CISPA / TPP / ACTA / SOPA / PIPA / COICA
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The Justice Department agree to grant internet service providers that participated in a new cybersecurity monitoring program legal authorization to monitor and intercept communications traffic, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The documents show that the Justice Department secretly agreed to provide AT&T and other participating providers with so-called “2511 letters” that granted them immunity for activity that might otherwise have violated federal wiretapping laws. EPIC obtained more than 1,000 documents last week through a FOIA request and provided them to CNET , which broke the story today. The immunity would have covered their participation in a program aimed at monitoring internet traffic to spot cyber threats and defend against malicious attacks, but EPIC said it essentially allowed the companies to skirt wiretap laws.
ACTA / SOPA / PIPA / COICA
(Photo: Srikrishna K) Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs. These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010. The good news is that the numbers are wrong — as this post by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez explains . In 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology,” which is polite government-speak for “these figures were made up out of thin air.”
I’ve yet to encounter a technically clueful person who believes the Stop Online Piracy Act will actually do anything to meaningfully reduce—let alone “stop”—online piracy, and so I haven’t bothered writing much about the absurd numbers the bill’s supporters routinely bandy about in hopes of persuading lawmakers that SOPA will be an economic boon and create zillions of jobs. If the proposed solution just won’t work , after all, why bother quibbling about the magnitude of the problem? But then I saw the very astute David Carr’s otherwise excellent column on SOPA’s pitfalls , which took those inflated numbers more or less as gospel.
Intellectual Property: Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated GoodsIn October 2008, Congress passed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PRO-IP Act), to improve the effectiveness of U.S. government efforts to protect intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
The Institute for Policy Innovation has released a study on the costs of movie piracy. It’s a truly remarkable exercise in hand-waving. We’ve written before about the shoddy methodology that copyright industries often use in studies purporting to show the costs of piracy. One of the most common tricks is to assume that every person who pirates a work would have otherwise purchased the work at full price–a clearly false assumption.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of efforts to pass the Internet Censorship Act, which fundamentally threatens the internet as we know it. If the bill passes, corporate copyright holders would be able to demand the government shut down a website based on nothing more than an allegation that the website contains copyrighted material.
The freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience and put an end to reddit and many other sites you use everyday. Internet experts , organizations, companies, entrepreneurs , legal experts , journalists , and individuals have repeatedly expressed how dangerous this bill is.
Oh well this is certainly ripe: Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the Hollywood-campaign-donation-loving sponsor of the decrepit Stop Online Piracy Act, apparently improperly used a copyright-protected photo on his recent campaign’s web page, according to Vice . Reports Vice ‘s Jamie Lee Curtis Taete : I decided to check that everything on Lamar’s official campaign website was copyright-cleared and on the level. Lamar is using several stock images on his site, two of which I tracked back to the same photographic agency. I contacted the agency to make sure he was paying to use them, but was told that it’s very difficult for them to actually check to see if someone has permission to use their images.
Ever since the Internet has fought back against the the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), top supporters of the dangerous blacklist legislation have tried to mask its full consequences by misconstruing criticism and distorting the opposition’s position. On Saturday, former First Amendment lawyer and current representative of the MPAA and Director’s Guild, Floyd Abrams, wrote a disingenuous op-ed in the Washington Post that put all of Big Content’s misleading arguments and numerous strawmen in one place. Let’s look at these claims one at a time. First, Abrams asserts: [M]any critics of anti-piracy legislation acknowledge that a serious problem exists…yet seem unwilling to meaningfully address the problem. Google, Facebook and Twitter…have offered little in the way of solutions.
Today, a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively. We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.
Two bills now pending in Congress—the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement. Although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression. To begin with, the bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet’s critical technical infrastructure. Based upon nothing more than an application by a federal prosecutor alleging that a foreign website is “dedicated to infringing activities,” Protect IP authorizes courts to order all U.S.
Last week, two leading Constitutional scholars offered detailed analyses of the Internet blacklist bills now pending in Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP, or PIPA. Both scholars concluded that the proposed law could not pass muster under the U.S. Constitution. So you’d think that the new version of SOPA circulated this week would have resolved those concerns. You’d think wrong . While the revised SOPA briefly mentions the First Amendment, the substantive text makes clear that's just lip service.
You could call Internet users “citizen lobbyists.” This week, in a post-Arab Spring sign of how participatory media – and its participants – are powerfully changing things, they successfully went head-to-head with some powerful forces and won. Christopher Dodd, the head of the film industry trade group that lobbied and failed to push through the Stop Online Piracy Act (along with the US Chamber of Commerce and the recording industry) said that “no Washington player can safely assume that a well-wired, heavily financed legislative program is safe from a sudden burst of Web-driven populism,” according to the New York Times . “The startlingly speedy collapse of the antipiracy campaign by some of Washington’s savviest players … signaled deep changes in antipiracy lobbying in the future.” So it’s an understatement to say that it feels like this year will be a watershed, the way it has started out.
The privacy-invasive bill known as CISPA—the so-called “cybersecurity” bill—was reintroduced in February 2013. Just like last year, the bill has stirred a tremendous amount of grassroots activism because it carves a loophole in all known privacy laws and grants legal immunity for companies to share your private information. EFF has compiled an FAQ detailing how the bill's major provisions work and how they endanger all Internet users' privacy. Please join us in speaking out against CISPA by contacting Congress now .
The draft chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on Intellectual Property — as of its current leaked version [PDF], article 16 — insists that signatories provide legal incentives for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to privately enforce copyright protection rules. The TPP wants service providers to undertake the financial and administrative burdens of becoming copyright cops, serving a copyright maximalist agenda while disregarding the consequences for Internet freedom and innovation. TPP article 16.3 mandates a system of ISP liability that goes beyond the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) standards and US case law. In sum, the TPP pushes a framework beyond ACTA  and possibly the spirit of the DMCA, since it opens the doors for: