Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I've been reading about the internet domain host GoDaddy over the past few days. They offocially came in out support of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), and then over the past week, have lost over 70,000 domains, as customers boycotted them. This isn't surprising to me, because SOPA is one of the dumbest pieces of legislation that I've seen in a long time.

Now lest you misunderstand me, I'm not refering to the idea of stopping online piracy. The goal is laudable. What I have a problem with is how they are going about it. It's like hitting a fly with an atomic bomb. To put it in terms everyone can understand: If SOPA passes, then Youtube and Facebook both get shut down the next day, their owners go to prison for hosting copyright infringing material.

Reason being, SOPA basically makes two changes. First, it increases the scope of copyright infringement (meaning if you sing a cover of your favorite song and post it on youtube, that's copyright infringement), and second, it makes site owners responsible for everything on their site. Meaning along with Justin Beiber, the owners of Google (which owns youtube), get put in federal prison because of his covers.

Think how many videos on are Youtube. The site already has automatic scanning of the sound in videos, which matches it against songs. If you upload a copyrighted song, it can tell and will silence it automatically. But if you are singing the song yourself, no software can tell. Every video will have to be looked at, and every single video on youtube already will have to be checked. It's almost impossible, and certainly would be impractical for a completely free site.

There will be so much colateral damage that most people are going to assume that this is all exageration. Which it's not. The worst part is that it's pointless. Putting full songs and music videos on youtube is already being killed off by the automatic scans. The big thing this will stop are things like the above, covers and over uses that somehow violate copyright. But how do those hurt the companies?

The real piracy issue that is hurting the music and movie industy is the actual downloading of songs and movies. The sad part is that 90+% of it is being done in one of three ways, and could be stopped with almost no colatoral damange.

Torrents, Filehosts, and Private Networks. Those are the three ways which combined costitute almost all online piracy. The Limewire network used to be among them, but was quite successfully shut down. Now it's those three. Private networks are hard to get at, and not worth the trouble. Torrents most people know about, it's a peer to peer technology that lets people share directly with other people. Filehosts (Rapidshare, Fileserve, Megaupload) are sites that exist solely to host movies, TV shows, porn, etc.

Torrents and Filehosts could be taken down, and with that, suddenly you've killed the majority of all online piracy. There's no collatoral damange, because both torrents and Filehosts exist only for piracy, unlike youtube which has a legitimate function. However, there are a lot of forces working behind the scenes that don't want to stop piracy. By pushing legislators into doing something this extreme, they make the anti-piracy side seem extremist and pro-censorship, and turn the public against them. And congress has fallen for it.

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