any media act yet explaining that . If you have seen any broadcast advertsining opposing SOPA would be great if you could bring it here.
  • thumb
    Nov 30 2011: Right now, the US Congress is debating a law that would give them the power to censor the world's Internet -- creating a blacklist that could target YouTube, Wikileaks and even Avaaz! Now, if we stand with key members of the US Congress, we can defeat this attempt at global censorship. I've just signed an urgent petition at to save the Internet.

    Join me in this campaign here:
    • thumb
      Nov 30 2011: Frans,

      Nice to see you again and thanks for posting a link to the peition, whch I also signed and had intebded to post.

      Since I posted this Comversation at TED, I have been doing more indepth reserach and review of the bill.In effect it delegates police powers to the coprorations authorizing them to undertake actions in the name of of the law and without and hearing by a court or other due process, hearing or finding of fact.

      It is a very frightening precedent, garnting police powers to corporations in such a broadly worded piece of legislation. I will try to find a bring here a list of the 21 elected officials who are sponsoring and tryung to rush this bill through...perhaps TED members from those states can also directly contact these officials. Also, we can all contact our own state level officials and express our opposition and our concerns. I am doing that.

      Have you read the actual text of the bill Franz..any comments or insights of your own you'd care to share?

      Thanks so much again for stopping By,

      • thumb
        Nov 30 2011: Hello Lindsay (and Frans),

        It is indeed frightening. If you consider this "outsourcing of police powers" in conjunction to other legislation being pursued, like the "prolonged detention" that the president alluded to recently, which would give the government the ability to arrest and lock up people indefinitely, based on suspicion of crimes not yet committed, but even potential future threats (sounds like the movie Minority Report to me).

        With just with these two pieces of legislation, corporations could be free to take action for example to monitor communications without a warrant, and then pass this information to the government so they can use it to justify arresting someone who might be deemed (under a very fuzzy criteria) a potential threat

        gives me the creeps
        • thumb
          Nov 30 2011: Andres,

          Welcome..nice to meet you and thanks for your comment. Your are correct to point to the sections of the National Security Act into which these sacray phrases were slipped over the Thanksgiving Holliday on arrest and unlimited detention, including of U.S. Citizens ( I will bring the excat links and cite here so people who may not know about this can catch up). It is a tone in our congress that is very closely related to the delegated police action to corporations that triggered this conversation. Both suggest a sort of police state witha focus on controlling and suppresing citizens.

          The provisions slipped intot a standard reuathorization of the National SEcurity Act ( National Defense ACT???) do not delegate police authroity to private citizens ( or corporations) but are as frightening in their scope and implications.

          A map of those in Congress who authrored and sponsored these horrific provisions would probably include a lot of overlap with the good folk in Congress who brought us the proposed delegation of police power to private corporations to take action to defend copyrights on the internet.

, to their credi, tgot out petitions on both.

          I understand that the names of all petition signers of the SOPA will be read slowly one by one ( along with their comments) in a fillibuster to be led by one brave senator. Will try to bring details on that here as well.

          Have you yourself spotted any other bills on the floor of the house that also suggets this police state tactic?

          Thanks again Andres for stopping by..and for your spot on observations.

          Best Regards

        • thumb
          Dec 1 2011: Andres, Frans

          Here is another bill being pushed through congress this one treading a dangerous balamve beween privavcy and security.

          "November 30, 2011 - 2:24pm | By Kevin Bankston and Lee Tien
          House Committee Rushing to Approve Dangerous "Information Sharing" Bill
          Proposal Would Gut Privacy Laws, Allow Unprecedented Data-Grab by Government
          We’re for better network, computer, and device security. Unfortunately, "cybersecurity" bills often go off track—case in point: the " Internet kill switch. " The latest example comes courtesy of the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee. Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) are introducing "The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011"(PDF).

          The bill would allow a broad swath of ISPs and other private entities to "use cybersecurity systems" to collect and share masses of user data with the government, other businesses, or "any other entity" so long as it’s for a vaguely-defined "cybersecurity purpose." It would trump existing privacy statutes that strictly limit the interception and disclosure of your private communications data, as well as any other state or federal law that might get in the way. Indeed, the language may be broad enough to bless the covert use of spyware if done in "good faith" for a "cybersecurity purpose."

    • thumb
      Dec 3 2011: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been ordered by the U.S. government to destroy all documents about them and to ceases and desist on the accumulation of further documents.

      Under SOPA any of us who have quoted to or referred to these documents, TED itself could be summarily shut down. Any text on TED in open or closed conversations posted by any member that a police action empowered private corporation deems to be abuse of its copy rights could result in the shut down of TED Conversations or TED itself depending upon how it is corporately arranged..

      SOPA isn't just about pirated music or movies or international purchases of drugs that are cheaper in Canada or overseas than they are in the U.S.. The police powers granted to private corporations under this act are much broader and scarier than that.
  • thumb
    Nov 29 2011: I ran into an incident recently involving the Citibank memo Michael Moore made famous in his movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story". I tracked the memo down on SCRIBD, one of my favorite websites..a repository for all kinds of obscure literary treasures. I cited that version in many articles and blogs I had written.

    Recently, in a TED Conversation, it came up again and when I went to the link it was posted with a warning from Citicorp that it was their property and that any person who had copied or used that material was at risk of prosecution (I'll fnd and bring the exact notice here) When I searched for other copies of the memo I found the same notice at every link where it had previously appeared.


    And noteworthy.

    That Citicorp had located every web page I knew of containing this memo and posted that warnng.I havene't seen the eaxct text of SOPA yet ( and will find a link to it when I do) but it may be broad enough to include documents such as this citibank memo.and under the term sof SOPA , if it were under that umbrella, it could close down scrib d.

    My experience also shows that they are perfectly capable of policing and protecting their own copyrights and intellectual properties rights..making notice to providers for its removal and even locating and prosecuting violators. Why should our legislature and our justice department be called into play in this way? Why isn't the ordinary working of law adequate? Srikes me as a further harnessing of government to serve the needs and interests of private companies? Isn't this their work?
    • thumb
      Dec 5 2011: Little response Lindsay.
      It is good that you report it anyway and others like you of course.
      Here in Europe it hasn't been news yet and most of the world is ignorant of these pressures the mighty exert to stop free communication and exchange.
      It forms a threat to their rule and divide policies if anybody can expose anything.
      They try to regain control on information and opinion.
      To bring this process under the attention of many, it has to be told in commonly understandable terms, an emotional, depicting story. A political party could do that but as I understand it there isn’t such thing in the US. Democrats and republicans aren’t parties really. Or is it different? I’m not very informed about the exact contours of the American government.
      • thumb
        Dec 16 2011: Yes, so amazing Frans that there i sno interest in discussing this here at TED..TECH headquareters..isn't our T for Technology?

        I fully support some measures to crack down on piracy ( I jave no idea what exactly) but I definitely am frightened by the precedent set here of granting policie and judicial powers to private companies and giving them braod authroity to shut down any site and shit off all funding to that site.

        I guess I don't understand how intrentional law addresses this.

        I guess I don't understand whythis isn't addressed in trade agreements which insist on sanctions in that country for piracay ( I gather this is mainly about China's very flagrant abuses)

        I think it is a serious problem.

        I just don;t agree with SOPA as a rational or appropriate cure.

        Whay we can't just say/enanct in law that we will not allow the import of any goods to the U.S. from countries whic don;t have aggressive programs to stop piracy? Why cam't we just put a huge tariff on the goods from countries without such piracy laws?.

        I gather from the article I just posted on todays vote potponement that SOPA is modeled on an existing chinese that correct? Do you know anything about this?

        I see SOPA as an open door for censorship, violation of privavcy ( I don't even think there are exemptions for sites not selling anything..ege if someone has a wiki leaks quote in an essay on a personal website..they could close that down).

        Also why do manufacturers like Apple still manufacture in china if china is lalowing pricacy of those products.Why don;t they just come home and build them here and suck up the increased costs?