COICA Round Two
July 24, 2011 11:27 PM   Subscribe

Senator Leahy's Protect IP Act would require that U.S. ISPs impose an 'internet death penalty' upon domain after merely a preliminary injunction from a U.S. court that suspects the site of being 'dedicated to infringing activities', even if the domain's owner had never been notified and was not subject to U.S. jurisdiction. There is concern that the legislation would fragment the DNS system and facilitate DNS spoofing by obstructing DNSSEC (pdf). There is also an open letter opposing the bill signed by 108 Law Professors who study intellectual property law.

Leahy's previous attempt called COICA died in committee in 2010.
posted by jeffburdges (29 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Our only hope is that the U.S. government will be far too bankrupt to ever censor the internet.
posted by Avenger at 11:31 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

As a Vermonter, and someone who usually thinks Leahy is pretty darn awesome, this is rough for me. Everyone makes mistakes, I suppose.

Still, I am really nervous for the future of the Internet. Between net neutrality, tiered bandwidth pricing, and other types of censorship and barriers, I can see all too clearly that this thing I've been lucky enough to enjoy my whole life is going to become a story I tell to my unbelieving grandkids.
posted by papayaninja at 11:38 PM on July 24, 2011 [14 favorites]

Your last hope is that the government (even bankrupt) won't transfer resources to protect interests of the rich? Hahahahahahah.
posted by stratastar at 11:39 PM on July 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

Sounds like it's flatly unconstitutional as a violation of procedural due process.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:40 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh heh, nice to see this on the blue.

I'm one of the coauthors of the technical paper against PROTECT IP's DNS Filtering provisions. We've been fighting this narrow section of the bill since November of last year, and as shocking as is it may seem, we've been getting a substantial amount of interest on both sides of the aisle. Believe me, nobody wants to make cybersecurity even worse. Our band of engineers just got back from DC, and even ran a bit of a press conference.

Of course, it's impossible to know how things will end up. But we're definitely doing what we can!
posted by effugas at 11:42 PM on July 24, 2011 [24 favorites]

Also, it's probably in violation of several treaties, making it constitutionally untenable on those grounds. Which is to say nothing of the fact that you know, youtube. There's basically no way that this can stand, as far as I can tell.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:48 PM on July 24, 2011

There is a vaguely similar attempt to create a Great Firewall of Europe.

On the lighter side, the Spanish Copyright Society was raided for embezzlement. :)

We've also an attempt to resurrect the insane SAFETY Act of 2009.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:53 PM on July 24, 2011

Dedicated to infringing activities was the name of my first band. And also an apt descriptor of my teenage years.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:40 AM on July 25, 2011

Are There Any Politicians Who Know What PROTECT IP Is About?

There are now.
posted by effugas at 2:44 AM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]

Imposes verification and reporting requirements that will be a strong incentive for American-based activities to move them offshore, whether they're interested in infringing activities or not. Creates a whole class of customers American ISP's cannot serve who will be happily served beyond the borders. Mandates breaking DNS, so the people responsible for actually operating the filter can and will silently ignore it anyway, in a way that that the people responsible for verifying enforcement are incompetent to detect. Does seem to generate business for lawyers to handle routing all the notices, though, and there's nothing lawyers like better than pulling down a couple hundred an hour for a paralegal to click a button on an Excel sheet. So that's a win.

Come on, people, you've only got like three industries left. Let's not legislate them all out of existence.
posted by Vetinari at 2:55 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

As always, the pirates are way ahead.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 3:08 AM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

I usually consider Leahy one of the "good guys", but this sounds too absurd to actually exist (and yeah, good ol' Thomas shows it as real). He has even fought against less draconian internet filtering laws in other countries.

So why back this? horse? As SyntacticSugar pointed out, not only won't it work in theory, but some sites already have a practical circumvention in place.

For those not tech-savvy, the enforcement part of this bill would work by poisoning DNS records. DNS, while very very useful, does nothing more complex than act as a sort of phone book to translate names to IP addresses; Even if they deliberately list the wrong address, the right one still works just fine - And just as you don't go running to the phone book every time you need to make a call, you can get IP addresses other ways as well, from just "knowing" it, to a personal rolodex, to a business card...
posted by pla at 3:35 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

America: Infringement-Free by 2015
posted by telstar at 4:39 AM on July 25, 2011

Yeah, I'm sure this won't be abused by both the ISPs (pay up pay up pay up) and the trolls who file bullshit DMCA notices on stuff they don't like.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:49 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aren't politicians just so adorable when they try to legislate technology?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:24 AM on July 25, 2011

A few years ago, a law professor by the name of John Tehranian published an excellent article - Infringement Nation ( warning, PDF)- about the gap between what US law considers to be infringement, and what is actually enforced. It illustrates perfectly why a law such as this is so maddening:

To illustrate the unwitting infringement that has become quotidian for the
average American, take an ordinary day in the life of a hypothetical law professor
named John. For the purposes of this Gedankenexperiment, we assume the worstcase
scenario of full enforcement of rights by copyright holders and an
uncharitable, though perfectly plausible, reading of existing case law and the fair
use doctrine. Fair use is, after all, notoriously fickle and the defense offers little ex
ante refuge to users of copyrighted works.

In the morning, John checks his email, and, in so doing, begins to tally up the
liability. Following common practice, he has set his mail browser to automatically
reproduce the text to which he is responding in any email he drafts. Each
unauthorized reproduction of someone else’s copyrighted text—their email—
represents a separate act of brazen infringement, as does each instance of email
forwarding. Within an hour, the twenty reply and forward emails sent by John
have exposed him to $3 million in statutory damages.

After spending some time catching up on the latest news, John attends his
Constitutional Law class, where he distributes copies of three just-published
Internet articles presenting analyses of a Supreme Court decision handed down
only hours ago. Unfortunately, despite his concern for his students’ edification,
John has just engaged in the unauthorized reproduction of three literary works in
violation of the Copyright Act.

I recommend reading the whole paper; it's brief. Or at least continuing the quoted section.

Fair disclosure: I did a semester of independent study in law school where I wrote a paper critiquing copyright law for having so dramatically expanded that it's now more a hindrance to its Constitutional purpose than a help (and, therefore, at least arguably unconstitutional in its present state). My views on copyright are a bit extreme.
posted by Vox Nihili at 5:30 AM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]

You know, with a dozen or so beater cars and a sufficient number of nondescript people and a trip to a the second hand store to get the supplies to mix and match a 100 or so junkie costumes I could make a lot of places look like the flagship store of Heroin City USA! The difference between me doing this and anonymous making your domain look like you are cranking out roughly a zillion bits per second of Hollywood's finest is that I'd have to leave my house and spend money on the project.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:34 AM on July 25, 2011

SECURITY BULLETIN: a hacker group known as "LOC" has had its public website locked down after investigations revealed that they were in possession of an unprecedented amount of copyrighted material. LOC's alleged leader, James "Jimbolulz" Billington, denied that the group had run afoul of any laws and argued that their actions were actually meant for the public good.

The closure of LOC's site is considered by many in the film and music industries to be the first major success of the newly-enacted "Protect IP Act", introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

When asked if there was any recorded literature analyzing the efficacy of such laws, aides to Senator Leahy claimed they were mysteriously unable to access their standard research tools, and speculated that the interference may be a form of retaliation by LOC. Federal authorities are currently investigating these claims.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:16 AM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]

So is there any way ISPs could use this to generate revenue? A whole extra reason to abuse this.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:40 AM on July 25, 2011

benito.strauss : So is there any way ISPs could use this to generate revenue?

"We have to cut you off because someone somewhere hinted at a copyright violation. Sorry. Oh yeah, you know that two year contract you signed? This doesn't give you an out from paying."
posted by pla at 7:02 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to his Wikipedia page: Leahy was a Dead fan, and in his Senate office is a collection of shows he had personally taped.

Jerry Garcia visited Lehay and gave him a tie. Lehay gifted the tie to Orrin Hatch, with whom he would co-sponsor the INDUCE Act, which would have had the effect of making product vendors responsible for infringing behavior of their users. One example might be making recording device manufacturers liable for people that record live concerts.

I swear you cannot make this stuff up. Please call the 1-800 number on the bottom of your IronyMeter for servicing.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:07 AM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

Ugh, every time I read about one of these things I wonder how much longer we'll be able to run our own server without it getting effectively kicked off the internet.
posted by immlass at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

At the risk of contributing nothing productive to the dialog I will comment that COICA reminds me mightily of BOHICA in both sound and content.
posted by phearlez at 11:01 AM on July 25, 2011

RobotVoodooPower: "I swear you cannot make this stuff up."

Well, it is Wikipedia, and uncited. And contributed by an unidentified user.
posted by pwnguin at 11:33 AM on July 25, 2011

One example might be making recording device manufacturers liable for people that record live concerts.

If you're going to draw this through, you really should use a band which didn't have a standing, open policy that recording their concerts isn't infringement.
posted by hippybear at 7:11 PM on July 25, 2011

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