Post SOPA, What Else Is Out There?

By John Walker on January 25th, 2012 at 2:03 pm.

Imagine when the oil runs out, and this all goes away.
Post SOPA might be slightly wishful thinking, because the industries that paid for the bill are not going to back down any time soon. Perhaps they’ve realised they’re at least going to need to be slightly more subtle about wanting control of the internet. (Although as long as Chris Dodd is speaking for the MPAA, subtlety doesn’t look like it’s going to be an option.) They will be back. But there are others about, trying similar. So what’s there to worry about?

SOPA Ireland

If SOPA offered us a chance to see some real democracy taking place, as millions of Americans contacted their politicians to make their voices heard, then the situation in Ireland is quite different. Astonishingly, a bill similar to SOPA is going to be passed there without any democratic process at all. Seán Sherlock, the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, has innovated the idea to pass into law similar censorious abilities without any debate or vote in Ireland’s parliament, the Oireachtas.

An avoidance of scrutiny called a “ministerial order” is being used to put the bill into law without the pesky need to let anyone have a say about it first. It will allow the entertainment industries the right to force Irish ISPs to block sites of their choosing, if they allege they contain copyrighted material. So, yes, like SOPA it means any site that has user interaction or content becomes completely untenable. Post a link to a song download on Facebook, and Facebook should be banned by the law. RPS won’t be able to stay up in Ireland, as a single errant comment will see us gone before we’ve been given a chance to delete it. It does at least require a court order to enforce, but remains a monumentally stupid piece of legislation.

For details on whom you can contact if you live in Ireland, and would like to continue to have access to a free internet, head to the petition site and click on “What You Can Do”.

ACTA – Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

ACTA is a more confusing affair. Again, lobbied for by the entertainment industry around the world, it’s an agreement in the works by a number of countries around the world, in an attempt to unify copyright and IP laws, and create a treaty designed to see copyrights being further protected. And of course, in its original form, was a terrifying mess.

ACTA is changing, being redrafted, and as clearly unnecessary as any bill may be, it’s being watered down. But the secrecy and anti-democratic nature of its existence is very worrying. Before Christmas Anonymous created this video to highlight the dangers they saw at that point:

The bill remains massively problematic. That it was created behind closed doors by unelected officials, having been requested by the entertainment industry, just about nothing about it sits right. Especially since it has absolutely nothing to do with counterfeiting, which is something quite separate from unauthorised duplication, and the deliberate conflation of the two is one of the repeated tricks of these lobbiests. It was signed by the US in 2011, and Poland is planning to sign it next week. And as the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, the Council of the European Union decided to sign it during a meeting about agriculture and fisheries.

It is of course designed to protect businesses that were built around the impossibility of that which is now possible (to quote myself), and thus focuses on a fear of the internet’s ability to let people share the ethereal. And the focus point at the moment is on the European Parliament, due to yay or nay the agreement this year.

The good news is that it no longer includes the “three strikes” rule, which would have seen ISPs required to cut people off if they were “caught” infringing the rules three times. But what remains is a treaty – one that countries will sign but not necessarily enforce – is once again ambiguous wording and far too wide reaching abilities to infringe of free use of the internet. Also, as the EFF observes, it also sets a terrifying precedent for international legislation being decided in secret, behind closed doors, and then imposed on multiple countries at once without any say from their peoples. Because, well, that’s the sort of thing nutjob conspiracy theorists claim happens. And here it’s happening. Fortunately some countries, like Brazil and Holland, have balked at the secrecy, and there’s still time for people to contact MEPs to request they raise the issue in the European Parliament.

TPP – The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Very similar to ACTA, the TPP is also being drafted behind closed doors without any democratic consultation. This one is between Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, and it’s looking even more restrictive than ACTA, according to the EFF. It seems to be a way to get the worst of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act overseas. However, this one is still in early days, so there’s time to kick up a fuss before anyone signs it.

Data Retention Bill

If you’re in the States, you might also care about this astonishing planned invasion of everyone’s privacy.

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92 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    Despite many inaccurate claims about ACTA, and despite it’s rather sinister secret drafting, the end result is decidely non-scary.

    Firstly, because it’s only a treaty. It is not, itself, a law and nor does it require signatories to enact them. And nations are prone to ignoring treaties at the best of times.

    Secondly, just because a member state’s government has signed it, it will still require democratic approval of each member state’s legislature.

    Thirdly ACTA in its final draft really only recapitulates that which has already been enacted in the West. It’s clearly more aimed at countries like China that tend to play fast and loose with piracy and counterfeiting.

    Fourthly, it’s full of lots of vague nods to proportionality and the rights, norms and freedoms of signatory states.

    And finally, because most countries will never ratify it, including probably the entire EU.

    • John Walker says:

      I think the way it came about isn’t something to be brushed aside quite so daintily.

    • jplayer01 says:

      They will ‘never’ ratify it? You’re 100% sure? Are we somehow immune from what happens in the US, such that we have no need to inform our representatives that ACTA is a bad idea? When did Europeans become so trusting of the EU and politicians in general?

    • Meat Circus says:

      In practice it makes little difference. The Digital Economy Act and the EU Copyright Directive have *already* implemented measures far in excess off what ACTA calls for.

      ACTA is primarily a harmonization measure, and really aimed at China.

    • tempest says:

      @Meat Circus:

      You’re wrong on multiple counts:

      “Firstly, because it’s only a treaty. It is not, itself, a law and nor does it require signatories to enact them. And nations are prone to ignoring treaties at the best of times.”

      Adopted treaties supersede local laws. Once a treaty is adopted, it becomes the law of the land.

      “Secondly, just because a member state’s government has signed it, it will still require democratic approval of each member state’s legislature.”

      Wrong again: it depends from country to conuntry, but some countries’ governments have the power to adopt such bills without going through the parliament.

      “Thirdly ACTA in its final draft really only recapitulates that which has already been enacted in the West. It’s clearly more aimed at countries like China that tend to play fast and loose with piracy and counterfeiting.”

      No, that’s incorrect. If it were true, then it wouldn’t be a treaty between mostly occidental countries. ACTA, among many other things strips the ISPs of their safe harbour as intermediaries and forces them to become Internet Policemen under pain of losing their safe harbour as intermediaries. Put it very simply, it exports the US DMCA to other countries but without the protections of the fair use doctrine (which is unique to the US). It also criminalizes a lot of things that used to be civil matters.

      “And finally, because most countries will never ratify it, including probably the entire EU.”

      We can only hope, but that doesn’t make it so. Right now, the only chance of killing it, at least in Europe, is to have the EU Parliament reject it when they’ll have to vote on it. Rejection by individual member states will help a bit, but it won’t be enough.

    • MCM says:

      Your first point is only half less scary because, in America, treaties are laws. If the US government signs a treaty, it becomes law in the US.

      Your second, third, and fourth points are really no comfort at all. Why would we want more IP laws at all? We shouldn’t, and most of us don’t. And “vague nods”? Why not explicit protections, safe harbors, etc?

    • El_Emmental says:

      Hm, this post by Meat Circus is rather disturbing.

      edit: oh, several other people better explained what I said, with more details.

      First, because ACTA is “only” a harmonization measure doesn’t neutralize the fact it is an international treaty.

      How many times we saw governments and presidents/PM passing laws and decrees with the excuse/justification “we have to do this to comply with the treaty” ? hundreds if not thousands of time.

      All major Internet-related laws passed in my country were forced down the throat of our national democracy with a “it’s european union directive, we can’t refuse it !”, even if the directive wasn’t asking for such laws/decrees at all (yes, -that- Copyright directive).

      Because it is an international treaty, it is much easier for IP owners lobbies to force elected representatives to vote for their laws and much harder to mobilize the public opinion against it – how are you supposed to lawfully refuse to respect treaties “you” previously signed ?

      When a law is passed, who passed it ? the elected representatives
      When an international treaty is signed, who signed it ? the entire country

      Once ACTA is signed by a country, all its citizens have a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

      And moving out of an international treaty is pretty hard (unless you’re the #1 world superpower of course).

      Second, even if it is “only” a harmonization measure not bringing anything new, it is preventing these countries from removing such freedom and privacy threatening laws, by adding another legal layer over these laws.

      Third, if the latest ACTA is such an empty shell, it is as much, if not more, dangerous : now that the treaty is mostly vague, it can be used to pass any sort of Internet-censoring/IP-”protecting” law.

      All these treaties, even when emptied of their content and turn into blurred watered-down “harmless” pieces, remain dangerous : they’re still providing a legal and legitimacy base for future laws and treaties regarding Internet-censoring and IP-”protecting”.

      Brick wall analogy : instead of building a 20-bricks-high wall, they’re only laying down a 5-bricks-high low-wall and the support base. Until the next secret treaty or law.

    • Meat Circus says:

      “All these treaties, even when emptied of their content and turn into blurred watered-down “harmless” pieces, remain dangerous : they’re still providing a legal and legitimacy base for future laws and treaties regarding Internet-censoring and IP-protecting.”

      Thanks for that- that’s a position I hadn’t considered, that even in its neutered state ACTA is mostly dangerous because it can be used as a justification for more egregious abuses citing “international obligations”.

      But nonetheless, I’d still argue it’s not ACTA that is dangerous, but what nations will choose to do apparently acting under its influence.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “But nonetheless, I’d still argue it’s not ACTA that is dangerous, but what nations will choose to do apparently acting under its influence. ”

      Exactly, you pinpointed the exact issue regarding all these bills : they are tools, or base for future tools.

      The problem is, they are way too dangerous to be handed over governments or copyright-holders.

      This is why they should be fought : it is extremely hard to maintain a control over governments or copyright-holders, we can’t rely on their honesty (especially when you look at their “records” *no-pun*), we can’t build the whole Internet (including the e-economy) on such unstable foundations.

      Last time we let a government and its closest powerful ring of businessmen rule the economy with such powerful unregulate-uncontrolled powers (yea, sounds very familiar with your current situation, wherever you live, isn’t it ? ;) ), we got Cuba, USSR, modern Russia. That’s not really what I call an economic success nor the best example of democracy.

    • Consumatopia says:

      “Your first point is only half less scary because, in America, treaties are laws. If the US government signs a treaty, it becomes law in the US.”

      Not really–it’s not enough for the president to sign the treaty, the Senate has to ratify it by 2/3 vote.

      And even then, while the treaty becomes law, it’s equivalent to an act of Congress, which can be changed by a later act of Congress. If a federal statute and a ratified treated contradict each other, U.S. courts will enforce whichever is newer.

      However, legislators may want to avoid treaty violations if they believe it damages the credibility of the U.S. Furthermore, confusion over the Supremacy Clause is widespread enough that some legislators and many voters believe treaties can’t even be overridden by Constitutional amendment, let alone congressional law.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I think the way it came about isn’t something to be brushed aside quite so daintily. ”

      It’s an international inter-governmental treaty. I don’t really see what’s wrong with that; I don’t recall ever being polled on NATO membership, adoption of the UN laws regarding coastal territory or indeed any other treaty the government has entered into with other nations. Nor do I actually expect to be, for pretty good reasons.

    • Shooop says:

      The fact most people can’t even read it because it would; Quote: “endanger national security” is more than enough reason to want it killed and cremated. Software pirates are national security issues like terrorists now Mr. president?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Oh yeah, they’ll “never” ratify it. I’m sure no one would be stupid enough to try to pass a law that blatantly violates the first amendment of the country’s constitution, or ban alcohol from the entire country for ten years.

      Never underestimate the incompetence of people who are experts of the law and speech making and nothing else.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    As I say, the manner of its drafting was entirely sinister, but whatever its original aims, the final draft is available for public consumption and is (Warning: IANAL) mostly harmless.

    • MCM says:

      If you’re not a lawyer you probably shouldn’t be commenting on the potential effect of laws. Since you just admitted you’re not educated in the law.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Don’t see why not, because I’m happy to be corrected when I’m wrong.

    • cliffski says:

      :to MCM:

      by that token, this whole article and 99% of SOPA articles should not exist. None of them are written by IP lawyers.

  3. mentor07825 says:

    Great. Now I got to contact my local TDs or something about the Irish one. Just what I wanted to do. It’s most likely going to pass though. We have an extremely corrupt government.

    Couldn’t be prouder.

    • mentor07825 says:

      And to those outside of Ireland who don’t know about this, several years ago there was a court injunction from the Powers That Be to prevent Eircom, the main Irish broadband and tele-communications provider in this country, to block users from going on to PirateBay.

      When Eircom users, such as myself, try to access the site we immediately get a copy of the court order and then links to direct us back to iTunes.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      When Eircom users, such as myself, try to access the site we immediately get a copy of the legislation and then links to direct us back to iTunes.

      Boo hoo.

      No seriously it must suck to actually have to reimburse content creators for the content they created which you consume. Down with this sort of thing etc.

    • John Walker says:

      Malibu Stacey somewhat missing the complexity of torrent usage there.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Malibu Stacey somewhat missing the complexity of torrent usage there.

      Yes torrents for non-illegally distributed content can only be found on thepiratebay.org right?

      John Walker somewhat grasping for a strawman? In my comments thread? Who would’ve thunk it?

    • mentor07825 says:

      That is not it. I’m against piracy, nor do I torrent.

      However, I do make small games and applications. If I want to share them freely a link to PirateBay is the first place I’d go to place it. I cannot afford a website to maintain for my CV and downloadable executables of what I make for my portfolio.

      Not everything that is torrented, or uploaded on such sites, are illegal.
      EDIT: My point got ninja’d by John Walker.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      However, I do make small games and applications. If I want to share them freely a link to PirateBay is the first place I’d go to place it.

      I guess the only appropriate response to this would be “What is this I don’t even”.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Mine would be is because it’s free, easy, and I can’t be arsed.

      Another would be if you have nothing constructive to add, then don’t add at all. I can understand the cute pink and red “Reply” button is tempting, deliciously so, but friend, chum, compadré, you must resist.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “I use my M-16 to open tin cans.”

      KG

    • mentor07825 says:

      Like a bouss

    • mondomau says:

      Malibu Stacey: Your use of ‘Strawman’ in this case is hilarious. Incognisant hypocrisy aside, you are missing the point – regardless of the merits of an individual case, any decision to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut is not an idea we should let pass lightly.

    • cliffski says:

      There is a ridiculous quantity of nearly-free web hosting around. if you cannot afford $5.99 a month to run a web site for the stuff you make, you probably can’t afford to eat.
      And I bet there is bucketloads of free hosting for games around too. In fact I know there is.
      Nobody needs to use the piratebay because they can’t afford web hosting…

    • Stickman says:

      Edit:
      I’m not Irish, and I based my comment off of mentor07825′s comment above. It appears that piratebay does not redirect to Itunes, but instead has a link to a “list of major sites” which provide legal downloads. I’m not sure what that list actually looks like.

      Original comment:
      Honestly, despite the moral/legal complexities surrounding IP takedowns of sites providing large amounts of pirated materials, I find the redirect to Itunes even more worrying. Why Itunes? Why not any of the other myriad legal music repositories? That’s completely inappropriate for a government-sponsored action!

    • John Walker says:

      Cliffski – if there’s somewhere offering hosting for that price, who would leave a link up when it gets popular, Redditted, etc, please tell everyone about it so we can all switch to using them.

      Using torrents to distribute free games is a perfectly valid route.

      Also, perhaps someone only can afford to eat BECAUSE they don’t spend money on other less essential things. Really, think a bit more.

    • Aninhumer says:

      Wait, so the ruling gives special privileges to iTunes, by having the redirect to point to their site?
      That’s even more corrupt than I was expecting.

    • mentor07825 says:

      The page provides several links. One of them is iTunes, another is Amazon. I can’t remember all of them and currently where I am I’m using a BT line, not Eircom, so I have full access to the site. Eircom, a company partly owned by the government, has now recently provided their own music distribution site. Really cheap for Eircom customers while those who are using the oversea competitor lines, such as BT, have to pay more for their music. What their library is like I cannot say, as I YouTube my music and listen to fan songs from community fan pages.

      And Mr. Walker, right on the money. Still currently a college student. We’ve all been there at some time, so I don’t need to explain the situation.

      EDIT: The ruling prevents people from the ISP to going to the site. Links however were optional. I believe it’s Eircom’s way of politely suggesting that whatever content we wanted to downloaded can be found in various sites. I can’t blame them for trying to be helpful.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      It is very possible to use torrents to keep bandwidth usage down without going to Pirate Bay. (I did so for the first few months after I released my latest game.) And the web hotel I use (one of the biggest in Sweden) has hosting from SEK 27 / month. That’s $4.

      As for a place offering free space for games, how about http://www.indiedb.com ?

      I’m with Cliffski here. There are options.

  4. Khemm says:

    I must be tired… I can see Mickey Mouse.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Funny, I have a similar reaction when I see yet another of your bile filled rants against Steam whilst simultaneously championing GFWL and/or UbiDRM.

    • Khemm says:

      Coming from someone with a TF2 avatar… HMMMMM.
      No, I do not champion GFWL. And define what you mean by Ubi DRM. If it’s always online, they don’t use it anymore, at least haven’t for their latest games.

    • John Walker says:

      Give it a rest, both of you, before I ban you for making my head weary.

    • Khemm says:

      Sorry.

  5. sneetch says:

    This might be relevant:

    http://www.seansherlock.ie/news/437/57/COPYRIGHT-LEGISLATION/

    Basically he’s saying “nuh-uh! Not even SOPA!”

    The gist seems to be that all this means is that you can get an injunction ordering that an ISP take down a site that you feel violates your copyright if you can convince a court, that is, I believe, pretty much as it is now in most countries (in Europe anyway).

    “This is not SOPA-type legislation but a restatement of that which we [the Government] held existed in Irish law already.”

    • El_Emmental says:

      once again, they pull the “it’s the directive” like a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card

      there’s a difference between a stripped down DMCA-like takedown request system with a strong judiciary control, and a SOPA-like “push that red button to nuke that domain” system.

      Pretending that setting up a red button bypassing any judiciary control is a simple restatement of the existing law is not being honest.

      The minister is only claiming there’s nothing to fear because he can’t publicly admit most of the law will have to go after the whole SOPA debacle.

      Funfact: the french equivalent of the MPAA and the RIAA said there was “Nothing to fear from SOPA”, 24 hours after the worldwide protest day that stopped SOPA/PIPA laws on their tracks.

      These are the guys you’re supposed to trust.

  6. Mage says:

    Pity my country is so full or farmers and ignorant idiots to rouse any kind of resistance against this,
    we don’t even have a large enough population that are educated enough to resist, oh well, back to
    numbers, what’s RPS again? 149.62.3.45?

    • mentor07825 says:

      Irish too?

    • sneetch says:

      “Irish too?”

      I hope not but that kind of sneering attitude is rife here in Ireland.

      Edit: 32965 signatures on that petition already.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Been living in Ireland for ten years, and I firmly believe that this is going to pass without trouble and stay. I will be surprised, happily so, if it gets taken down or is stopped before being inacted.

      However, living here has taught me a blissful philosiphy. Keep your expectations low, that way you’ll never be disappointed. And I gotta say, this country doesn’t disappoint.

    • sneetch says:

      The law was passed years ago to bring us in line with European Union law. This is just a restatement of that law which is being made to assure our European OverlordsPartners that we have that law.

    • mentor07825 says:

      I for one welcome our German European Overlords Partners.

    • Skabooga says:

      Woah, there is nothing wrong with a country being full of farmers. The bedrock of the world’s economy is agriculture.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Nothing wrong with an agricultural economy. And I haven’t said anything bad about it, I believe. However, we do have a lot of idiots. But I believe that every country has them. Laws should be in place.

    • Homercleese says:

      There is a problem if those farmers are a load of backward, technology-politically-socially-illiterate loudmouths. Unfortunately that label extends to a wide range of demographies here.

      @mentor; unfortunately I understand exactly why you would feel that way. Also unfortunately your conclusion makes it a self perpetuating philosophy. About the only people who do get up in arms about ‘issues’ are the farmers (blocking Dublin streets on their brand new tractors when their subsidies are threatened) and the elderly (when their welfare benefits are legitimately examined for fraud/waste).

      I wouldn’t say our government it particularily corrupt though. In fact I think we just did relatively well on an OECD corruption investigation. It is incredibly regional though and our politicians are very subject to public pressure. That’s the only thing that gives me a little hope for this being rejected. With enough pressure Sherlock might turn yeller and back down.

      And finally, while it is indeed an attempt to bring us into line with EU regs, any such legislation should be subject to a Dáil debate. Anyway, TDs have been emailed, I’ll get on the horn tomorrow.

  7. shaydeeadi says:

    Maybe we should all of slung some mud about the Digital Economy Act a couple years ago.

    • Milky1985 says:

      I think we did kick up a stink about it, saying it was awful sending letters etc.

      I think the government then pushed it though during the “wash up period” during the transition to the current bunch of useless twats (sorry, i mean “politicans”) as a way of avoiding actual disccusion.

    • Furtled says:

      A lot of us did, unfortunately (with only a few rare exceptions) our MPs are just as bought and paid for/pig ignorant about how the Internet works as most Irish TDs and US Congress/Senators.

    • mentor07825 says:

      I’ll come out and be perfectly honest here, I had no idea that the bill was being inacted, nor what it was.

    • sephiroth says:

      well some of us did.

      I personally sat down with my MP and explained it to him. He still voted for it and I can only asume it is due to being paid to do so.

      Normally I give people some credit and wont just say they must be bought but to say one thing and do the other well in this case I’m convinced he was bought

    • shaydeeadi says:

      I remember signing some petition about it at the time, but we all know how much our government pays attention to those silly things on their official site.

  8. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    International torture regimes, illegal wars for material interests, the financial elite’s domination of politics, indefinite detention, corporate death-squads, the erection of modern systems of slavery, the abrogation of due process and equality before the law- what? Wikipedia is under threat? Shut. Down. Everything.

    I’m not saying SOPA and PIPA aren’t intolerable infringements upon the structure of the internet, free speech and due process but I find it depressing that it’s this that rouses privileged western citizens into action and not a hundred more important outrages or fundamental issues, ongoing, as you read this. Again, I find this an inspirational victory for popular organisation (whilst remembering we had help from some massive corporations and interests) but it does seem unintentionally telling of a society which is atomised rather than in solidarity with injustice anywhere.

    I salute the effort against this, but realise that it’s the symptom of a system that must be fought with incomparably greater zeal than it’s manifestation at a periphery. To describe the problem succinctly, the words of the great John Dewey;

    As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance“.

    • Gnoupi says:

      It’s probably because it’s targeting the system itself, that this system reacts more violently than for “”external”" problems, I guess.

      Such is the Internet, you can mobilize huge amounts of people for as many meaningful or meaningless things. Thousands of “I’m going to boycott MW3!!!!”, thousands of “changing my status for Japan”. In the end, there are not so many “real life” application of Internet mobilization, because it tends to stay within its own system.

      Which is also why the reaction is so much bigger when it targets the actual system.

    • Kollega says:

      And how do we fight all the injustices in the world when there are corporate death squads out in the streets, might i inquire?

      I’m either fighting hyperbole with hyperbole here, or asking a legitimate question about not getting shot. I hope i’m doing the former.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Are you attempting to render your ignorance as cute? I was referring to organisations like Blackwater, whose conduct is profoundly disturbing at best, subcontractors for DynCorp, agribusiness-affiliated security companies killing unionists and indigenous farmers in Columbia and paramilitary groups funded by corporations such as Chevron in the Niger Delta and an array of interests attempting to secure Coltan in the DRC.

    • Stickman says:

      Wikipedia is not a political mouthpiece. It is, however, an organization that runs off the free (mostly) efforts of a wide (somewhat) variety of people, and its continued ability to exist would be threatened by SOPA and PIPA. Same with craigslist and the other websites that blacked out. The blacked-out websites were hardly “Everything”, and their protest was to raise awareness of a bill that would destroy their ability to continue providing their service. The fact that you describe them as “Everything” is an indication of how much we rely on such services.

      So yes, there are all sorts of horrible realities in the world, but SOPA, PIPA, etc. are also pretty bad, and the sites protesting them are absolutely directly affected. If you use those sites, it only makes sense to take 10 minutes out of your day to write congressmen or whatever, to help do something about them. Most of the other horrible realities on your list are not so easily fought or solved.

    • John Walker says:

      It may have escaped your attention, Tyrone Slothrop, but this is a website about videogames.

    • Kollega says:

      All i was attempting to do is make a point that if we indeed do have corporate death squads roaming the streets somewhere, then it’s a very serious fucking problem and i have not the tiniest bit of an idea how to fight against guys running around with guns and enforcing the will of our corporate overlords, and that i wish it was untrue or at least hyperbolized. But apparently, it isn’t.

    • Furtled says:

      @Tyrone Slothrop.

      Everyone picks their battles, the things you list are big problems most people feel powerless to address; the internet gave them a way to affect what was happening with SOPA/PiPA, it explained the problem and gave them the tools to do something – so of course a lot of people rallied to the cause.

      If it was as ‘simple’ as that to solve the other problems you mention (and yes, if large companies got involved) then you’d see the same results. I’ll grant you that’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s how it is.

      Also as pointed out RPS is a games site, this issue has the potential for major negative impact on the games industry so of course they’re going to cover it.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Dude, at the risk of sounding “cute” the way you describe things with the death squads and everything sounds like a brilliant idea to a video game. Almost something out of Syndicate.

    • Josh W says:

      Eh, it matters because without access to information, we wouldn’t even know about those things or be able to complain.

      Suppose people want to raise awareness of various problems, well censorship could hit them all. It’s like protesting about your right to protest; the most basic kind of protest that unites people with very different opinions.

  9. bill says:

    While I mostly agree with you john, i think there is more to the issue than simply defeating all these kinds of bills for the sake of it. They may be flailing around in the dark introducing all kinds of bills to deal with the issue, but we should be thinking of productive ways to help the situation as well, not just opposing everything on the principle that it must be wrong.

    I’d be interested in what positive things COULD be done, rather than just opposing everything that is tried.

    Posted before, but interesting reading on the issue:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/17/beyond_sopa/
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/19/sopa_is_gone_are_you_happy_now/

    Given the massive shift in manufacturing and other industries out of the west, we (and our children) are going to be dependent to digital, creative and service industries… losing them isn’t really an option. the old “they haven’t adapted to the new world” only goes so far.

  10. fionny says:

    Thanks for picking up the SOPA Ireland link! We are making ground here with the minister beginning to buckle under the pressure!

  11. sephiroth says:

    This whole thing say me to one of these must be true

    Our politicians are completely inept and clueless passing laws based on understanding of what they mean / will do

    Our politicians are corrupt and completly bought off by big business.

    not sure which it is but either way isn’t it about time we did something about this?
    not sure if voting will help it hasn’t so far for me so whats next revolution?
    5th of November anyone? the message about that day seems to be a litle confused so we can try again.

  12. Lamb Chop says:

    Here is a good homepage for links to info on the TPP. Used to work for these guys doing fair trade advocacy in the US, and they are remarkably thorough in their research on the effects of FTAs on the public interest.

  13. Tams80 says:

    While I certainly don’t agree with ACTA, there is a risk there will be a misunderstanding.

    Since there has been quite a bit of secrecy (note that this has covered on Ars etc. since 2010 at least, just the details not known), I feel that it should be scrapped (as it has lost legitimacy in my eyes) and if a new copyright treaty is to be made, that it should be done in full public view in order to be legitimate.

    We shouldn’t mistake a treaty with legislation though. A treaty doesn’t constitute a law, it just enables a country to create new legislation that then, according to a country’s constitution (or equivalent) then has passed or blocked. This is a good summation of ACTA in this regard. Yes, I know it is Reddit, so don’t take it as the word, but it’s a good starting point.

    Basically, if ACTA is passed, it will be one less hurdle for governments to pass laws based on it. If you oppose the actions ACTA suggests, then yes, it is a good idea to protest against it (stop it as soon as possible), but as the Reddit post suggests; where it really matters is if it is passed, that you protest to your own government.

  14. Nala says:

    The CDU in germany (Christian Democratic Union, that’s the currently ruling party along with the FDP) just released a statement in which they said that SOPA and PIPA are a generally great idea.

    Along with a few really stupid things, the most interesting was how they accused Google and wikipedia to stand by “internet criminals” like megaupload.

    Who wants to read it in german, it’s here: http://www.cducsu.de/Titel__pressemitteilung_us_amerikanische_sopa_gesetzgebung_weist_in_die_richtige_richtung/TabID__6/SubTabID__7/InhaltTypID__1/InhaltID__20986/Inhalte.aspx

    We’ve still got a long way to go.

  15. Nameless1 says:

    Good call, I was wondering why all that attention to SOPA and PIPA and nothing on ACTA.
    It’s extremely important, especially for the entire EU.
    Keep watching, pls.

  16. klo3 says:

    Finland, one of the least corrupted and in many senses a very tolerant country (Pekka Haavisto who is both openly gay and represents the Green Party made it to the second and final round in the presidential elections last sunday) recently forced an ISP to block access to thepiratebay.org against the order of EU court. Now a copyright committee that consists mainly of entertainment industry representatives are lobbying for Finnish courts to have the right to block access to sites.

    http://yle.fi/uutiset/news/2012/01/pirate_bay_block_comes_into_force_in_finland_3160454.html
    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=fi&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hs.fi%2Fkulttuuri%2FTekij%25C3%25A4noikeustoimikunta%2Behdottaa%2Byh%25C3%25A4%2Btiukempia%2Bkeinoja%2Bnettipiratismia%2Bvastaan%2Fa1305554098898&act=url

    • apa says:

      I’m worried that the Finnish SOPA will pass, because there is not any kind of organized counter force. Basically the law would enable companies to block Youtube because there are music videos there.

      This is not even the first step in web censorship in Finland. A couple years ago a number of sites were blocked for showing child pornography. Not nearly all blocked sites had any CP content – among blocked sites were a number of normal porn sites, the Thailand Royalty homepage and a blog discussing Internet censorship.

  17. alundra says:

    SOPA is far from over, be ready for it to take all sizes, shapes and colors, it is they way these white collar crooks work:

    A CEO threatening the U.S. President and Congress is a pretty bold move, and it is indicative of the sordid web of bribery that Washington D.C. has found itself in. These days it’s hard to get anything done at the federal level without a heavy lubricating layer of lobbyists bribes.

    http://www.dailytech.com/MPAA+Chief+Threatens+Obama+Congress+for+SOPA+Rejection/article23842.htm

    there is ACTA as has already been mentioned, NDAA, and the DMCA, that while it’s already established, it would help big time to help people understand how their real legal (read that as non eulaish) rights have been eroded and why it is important to keep the crooks from extending their control further.

    Mr. Walker actually managed to pull a wishful smile out of me with this article, it is da fucking tits of an idea to keep track of any incarnation of SOPA and the likes might take on other countries different from USofA. Some sort of rogue website would be great, one that offers a black list of each and every corrupt politician, in every country, that obeys the law of bribery to work against the people that elected them

    All of this, of course, this is a daunting task, but, as hard as it is to believe for those who are always plugged, the vast majority of the world’s population still rely on good old news channels owned by private interests, FOX, CNN, BBC, are all owned, and paid to, manipulate the masses’ opinion, and people still believe them, which is the saddest thing.

  18. newprince says:

    I’m one of “those people” under 30 who actually watches the State of the Union address, and while most of it was pretty boring and weak, 2 things really got to me. The first was the unnecessary saber rattling towards Middle East countries (don’t worry, getting to the point soon). The second was something I haven’t heard any coverage on, since the major headlines were about asking companies and rich people to actually pay taxes (good things but will never happen with this Congress).

    He actually said that foreign countries need to stop infringing on our IP. This is really goddamn scary considering SOPA and PIPA are not dead, and I can’t imagine what adding the President’s cooperation will mean for weak-kneed Democrats in Congress. The bills coming this year could really screw over our economy even more, including the last few things America actually does well. I really pray a technologically literate bipartisan gang will emerge in Congress to swat all this stuff away.

  19. Captain Hijinx says:

    What the fuck.

    I live in Ireland and this is the typical bullshit we have to deal with.

    Over my dead body is this thing being passed.

  20. BarerRudeROC says:

    Jesus Christ, I’m Irish and I’ve only just heard about this now.

  21. en_zedd says:

    I just want to point out the New Zealand Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act which our beloved government rushed under emergency powers granted in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake last year.

    It’s known locally as ‘Skynet’ and is basically a three strikes system. Copywrite holders can notify an ISP of an infringement and the ISP issues a notice in the mail. Three notices and you’ll receive a fine up to $15,000 and a suspension internet access.

    And what if your web connection was hijacked, or an employee accessed the material on your corporate network? Tough… never mind that the UN has recognised this law is a breach of human rights.

    Did I mention this law was rushed through under emergency powers granted to provide support after a NATURAL DISASTER? The original bill was back peddled back in 2009 after it received a lot of criticism.

    http://www.respectcopyrights.co.nz

  22. n0way says:

    Anti-ACTA protests in all major cities in Poland; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc5n1u5wTcg (footage from Wrocław)

  23. malkav11 says:

    I think at this point the appropriate plan is to immediately veto any and all legislation financially backed by the entertainment industry. They clearly neither know nor care what’s in anyone’s best interests, whether that be the consumers or the industry themselves. I’m sure they -think- this sort of crap will benefit them, but their judgment hasn’t worked right in a couple decades, minimum.

  24. Bluerps says:

    Oh god, my head. The german party CDU/CSU (our big conservative party, currently the bigger part of the governing coalition) just released a statement in which they state that they regret that the US senate did not vote on SOPA and PIPA, and that they think this legislation is needed. They use Megaupload as an example for why these laws are needed (I’m not sure what the reasoning behind that is, or if there is any reasoning at all), in addition to the usual talk about theft of intellectual property.

    *sigh*
    I only hope that this is not the beginning of a renewed effort to create an infranstructure that can be used to censor the internt – we already had something like that here two years ago, and it was shot down only in the very last minute.

  25. SiHy_ says:

    These articles are always interesting but the comments make me tired. Far too much aggressive penis-waving, far too little actual, grown-up debate.
    EDIT: Obviously I’m not talking about everyone here, just the people with the biggest mouths and shortest fuses.

  26. pupsikaso says:

    I live in Canada, but I’ve found no information on the given links about what I can do about this from here. Can someone help me? I want to act against all of these, but I don’t know how.

  27. FKD says:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/right-click/bill-c11-could-bring-sopa-online-piracy-laws-212657243.html

    Just noticed this in reference to Canada for anyone that is interested. Perhaps I am just not on top of things, but it seems interesting that this is being debated in so many countries all at the same time. Is there any information that it was a concerted effort amongst the different music institutions?