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SOPA on the ropes? Bipartisan alternative to 'Net censorship emerges

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DainBramaged Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-02-11 09:48 AM
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SOPA on the ropes? Bipartisan alternative to 'Net censorship emerges
The Senate's PROTECT IP Act and the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are so noxious that even the Business Software Alliance has serious reservations, and SOPA's main backer had to take to the virtual pages of National Review today to quell a growing revolt among his conservative colleagues about "regulating the Internet." Whatever you think of the legislation, it unquestionably represents a sea change in the US approach to the Internet, one which explicitly contemplates widespread website blocking and search engine de-listing.

The level of debate on an issue this important has been... suboptimal. (And hearings have been rather lopsided affairs). Just listen to the rhetoric of SOPA author Lamar Smith: "Enforcing the law against criminals is not censorship." Pithy, sure, but it doesn't relate to any actual objections put forth by thoughtful critics.

But rightsholders do need some means of enforcing copyrights and trademarks, something tough to do when a site sets up overseas and willfully targets American consumers with fake goods and unauthorized content. Some sites can be leaned on when hosted in friendly countries, but many simply thumb their nose at US law with impunity. If you can't go after the sites at the source, and you can't lure their operators to the US (both tactics used with success in other cases), what's left but blocking site access from within the US?

Fortunately, plenty can be done, and it can be done in a way that doesn't raise the same immediate concerns about due process and censorship. One promising alternative was unveiled today by a bipartisan group of 10 senators and representatives. It ditches the law and order approach to piracy and replaces it with a more limited, trade-based system.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/12/sopa-on...
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