New Internet Piracy Proposal

UPDATE 12-5-11  Someone else has found a couple of the loopholes I mention below and some work arounds.  Yep, there are already workarounds for SOPA.

What really cool is Representative Zoe Lofgren has also asked these kinds of questions of the scientists and researchers at Sandia National Labs.  Here’s their reply.


Senator Ron Wyden and some others have proposed an entirely new internet privacy plan.  Their plan would (in theory) insert a review process into claims of internet piracy.

The previous bill proposed, SOPA, would have effectively destroyed the internet.  Basically, the entire concept of ‘fair use‘ would have been thrown out the window.  SOPA would have allowed any content provider to directly contact a hosting company and demand the removal or shutdown of web pages and sites that they felt had infringed on copyrighted materials.  The phrase ‘copyrighted materials’ is used very liberally to cover ANYTHING that anyone wants it to.

That means, every video on that is not 100% original would be in danger of being removed.  Every news website, whether blog or major newspaper, would have to get permission to even print quotes of material.  Most my humble little blog would disappear as well… as would most of everyone’s blogs.  Facebook?  If you ‘share’ something that you didn’t create, that’s illegal under SOPA and you and your internet provider could be fined and/or shutdown for every single instance.

You don’t think sharing those cute puppy pictures is wrong, but if you do it without permission, then under SOPA, you are committing a FELONY!

It would also directly affect the way the internet works (yeah, it’s that insane).  DNS is the service that both translates your into a string of symbols that tells your browser what you want and the storage system that knows exactly what computer to ask whenever it gets a string of symbols.

Someone could actually shutdown the internet for a time, by demanding certain servers be shutdown because they might contain infringing materials.

It was utterly and completely insane.  And it was pretty much the record industries method for preventing piracy because they can’t figure out how to make a working business model that involves the internet.  Don’t get me started on how stupid they are.  (hint: radio stations and tape recorders people)

Anyway, Ron Wyden, is proposing that complains of this nature go to the US International Trade Commission which would be given authority to investigate.  There would also be an appeals process to allow websites and domains to make the case that they are not primarily devoted to piracy.

First, this isn’t even a bill.  It’s a talking points draft.

Second it’s way better than SOPA, but then anything would be better than that monstrosity.

There are two problems with this proposal though.  The first is that the internet is fast.  If I ran a website, say a music sharing service, then I could purchase time on a new server, create an entirely new domain and migrate all of my entire database and system in less time that it would take the government to write up a letter saying I’m being investigated.

The second is that this won’t change anything.  US courts and the Justice Department are already behind.  There is no way that they are going to spend even 1 man-hour to investigate (for example) this blog for piracy concerns.  There just aren’t enough people to do the work that would be required.  In November of 2011, Netcraft reported just under 526 million websites.

Now we know that approximately half of these are porn and 25% of the rest of music and file sharing websites.*  So, there’s about 125 million websites that the US Justice Department must investigate.  At 1 man-hour per investigation (including research, writeups, letters to contact owners, etc), that comes to 125 million hours or 14,269 man-years of work.  Netcraft also shows that there were 22 million more websites than last MONTH!

So, there is no way, that this could be really monitored.  At best, a bill like this passes, and no one puts any money in the budget for it and it dies the death of starvation.

Very simply, any attempt to regulate the internet is doomed to failure.  There are already a couple of workarounds for SOPA, mainly involving encrypted internet traffic and anoymizers.  And the bill hasn’t even passed yet.

Tech moves too fast right now.  The only effective method for controlling the internet would be to shut it completely down… even that might not work.  I can envision a way to go back to the old bulletin boards that are hosted on multiple computers and there’s just a central switchboard for them to talk to each other.  All content is on host and local computers (no servers or server farms) and the links are changed and confirmed hourly.

It would be much slower to move stuff around on the net (e-mails might take a day instead of seconds).  If you got a letter that said you were being investigated for piracy, you just format the drive and run a little program to write 0’s all over the drive.  Instant deniability.  Any computer could act as a node of several computers, so one day you’re a content provider, the next day you’re a node.

Anyway, that’s just babbling.  But let the politicians think that they can control this kind of thing.   Of course, the people interpreting these laws don’t have much of a clue either.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy.  I consider myself very knowledgeable about internet traffic and technology (probably in the top 20% of the nation), but I have very little direct technical knowledge of this kind of thing.  Of course, not a single justice could possibly do my job, nor could I do their job.

The point is, that we need people who understand how these systems work to be involved in these kinds of decisions.

Heck, maybe the recording industry should get someone to explain it to them.  Maybe they could write a business model that works for a change.

I can’t stop with my obligatory dig about how the recording industry reminds me of creationism.  They can’t make their model work in the modern world, so they sue and draft bills and buy politicians to make everyone do things their way.  How well is that working for you guys?


* This statement not intended to be factual.

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2 Responses to New Internet Piracy Proposal

  1. Altair IV says:

    Oh man, after reading this I just had a paranoid thought. What if SOPA/PIPA is nothing more than an attempt to shift the Overton Window?

    The backers must know that the thing is way too extreme to ever be accepted, so perhaps they’re actually counting on it. After this ridiculous piece of crap gets tossed out, they can come back with more “moderate” proposals and have a better chance of them getting through.

    Again, just a thought. But in any case, uggh!

  2. OgreMkV says:

    That’s almost exactly what happened Ron’s bill wouldn’t be
    better’ for the internet, but it would probably be marginally acceptable to the recording industry.

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