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SOPA news

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad to see that Darrell Issa really worked hard to stop SOPA in its current form. When even Republicans can see what a bad bill this really is, why are otherwise decent Democrats like Al Franken throwing their support behind it?

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

The announcement comes just hours after Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), SOPA’s sponsor, made a major concession to the bill’s critics by agreeing to drop a controversial provision that would have required Internet service providers to block infringing websites.

SOPA is designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity. Even without the provision allowing sites to be blocked, the bill would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, many of the largest sites on the internet will go dark to demonstrate their opposition to SOPA. From Boing Boing:

On January 18, Boing Boing will join Reddit and other sites around the Internet in “going dark” to oppose SOPA and PIPA, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the world.

Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.

If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada, our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor.

This is the part of the post where I’m supposed to say something reasonable like, “Everyone agrees that piracy is wrong, but this is the wrong way to fight it.”But you know what? Screw that.

Even though a substantial portion of my living comes from the entertainment industry, I don’t think that any amount of “piracy” justifies this kind of depraved indifference to the consequences of one’s actions. Big Content haven’t just declared war on Boing Boing and Reddit and the rest of the “fun” Internet: they’ve declared war on every person who uses the net to publicize police brutality, every oppressed person in the Arab Spring who used the net to organize protests and publicize the blood spilled by their oppressors, every abused kid who used the net to reveal her father as a brutalizer of children, every gay kid who used the net to discover that life is worth living despite the torment she’s experiencing, every grassroots political campaigner who uses the net to make her community a better place — as well as the scientists who collaborate online, the rescue workers who coordinate online, the makers who trade tips online, the people with rare diseases who support each other online, and the independent creators who use the Internet to earn their livings.

The contempt for human rights on display with SOPA and PIPA is more than foolish. Foolishness can be excused. It’s more than greed. Greed is only to be expected. It is evil, and it must be fought.SOPA Strike is compiling a list of sites that are also going dark for Jan 18. If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry’s profits, I hope you’ll join us on it.


Even though I’m not a geek, I like geek things, so I’ll point out that yesterday was a historic day here in the intertubes. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the non-profit corporation that oversees the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, started accepting applications for non-Latin alphabet domains, otherwise known as generic top level domains, or gTLDs. That means new competition and entrepreneurial opportunities for more diverse domains in Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic.

For the first time, organizations can apply for an Internet address all their own, marking the start of a new era in the growth of the Internet.

For example, .com and .org could be replaced by .starbucks or .newyork.

The expansion was planned by the one organization empowered to regulate the global Internet — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

Debate over the new policy has highlighted the key issue of who, if anyone, should control the Internet.

Anyone who wants his own Internet suffix — his own domain name — will have to pay $185,000 for it. This development could be costly even for those who just want to prevent someone else from grabbing their name. Not surprisingly, ICANN has been criticized for pushing the change.

Some members of Congress actually wanted the Department of Commerce to order ICANN to delay the domain name expansion. The Internet was a U.S. creation, and ICANN was chartered by the Commerce Department.

But there is now a big international pushback over U.S. domination of the Internet, and a growing move to diminish the U.S. role.

By urging the Commerce Department to give ICANN orders, members of Congress may inadvertently highlight that effort. Kieren McCarthy, an analyst of Internet governance issues, sums up the concern about the congressional pressure this way: “It’s making the Internet look exactly like the rest of the world fears that it is, which is a U.S.-controlled entity,” he says.

I have a friend who used to work for ICANN, so I know there’s been a long and contentious process of getting this before the public. Many geeks wanted ICANN to roll out the new domains in phases, but for whatever reason, they didn’t. (One of their concerns is that someone can buy a domain say, .green – without actually being a green organization.)

The attempts by U.S. corporations to hold it up didn’t work, either, so now we’ll get to see whether it works – or is a real mess:

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, ICANN insists that the rollout of the new domain-name program will be uneventful, and says it has learned from two previous expansions (PDF link): one in 2000 that added domains like .info and .biz, and another in 2009 that added domains that include non-Western characters. It also says managing hundreds of domains isn’t an issue, since there are already more than 200 “country code” domains — including some popular ones such as .tv (the code for the island nation of Tuvalu) and .me (the code for Montenegro).

Not everyone is convinced things will be so easy, however. Domain industry blogger Andrew Allemann, for example, says he is worried about a number of potential problems, including a raft of registrations by domain-name hijackers and cybersquatters, but also controversy over potential top-level applications — such as .gay or .sex, or racially sensitive terms. In any case, the land-rush has officially begun.


Wants to fire the liberals who work for the federal government. I guess he forgot it’s illegal.

For the record

Kathleen Edwards:

Always merry and bright

Sam Phillips:

Leave your mark

Jessie Baylin:

Albert Murray, from his book Stomping the Blues:

The element of frolicsome mockery in [Jordan’s] verbal delivery is as obvious as the downhome earthiness represented by the instrumental accompaniment. Incidentally, as should surprise no one, Jordan is completely at home with [Louis] Armstrong both as a vocalist and as a first-rate instrumentalist [alto sax] on “You Rascal, You” and “Life Is So Peculiar,” recorded for Decca in 1950.

This one’s almost as good as “Five Guys Named Moe.”

‘Almost Saturday Night’

Fogerty in good form, post-Creedence:

Turn that finger around

A new band I really like. Honeyhoney:

As I say

The rich, they are different.

Remember, it’s only class war when we fight back.

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