Posted on 30 January 2012.
The US House of Representatives may have effectively killed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the wake of large-scale online protest but according to Mashable, the spirit of SOPA lives on north of the US border in Canada. Specifically, an article by Peter Pachal posted on Mashable interviewed Michael Geist, an Internet and ecommerce law expert at the University of Ottawa, who stated that Bill C-11, titled the Copyright Modernization Act, could bring SOPA-like copyright law to Canada.
Currently, Bill C-11 is under review in Canada’s House of Commons and its stated aim is to replace the country’s current copyright law with something that is “more compatible” in the age of broadband. However, Geist has pointed out that buried in various proposed amendments and notes with the bill are proposals that would allow a court to block websites such as The Pirate Bay in order to “protect” the Canadian marketplace.
In additions, Geist pointed out that there are also proposals (similar to the French HADOPI rules) that would incentivize or encourage Internet service providers (ISP) to terminate any Internet users who repeatedly infringe on copyrights. Worst, there is no mention of any due process or just what kind of proof would be required plus there is an “enabler” provision that could be used to target websites that aren’t pirate havens BUT are being used for web piracy or copyright infringement.
Geist concluded that the same groups who were pushing for SOPA south of the border are now using Bill C-11 to try and bring SOPA-like rules to Canada and other countries. Moreover, the CEO of Empire Avenue, a virtual-currency and gaming site that is based in Canada, was also quoted as saying that it appears that SOPA backers are trying to get SOPA-like rules passed in other countries – in order to force the US onboard.
In other words and with proposals like Bill C-11 out there, we have probably not heard the last of SOPA.
Posted in News
Posted on 06 December 2011.
The OpenNet Initiative has reported that the Anonymous hacker group is now threatening the US government – apparently over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Bill which critics say will censor the Internet. According to the hacker group, the US government is following in the footsteps of more repressive and authoritarian regimes and they are calling on citizens to destroy the foundation before the government becomes too powerful. And while Anonymous did not explicitly mention the SOPA Bill, its been assumed that the bill is the foundation they are referring to.
In case you are not familiar with the Stop Online Piracy Act or so-called SOPA bill, it’s a bill that has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives to expand the ability of US law enforcement along with copyright holders to fight online trafficking in both copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. SOPA would allow the US Department of Justice (DOJ) or the copyright holders themselves to seek court orders against websites that are accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.
More specifically, SOPA would bar online advertising networks along with payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with an infringing website, make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a felony and give immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against any website involved in copyright infringement.
On the other hand, critics say the bill is a blow to free speech and whistleblowers in particular. Moreover, some fear that many cloud computing and web hosting services might move out of the US to avoid lawsuits.
However, Anonymous is no ordinary government or SOPA. Recently and in retaliation for investigation of the group, they published the personal address and phone number of Department of Justice investigator Alfredo Baclagan – along with 38,000 messages from his Gmail account. In other words, anyone in Congress who is thinking of voting in favor of the SOPA Bill better think twice before doing so.
Posted in News
Posted on 29 November 2011.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was recently introduced in the House of Representatives and while the bill is intended to stop online piracy, it will in fact give corporations unprecedented power to censor websites.
Specifically, SOPA contains the following provisions that worry Internet free speech advocates:
- The Attorney General will be able to cut off websites from the domain name system – meaning they will virtually disappear them from Internet.
- Foreign websites would have to submit to a US jurisdiction in order to contest the Attorney General. This would be a costly and timely process for most websites who will probably not be able to afford to undertake this process even if they are innocent.
- Corporations will be able to force payment processors and advertisers alike to cut off any infringing websites’ money supply – even if just a small portion of the website site is allegedly infringing on the copyright.
- Companies who voluntarily cut off suspected infringing websites will have immunity along with virtually no oversight.
However, critics of the bill contend that while Google and Facebook may have enough money and lawyers to fend off any lawsuit or court ordered shutdown, newer social networking sites in foreign countries would probably not. This means that a website hosting videos, even if the videos draw attention to alleged human rights abuses or other issues, could be targeted by an overzealous copyright holder who then uses one alleged violation to strangle an entire website.
Moreover, circumvention tools could be under threat from SOPA as Virtual Private Networks, proxies or anonymisation software might be deemed illegal under the law if they are used to get around its censorship mechanisms.
Finally, critics contend that the US State Department’s support for the bill undermines its own Internet Freedom Initiative. On the other hand, it was also the US State Department that led the charge to stop WikiLeaks by pressuring US companies to stop doing business with the website. After Paypal, Mastercard and Visa complied, WikiLeaks was financially crippled.
Nevertheless, its worth noting that the WikiLeaks cables have also revealed that the State Department has been lobbying other countries for aggressive new copyright laws just like SOPA.
Posted in News