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Legislators want your input on OPEN, an alternative to SOPA

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 12 Dec 2011 21:12 User comments (9)

Legislators want your input on OPEN, an alternative to SOPA Two US legislators, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Darrell Issa, have fashioned an alternative to SOPA and PIPA, the draconian anti-piracy bills being pushed through the two houses. Their proposal is called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN for short.
Rather than taking the draft of their bill straight to Congress, the two men have decided to offer it up for online discussion first. You can find the full text of the first draft below or on a new website dedicated to the discussion.

While their proposal does address most of the worst aspects of SOPA and PIPA, that mostly serves to highlight how bad the least troubling parts of those bills are. Here are some of the highlights.

The Good
  • The straight censorship requirements of SOPA and PIPA are gone. There's nothing about DNS blocking or purging a website from search engine results.

  • There is no right of private action. Under SOPA, a private company would be able to force advertisers to stop paying an accused website operator without ever going to court. Under OPEN, only the International Trade Commission (ITC) would be empowered to order that.

  • The term 'dedicated to infringement' is narrowly defined as having "only limited purpose or use other than engaging in infringing activity and whose owner or operator primarily uses the site to willfully engage in infringing activity." Likewise, infringing activity is specifically defined as violations of the existing copyright and trademark provisions of federal law.

  • US based companies may not be targeted.


The Bad
  • It attempts to strong arm people and companies outside the US by offering immunity to legal action but only if they agree to be bound by US copyright and trademark law. If you are an American this may seem innocuous, but imagine how you would see things if another country tried to force American companies to comply with their laws.

    In fact we know how Senator Wyden and Representative Issa would feel. Last year they sponsored bills (in the Senate and House respectively) to prevent US courts from respecting libel judgements which aren't compatible with US law. We know how their fellow legislators and President Obama feel as well. The bills passed quickly and were signed into law.

    This sort of thinking is exactly what prompted Eugene Kaspersky, a Russian software developer and entrepeneur, to quit the (primarily American) Business Software Alliance last week. Trying to force laws onto the people of another country without their consent is a strikingly oppressive move for any government.

  • While there is at least some due process, it does not offer the full protection of standard criminal, or even civil, court because the ITC is an administrative court. This gives Congress significant latitude to set the rules for due process as they see fit.

  • It is more harmful to ad networks than helpful for Hollywood. Since websites would not be blocked under OPEN, the only challenge a website has to overcome is replacing their ad provider. While it's true Google is the number one ad provider in the world, there's nothing magical about being in the US that makes that inevitable.

    If Google can't serve a website operator's needs, they will not just cave in to US demands. What they will do is find an alternative ad partner. Ultimately the question is not whether such a website can make money from ads. It's whether a US company will benefit from it.

OPEN is well intended, but what it really ends up showing us is that once you take out the completely irreedemable parts of SOPA and PIPA, what you are left with is wishful thinking that doesn't match up to reality.

Simply put, you can't control the Internet in any meaningful way without starting over and building something that doesn't resemble the Internet in most ways. No country, no matter how economically powerful, can successfully dictate laws on this scale to the rest of the world.

There is no service from the US so unique it cannot be replicated somewhere else. As long as that's the case, no law of this type will produce any serious results. Or if it does, they will be undesirable results for US companies.

OPEN-Online-Protection-and-Enforcement-of-Digital-Trade-Act-Draft1

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9 user comments

112.12.2011 21:37

I tried to read through it, I did... I just couldn't. And usually I read court cases for entertainment. That was horrible, and I can only be thankful if nothing else it slows down US from taking any course of action until next year or possibly after the election.

212.12.2011 22:15
hitsugaya12
Unverified new user

THIS BILL IS A BAD THING FOR ME I DON'T WATCH T.V OR PLAY GAMES I ALWAYS ON INTERNET WATCH BLEACH THIS WHY I HATE THIS STUPID BILL

312.12.2011 22:55

My opinion for the legislators? Stop spending all your time trying to f**k over the internet on behalf of one of the few businesses that is still raking in cash in this economy, and do something about the 98% of the economy that is floundering.

As for OPEN? The internet works fine already, and it isn't like the law stops groups like ICE from taking domain names without trial or cause to begin with...unless you are going to do something about groups enforcing laws that have not been enacted, you don't need to waste time making BS laws for your corporate masters.



413.12.2011 0:22

Quote:
My opinion for the legislators? Stop spending all your time trying to f**k over the internet on behalf of one of the few businesses that is still raking in cash in this economy, and do something about the 98% of the economy that is floundering.

As for OPEN? The internet works fine already, and it isn't like the law stops groups like ICE from taking domain names without trial or cause to begin with...unless you are going to do something about groups enforcing laws that have not been enacted, you don't need to waste time making BS laws for your corporate masters.
Very well said, sadly that's not the answer they want to hear, so I dunno why they are wasting time giving the people the option to respond. Frankly most of what would be sensible is going to fall on deaf ears anyhow, including what you said.

513.12.2011 0:51

It could also be another case for McCarthyism. Granted this garbage is just in its pupa (or putrid) state & not completely taken form. If the public starts chiming in a dual edge sword takes shape.

Names start to stack up (or IPs in most cases) & boring run of the mill complaints that most assuredly will be flat & lifeless will be thrown on the stack of 'pass them on through' to be seen as victories to the commoners; hollow as they are as most people will never see the true multi-layered need for complex, descriptive, almost absurd sounding requests.

Despite, our rights will be sold off willingly & faster than the ink can dry on the paper & before anyone knows what happened & try to contest it, several thousand of us will be hauled up before a congressional committee, asked to raise our right hand & swear to the fact if we have been or ever was a part of the Communist Party.

Because all hell is going to break loose when you tell them no & they produce a paper with the time/date when you went on line & accidentally hit the banner ad for ChunkyAsses[dot]com. Because you know they have copywritten material.


613.12.2011 4:31

The Pirate Bay Dancing for Firefox Bypasses National IP and DNS Blocks
http://lifehacker.com/5863932/the-pirat...cker+News+YC%29


Live Free or Die.
The rule above all the rules is: Survive !
Capitalism: Funnel most of the $$$ to the already rich.

713.12.2011 13:32

Originally posted by Mrguss:
The Pirate Bay Dancing for Firefox Bypasses National IP and DNS Blocks
http://lifehacker.com/5863932/the-pirat...cker+News+YC%29
That's cool... if you use something as unreliable as the Pirate Bay & typical traceable P2P software. You know, stuff without SSL encryption or the likes.

No, spoofing the IP address, proxy jumping & all that good stuff is a start, but don't think for an instant that will last for too long.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 13 Dec 2011 @ 13:33

813.12.2011 15:56

Originally posted by KillerBug:
My opinion for the legislators? Stop spending all your time trying to f**k over the internet on behalf of one of the few businesses that is still raking in cash in this economy, and do something about the 98% of the economy that is floundering.

As for OPEN? The internet works fine already, and it isn't like the law stops groups like ICE from taking domain names without trial or cause to begin with...unless you are going to do something about groups enforcing laws that have not been enacted, you don't need to waste time making BS laws for your corporate masters.

I don't believe these particular individuals are trying to do anything to the Internet. Senator Wyden is the same man who almost single handedly blocked COICA (the previous version of PIPA) and also put a block on PIPA. When it was clear the bill was going forward anyway, he promised to filibuster by reading a list of names from an online petition to stop the bill. He has been quite clear that his objections were over the damage those bills would do to the Internet.

If anything, the problem is exactly the opposite of that. Supporters of the ridiculous anti-piracy bills focus strictly on those issues while ignoring the consequences in other areas (ie the Internet). What Wyden and Issa are doing here is focusing entirely on the Internet while ignoring the reality that you can't force US laws on the citizens of other countries.

US advertisers thrive because of the Internet, not the other way around. If Google isn't allowed, by law, to provide advertising to a popular website, that doesn't make the site less popular. What it does is create an opportunity for some company in another country to take Google's business. This approach only works as long as website operators in other countries need the resources you are threatening to cut off.

But as I already pointed out, the net effect would be to make them less dependent on US companies. It is arrogant to assume a company outside the US can't duplicate Google's success in advertising. They haven't so far because they are competing with Google. If you remove the alpha male from the pack, it doesn't destroy the group. A new alpha male emerges to take his place. The same is true in business.

And that's ignoring the principles of the idea, which I think it's fair to say are shaky at best for a number of reasons. First is the basis for action stated in the text of the bill. It takes a completely US-centric view of the world based on the assumption that a foreign website viewed in the US is being exported to our country.

However, wouldn't that also mean a US website viewed in the UK is being exported as well and should be subject to their libel laws? Clearly they don't believe that given their backing of the libel tourism bill last year. Either that law was wrong (and I don't believe that) or this one would be. You can't have it both ways.

What they are, in effect, saying is, "since your society will not require you to follow our laws, we will place economic sanctions on you if you don't agree to follow our laws." This is unprecedented in US history. In fact it is essentially the same tactic already used by the US Trade Representative and State Department against other governments, which is wrong, but using that tactic directly against their citizenry is a new low.

Rich Fiscus
@Vurbal on Twitter
AfterDawn Staff Writer

914.12.2011 11:46

@vurbal... your argument is exceptional & vocalized exquisitely, but the fact remains that countries as 'individuals' are trying desperately to save the pork chop on their own plates (if you'll allow the symbolism) while corporations are oh-so-ready to ship a banquet off to to the country of their choice for equally the reason of their own choice.

Meaning, the internet is 'global'. Corporations have already stepped up to this 'plate', teed up and smacked the homer. If it was already designed here in the US manufactured in Taiwan, why not sell it in Germany? Companies aren't interested in carbon foot prints, child labor, health interests or public opinion.

By the time those get so far out of control & the people concerned uprise to revolt, it's the politicians that take the blame & swing from a rope. The corporate moguls involved will liquidate the company take a zirconium parachute & retire in a far off land being pampered by half naked native women & just continue to spread their disease like they did in the last country they leveled.

Laws like this is rebel rousing, busy work & disunity amongst everyone. I really do believe with the exception of the grossest minority, every corporation out there wants socialist control over a state. Most if not all their behavior (sans the actual production of their wares) has led to this conclusion. Buying & selling of rights of citizens/politicians. The buying of silence & then immediate slandering of individuals through legalized spin. Moving funds & business to offshore accounts & non extradition countries so as to hide actions from transparency clauses or ethics laws.

I'm to old, cynical and from a far too violent an upbringing to believe that a utopian society would ever exist. All the wonders of nature are going to continue. But to sit back like cattle & say we're above violence & "we're not animals" or "we don't hit" is BS. I ask, why does it seem to be the first instinct. Even when a good person has been pushed that hard, that long... even biblically (any bible) there are only two cheeks, even ass cheeks. How long do we (everyone, global) have to put up with it all?

I mean, to summarize in a gross nutshell, a vegetarian who wanted to be an artist managed to BS his way into instrumenting the elimination of 6+ million Jews. All under the guise of making a better Germany. Sure, I 'could' be said to have used this far out of context, but since 9/11, just how many freedoms have we given up in the US & what kind of lunacy is being played out before us now? Just how far off am I, really?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Dec 2011 @ 11:51

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