Engineer Looks at the Facts on Anti-Piracy Bills

by Paul Hortenstine 12/21/2011 10:42 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act target foreign criminal websites.  They have broad bipartisan support and the rare backing of the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce.   There is nothing new about the techniques of domain blocking used to target criminals in the Stop Online Piracy Act.   They are currently used to protect consumers and combat all kinds of harmful behavior including spam, phishing, malware, viruses, copyright infringement and other forms of Internet crime.  And this is happening without claims of harm to the Internet.   Recently many opponents of the legislation, especially the Stop Online Piracy Act, have made many claims about the technical aspects of the bills.  These claims just do not hold up to the facts.   

George Ou, a respected network engineer who has written extensively on information system security and related topics, addresses these very issues in a recent blog post. He writes:

“Members of the House recently addressed the claims that their bill would allegedly threaten Internet Cybersecurity by offering some amendments.  They made explicit assurances that their proposed bill should not be construed in any way to compromise or impose onerous obstacles to the security of the Internet.  Neither the House nor Senate bills in their original forms made any threatening moves to DNSSEC but this new amendment makes it explicit that there is no intent to impair security operations of DNS.”

Ou also points out Stop Online Piracy Act opponent have offered no evidence of DNS fracturing on the Internet:

“The engineers opposed to DNS Filtering claim is that if courts are allowed to block infringing websites, alternative DNS systems will pop up and replace the Internet’s official DNS service controlled by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and fracture the Internet.  But this speculation of DNS fracturing has been proven wrong by real-world examples.

The Internet’s official IANA controlled DNS already coexists with hundreds of thousands of private DNS services operated by organizations, businesses, governments, and militaries.  Those private DNS services have to coexist because wholesale replacement of the Internet’s DNS service is impractical and there is no reason for infringing website operators to do any different.  When the US courts began seizing rogue websites a few years ago, a web browser plug-in called MAFIAAFire was created to bypass those court blocks by patching in the blocked domain names.  The plugin used the practical and easy method of listing addresses for the blocked domain names but did not attempt to replace the entire IANA DNS service which would have been horrifically challenging.”

Property Rights and Privacy on the Internet

by TJ Ducklo 12/20/2011 08:01 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about concerns arising from a Judiciary Committee hearing in September on the antitrust practices of Google.  The letter urges a thorough FTC investigation to determine if Google is using the overwhelming market power of its search engine to steer Internet users to its own products while discriminating against other companies.  It also asks the commission to determine if Google has violated antitrust law, harmed consumers or impeded access to open competition.  

In a post on the conservative blog Red State, Saul Anuzis defended Senator Lee for taking “justified and principled action” in examining if Google undermines the property rights and privacy of Americans.   While not everyone at Red State has agreed on supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261), perhaps a look at the abuse of property rights and privacy on the Internet will serve as evidence of the need for action now on this important legislation to target those who profit from stolen American property.

He wrote:

“For conservatives, the regulatory direction of antitrust enforcement strikes right at the heart of what defines a company: its property. Google has seemingly built and branded the most highly prized real estate on the Internet through innovation, investment and competitiveness. At first glance, Google could be a poster child for free enterprise. Is Sen. Lee simply encouraging big government to intervene once again in the marketplace and essentially seize and redistribute property?
“But digital property ownership—of content, intellectual property and personal data—is exactly the issue that Google wants to sweep under the rug. To evaluate the need for antitrust enforcement against Google, we need to understand the extent to which Google has built its business through the abuse of the property rights of others.”


“In the September’s [Senate] hearing, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) drew attention to Google’s embarrassing non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and forfeiture of $500 million in ill-gotten gains from the promotion of illegal and counterfeit pharmaceutical ads. In this instance, Google aided other property thieves—thieves of drug patents and trademarks—in a way that put the health of consumers at risk.”

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright, Policy


Facts Speak for Themselves on Huffington Post Criticism of Stop Online Piracy Act

by Paul Hortenstine 12/15/2011 09:36 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Last night, the Huffington Post used its front page to highlight an article of over 7,000 words that repeated many charges against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act.  The facts speak for themselves.  The legislation is pro-Internet.  It has broad bipartisan support and the rare backing of the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce.  It targets criminal activity, which helps legal commerce.  It goes after foreign criminal websites that are violating current copyright law and preserves American jobs.  It promotes free speech and innovation.  Targeting criminal activity makes the Internet more open and free.

The MPAA’s Michael O’Leary compared criticism of the Stop Online Piracy Act to the facts on the Huffington Post here:

“Piracy puts Americans' jobs at risk; the Stop Online Piracy Act encourages innovation and investment. Protecting intellectual property encourages economic growth.”

And Sandra Aistars of the Copyright Alliance posted about why the OPEN Act falls short for artists and creators.

“While the creative community appreciates the recognition by bill sponsors including Rep. Issa and others that there is a pressing need to address the massive online infringement being carried on by rogue sites, the proposal unfortunately does not provide an effective enforcement tool to artists and creators for a variety of reasons.”

Separately, Senator Chris Dodd wrote about free speech and copyright protections:

“Just as the First Amendment defends Americans' right to create, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 -- the Copyright Clause -- guarantees Americans the ability to protect their creations from those who would steal them.  That is why a nation that prides itself on the free exchange of ideas must also have strong copyright protections for those ideas. Today, such protections make it possible for more than 2.2 million Americans to hold good jobs supported by the content industry.”

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright


Changes to Stop Online Piracy Act a Step Forward Towards Targeting Criminals and Preserving Jobs

by Michael O'Leary 12/12/2011 15:35 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

We applaud Chairman Lamar Smith and the House Judiciary Committee on working with all interested parties to craft measured legislation that targets criminal websites.  This shows that there is broad agreement that doing nothing is not an option.  

We need to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) as soon as possible to preserve American jobs and help grow our economy.  Every day that we don’t act, criminal websites and companies profiting from these websites continue to reap financial gain at the expense of American jobs and Americans’ hard work, investment and ingenuity.

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright, Policy


Copyright Protection is Pro-Internet; Choose Targeting Criminals and Preserving Jobs

by Paul Hortenstine 12/12/2011 07:41 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

As the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives considers the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) this week, there is a clear choice between targeting criminals or allowing them to reap profits at the expense of the American economy while preying on consumers through rogue websites.

Content producers want and need the Internet to flourish.  Protecting copyrighted works is pro-Internet and pro-free speech.  Copyright protection laws have allowed the Internet to grow and flourish.  Going after rogue websites that profit from stolen American content and counterfeit goods will make the Internet safer for consumers and preserve American jobs. 

What consumers look for is high quality entertainment that is produced by the content industry.  Content producers and technology companies thrive and grow together when products like movies and television shows are distributed legally via the Internet.  

Many opponents of the legislation have presented a false choice between copyright protection and free speech; content versus technology; Hollywood v. Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, these attacks are a distraction from the real harm caused by rogue websites that are violating current copyright law. 

Stealing is not free speech and is harmful to the Internet.   The Stop Online Piracy Act, like our copyright laws, promotes free speech and rewards creativity.   Every day that Congress does not act rogue websites and companies profiting from these websites continue to reap financial gain at the expense of Americans’ jobs and safety. 

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright


Draft Legislation by Rep. Issa and Senator Wyden Goes Easy On Internet Piracy

by Michael O'Leary 12/08/2011 09:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The good news is that Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Ron Wyden recognize that doing nothing to stop foreign criminals who profit from stolen creative content and counterfeit goods on their websites is not an option.  American jobs are being placed at risk and consumers can face serious dangers from counterfeit drugs and other products, so it is critical that action be taken by Congress.

The bad news is that this draft legislation fails to provide an effective way to target foreign rogue websites and goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting.  By changing the venue from our federal courts to the U.S. International Trade Commission, it places copyright holders at a disadvantage and allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders.  It even allows notification to some of these companies if they want to help advocate for rogue websites.

We need action now to preserve American jobs and help grow our economy.  Every day that we don’t act foreign rogue websites and companies profiting from these websites continue to reap financial gain at the expense of American jobs and Americans’ hard work, investment and ingenuity.  Hopefully, this draft legislation is not just a delaying tactic to prevent Congress from acting quickly on this serious problem.

The PROTECT IP Act, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch and 38 others, and the Stop Online Piracy Act, sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith, John Conyers and 28 others offer measured, needed solutions to target online theft and counterfeiting by rogue websites.  Few bills have this type of bipartisan support and the backing of businesses and labor groups.  The draft legislation introduced by Congressman Issa and Senator Wyden goes far easier on the criminal enterprises operting these rogue websites than these two bills.

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright


Study Shows Claims about Rogue Sites Legislation “Breaking the Internet” are “Completely Unfounded and Without Merit”

by Paul Hortenstine 12/05/2011 12:31 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) addressed criticism of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act in a lengthy and well documented study.   Many opponents of the legislation have claimed that it would “break the Internet.”   Castro writes that this criticism is “completely unfounded and without merit.”

The PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House target websites that sell counterfeit goods and profit from trafficking in stolen content like movies and music.   The bills have bipartisan support and are backed by both business and labor and a wide range of law enforcement groups.   It’s rare for legislation in Congress to have that kind of support.

Castro states:

“Many inaccurate claims have been made about PIPA/SOPA by opponents of the legislation. The most serious of these claims to date is that the proposed countermeasures in PIPA/SOPA, particularly the DNS filtering obligation, would ‘break the Internet’ or otherwise harm users. This claim, which has been used by critics to rally the public, media and lawmakers to their cause, is completely unfounded and without merit.”

Castro also addresses claims about censorship:

“Some critics of PIPA/SOPA argue that the legislation will restrict lawful free speech and is a form of censorship. Ideological critics have called the PIPA/SOPA the ‘first American Internet censorship system.’  The Internet Society argues that DNS filtering ‘has the potential to restrict free and open communications and could be used in ways that limit the rights of individuals or minority groups.’   Of course it could. ISPs or the U.S. government could use DNS filtering to block sites they do not like. But guns can be used by criminals to kill people too and that does not mean that we do not let the police or security guards have guns. It is not the tool of DNS blocking that is at issue, but the legal regime in which the tool is allowed to be used. Some of these opponents of PIPA/SOPA are more interested in protecting access to free illegal content than they are in protecting free speech. Yet aside from these bold claims, critics have done little to show how enforcing IP rights violates any American’s First Amendment rights.

“Critics of PIPA/SOPA are trying to suggest that if a user is prevented from obtaining a pirated copy of the latest Hollywood film, this is an unlawful restriction of their Constitutional rights. Human rights, including the freedom of speech, are a fundamental part of our democracy and deserve the utmost respect. But this legislation makes no attempt to regulate speech on the Internet. An individual’s right to free speech is not a license to infringe on the IP rights of others. The freedom of speech does not give Internet users the right to steal digital content.”

Critics of rogue websites legislation have been wrong about content protection laws before and they’re wrong again now.   If rogue websites legislation passes, American jobs will be preserved and the Internet will continue to be free and open.  Content protection laws have given us the Internet of today, alive with innovation, free speech and commerce.

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright


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