30 November 2011

A Thousand Cuts

It sounds terrifying indeed. Until you realize that he’s describing a slight enhancement to the status quo powers that law enforcement has, and that we’ve lived under the current powers and we’re all still here and not censored.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides essentially the same functionality, just not as smoothly. Its purpose is to allow information owners to stop its spread quickly. It’s like any other injunction, just faster and with fewer barriers.
The new law takes the DMCA and extends it further. Remember the ruckus and hue and cry that arose when the DMCA passed? We were told censorship was coming, to use HAM radios instead of the internet, and that the end was nigh. It didn’t happen that way.
It won’t here, either. This isn’t censorship — it’s being used to block leaks of copyright content. Anyone who uses it to “censor” is then going to be liable in civil court, which makes this a bad tool to use for censorship. You can get sued into poverty for misusing it.

It’s a funny thing about death by a thousand cuts:  it always in death.  And while Brett is correct in noting that SOPA is likely not the Great Internet Censorship Act that everyone makes it out to be, it’s not exactly a step in the right direction.

By now, readers of this esteemed blog should be able to explain why IP is wrong in their sleep, so I won’t dwell on this.  Instead, I will simply point at that, like the DMCA, the SOPA is simply building on legislation passed before it and laying the foundation for greater outrages to come.  Decline is not instantaneous, and is decades—centuries even—in the making.  Censorship in the United States will be no exception.

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