Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Under SOPA, service providers would be liable for "circumvention methods" provided by end users

On the eve of the Wikipedia-Reddit (and others) Wednesday SOPA strike, Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a new piece by Trevor Timm, on why the Obama administration’s opposition to SOPA and PIPA (or Protect-IP) fall short of the real problems.  (Note: these blackouts generally apply only to English-language versions and there are "workarounds".) 

Timm mentions a new wrinkle in the “School Detention Problem”.  He says that major service providers (Blogger, Wordpress, YouTube, Vimeo, all kinds of other services) would be responsible specifically for “circumvention information” posted by any users, as well (in the “detention sense”) actual infringement by some users.  I had not heard that problem mentioned before.

The link for the EFF article (Jan. 16, tweeted today) is here

EFF also notes a blog entry on Bricoleur which gives another good example (“Overbroad censorship and users”) of how the rogue downstream liability problem could work,  here

We have a real problem in our policy making in deciding when people should be held responsible for the actions of others when they are not able to know precisely what these actions are.  You could call this the “Public Policy Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle”.   (Or even invoked the New Testament and call it the "Brother's Keeper Problem".  Or something like "Know Your Customer".) Ultimately, the “innocent” can suffer, but some people see such microfocus on personal expressive rights as unsustainable or excessive hyper-individualism.  Ultimately, so much of this is about the “establishment” believing it needs some “gatekeeping” authority of what just who can belong to the “media club” at all.  

Here is Reddit's explanation of SOPA and Protect-IP/PIPA.  Note that it may not be directly accessible for part of Wednesday Jan .18 (or maybe they'll make an exception just for this file), link


Mark Zuckerberg posted Facebook's position on SOPA here today (Wednesday).  Yes, the head-shot is cute!

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