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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17328/the-ominous-protect-ip-act-and-the-end-of-internet-freedom/

The Ominous PROTECT IP Act and the End of Internet Freedom

June 17, 2011 by

This pending PROTECT IP Act is very scary stuff. I am afraid it’s going to pass. It will result in a huge increase in governmental censorship of the Internet, requiring all American ISPs to block certain domains, thus depriving Americans of access to “censored” sites around the world–all in the name of copyright and the RIAA. IP is not a small issue any more. It is becoming a principal excuse for the state to regulate one of the most important weapons we have to fight against the state–the Internet and digital communications.

As the ThinkProgress post below notes, “in the name of policing copyright violations, Protect IP effectively makes it a felony to link to a website that is accused — that’s right, only accused — of being devoted to copyright infringement.”

For some great discussion of this issue, listen to the first 23 or so minutes of Bulletproof Radio Ep.137 – Aaron Swartz of Demand Progress Talks Protect IP; see also Protect IP: This is Your Fight Too; Ep.138 – Mike Masnick of Techdirt Talks MPAA Propaganda and Djdclarke Talks Shockedfish.

For those concerned, Demand Progress has information up:

TAKE ACTION: OPPOSE THE PROTECT IP ACT

We knew that members of Congress and their business allies were gearing up to pass a new version of the Internet Blacklist Bill — which more than 325,000 Demand Progress members helped block last winter — but we never expected it to be this atrocious.

Senators Leahy and Hatch revised the original bill, introducing new legislation that would institute a China-like censorship regime in the United States. Under PROTECT-IP, the Department of Justice could force search engines, browsers, and service providers to block users’ access to websites, and scrub the American Internet clean of any trace of their existence.

Email your lawmakers and tell them to kill PROTECT IP — the Internet Censorship Bill — by clicking here.

From ThinkProgress:

Ron Wyden vs PROTECT IP

By Matthew Yglesias on Jun 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

Reihan Salam has an excellent column about the latest intellectual property law overreach, Senator Pat Leahy’s PROTECT IP bill:

Protect IP claims to be about combating online piracy, hence the bill’s clever name (it stands for Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property). Yet in the name of policing copyright violations, Protect IP effectively makes it a felony to link to a website that is accused — that’s right, only accused — of being devoted to copyright infringement. As Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt explained to a press conference in London, Protect IP and laws like it will prove a “disastrous precedent” for free speech. He is absolutely right. Linking is the fundamental building block of the Internet, and hyperlinks are a form of free speech protected under the Constitution. Once the United States government starts messing with hyperlinks, every two-bit dictatorship on the planet will have carte blanche to do the same.

Fortunately, Ron Wyden has put a hold on this bill so we’re safe for now.

The baseline issue that legislators ought to ask themselves before they sign on to yet another draconian IP strengthening bill is this: What am I trying to fix? Are constituents writing in to complain that it’s harder than ever to find new music recordings to listen to? On the contrary, it’s never been easier. Are constituents concerned that Hollywood doesn’t crank out capital-intensive movies with stellar special effects these days? Again, no—special effects are getting cheaper and better. And because we now have lots of original programming from cable networks, we’re producing more television shows than ever before. It would be very strange to reach the conclusion that Americans in the year 2011 are suffering from a lack of entertainment options. The truth is that the push for these new laws is all about efforts to shore up specific businesses who are hurting precisely because the range of options available to consumers has escalated so dramatically.

See also my previous posts Masnick on the Horrible PROTECT IP Act: The Coming IPolice State; Son of COICA: New Copyright Bill Introduced; Patent Reform is Here! O Joy!; Pirate-slaying censorship bill, COICA, gets unanimous support; The Mountain of IP Legislation, and Masnick’s posts The Senators Who Say Merely Linking To Certain Sites Should Be A Felony and Senators Want To Put People In Jail For Embedding YouTube Videos.

[C4SIF]

{ 6 comments }

nate-m June 17, 2011 at 1:27 am

“Any oppression for any reason at any cost: Just as long as it helps me get re-elected.”
— Average USA politician from the 21st century.

This is what happens when we have the news outlets, television industry, movie industry, and music industry all ran by the same groups of people. We have campaign finance reform which effectively removes the ability to distribute political speech before a election over traditional media unless your a news outlet. Politicians control who gets access to what with things like the FCC and media ownership rules. So then to get good advertising the politicians cater to the needs of those same media outlets. “Big Media” helps get politicians get elected and politicians helps to protect their markets.

The one big thing that throws a wrench in it is the internet. Free speech and ‘wild west’ style freedom has broken down barriers between peoples. It is increasingly impossible to filter information filtering in and out of the country. People can expose politician’s corruption and follies instantly and world-wide without expensive publishing industry backing them up.

It’s breaking down the governmental media complex. To maintain control it must be stopped.

This is the big first step.

Next thing is more campaign finance reform.

The final nail in the coffin will be government-mandated monitoring and filtering systems installed in the ISP level to monitor and control information going in and out of each household and business.

Daniel M. Ryan June 17, 2011 at 1:52 am

“FedGov: We Love Our Snitches!”

Any serving or former police officer here should read the above, take a deep breath, and read it again. Got a funny feeling?

tfr June 17, 2011 at 11:17 am

This is also what happens when people who have no inkling of what “the internet” is go ahead and try to regulate it anyway. If any of them had ever actually used it, they’d know that it’s ridiculously easy to click on something by accident, and all of a sudden you’re a felon…

nate-m June 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

That’s kinda the goal.

When you make a nation of laws you make a nation of criminals. Anybody can be punished for anything at any time.

This is how the government is able to control and manipulate large businesses like Google or whatever. They have so many laws… thousands and thousands of laws. Hundreds of new ones every year and many of them are conflicting. So when you obey one law your probably going to end up breaking another. A executive of a large corporation probably commits several felonies a year just by trying to do business. Breaks several laws a month that can get his company sanctioned and fined.

So then the decision to prosecute is largely political one. The law becomes a tool, a weapon, to use as the wielder seems fit. Since laws conflict, are vague, and to numerous to even number (this is very literally the truth. Nobody knows, not even the most devout scholarly lawyer, just how many laws we have. Very valid estimates can vary widely.)

A high level bureaucrat picks and chooses which laws which should be followed and what other ones are not relevant and also interprets the laws.

This is no joke, it’s not hyperbole, and it’s not a exaggeration. This is very literally the truth on how our government is ran.

The Congress regularly passes laws on hot-button topics. Whatever is in the media, whatever is bothering people that week, they will campaign about and attempt to ‘solve’. Many of these ‘solutions’ are ill advised and the Congress knows it. The laws are not well designed and are rushed, full of all sorts of potential for abuse.

So when they establish something like a new financial regulation or bureau they counter it by only providing funding for a few years. Then if in a few years if it’s still a hot button issue then they can update the laws or provide a few more years of funding. If it’s not a big deal in a few years they just leave the funding approval out of any bills they pass and the regulation/regulatory body effective dies with nobody to pursue it.

This works out ‘ok’ and is how we have been running the government for the past 50 years. Each new crisis that is created gets dozens of new laws. When the crisis is forgotten by the public, so does the funding, so does the laws. If some bureaucrat uses some law in a politically incorrect way then Congress can swoop in and prove the system works by punishing the tyrant.

The side effect, however, is that it gives influential individuals in the state god-like powers. Since there are so many laws and so many of them are conflicting and illogical we can be ‘made a example of’ at any moment if we piss of the wrong guy or end up with a bunch of negative publicity in a news paper or something.

This sort of thing reminds me of a old favorite song of mine:

We don’t run Washington and no one really does
Ask not what you can do for your country
Ask what your country did to you
The only reason you’re still alive is because someone
Has decided to let you live
We owe so much money we’re not broke we’re broken
We’re so poor we can’t even pay attention

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGEQT48Ghzs

Quit whining you haven’t done anything wrong because frankly
You haven’t done much of anything
Someone’s writing down your mistakes
Someone’s documenting your downfall

Michael June 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I wonder if anyone in your Federal governmnet knows your First Amendment?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Then again having allowed 60+ years of the FCC censoring discource and media it’s obvious that even if they did know, nobody cares about it.

Video Capture Device November 26, 2011 at 9:00 am

Tremendous read!!

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