PROTECT IP is a bill being considered in the US Senate, with a companion bill expected soon in the House Of Representatives. It would create a government controlled blacklist of websites ‘dedicated to infringing activities’, requiring ISPs to redirect DNS requests for those sites so they can't be reached from inside the US.
One of the key complaints in the letter is that PROTECT IP would break the DNS system, a key component of the Internet.
We heard the same criticism two weeks ago from Paul Vixie, who said an important DNS security measure called DNSSEC won't be implemented if PROTECT IP is signed into law. Vixie told us under PROTECT IP DNSSEC, "will never be commercially viable."
The letter primarily focuses on the standards set out in PROTECT IP for determining what constitutes a website ‘dedicated to infringing activities’.
It points out some lessons about the history of copyright and technology, saying:
Historically, overzealous rightsholders have tried to stop many legitimate technologies that disrupted their existing business models and facilitated some unauthorized activity. The following technologies were condemned at one point or another - the gramophone (record player), the player piano, radio, television, the photocopier, cable TV, the VCR, the DVR, the mp3 player and video hosting platforms. Even though these technologies obviously survived, many individual businesses like DVR-maker ReplayTV and video platform Veoh were not so fortunate - those companies went bankrupt due to litigation costs, and sold their remaining assets to foreign companies.
In addition, it talks about the burden PROTECT IP would place on small tech companies, contrasting it with current law:
One of the key reasons why startups and innovative small businesses became the success stories we know of today was protection from misguided lawsuits under the safe harbors of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). By properly putting the legal liability on the actual actors of infringement rather than third-parties, Congress wisely ensured that service providers, such as many of the companies represented in this letter, could flourish.
PIPA would put new burdens and possible liability on independent third parties, including payment processors, advertising firms, information location tools and others. The definitions here are incredibly vague, and many companies signed below could fall under the broad definitions of “information location tools,” meaning costly changes to their infrastructure, including how we remain in compliance with blocking orders on an ever-changing Internet.
Finally, it criticizes a provision of the bill which would allow private companies to take action on their own. All you have to do is look at the list of supposed rogue sites compiled for media companies to see how how ridiculous that is.
The list includes The Internet Archive, BitTorrent's official site, RapidShare, MegaUpload, YouSendIt, and even a torrent site dedicated to Linux and FreeBSD distros.
In addition to DNS filtering, blacklisted sites would be cut off from using payment processing services or being listed on search engines.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 8 Sep 2011 16:01