SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and PIPA is an acronym for the “Protect IP Act.” (“IP” stands for “intellectual property.”)
In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout.
GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The EFF has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.
Before we list a number of reasons why you should be against SOPA and PIPA, check out this infographic made by http://americancensorship.org/infographic.html
1. SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy
It’s even a stretch to argue that they would impact it at all. If proposed legislation will obviously not accomplish its stated purpose, it should never pass. This one point alone should be enough for your congressman and senators to oppose it. In case it’s not enough, keep reading;.
2. SOPA and PIPA mandate censorship compliance
When a domain name is seized by the government, ISPs are forced to comply with the censorship. There is no option of appeal for the ISPs; they must comply.
3. The method of seizing domain names lacks due process for the accused
These bills take a “guilty until innocent” approach to Internet censorship. If the site that has been seized is truly not violating copyrights, the owner can follow a process to get his site restored, but this process is backward from what the Fifth Amendment would require. Voting for legislation which so obviously ignores the Fifth Amendment would be a violation of the oath of office for any legislator.
4. SOPA and PIPA contradict the safe harbor rule
Current law creates a safe harbor for ISPs. Basically YouTube isn’t liable for copyrighted material you upload, as long as they take it offline at the request of the copyright holder. If this legislation passes, it will make YouTube responsible for the content its users upload, which means that YouTube could be gone from the Internet with one complaint of copyright violation.
5. The Attorney General is a qualifying plaintiff
Suppose people who comment on a site have an avatar of a copyrighted character. Suppose Eric Holder doesn’t like what you have to say about him. He would be able, without the request or support of the copyright holder, to have any web site’s domain seized by court order. This is too much power for government to hold.
6. SOPA and PIPA set a precedent for global Internet administration
This one is really scary. It is really easy to bypass the efforts of a SOPA/PIPA domain seizure by using servers outside of the United States for DNS queries. The next logical step would be for our government to start pushing for a global Internet management process where all DNS servers would be subject to censorship law. A United Nations type effort for censoring Internet sites would effectively kill the Internet.
7. SOPA and PIPA are about Internet censorship, not online piracy
This legislation is about the US government having the ability to step in and forcibly seize a web site so that people in the United States are unable to read its content. Putting restrictions on what people can read or publish is nothing more than censorship. This legislation hinders free speech and is in violation of the First Amendment.
8. When a domain is seized, the pirated content still exists on the server
Additionally, it can still be accessed by its IP address. There is nothing, outside of draconian national firewall rules, that can be done to stop Americans from accessing this content.
9. SOPA and PIPA can be easily circumvented by sending DNS traffic to DNS servers outside the United States
This legislation gives the government authority to hijack the DNS record of web sites suspected of piracy. Using international DNS servers would completely thwart every attempt at stopping piracy online. Making this change is as easy as changing your computer’s network settings or installing a browser plugin like DeSopa.
10. ISPs will not be able to proactively identify denial of service (DoS) attacks
Large companies and ISPs monitor their DNS traffic. One of the reasons for doing this is to identify problems on the network. DNS traffic that flows out of the normal trend can be an indication of a problem. With all of that traffic going to servers outside of the United States, ISPs will not be able to monitor it, and DoS attacks will not be recognized and stopped as quickly as they are today.
11. SOPA and PIPA break security efforts that have been added to DNS
The way DNS works is, quite honestly, brilliant; security (not an issue at the time) was left out of the initial designs, and over the past several years, developers have been working to secure DNS queries. The solution is called DNSSEC, and the DNS queries (to get the IP address of a web site) are digitally signed. When the government seizes a web site, it would change the DNS record for the site. This new record would not be digitally signed, meaning SOPA and PIPA would void the security fixes for DNS that programmers have been developing for years.
12. Innocent, non-targeted sites could be inaccessible because of virtual hosting
”Virtual hosting” is when a hosting company uses one IP address for multiple web sites. It’s extremely common. Once a site is seized by the government, blocking further traffic to that site (one of the differences between SOPA and PIPA) would have to be done by IP address. Blocking web traffic to an IP address will block all web sites hosted at that IP address.
13. The Internet will get slower
Many sites, large and small, use global server load balancing (GSLB) and content distribution networks (CDNs) to make their web sites faster. This is done with DNS by answering users’ queries with IP addresses of servers geographically close to them. For instance, if a web site’s images are on a CDN, a user in Atlanta would want to request those images from a server in Atlanta, rather than one in Los Angeles. GSLB and CDNs make this possible. When users’ DNS is moved internationally (as mentioned above), the speedy delivery service will break. For example, users in Atlanta who request a site using a Toronto DNS server would get an IP address of a server geographically close to Toronto instead of the optimal Atlanta server’s IP address. The result is a slower Internet browsing experience.
Source for the above reasons mentioned: http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/9355-8-political-reasons-to-stop-sopa-pipa & http://www.unitedliberty.org/articles/9354-8-technological-reasons-to-stop-sopa-pipa
What can you do?
Fill out the Google protest form: https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/
Also, check out this PDF: https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/takeaction.pdf
What do you think about SOPA?