Proposed law would let U.S. gov’t shutter websites at will; would create ‘The Great Firewall of America’

“A piece of legislation backed by the MPAA was introduced in the House of Representatives this week and threatens to upend the way we use the Internet,” Nicholas Deleon reports for The Daily. “The E-Parasites Act, a contrived acronym for Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation, seeks to give the attorney general broad power to create a blacklist of websites that ‘induce’ copyright infringement. Service providers would then be legally compelled to block these websites.”

“Let’s say you’re using an online digital locker service like Dropbox to store your Microsoft Word files. Someone else on the site, however, is using it to house illegally downloaded MP3s. The record label finds out, approaches a judge and says, ‘“Dropbox is inducing its users to commit copyright infringement. We request you block it, or we’ll go to MasterCard — which handles Dropbox’s money matters — or the site’s advertisers and legally demand that they stop facilitating the site’s inducement of copyright infringement,'” Deleon reports. “The law can either shutter a website until it removes copyright-violating material or financially ruin it. In either scenario, your Word files are gone.”

“Should the E-Parasites bill become law, virtually every company on the Internet will be expected to constantly patrol their users for copyright infringement. It also effectively neutralizes the “safe harbor” part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, that protects companies from being prosecuted after copyright material has been uploaded to their websites,” Deleon reports. “‘This bill is a disaster,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Corynne McSherry. ‘It’s a jobs-killer that would hurt legitimate businesses. In this type of economic environment, we should be trying to create jobs, not destroy them.'”

Deleon reports, “In effect, the law would create a separate, ‘America-approved’ Internet, just like the kind found in China with its Great Firewall. The move would “send signals to oppressive regimes around the world that censoring the Internet is OK so long as it’s done in the name of intellectual property,” said McSherry.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act (H.R. 3261).

H.R. 3261 is the House version of Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) PROTECT-IP Act.

H.R. 3261 also includes a House version of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) bill to make unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty of up to 5 years in prison. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 16.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]

80 Comments

    1. Ah, yes, good ol’ “Representative” Lamar Smith, who, though having been elected to represent the members of his district in Texas, spends most of his time at his home in Cape Cod.

      We know him all too well.

      1. How about “Senators” Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)? Did you forget about them for some reason?

        Fair and balanced. You ought to try it sometime.

        1. Nothing ‘fair and balanced’ about having Mr. Smith my ‘representative’ in Congress. He’s sort of a laugh riot, that Lamar Smith.

          Back during the debate about healthcare, he (of course) opposed healthcare reform – without mentioning he is a member of the Christian ‘Scientist’ sect that doesn’t believe in medical care period.

          1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

            TERM LIMITS, NOW!!!

            If we had them, Republican Lamar Smith who started his government welfare job in 1987 and Democrat Patrick Leahy who started his in 1974… 1974 folks!!!!, would be long gone!!! And true representatives, with better working attitudes who are willing to cross party lines to work together on more common sense legislation, hopefully, would be the norm, instead of the partisan bickering and idiotic laws, or should I say Pandora’s Box laws, which are laws that initially have good intentions but have limited foresight in the can of worms it will open, thus leading the way for further idiotic laws of the system we have to endure today.

            Since our elected leaders don’t have the good common sense to know when they wore out their welcome and move on and allow fresh blood with fresh ideas, we need to help them out and if these politicians knew their time was extremely limited, they would work harder for the betterment of the country versus what we have now, consisting of betterment of themselves, then party and finally country!

            1. Now, now, Now, Now, the “fault” (or the “decision”) lies with the voters who elected them. Voted for them. Picked them over those running against them. Perhaps these two really are representing the people… or they wouldn’t get re-elected.

              Clearly, if you are one of their constituents, you are in the minority. What you may want to be more concerned about is educating the electorate so they can better determine how their own government works, what the issues actually are, and how they are affected by decisions on those issues. Government literacy in the US (and out of the US) is currently abysmal.

            2. You can’t expect from each voter that they are very knowledgeable about every technical issue, and understand what can of worms exactly such a proposed law would offer.
              Even when a “representative” has a good track record, how will he be stopped by the voters if all at once he comes up with a law that could be very detrimental in the long run?

              So beside voting to reward representatives for their overall performance, there should be other mechanisms to STOP crazy laws from coming into effect.

            3. VanFruniken, you are correct. But the solution is not necessarily term limits since any new person is as likely to come up with some total surprise as would someone who’s been around for a long time.

              It is not that I personally do not support term limits in certain cases. But for Now, Now to suggest that would have been the answer is short-sighted.

              Having said all that, although we cannot expect each voter to understand technical issues, overall voters do not even understand more straightforward issues. They are often completely unknowledgeable about how their government operates and what they can do to positively affect its performance.

              Much of the blame falls on the schools. When some public schools still permit students to graduate from high school without requiring a single US Government course, those schools fail our students and the country. Those courses are simply basic courses, not the extra fine tuning the electorate needs to be more effective in overseeing their government. But they are a minimum that should be required.

              Currently, special interest groups (including “special” interest groups like the Tea Party and other political groups) get their followers with rhetoric that sounds good, but which is not explained adequately for their followers (voters) to have a full picture of how their platform fits into the scheme of things. Only if voters fully understand, will they be in a position to make a choice as to what they see might help the country and themselves.

        2. LOL of all people on this site trying to lecture about fair and balanced… ya know, just that you used Fox News’ marketing slogan, and it IS a marketing slogan, in your reply says everything we ever need to know about you.

  1. … and so 1984 starts.

    Big Media triggers it. Big Government endorses it.

    Question is, which % of the Internet content is what’s so-called “copyrighted material”?

    I’m sure it’s a low %. It’s irrelevant compared to what the Web universe is.

    1. Ah, you gentle naive soul — because that’s how ALL societies of any size have ALWAYS been organized — for the massively unbalanced advantage to those with the power. Western societies are simply those where that balance has been shifted a bit – e.g. working five days a week inside of 7 days at 14 hours a day… which was not very long ago at all.

    1. Also done. For anyone who doesn’t know it’s actually very easy to contact your representative. Theres a widget that you type your address into and it gives you a webpage where you can write a message to them.

      I pretty much let them know how horrible I think this bill is and I subtly told him how hard it would be for me to vote for any politician who allowed this bill to become a law.

  2. Possibly dumb questions. But:
    1. How would the MPAA know what I have in my Dropbox account?
    2. How would Dropbox or anyone else know how I got my files? Are illegal files tagged in some way I am not aware of?
    3. Is Dropbox, et al going to be responsible for ensuring that none of the files I have including text files, ebooks, etc. are not violating copyright laws.

    The financial burden this would place on Dropbox, et al would be incredible.

    1. Answer:
      Dropbox does not provide client-side encryption. This allows anyone at the Dropbox servers who has the encryption keys to look at EVERYTHING in your Dropbox cloud space. Theoretically, this is already happening, albeit illegally.

      The Solution:
      ONLY upload client-side encrypted files to ANY cloud service, including Dropbox. This is very simple. I’ve been doing it for years:

      Create an encrypted .SparseImage file using Apple’s provided Disk Utility application. Put the .SparseImage file into your client-side Dropbox folder. Have it set to open (via the Login Items list in the ‘Users & Groups’ System Prefs pane) when you log into your user account. You will have to provide its password for it to mount on your desktop. Put ALL your critical files ONLY into the .SparseImage file. Because only YOU have the key to decrypt the data, it is 100% safe while residing up in the cloud. Just make sure your encryption password is able to be remembered as well as being as random, and long as possible. Try to toss in numbers, caps, special characters, etc. Don’t put your password ANYWHERE on your computer or in an easy to find location. Ideally, only keep it only in your head. That’s what I do.

      Stick to this regiment and your constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from illegal search and seizure are maintained.

      (There are a lot of instructions on the net regarding how to make and use .SparseImage files. Apple also provides the Password Assistant app as well as Help tips for making memorable, secure passwords).

    2. 1) They don’t. If anyone has violating material that site, then they will want to shut down the entire site, innocents be damned.

      2) I suppose it’s possible, but that is a big problem. More likely MPAA will have someone post violating material, then point to it as a reason to block the site. Kind of like local police sending someone under-age into a store to buy beer or cigarettes, and then prosecuting the store owner if they do sell to the underage person. (You can tell I don’t think much of the MPAA.)

      3) Who knows? It will be in the fine print.

      Yes the burden will be great. So just use this MPAA approved (read: owned) service and all will be well!
      cite

  3. You can expect to see more of this kind of thing from the right if the occupy wall street movement gathers strength. The USA is only a small step away from fascism, and you may have noticed that the richest 400 includes those who have made their money from the war machine.

    If anyone thinks that these people will stand by and watch their grip on america’s wealth slip away then stand back and look at what the GOP are already trying to dismantle: anything, and everything that stands between a greedy man and money – the EPA being the focus right now.

    We live in interesting times…

      1. When my good Conservative friends complain about OWS, I always remind them that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. The more “occupiers” (euphemism for total wastes of space) that are interviewed, the more the “independents” turn right. More OWS, please!

      2. “The “people” of the so-called “movement” you reference are abject morons

        Morons abound. But PLEASE don’t try to infer that “Tea Party” members have two neurons to rub together. Thus the much more descriptive term “Tard Party”. Need I point out examples? [COUGH bachman, GAG palin]

        I prescribe:
        Wisdom, experience and perspective for one and all. Stay away from the HATE media, work on your Kind And Caring skills, and don’t eat propaganda. Your brain will be healthier and happier in no time.

          1. I didn’t bother to watch your. I assume you think Stern is a moron a waste of space? I do. Tried listening to his radio show when it was broadcast. The man is B. O. R. I. N. G.

            Actually, it’s been a while since Howie has been mentioned on MDN. I liked that.

    1. This is not the right, this is not the left, this is the result of money in politics. GOP indeed.. In fact, THE LEFT IS VASTLY MORE LAVISHED WITH MONEY BY THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY THAN THE RIGHT. “War Machine.” LMFAO. Let’s talk about who makes their money from “Reality Television.” Dig deeper, read more, get out of the silly valley of leftist platitudes and you might be able to make a difference.

  4. Big government and big business–working together to protect themselves (I mean the country).

    Is America a great country or what!

    (No wonder 89% of the population are disgusted with Congress).

  5. E-parasites describes the MPAA and their friends very well. Those dull, boring suits with their spreadsheets and an obsession with control don’t ever have new ideas and make a living from them like normal humans, they just parasitize everyone.

    The internet is a commons, and as such is always a target for lazy people who want to make money out of the work of others.

    One good thing that is happening is that people are waking up a bit and seeing that all their politicians are lying scum, and there is no difference between left and right. That has to be a good thing.

  6. It would appear that the MPAA is attempting to legalize their extortion scheme, and Rep Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is a willing accomplice. Perhaps a civil action against the MPAA (and RIAA) under RICO would be possible?

    By the way, Rep Lamar Smith has:
    • received $1,047,198 from the financial sector
    • voted against the “Free Flow of Information Act,” HR 2102
    • supported the special federal tax deduction for UT football tickets and donations to the athletic program which is separate from UT

    1. We await your disclosures on the democrats who sponsored the bills in the Senate because, surely, you’d want to be fair.

      After all, Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Amy Klobuchar outnumber their Republican counterpart 2-1. And, as soon as Al Franken sees that this is generating press coverage, expect him to jump aboard pronto.

      1. “Eight members joined
        • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
        • IP Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
        • Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.)
        • Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.)
        in sponsoring the bill.

        “Additional cosponsors include:
        • Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
        • Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (R-Calif.)
        • Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
        • Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.)
        • Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.)
        • Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)
        • Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.).
        • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)

        Thanks for waiting, but on this bill it looks like 9 R’s to 3 D’s to me.

  7. Only in America… land of the “free”.

    I agree the corps are allowed to give politicians too much money. I think a good rule (like one person, one vote) is each person could donate only a set amount (say $1000) to a politician or party, and like actually voting, they must show up physically in person to do so. As a corporation can’t physically show up (representatives don’t count) they it can’t donate, just as it can’t vote. This is one mechanism to deal with the artificial person problem.

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