Say No to SOPA

by Jeffrey Zeldman

27 Reader Comments

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  1. SOPA is the version of this legislation in the U.S. House.  PROTECT-IP is the version in the Senate. It is just as bad and it may come up for a vote in the Senate soon.  From a “posting”:https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/11/protect-ip-act-very-real-very-bad-call-now-block-it by the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

    The PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is the evil step-sister of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the much-criticized Internet blacklist bill introduced in the House last month. They’ve got a lot in common — both bills would allow the government and private rightsholders to censor the Internet for Americans, and both bills have faced strong opposition from regular citizens, business leaders, and public interest groups.
    In one way, though, PIPA is much worse: while SOPA is still in the House committee stage and has been the target of extraordinary public opposition, PIPA is already out of committee and poised for consideration of the full Senate. That means PIPA is a few dangerous steps further along in the process of becoming law. And with only a few weeks to go in this legislative session, the Senate may try to rush the bill through before the public has a chance to respond.

    So now is the time to “call your Senators”:http://americancensorship.org/ and urge them to oppose the PROTECT-IP Act if it comes up for a vote.  ( “I have”:http://dltj.org/article/opposing-protect-ip-act/ )  And while you’re at it, “let Senator Wyden know that you want your name read aloud on the Senate floor or inserted into the Congressional Record”:http://stopcensorship.org/ as he vows to filibuster the act.

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  2. “(”¦) Once a domain is blocked, nobody can access it, unless they’ve memorized the I.P. address.” Well, I’m afraid that is not true – anyone who has ever configured an Apache server knows that you can support many domains on a single IP address and that both the name server and the web server need to be configured properly in order for a domain to “work” and “point at the right place”, hence quite often (if not most of the times) knowing the IP address will give you nothing. The I.P. address for alistapart.com is 216.243.171.45 – try typing that into your address bar and visiting that “website”. I’m surprised Jeffrey Zeldman has made this mistake.

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  3. But let me just add that otherwise I completely agree with this article. I am flabbergasted by the stupidity of those who want to pass this legislation – don’t they realise that they’re shooting themselves in the foot? That the copyrightes content, be it a film or music, they want to protect will consequently not be promoted via the medium of internet, thus their sales will plunge? On another note, how is it possible to “sponsor” law in the US (unless I don’t understand something here)?

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  4. in spanish SOPA means soup. say no to soup!  :D

    seriously, when money is involved is amazing how fast borders between MY freedom and THEIR freedom appear. Internet used to be a dream world where everything was public, a huge library for everyone. Now it looks just like our world, full of boundaries, limitations, people fighting in the name of others’ freedom.

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  5. In Turkish, Sopa means ‘stick’ or ‘pole’, and is also used to mean a ‘beating’ or ‘roughing up’ :D

    It makes perfect sense (in turkish) to use the acronym SOPA for a law that is a stick to rough up free thought

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  6. Well, I’m afraid that is not true — anyone who has ever configured an Apache server knows that you can support many domains on a single IP address and that both the name server and the web server need to be configured properly in order for a domain to “work” and “point at the right place”, hence quite often (if not most of the times) knowing the IP address will give you nothing. The I.P. address for alistapart.com is 216.243.171.45 — try typing that into your address bar and visiting that “website”. I’m surprised Jeffrey Zeldman has made this mistake.

    Knowing the IP of a server would be enough to create a local hosts entry which would then allow the name server to function properly. So, yes, memorizing the IP address would be enough for an individual to circumvent the domain blockage.

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  7. While it would be rather expensive, if just Google and Facebook (let alone others) blocked their U.S. users for only a single day, there’s no way these laws would get passed. So much of our daily lives depends on these sorts of services (both directly and indirectly) that the impact of such a boycott would be huge.

    The loss of 1 day’s revenue is no small thing, but I expect it has to be less than the cost of policing everything. And after such a “trial run of the future”, the outcry would serve as a mind-blowing wake-up call to lawmakers and the public alike.

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  8. “Knowing the IP of a server would be enough to create a local hosts entry which would then allow the name server to function properly. So, yes, memorizing the IP address would be enough for an individual to circumvent the domain blockage.” Well you could send a specially devised request to the server too; my point was, a non-technical person would not be able to just use the IP address. Maybe Jeffrey considered using “advanced” methods, my bad.

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  9. While it would be rather expensive, if just Google and Facebook (let alone others) blocked their U.S. users for only a single day, there’s no way these laws would get passed.

    I hope they are reading this. :)

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  10. As dltj mentioned above, the Senate version, PROTECT-IP, is just as dangerous and may be closer to an immediate vote. http://www.americancensorship.org is putting together a call blitz this week; it’s important that we in the tech community (for both philosophical and practical reasons) get our voices heard right now.

    the_bz’s point is a good one too, and oddly enough not one I’ve really heard mentioned a lot in context with this—the entertainment industry might intend to curtail certain forms of piracy, but they’d also be cutting off their own word of mouth flow. Very counterproductive. I’m so perplexed that something this poorly thought out (and with such worrisome potential for abuse) has come to this point in our government.

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  11. I am quite astounded that these measures are being proposed. If passed this would surely make the major search engines and social networks move to a country with a more liberal attitude? With the world still in the clutches of recession it seems ludicrous for a country to have to push away some of its most innovative (and profitable) organisations?

    That said, I think more could be done to protect copyright but this is just dumb. I just pray the UK government don’t copy the idea!

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  12. For citizens outside the US please sign this petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_internet/

    Please delete the link if improper, thank you.

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  13. One of the worst things about SOPA is that it completely undermines DNSSEC, which is a major initiative to provide authentication for DNS traffic, which historically has not been secured and can be leveraged by malware to do a variety of nasty things. SOPA would require US service providers to generate spurious DNS responses on demand (without requiring due process of law for those affected), meaning that any system designed to authenticate DNS cannot function.

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  14. Guys, fellow yanks, you HAVE to fight this. REALLY DO contact your congress men, saying it’s absolute BS.

    I can’t believe this Goodlatte guy is STILL in the house. I used to work for the gaming industry, the guy wanted to ban online gambling, despite MILLIONS doing it, all because Vegas is taking a hit because users prefer to play slots online than the spend thousands going there.

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  15. Thanks for bringing a great overview of this despicable bill. Tweeted, told my friends, and now blogged:

    http://jamesabbottdd.com/let-us-kill-sopa-before-damage-is-made

    Now let Google pick it up and spread it, and summon the wrath of the digerati.

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  16. I seriously think the bill is funny. Blundering lawmaking idiots…bwahahaha!

    Ahhh, don’t fret my fellow internet savvies, this bill ain’t gonna pass. It’s just too silly. Lol!

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  17. I’m pretty late on this topic and do not have many technical contributions to add to this discussion, but to me, it looks like SOPA and PIPA are capable of wiping out what’s left of the U.S. economy. It seems pretty counterintuitive for lawmakers to let either bill pass because I like to think most of the people that run our country are both educated and current, so I have some hope. It’s just scary to think that the ones with all the money and power are throwing down for a bill that’s implications they don’t even understand. It seems if people are given enough money, all reason goes out the window, and it is concerning when, not just my job is on the line, but the future of my country? I will definitely take action because I refuse to believe all those crazy books I read in school actually did predict the future.

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  19. If this bill were to be translated into the physical world, it would be something like:

    -Enabling the government to shut down the entire interstate highway system because people use it to transport drugs.

    -Shutting down shipping ports because some shipping crates might contain counterfeit goods.

    -Cutting telephone lines because some people scam others over the phone.

    -Ending welfare/social security because a few people are cheating the system.

    -Closing a store because a few people steal merchandise.

    Absolutely ridiculous. I’m not pro-piracy by any stretch. But it seems like copyright holders should be more concerned with hunting the pirates rather than draining the sea on which they sail.

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  20. Are we not already living with censorship anyway? As a parent, I for one am happy there is some regulation of contents in our society. But I fear government taking more “my right” to say what should and should not be filtered. I think that is the issue, not censorship.

    I’m for censorship, we’ve been living with it comfortably. Lets not misuse the energy and direct it towards making it so the people not government, have control over what gets filtered.

    As an IT professional I know it can be done if the government is involved. Nations can participate if called on. That is after all the purpose of government.

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  21. What it really comes down to is spammers and the abuse they have done to the web over the years. Those that actually want to put quality content out there have to work so hard now to get a slice of the pie.
    What’s even sadder is the legislation may not quiet understand the potential effects of SOPA in the long run unlike us.

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  22. The situation is even worse. The Internet have thousands of websites under VPS with single IPs and virtual domain name hosting set up. Blocking the root site by name can force outage of hundreds of thousands other ones.

    What we need if this Act is going to pass is an extraterritorial system of DNS root servers. Than we could make this crap technically void.

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  23. This seems like the US deliberately shooting itself in the foot.  Anything done to restrict access to the internet in the US is going to force yet more of the information industry to relocate abroad.

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  24. That’s disastrous! With due respect to the law-makers looks like they have a very specific view of the modern Internet… What a fine solution to burden the search engines with a barely feasible censorship function!

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  26. I agree with you number 24, they do have very narrow view with out future looking abilities

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  27. We have no issue saying that SOPA is bad law and will harm the Internet. Even more, investors are stating plainly that if SOPA passes, their investment patterns will change. And not in a good way.

    sites.google.com/site/empleosenguadalajara

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