Internet Gods And The Companies They Keep Close

In their response to SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act, PIPA, PROTECT IP Act, and OPEN, Online Protection and Digital Enforcement Act, the Obama administration’s lead persons, Victoria Espinel – Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra – U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Howard Schmidt – Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff, issued a statement requesting public participation in finding a solution everyone can live with now and into the immediate future.

“Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge”
The memo from these folks reiterates the need to stop piracy and find ways to keep the Internet open and secure. They state the obvious, “To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.”

We’re not sure why the U.S. is attempting to control web sites “beyond the reach of our laws,” but pressure from folks like Rupert Murdoch should not be discounted. From Mr. Murdoch’s twitter feed: “”So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.” While many in the entertainment sector are accusing the White House of betrayal, CNET’S Greg Sandoval writes, “The White House said it would not support any bill that enabled censorship or did not protect due process, which echoed the criticism from opponents. To make those comments at this late date and when the legislative battle at its fiercest, the White House signaled it has walked away from the fight.”

Murdoch and other big time entertainment purveyors blame Google for funding the opposition, apparently, ignoring the millions of Internet pioneers who have been fighting for years to keep any one country from taking ownership of the Internet and declaring ownership of the Internet. This is clearly what The Motion Picture Association of America Inc. (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are after from Obama. They view their content as the sole purpose of the Internet and don’t care a whit about the freedoms that will evaporate if they get their way.

Those who oppose the powerful and the corruption that is guaranteed if they prevail are not without their own weapons. From Reddit: “We’ve seen some amazing activism organized by redditors at /r/sopa and across the reddit community at large. You have made a difference in this fight; and as we near the next stage, and after much thought, talking with experts, and hearing the overwhelming voices from the reddit community, we have decided that we will be blacking out reddit on January 18th from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC).” Tucow, the Cheezburger network and Wikipedia will be joining Reddit in the blackout and others will be pointing the way on how to combat the authoritarian power grab by the Murdoch’s, the recording industry and movie folks, and other big business lobbyists, like the Chamber of horrors, or Commerce, if you prefer.

Will countries invade other countries where piracy is rampant? China has been accused of stealing and hacking into U.S. systems, but as yet, we have not declared war on them for stealing the latest “B” movies or sucky Metallica cuts. What is the administration saying by sites “beyond our reach?” Stay tuned, and let us know if you have any suggestions you would like to submit to the Obama folks to make everyone happy.

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