The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of infringing websites by US authorities.
According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication. With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the
proposed US law called Stop Online Piracy Act .
Starting in 2010, US authorities have used domain name seizures as a standard tool to take down websites that are deemed to facilitate copyright infringement.
Despite fierce criticism from the public, legal experts and civil liberties groups, taking control of domain names is now one of the measures included in the pending Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), legislation designed to give copyright holders
more tools to protect their rights against foreign sites.
Opposition to SOPA has been swelling in recent days, and today the European Parliament adds its voice by heavily criticizing the domain seizures that are part of it. A resolution on the EU-US Summit that will be held later this month stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.
If SOPA does indeed become law the US would be able to shut down domains worldwide, as long as they are somehow managed by US companies. This includes the popular .com, .org and .net domains, and thus has the potential to affect many large
websites belonging to companies in EU member states.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, is bad news. Bringing piracy to heel is a noble goal but imposing sweeping, arbitrary laws that can force websites offline with almost no judicial oversight isn't the way to go about it. The
average guy on the internet may not care much one way or the other [probably because he's not even aware of what's going on] but some backlash is beginning to be felt: Go Daddy dropped its support for SOPA a couple of weeks ago following calls
for a boycott of its services and now Sony, Nintendo and Electronic Arts have all followed suit - sort of.
Sony Electronics, Nintendo and Elecronic Arts, which had previously thrown their weight behind the proposed legislation, are now all notably absent from the most recent list of SOPA supporters. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment
and Sony Music Nashville remain on the list, which is unfortunate, but of greater concern is the continued presence of the Entertainment Software Association, the industry association which counts among its members Sony, Nintendo and EA. The
support is still there, in other words, less direct and better camouflaged but still very much a part of the process pushing for the implementation of SOPA.
U.S. lawmakers have authored another bill designed to censor the internet in the name of cybersecurity.
Citing cyberattacks as a threat, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of any person they choose.
The website Change.org has created a
petition against the act and a handful of videos have been made against it along with some articles, but the American press has been mostly silent about the potential act, HR 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing
and Protection Act (or CISPA for short).
Opponents say the bill has vague language that could well allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or
Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded
on the Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online advocacy group, has sharply condemned CISPA for what it means for the future of the Internet. It effectively creates a cybersecurity exemption to all existing laws, explains the EFF, who add in
a statement of their own that There are almost no restrictions on what can be collected and how it can be used, provided a company can claim it was motivated by cybersecurity purposes.
Update: Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote
The House has passed the bill with late amendments that opened up the scope way beyond the original security basis.
Among them was an absolutely terrible change (pdf and embedded below---scroll to amendment #6) to the definition of what the government can do with shared information, put forth by Rep. Quayle. Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the
government's power, even though it in fact expands it by adding more items to the list of acceptable purposes for which shared information can be used. Even more astonishingly, it passed with a near-unanimous vote. The CISPA that was just
approved by the House is much worse than the CISPA being discussed as recently as this morning.
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for cybersecurity or national security purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and
prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
A broad coalition of global tech firms including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo are protesting a broad injunction that would require search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking to or offering services to MovieTube. The
preliminary injunction requested by the MPAA resurrects parts of the controversial SOPA bill, the tech giants warn.
In recent months there have been several lawsuits in the U.S. in which copyright holders were granted broad injunctions, allowing them to seize domain names of alleged pirate sites.
In addition, these injunctions were sometimes directed at hosting providers, search engines and social networks, preventing these companies from doing business with these sites.
Most recently, such a request came from Hollywood's major movie studios, who previously sued several MovieTube websites. The companies asked for a preliminary injunction ordering several third-party companies to stop linking or providing services
to the pirate sites.
This proposal reminded some opponents of the blocking provisions that were listed in the controversial SOPA bill. Among the opposition are some of the largest tech firms in the world.
A few hours ago Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo submitted an amicus brief asking the New York federal court not to include neutral service providers in the injunction.
According to the tech giants the proposed language goes too far. An injunction should not target companies that are not in active participation with MovieTube, nor should it circumvent the rules that are outlined in the DMCA, they argue.
The tech companies suggest that the MPAA is trying to resurrect SOPA-powers through this lawsuit and ask the court to halt their efforts. The companies argue:
Plaintiffs now appear to be repackaging the excesses of SOPA into the All Writs Act. Indeed, the injunction proposed here would require the same online intermediaries targeted by SOPA to engage in the same kind of content and domain blocking
that would have been required under SOPA had it been enacted.
The Court should not allow intellectual property rightsholders to obtain through the existing statutes the very sort of third-party blocking orders that failed to gain legislative approval.