# Wikipedia blackout

by Hurkyl
Tags: blackout, wikipedia
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 16,091
 Quote by Char. Limit Meaning no insult, but if you don't know anything about the laws they're protesting, how can you take a rational position on their blackout?
 Quote by NeoDevin They feel that wikipedia (and the internet as a whole) will be strongly adversely affected by the laws they're protesting. No doubt they have better legal counsel on hand than you do, so I'll take your thoughts on the matter with a grain of salt.
No offense taken. I don't think one can make an objection of the sort I did without getting some misunderstanding as you have.

You are correct that, if they were merely objecting to the SOPA and PIPA, I would have no rational grounds for my thoughts.

But there are (at least) two positions one can have in objection here:
• I oppose the SOPA and PIPA
• I oppose internet regulation
and my issue is that their rhetoric leans fairly strongly towards the latter. Internet anarchism still deserves criticism, despite the fact that it happens to also agree that the SOPA and PIPA are bad.

Now, I do find it likely that some -- maybe even many -- of the editors believe in a more moderate position; that they only intend to object to ill-conceived legislation that has far more unintended side-effects than intended ones.

However, it is implausible that such sentiment is unanimous, and certain that many people believe that wikipedia is standing up for internet anarchy. For example, comment #10 as of this writing:
Jojo says:
2012/01/17 at 12:22

Thanks for your action! Show where you stand, you have my unrestricted support. Good to see that Wikipedia takes a stand for the right cause: no restrictions on the internet!!!

Wikipedia as adopted (or given the appearance of adopting) a far more extreme position on internet regulation than simply objecting to SOPA and PIPA. It's the extreme part that I condemn them for.
P: 71
 Quote by Hurkyl ...Wikipedia as adopted (or given the appearance of adopting) a far more extreme position on internet regulation than simply objecting to SOPA and PIPA. It's the extreme part that I condemn them for.
Wanting the Internet left alone is now an "extreme" view and worthy of condemnation? The Internet is not broken, and bills like SOPA and PIPA are pushed through by special interest groups with money on their minds.
 P: 98 Personally, I think internet regulation is akin to the fear people had of dying inside steam trains since they traveled at 'unnatural' speeds. There is nothing to regulate since it is unregulatable, techies will and do find manners around all regulations. SOPA is hogwash since it will be unable to stand up to the test of time anyway. Moreover, it is bad for innovation since new products will never know whether they can be struck out of the market because of some technicality. SOPA is a darned bad idea, a waste of effort.
 Mentor P: 26,552 How are the artists, writers, designers, developers, etc... going to make a living if their work is stolen? That's their work. That's how they make their living. What makes stealing their work right?
 P: 98 Of course, the old business model is dying. But that happened many times in history to many industries. The challenge is not to hold on to the old business model, but to devise new ones. It needs to happen anyway.
P: 1,414
 Quote by Hurkyl ... internet anarchism still deserves criticism.
Why? According to Wiki, "the term 'anarchy' typically is meant to refer to a society without a publicly enforced government or violently enforced political authority". So, the internet, as it exists now, for the most part, is a society free from the contraints of political control. Isn't that a good thing? When there's evidence of wrongdoing, then authorities can and have closed in on the people responsible. But closing down an entire website like YouTube, or Wiki, or Google because of a few bad members would be like instituting marshal law on the general population because some people do bad things. The fact is that there already exist adequate safeguards on most massively visited websites. Except for the piracy of music and movies on certain websites.

Ok, some music and movies get pirated. Help me Rhonda. Let's call 60 minutes. The thing is that the pirating websites are easily enough found and easily enough shut down. There already exist laws that allow for this. SOPA, PIPA, and whatever, are unnecessary. These legislations, if passed, would be the beginning of political censorship of the internet.

Anyway, the entertainment production companies are still making tons of money. My guess is that the people who download pirated music and movies wouldn't have paid for them anyway ... that is, if they couldn't get them for free, then they wouldn't buy them at retail prices. Is it possible that the general downturn in cd and movie sales just happened to coincide with decreased buying power in the general economy ... not to mention that most of the stuff they're peddling is crap? Consider that the good stuff has still made huge profits.

 Quote by Hurkyl ... many people believe that wikipedia is standing up for internet anarchy.
Yes, I think so, in the positive sense of the word 'anarchy' (ie., freedom from violently enforced political authority). The word 'anarchy' can also be taken to mean "cooperation", wrt which it seems to me that the internet has, for the most part, progressed.

My personal opinion is that the legislation in question is based on the realization that there's LOTS of money to be made wrt controlling the internet, and that that's the principle aim of SOPA, PIPA, and their ilk.

 Quote by Hurkyl Wikipedia as adopted (or given the appearance of adopting) a far more extreme position on internet regulation than simply objecting to SOPA and PIPA. It's the extreme part that I condemn them for.
But it's precisely the possibility of extreme extensions of SOPA, PIPA, and whatever, that represents a real threat to our freedom. The bottom line, imho, is that this legislation not only isn't necessary ... it's Machiavellian. It's wrong. And it was heartening to hear that the White House opposes it.
P: 1,414
 Quote by Evo How are the artists, writers, designers, developers, etc... going to make a living if their work is stolen? That's their work. That's how they make their living. What makes stealing their work right?
Writers, designers, developers? Is internet piracy really a problem for writers, designers, and developers? I don't think so.

It might cut a few thousand dollars from a few musical artists, and it might cut a few millions from a few movies. All of which are getting rich off their profits anyway. So, really, what's the problem? Aw, I'm sorry, you only made 9 million instead of 11 million? Lets put this into the proper perspective.

Ok, internet piracy is stealing. Well, there are already laws in place against that. So, enforce those laws. Don't make new laws which threaten the freedom and integrity of the entire internet. That is, don't make new laws which benefit wealthy and powerful corporations at the expense of the freedom of the common people.
P: 687
 Quote by Evo How are the artists, writers, designers, developers, etc... going to make a living if their work is stolen? That's their work. That's how they make their living. What makes stealing their work right?
They're making their living now, and people are "stealing" their work now. There are many ways to make money, given the reality of file sharing.

Some artists (Jonathan Coulton, for example) give all their music away for free, under a Creative Commons licence, and ask for donations from anyone who likes it. He isn't *that* talented a musician, but his songs are entertaining, and enough people donate the recommended $1 for him to live full time off his music. Others choose to provide a more compelling/easier to use product than piracy. iTunes, Google Music, Amazon mp3, and any number of subscription based satellite radio services are excellent examples of this, as far as music goes. Gaming services like Steam do an excellent job of deterring piracy on games. That's not to say we shouldn't prosecute the pirates (though really, if the media companies spent half as much on programming as they do on lobbying, there wouldn't be much interest in piracy), but that doing so should be under the existing laws, without giving the government authority to shut down entire sites because of an *accusation* of copyright violation. New authorities aren't required, enforcement of the existing laws is required. The major reason people pirate music is simply convenience. They can't be bothered to go to the store and buy a cd, and/or they don't want to deal with ridiculous DRM from the media companies. I'd imagine the same is true for movies/tv shows, though probably not for software (where cost is still a deterrent).  P: 98 Another reason: Some guys making money, making art, give an alternative to mass media news, all at the same time. It already happened. P: 1,414  Quote by NeoDevin Some artists (Jonathan Coulton, for example) give all their music away for free, under a Creative Commons licence, and ask for donations from anyone who likes it. He isn't *that* talented a musician, but his songs are entertaining, and enough people donate the recommended$1 for him to live full time off his music.
I like that he likes music, and writes songs, and plays the guitar. But I wouldn't give him \$1 for any of it. So, I find it somewhat amazing that he's actually able to live off the donations. Ok, that was an aside, a sidebar ... off topic ...

Of course it isn't the Jonathan Coulton's of the world who are advocating for the legislation in question. It wouldn't benefit him in the least. But supergroups like, say, Metallica, which have millions of ardent fans, can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars via the pirating of their tunes. Of course, they're already ridiculously rich via sales of their ridiculously high priced cds. The point is that immensely popular groups or individuals could be more ridiculously rich, but for the internet piracy of their music. And so could their agents, managers, and production companies. At least I think that's the point.

Just how much more ridiculously rich they would be without internet piracy is still a matter of speculation, afaik.
P: 1,414
 Quote by NeoDevin The major reason people pirate music is simply convenience.
I'm not so sure that's true. I think the cost of cds has at least something to do with it.
PF Gold
P: 1,160
 Quote by Evo How are the artists, writers, designers, developers, etc... going to make a living if their work is stolen? That's their work. That's how they make their living. What makes stealing their work right?
No one is saying that artists et. al. should not be paid for their work. The problem is when regulations or actions taken to protect one group negatively affect the other. The "content industry" has long abused their power, whether suing dead people[1], people identified only by IP address[2], or directly putting malware on peoples' computers[3]. Had you or I done this last step to protect any of our intellectual property, we would be imprisoned. (If you are interested in computers and security, [3] is an excellent read.)

The Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act, while in some ways not as extreme as directly putting malware on consumers' computers*, continues the same trend. Though the supporters claim that the bill only targets foreign sites, the bill is written vaguely such that a "foreign site" is only one which was not registered by a US company[4]. Thus, actual sites operated by foreign entities would be considered domestic if the site was registered by a US registrar, and US sites with foreign registered domain names (e.g. bit.ly) would be "foreign sites" under the language of the bill. The Pirate Bay (thepiratebay.org), a Swedish-hosted site that provides trackers for torrenting, would not be a "foreign site" as defined in SOPA/PIPA.

The scary part of the bills (removed as of this time from SOPA, but still in PIPA) is the censoring of the internet using Domain Name Service filtering. This would break DNSSEC, an important technology for preventing DNS hijacking (i.e. rogue DNS redirecting a DNS query to a rogue/malware site)[5]. The attorney general is given the power to block sites using DNS filtering, which is also a dangerous precedent. Considered that the chairman of the MPAA, former Sen. Chris Dodd, claimed that the US should be more like China in terms of censoring the Internet[6].

The fact is that it is impossible to prevent works in a digital format from being shared. If Alice shares a file with Bob, she can't take steps to protect it, but as long as Bob can access the file in plaintext there is nothing that can be done to stop sharing. As the infosec saying goes, "Information wants to be free".

The other issue is that we shouldn't use legislation to protect a dying business model**. This only stifles innovation. It's possible to make plenty of revenue, even if copyright infringement is as prevalent as is claimed. Steam, Amazon MP3, and iTunes are massively profitable. Steam is even in essence a DRM platform. The difference is that it is a DRM platform that provides benefits to the consumer, and not one that arbitrarily punishes all users because a few pirate.

*Others would say, and I would be inclined to agree, that any bill threatening to censor the internet would be worse then a rootkit.
**Let's face it, regardless of what happens with SOPA/PIPA, the "CD store" is effectively a relic of the past.

References:
[2] Gaither, Chris, "Recording industry withdraws suit", 24 Sept. 2003, http://www.boston.com/business/artic...ithdraws_suit/
[3] Russinovich, Mark, "Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far", 31 Oct. 2005, http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussi...e-too-far.aspx
[4] H.R. 3261, Title I, § 101, Para 3 – Definition of a domestic domain name
[5] Mohan, Ram, "DNSSEC's Time Is Here, But SOPA Presents Challenges", 10 Jan. 2012, http://www.securityweek.com/dnssecs-...nts-challenges
[6] Johnson, Ted, "Dodd slams Google over legislatoin (sic)", 8 Dec. 2011, http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118047080
 P: 7 Piracy is copying, not stealing. The original owner is not deprived of the good when it is copied, as he would be if it were stolen.
Mentor
P: 26,552
To those that say it's censoring the internet, nonsense. Since when is stopping cybercrime censorship? It's about protecting people's rights to their work. The issue, IMO, is not whether their work should be protected from pirating, it's doing it in the best way (without causing more problems)

 Quote by Polymathiah Piracy is copying, not stealing. The original owner is not deprived of the good when it is copied, as he would be if it were stolen.
Nonsense. It's depriving the owner of the sale of his product.
PF Gold
P: 4,287
 Quote by Polymathiah Piracy is copying, not stealing. The original owner is not deprived of the good when it is copied, as he would be if it were stolen.
It's not the material, it's the value lost from the sale. The argument is that you basically stole out of their cash register after the product had been sold. The assumption seems to be that pirated videos would have been paid for if they couldn't be pirated. Of course that's not always true... pirating probably gives companies a false sense of their perceived value: I've seen people mass pirating and archiving and never really using or even distributing. They're just data-horders. (hey, I have an idea for a new reality TV show...)
PF Gold
P: 4,287
 Quote by Evo To those that say it's censoring the internet, nonsense. Since when is stopping cybercrime censorship? It's about protecting people's rights to their work.
I hope by "it" you mean internet regulation, and not SOPA itself. :)
PF Gold
P: 1,160
 Quote by Evo ...should be protected from pirating...
This is impossible.
P: 2
 Quote by jhae2.718 The other issue is that we shouldn't use legislation to protect a dying business model**. This only stifles innovation. It's possible to make plenty of revenue, even if copyright infringement is as prevalent as is claimed. Steam, Amazon MP3, and iTunes are massively profitable.
Totally agree!!! The only people that benefit by using this heavy handed legal approach will be the lawyers and lobbyists. Businesses should actually cater to the consumers instead of trying to have politicians do their dirty work for them.

Take for instance 3D technology. They needed a way to get people excited about seeing movies in the theaters again so they innovated and made it trendy again to see 3D movies. If you use the technology to provide a greater experience to your customers, then you'll be rewarded. Disney is doing really well by re-releasing their classics in 3D, for example.

 Related Discussions General Physics 8 Current Events 22 General Discussion 9