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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Senate Bill Gives Feds Power to Order Blacklisting of Piracy Sites


Senate antipiracy legislation introduced Thursday would dramatically increase the government’s legal power to disrupt and shutter websites “dedicated to infringing activities.”
A major feature of the Protect IP Act, introduced by 11 senators of all stripes, would grant the government the authority to bring lawsuits against these websites, and obtain court orders requiring search engines like Google to stop displaying links to them.
“Both law enforcement and rights holders are currently limited in the remedies available to combat websites dedicated to offering infringing content and products,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the bill’s main sponsor.
The proposal is an offshoot to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act introduced last year. It was scrapped by its authors in exchange for the Protect IP Act in a bid to win Senate passage.
Under the old COICA draft, the government was authorized to obtain court orders to seize so-called generic top-level domains ending in .com, .org and .net. The  new legislation (.pdf), with the same sponsors, narrows that somewhat.
Instead of allowing for the seizure of domains, it allows the Justice Department to obtain court orders demanding American ISPs stop rendering the DNS for a particular website — meaning the sites would still be accessible outside the United States.
Either way, though, the legislation amounts to the holy grail of intellectual-property enforcement that the recording industry, movie studios and their union and guild workforces have been clamoring for since the George W. Bush administration.
“As the guilds and unions that represent 400,000 creators, performers and craftspeople who create the multitude of diverse films, television programs and sound recordings that are enjoyed by billions of people around the world, we unequivocally support this bill which, by providing protection for our members’ work, clearly shows that our government will not condone or permit the wholesale looting of the American economy and American creativity and ingenuity — regardless of how that looting is disguised on the internet to fool the American consumer,” (.pdf) a host of unions said Wednesday, including the American Federation of Musicians, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Directors Guild of America.
The new bill also gives content owners more rights than the old bill. It would allow rights holders to seek court orders instructing online ad services and credit card companies from partnering with the infringing sites — a power the government is granted in either legislative version.
Only the government gets the DNS blocking powers. And the Digital Millennium Copyright Act already grants rights holders the ability to demand search engines to stop displaying search results linking to infringing sites.
Despite the new bill watering down the United States’ reach, the government has been invoking an asset-forfeiture law to seize generic top-level domains of infringing websites under a program called Operation in Our Sites.” It began last year, and the Department of Homeland Security has targeted 120 sites.
Abigail Phillips, a copyright attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said because of Operation in Our Sites, the DNS changeover “doesn’t seem all that meaningful.”
Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director at Public Knowledge, noted that the measure does not narrowly define the websites that could be targeted.
“The bill still defines a site as ‘dedicated to infringing activities,’ if it is designed or marketed as ‘enabling or facilitating’ actions that are found to be infringing,” he said. “In other words, even if the site isn’t itself infringing copyright, if its actions ‘enable or facilitate’ someone else’s infringement, the government can tell ISPs to blacklist your site, and copyright holders can sue to cut your funding.
UPDATE!!! I found the name of the bill and it is S.968. Start calling all your representatives to vote no on the S-968 Senate Bill. It is urgent unless you rather not be legally allowed to get the truth out. If you want to get the truth out then please keep calling and faxing your senators that you want S-968 t0 be thrown in the trash can..
A new bill being supported by the Obama Administration and being sponsored by at least 11 senators of all stripes is being introduced that will threaten news aggregation, truth blogs, documentary filmmakers, political websites, and any website that uses portions or snippets from mainstream media websites or any portion of any copyrighted content.
The bill titled ‘Protect IP Act‘ with the bill number ‘GRA11400′ hosted on Senator Patrick Leahy’s website tells a story that what this bill will do is grant the U.S. Government the power to bring lawsuits against any blog or website that uses any portion or excerpt of any copyrighted materials and obtain court orders requiring search engines like Google to stop displaying links to them. If you don’t believe me then read the bill yourself which is 30 pages long right now. In fact I will embed this scary bill from Scribd for any of you who wish to read this bill to confirm what I am saying.
Protect IP Act by Obama Administration and 11 senators – Read this crazy bill!

This bill is yet another bill that will further give the U.S. Government even more power to shut down any website which criticizes the Establishment or any mega fascist Corporation all under the guise of further protecting copyright. The problem with this new copyright bill is that it violates Fair Use Exemptions. This bill also violates the U.S. Constitution because of the fact that they can sue websites and demand that search engines can censor any website that the Obama Administration or the Supreme Court thinks is committing copyright infringement. This bill also means you cannot post any copyrighted images on your website even if it is for an educational purpose because the Federal Government will view your site as willfully infringing another persons content and use that as an excuse to shut down your site and sue you in Federal Court.
While copyright is necessary to a certain extent, we cannot trade our civil liberties and our 1st amendment for more corporate copyright controls.
In fact this isn’t the only time the U.S. Government has attempted using copyright or some other do-good method to shut down or control the Internet. The U.S. Government has seized many domains under the guise of stopping pirated video streaming websites, Obama attempted to pass a ‘kill-switch’ bill plus giving Joe Lieberman the power to shut down any website he wishes with just a phone call, and U.S. authorities have shut down a WordPress host with around 73,000 blogs.
If the U.S. Government has attempted to control and censor the Internet before it will most likely happen again. The establishments agenda is on the wall that they want to either control the Internet to be more like cable TV or have it shut down. The one that told that agenda is non other then Jay Rockefeller.
In fact here is a quote from Wired about this bill threatening bloggers and their 1st amendment rights.
“Both law enforcement and rights holders are currently limited in the remedies available to combat websites dedicated to offering infringing content and products,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the bill’s main sponsor. The proposal is an offshoot to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act introduced last year. It was scrapped by its authors in exchange for the Protect IP Act in a bid to win Senate passage.”
Of course they tell you they want to stop counterfeit goods and commercial piracy but what they won’t tell you is that they wish to criminalize bloggers for using excerpts and quotations, video embeds of portions of copyrighted videos, news aggregation websites (Even those that use very few paragraphs), and documentary filmmakers since they often reference copyrighted content for their educational documentaries.
This new copyright bill is just another attempt to give Obama the power to shut down any website he wishes under the noble deed of protecting copyrights and putting a stop to the selling of counterfeit goods.
Criticism of intellectual property.The term itself.
Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman argues that, although the term intellectual property is in wide use, it should be rejected altogether, because it "systematically distorts and confuses these issues, and its use was and is promoted by those who gain from this confusion." He claims that the term "operates as a catch-all to lump together disparate laws [which] originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues" and that it creates a "bias" by confusing these monopolies with ownership of limited physical things, likening them to "property rights". Stallman advocates referring to copyrights, patents and trademarks in the singular and warns against abstracting disparate laws into a collective term.

Lawrence Lessig, along with many other copyleft and free software activists, have criticized the implied analogy with physical property (like land or an automobile). They argue such an analogy fails because physical property is generally rivalrous while intellectual works are non-rivalrous (that is, if one makes a copy of a work, the enjoyment of the copy does not prevent enjoyment of the original).

Some critics of intellectual property, such as those in the free culture movement, point at intellectual monopolies as harming health, preventing progress, and benefiting concentrated interests to the detriment of the masses, and argue that the public interest is harmed by ever expansive monopolies in the form of copyright extensions, software patents and business method patents.

Some libertarian critics of intellectual property have argued that allowing property rights in ideas and information creates artificial scarcity and infringes on the right to own tangible property. Stephan Kinsella uses the following scenario to argue this point:

Imagine the time when men lived in caves. One bright guy—let's call him Galt-Magnon—decides to build a log cabin on an open field, near his crops. To be sure, this is a good idea, and others notice it. They naturally imitate Galt-Magnon, and they start building their own cabins. But the first man to invent a house, according to IP advocates, would have a right to prevent others from building houses on their own land, with their own logs, or to charge them a fee if they do build houses. It is plain that the innovator in these examples becomes a partial owner of the tangible property (e.g., land and logs) of others, due not to first occupation and use of that property (for it is already owned), but due to his coming up with an idea. Clearly, this rule flies in the face of the first-user homesteading rule, arbitrarily and groundlessly overriding the very homesteading rule that is at the foundation of all property rights.

Other criticism of intellectual property law concerns the tendency of the protections of intellectual property to expand, both in duration and in scope. The trend has been toward longer copyright protection (raising fears that it may some day be eternal). In addition, the developers and controllers of items of intellectual property have sought to bring more items under the protection. Patents have been granted for living organisms, (and in the US, certain living organisms have been patentable for over a century) and colors have been trademarked. Because they are systems of government-granted monopolies copyrights, patents, and trademarks are called intellectual monopoly privileges, (IMP) a topic on which several academics, including Birgitte Andersen and Thomas Alured Faunce have written.

In 2005 the RSA launched the Adelphi Charter, aimed at creating an international policy statement to frame how governments should make balanced intellectual property law.


Illustration: richard winchell/Flickr”.

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