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January 17, 2012

And now, a word from the Unblinking Eye
Posted by Patrick at 05:37 PM * 59 comments

The Motion Picture Association of America, chief sponsor and financier of SOPA and PIPA, addresses Wikipedia, Reddit, and other major sites going dark tomorrow, accusing them of “abuse of power.” “It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.” In related news, the mutilated body of Irony was found washed up against a pier in the East River. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Not incidentally, what a dreadful end for former Connecticut senator Christopher Dodd, once an idealistic young congressman of the Watergate-era “Class of ‘74,” to end his public life as the spokesmodel for a corrupt and frequently hysterical organization of fantastically wealthy media conglomerates, distinguished in American history for having attempted to persuade Congress to ban videocassette recorders.

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) says that SOPA markup will continue in February, reports of the bill’s death or “shelving” notwithstanding. These people are players. Don’t get played.

Comments on And now, a word from the Unblinking Eye:
#1 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:58 PM:

Congratulations, MPAA, you've just declared war on the country who had the temerity to go to war with you after you declared war on them.

I knew irony. We used to be really close...

#2 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:08 PM:

I am left breathless and speechless. "Chutzpah" doesn't begin to cover it. Even "unmitigated gall" leaves a lot of territory bare.

#3 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:15 PM:

My Irony meter has just wound its pointer around the end stop and burned all the paint off the cooling fins on the shunt.

(I thought the Heavy Duty Usenet model would be more than adequate for use with a web browser.)

Sigh. Need a bigger shunt or some water cooling, I reckon.

#4 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:23 PM:

I predict the autopsy report will show that Irony was killed with the same shotgun that Dick Cheney was carrying when Harry Whittington had that unfortunate hunting accident.

#5 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:25 PM:

"It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."

And which this legislation will see to it nobody will enjoy in the marketplace of tomorrow.

How dare they abuse their freedom by trying to keep that freedom from being taken away?

#6 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:38 PM:

Cadbury Moose:

Keeping an Internet Irony Meter running is getting to sound like a chapter from one of the Lensman books, with the foot thick silver bus bars and the 5 foot vacuum spark gaps.

#7 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:14 PM:

BC (StM): but if you could, what power you could draw! You could probably run a small-size video-casette assembly line off the meter driver, and heat the building from the losses!

And in related heating news, Calgary windchill is -38 at 1700. Folks, at those (percieved) temperatures, it don't matter much Celsius or that old-fashioned scale. I could wish for one of those Irony Meters just for the heat.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:29 PM:

#7: Sorry, Irony Meters REMOVE heat from the local environment. Unless it's over 79 F, in which case they churn out calories.

Because that's irony for you.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:42 PM:

Wasn't there once a serious country called the United States? It seems to have been replaced by Absurdistan.

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:10 PM:

Mycroft W #7: In fact, the scales meet at -40°.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:48 PM:

Cute. I especially liked the way the press release avoided mentioning any of the sites involved. It might excite suspicion if people were to see Boing Boing, Wikipedia, Reddit, the EFF, ALL THE ICANHAZCHEEZBURGER SITES, Mozilla, Wordpress, MineCraft, Red State, thisisXBOX.com, TwitPic, and an astonishing list of other sites in complete agreement on this issue.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:16 PM:

You can add Instant Attitudes (http://www.instantattitudes.com) to that list. I just finished proofing the page my partner is going to be putting up.

I posted about it on my LiveJournal, which doesn't get many hits, but at least it's something.

#13 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:55 PM:

Gotta love the "corporate interests" line.

On election day, let us hope that Big People pursues its Corporate Interest in being represented, by abusing its freedom to nefariously influence government by hiring and firing legislators through a shady mechanism called the vote.

#14 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:01 PM:

Phil Agre, long-ago purveyor of an email zine called "The Red Rock Eater" taught me how to recognize the particular type of projection in which a vested interest accuses the other side of what the vested interest is actually doing. We see this all the time, of course, but this is an especially obvious example.

#15 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:17 PM:

Say, if they decide to crack down on copyright violators, what will be left on YouTube? Well, I could always post my new camera's first film, which consisted of panning across our living-room, where many a canine can be seen sleeping.

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:43 PM:

Serge, #15: I'm sure that's one of the calculations involved. YouTube is, after all, where all those videos of cops pepper-spraying unarmed students and suchlike are being spread around. Surely that's bad for society! And the courts are being ridiculously recalcitrant about upholding laws making the taking of such videos illegal, so they have to be attacked from a different direction.

#17 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:57 PM:

SOPA/PIPA will, of course, make it trivially easy for scammers, sockpuppets, and trolls to take down any site at all, just for the hell of it.

#18 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 12:45 AM:

Indeed, if either were passed I would expect numerous such trolls to make a sport of taking down the websites of everyone who supported it.

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Serge Broom @15 -- you might well be infringing if there were any books, magazines, newspapers, or other printed matter in that video you're talking about. The law is not very good on the "use/mention" distinction. Or if there's any artwork on your walls, where the artist might have not actively assigned the copyright to you. Or any trademarked products. Or ... you get the drift.

Would you get a takedown notice for any of those? Depends on just how anal the copyright holder was feeling.

#20 ::: Brian Jenkins ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 02:01 AM:

It's sad to see Senator Dodd debase himself like this. He's fallen a long way since his courageous stand against retroactive immunity for FISA violations.

At least it seemed courageous and principled at the time (particularly in contrast to Obama). Guess it was just empty posturing.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:10 PM:

Dodd's statement today was really annoying.

I've responded to various pleas and sent off emails to my congressperson (David Scott) and my senators (Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson). I hope they help.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:11 PM:

Was it just me, or was NPR's reporting today on SOPA/PIPA less than thorough?

#23 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:29 PM:

I'm really worried about how this might (and most likely will) be used against transformative works (parodies, fanvids, fanfiction, fanfilms, filks, etc), and in combination with the power of trolls to take down sites they don't like, it's ... I don't have a strong enough word, really!

Particularly given my experience with how dedicated a lot of trolls are to harassing women, people of colour, and women of colour in particular, it's like they've been given the power to make us disappear. Not just disappear because of their threats and harassment and outright abuse and rape threats, but because there is no way to fight back.

Like, okay, moving to another domain. They follow you. They find you. Gone. Move. Gone. Move. Gone. Consolidate with another domain in the hope that it'll give some protection. Now that and you are gone. Move. Gone. Rinse and repeat until there are no women who are openly feminist/womanist on the internet. Double this if you are queer or disabled or poly!

This already happens. A lot. So the idea of codifying the power to make that happen as often and as permanently as they please, on top of everything else, is terrifying.

Oh, but copyright. Spare me. There's a reason I forgot my name.

#24 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 09:26 PM:

Anyway, on a more upbeat note, I'm really glad to see how many major and minor sites are taking notice of this issue. Even in the midst of worryfret, it's heartening, particularly with larger sites like Wikipedia and Boingbong that (iirc) rely on user views for things like donations/revenue.

#25 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 10:01 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 19... Not sure what you were trying to tell me, but that's just me. I had a long day at the office saving the team's ass and I'm getting sleepy.

#26 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 10:29 PM:

Lee @ 16... How can you be so cynical?

#27 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 10:42 PM:

Serge Broom @25 -- merely saying that the first film you took with your new camera might be seen as infringing someone else's copyright.

#28 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 11:01 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 27... Got it. Luckily there was no art, but the camera may have shown Captain America's Shield and Thor's Hammer. I guess Marvel AND Hasbro could pick on me. :-)

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:44 AM:

I've done what little I can, and tomorrow will try to use this (and some other stuff) to keep the fire lit.

That's the real issue. We have to win every round. Unless we can make it a "third rail" issue, it's going to be a perpetual fight.

I hate to sound apocalyptic, but all they gave to do is win once. I, for one, am not looking to the Supremes to make the right decision.

#30 ::: Beachfox ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 03:03 AM:

I need to confess.

Last night, right after MakingLight went dark, and with the imagry of this post's title in my head, I made a small Twitter post of:

"MPAA calls the Internet going dark in protest of SOPA "An abuse of power". In related news, the Eye of Sauron accuses Hobbits of terrorism."

And somehow, it went horrifically viral. And I wasn't able to attach a (via @MakingLight) notice within the 140 limit, and no one ReTweets the followup "This is where I got the idea from" note.

So please consider this:
http://fwips.tumblr.com/post/16071907271
and this
http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/omnho/what_a_great_comparison/

dedicated to you and the site. Because if I'd known that would happen, I would've worked harder to get that link in there.

#31 ::: Shane ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 07:03 AM:

The big risk I see in these bills is not getting much mentioned. While swathes of the internet might go dark once passed, vindicating all these protests, what I expect to happen will be more subtle and ultimately worse.

First, I think they will be enforced very selectively, against egregious or powerless targets, much like filesharing lawsuits today. The survival of Google, CNN and Wikipedia will be (wrongly) trumpeted as evidence that we all over-reacted.

Secondly, the mechanisms put in place to enforce these laws will be the groundwork for the ability to kill the internet in time of crisis, like all those expiring regimes tried and failed so laughably to do through 2011.

I think they want to be ready for if an Occupy / Tea Party version of the Arab Spring ever takes off.

I trust ML will reign me in if I'm stretching here.

#32 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 08:55 AM:

Scenario I can easily imagine:

The mere hint of threats is enough to force YouTube and other video-sharing sites to screen all user-uploaded content (Studios and record labels will of course be exempt from this).

This means any video might take a few hours to appear once you've uploaded it. Depending on how many people they employ to screen things, it may take longer.

For your home-made funny cat video, that's no big deal. But what about Pepper Spray Cop?

#33 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:47 AM:

Of course this is going to be selective enforcement, because it takes someone to file suit or a prosecutor to get a court order. Not like DMCA, where any twit with a complaint can send a takedown letter. So to subject your targets to really draconian punishment, you have to be a rich troll. Meanwhile, if you're an individual with an actual complaint, you can go suck eggs.

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:57 AM:

I wonder if LucasFilm would bother sueing Mary Dell for THIS. And me although my contribution was limited to the puns.

#35 ::: Marty In Boise ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:31 AM:

We have always been at war with Ironistan.

#36 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 11:28 AM:

Well I rang a peel over the head of my idiot Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown for supporting this sucker -- told him if he supported this I won't be voting for him EVER again.

Much to my surprise my Republican Rep is "leaning no" so I phoned him and told him that I am opposed to SOPA/PIPA.

My Republican Senator is staying mum on where he stands on this issue. Called and told him to oppose it.

Does anyone think boycotting the theaters (say for a week) would do any good? Blackout Hollywood, anyone?

#37 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 11:37 AM:

Any comment on the arguments made by this guy?
http://freeloadingthebook.wordpress.com/

The generally shrill tone, his dismissal of many of the concerns expressed here and elsewhere, and his early recourse to childish name-calling make it hard to take him seriously. I gave up reading about half way through. Any idea who Chris Reun is? Googling only led me back to that page.

On the other hand, what about the discussion here?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/jan/19/behind-music-anti-piracy-legislation

I think sometimes it's necessary to venture out of our own echo chambers and enter troll-infested waters to get our point across. Which is probably an appalling mixed metaphor, but...

#38 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:24 PM:

I am a thief! I stole material from this website and posted it on Facebook! Patrick, your opening paragraph was just too good not to share, and I gave attribution to both you and MakingLight.

In other news, I contacted my Senators, Boxer and Feinstein, and gave them short, pithy sentences on my severe non-support of SOPA/PIPA.

BTW, isn't "sopa" Spanish for soup?

#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Serge @ 34:

Based on past form for punitive legal action, if I were Mary Dell I'd be more worried about Spelling Productions coming after me for the "Lovecraft Boat" photoshop.

#40 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:59 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 39... Indeed. Do you still have a link to it? I remember that you made one of the original cast members go thru a particularly horrifying lovecratian transformation.

#41 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 03:15 PM:

Lin:

La huelga de SOPA esta hasta en la sopa.

#42 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 03:51 PM:

#37 Tim Hall

Any comment on the arguments made by this guy?
http://freeloadingthebook.wordpress.com/

He links to Tumblr.

Tumblr contains copyright violations.

His site in specific (and Wordpress in general) could be taken down at a moment's notice without warning or redress, should SOPA become law.

#43 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:04 PM:

James McDonald #42

Although he will assume that it's lemming-like hysteria to suggest that SOPA poses any threat to Tumblr or Wordpress.

#44 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:10 PM:

Lin at 38, I did the same a couple weeks ago. Boxer sent back an e-mail saying, yeah, I won't vote for either bill in its current incarnation. Feinstein's response waffled and weaved and made it clear, in an unclear kinda way, that she supported both bills. Pfui on her, not for the first time.

My representative, George Miller, is a stand up liberal. He responded Nuh uh, not voting for either of these turkeys, no way. That's why we in his district return him to Congress with over 60% of the vote every 2 years. Go George!

#45 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 06:54 PM:

Lin, 38: "Sopa" is indeed Spanish for soup, as albatross at 41 indicates (I hadn't seen that idiom before, I like it!). I've suggested to Avram that maybe we could try using that fact to convince some of Congress that SOPA was an immigration bill so they'd come out against it.

Additionally, "pipa" is Spanish for (a smoking) "pipe," among other things. "Pipa" is also a Chinese variety of lute; I don't recall where I saw the "Stop PIPA" graphic with a picture of such a lute, else I'd link it here and add to my irredeemable sins.

#46 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 07:56 PM:

Serge @ 40:

It's here on Flickr. I don't recall doing anything to it; it's all her fault.

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:37 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 46... The horror. The HORROR!

That being said, do you mind if I post a G+ and FB link to your piracy of the brains of Lovecraft and Spelling?

#48 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:47 PM:

You've got to wonder - how much have the MPAA's members made from VCRs since they lost the battle to ban them? From MP3s, since they fought to ban them*? etc. These people are even their own enemies even within their own claimed framework.

* I have an actual Diamond 32M MP3 player from 1999 around here somewhere. My wife is still using the earbuds from it, they were very good ones.

#49 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 01:10 AM:

Serge @ 47:

Like I said, that's Mary Dell's image, not mine. I think you should share it with attribution, but it might not be a bad idea to drop her a line about it.

#50 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 08:35 AM:

Shorter Christopher Dodd. "The Internet has moved my cheese".

#51 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 10:33 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 49... Mary gave her ok for that one, and for a few other lovecraftian horrors, including the one where a Thomas Kinkade fisherman meets Cthulhu.

#52 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 05:35 PM:

Serge @ 51:

If you're interested, I have some cthuloid images in my Flickr set, "Little Photoshop of Horrors", including one inspired by Mary Dell's Thomas Kinkade fisher of men.

#53 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 06:15 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 52...

Is that a picture of Winnie the Poo from "The Dreamquest of Honey Kadath"?

#54 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 09:06 PM:

I translated Chris Dodd's press release back into English on my blog.

#55 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 11:56 PM:

Huh. What Lizzy writes @ 44 is news to me. I was under the impression that Boxer supported PIPA. She's certainly listed as one of the co-sponsors at Thomas, which I take as a pretty authoritative source. She's listed as a sponsor as of 12/12/11, with no indication that she has withdrawn her support. The Wikipedia page (less authoritative than Thomas, but my guess is that it's reasonably accurate on this sort of thing) also still lists her as a sponsor and supporter.

I certainly hope that Boxer has changed her mind; I'd like to think well of at least one of my Senators. Her office hasn't responded to my letter yet, for what it's worth.

#56 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 03:36 AM:

Serge @53:

I don't know, but it goes pretty well with this.

#57 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:13 AM:

Abi @ 56... Again I bow down before your superior talent. My own attempt at a Lovecraftian homage was the pitiful "Green Ichors", inspired by the 1960s's slice of American Gothic called "Green Acres".

#58 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 11:15 PM:

Li, Chris Quinones, albatross - Yes, sopa is soup. Too many cooks were involved in its making.

And pipa might be pipe, but this was not one, or if it was, they were smoking something other than storebought tobacco before they decided to go luting.

#59 ::: fidelio sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2012, 03:01 PM:

At least the names are imaginative, even if the posts are not.

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