back to article Anti-piracy laws will smash internet, US constitution - legal eagles

Legal experts are warning that the proposed PROTECT IP and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation, currently working their way through Congress, will damage the world's DNS system, cripple attempts to get better online security and violate free speech rights in the US constitution. In an essay published in the Stanford …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only DNS

    If this only affects name resolution then what is stopping file sharing app devs from adding a direct IP option? I think eMule and eDonkey do this now. With a distributed system where each client caches their own contacts IPs this would only serve to make file sharing invisible.

    So, this bill would make a mess of legitimate use and hardly stop file sharing. It would harm torrent searches, but I can see that dropping back to older tech (news groups). Come to think of it, this could be a real boon for file sharing.

    1. Darryl

      That's the problem you have when you have people creating laws governing technology that they don't understand. It makes them (and their lobbyists) feel all warm 'n' fuzzy while doing nothing to address the real problem, and causing headaches for legitimate businesses and users.

      1. Joe Drunk

        Most Ironic/Moronic Law in a while

        Darryl you just nailed it.

        This law will only affect those internet users who don't have a clue what DNS is, they just type something into the URL bar and it takes them to their favorite website. These people have no idea about IP addresses, bittorrent, filehosters, OpenDNS etc. The majority of these people will be blocked from infringing websites that they probably would have never visited anyway.

        Meanwhile those who are rabid copyright infringers will find it trivial to bypass any blocking these two proposed laws will enact.

        More knee-jerk legislation from politicians and their wealthy lobbyists.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    It wont smash the internet

    it will smash the US controlled version/part of it. The US will become a defacto island off the internet.

    I don't see that as a problem for the world in general.

    1. Oliver Mayes

      Until other countries are forced to fall in line and copy them.

    2. ArmanX


      Because US doesn't drive much traffic to the rest of the world, right? Right?

      Say, for example, a US hosting company happens to host a sight linked to piracy. An email goes out, and that entire hosting company goes down. Only along with the pirate site, it also hosted dozens if not hundreds of other sites, including sites designed for other countries. Or vice versa; the hosting company is offshore, but has mostly US business. The DNS gets blocked, and the company fails before it can get lifted.

      Meanwhile... it's really easy to set up an independent DNS service, hosted outside the US. Easy to use, too. So the pirates don't even feel this, and the rest of the world suffers. Business as usual...

    3. Yes Me Silver badge
      Big Brother

      a problem for the world in general

      I don't think you understand the extent to which the US government still controls the root of the DNS tree, due to the mistake 15 years ago of establishing ICANN in the USA. This evil legislation would have world-wide effects, although even a right-wing US Supreme Court seems quite likely to strike it down on account of the First Amendment.

      1. Thomas 4

        This is fucking terrifying

        I read a few American articles detailing what was going on in the chamber itself, with US Senators twittering gems like "I just want to hurry up and pass this thing so I can go home" and "lol, too technical for me but we'll pass it anyway".

        And to echo what others have said above, if SOPA & PROTECT-IP go through, it's not just going to be Americans that screwed, it's going to be *everyone*.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not limited to the US

      It may become a problem for the world in general as one of the proposed remedies against suspected infringing sites is for US network operators to attempt to block access globally by injecting bogus routes in routing table.

    5. Nameless Faceless Computer User

      If it happens to the US all others will follow.

    6. Jim Benn

      Won't smash the Internet, . . .

      Haha! And you will deal with the GLOBAL loss or Pr0n How ?? LOL ! the unsated demand alone might just bring the "remaining" Internet to it's knees.

  3. BristolBachelor Gold badge


    "DNS, for the uninitiated, is the vital system that points browsers at websites when given a human-readable address, such as or"

    Oh, that's OK then. The internet is only browsers. Phew!!!

    There was me thinking that DNS was used for video conferenceing, email, FTP, internet radio, telephone calls, controlling traffic signals, instant messaging, remote working, controlling power generation, controlling gas and water delivery, .......etc.

    On the other hand, perhaps the uninitiated should go elsewhere for initiation first, and that includes AUTHORS (this is an IT site)

    1. Shades

      I can't quite figure out...

      ...if you're a troll or a complete and utter tool?!

      1. richard 7

        Troll or tool?

        I didnt realise they were mutually exclusive

  4. bruceld


    I seem to recall a certain media company deleting things willy nilly with any verification whatsoever off of cyber lockers, including files that didn't actually violate their IP and files that actually belonged to other companies. Who will police the billions of files and millions of web sites and verify every single file and link and ensure that everything is legit or not? The media corporations? Heres an idea...let's get the DHS, CIA, FBI and the richest and most priviledged people in the world install Root Kit and Key Logging software on all of our computers like the way they installed that IQ crap on half of the worlds cell phones so they can monitor us 24/7 to ensure we're not downloading their garbage? sounds better doesn't it...and it saves everyone the time and headache.

    Of course...we don't really need DNS. We'll all learn to recall and communicate with eachother by learning numerical IP addresses by heart and learn how to setup dedicated computers and install dedicated open wi-fi's and share our files across entire neighbourhoods.

    1. Charles 9

      What about IPv6?

      "Of course...we don't really need DNS. We'll all learn to recall and communicate with eachother by learning numerical IP addresses by heart and learn how to setup dedicated computers and install dedicated open wi-fi's and share our files across entire neighbourhoods."

      Some people have enough trouble memorizing telephone numbers. At least IPv4 is at most 12 digits, so within the reach of people who routinely dial international phone numbers. But what about if IPv6 becomes mainstream. That's up to 32 different likely-nonsensical hexadecimal characters (so now numbers AND letters) with colons in between each set of 4. And what if your ISP changes your IP? That was one motivation behind DNS: the number can change, but just reassign the name and no one notices.

      1. Neoc


        W.R.T. memorising IP addresses... isn't that what a local host file is for? Or even a local DNS with no outside refresh?

      2. we all know how irritating it is having to interact with the shopkeeper in any way Silver badge



        It'll never catch on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm getting a lot of mileage out of the following line these days...

    "A bad law that punishes the innocent and won't deter the guilty."

    I think I'm beginning to see a trend.

    1. wibbilus maximus

      Isn't that...

      ...the description of Windows Genuine Advantage?

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "allegations without proof, or even a hearing." - that's happening on YouTube at the moment thanks to their automated service, and even if you remove the offending comment for your channel and wait a reasonable length of time, the automatically imposed 15 minute limit doesn't get automatically lifted, either.

    I have two; one is a private video of my singing, no backing music at all, and that's flagged; also a review of a number of games on a mobile phone connected to HDMI (once the bluetooth controller gets here, I'll be examinign teh use of mobile phones as home gaming consoles) so that's been flagged as well.

    And I'll be damned if I'm submitting a formal "legal" document to a company that probably can't be damned. There has to be some middle ground.

    1. OziWan

      re Humph

      The choir we run sings 'O Holy Night'. Written in the nineteenth century and sung with a simple piano accompaniment, it is claimed on YouTube (every time) as being the intellectual property of Sony. Utterly Bizarre. We have the same problem with 'Silent Night' (only the Warner Bros I believe).

      I respect their right to protect their IP but they have gone completely insane with these sorts of laws (and make no mistake it is the corporations who have 'sponsored' this bill). America, wake up, the land of the free has become the land of who can pay congress. Seriously wake up, I am no pirate but this stuff is wrong!

      1. Jedit Silver badge

        Typical bloody freetard response

        I don't care how good your facts are, do you really think you should get to influence Congress without paying?

  7. HP Cynic

    This time I advised dropping the SOPA (and PIPA or whatever the feck the other one is).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It will not smash Internet

    It will smash the US' connection to the Internet.

    With all the high (financial) stakes the world has in the Internet, do you really think other countries will let the US dictate to them what can and cannot be on the Net? "If the US doesn't hesitate to plain out lying and deceit in order to go to war with another country - several times in their (also recent) history -, what is to stop them from doing the same in order to shut down a site which they simply don't like?".

    I don't see the Internet smashed like this. Worst case scenario is that a lot will move underground, there are more ways besides public DNS servers to keep websites and such up.

    What I do see happening if this gets active is other countries putting on the pressure to get a fully independent DNS registration system which cannot be influenced "just like that" by oppression or persuasion from a single country.

    And then we all get what we want. Obviously a country will keep control over its own (localized) root DNS hierarchy. How ironic; the US is one of the first to start commenting, complaining and ridiculing China's "great Firewall" only to end up doing basically exactly the same thing. Of course this time its to "protect the freedom" (and the baby's, the kittens, the good, the bad and the ugly).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ripe for misuse

    Surely they can see that those pranksters at Anonymous will have a field day with this. If the process to take down a site is as easy and unregulated as they say, how long before there's a report claiming that is hosting copyright material, that hosts donkey pr0n, etc etc

    1. arrbee
      Black Helicopters

      Well there are a number of documented cases of the major music labels streaming tracks to which they have no legal rights, so it should be pretty easy for an affected rights owner to have them blocked according to what we hear about this law.

      Of course there is probably some small print that will restrict this power in such a way that only the major corporates will be able to use it.

      1. Mark McNeill
        Big Brother

        No small print needed

        In practice, action will probably depend on the clout and credibility of the entity making the claim. If your ISP gets a letter from $BIGMEDIA threatening them with legal action over your website, they'll cave quicker than you can say "fair usage"; if Universal or Disney get a letter from you claiming infringement, it'll be in the bin before you've even finished licking the envelope.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Everything is copyright, as soon as it is created. (Oh Noes! Take down the whole internets!!!)

      What you mean is hosting copyright material /without/ /permission/.

  10. asdf

    funny that

    Our Congress can't seem to agree on anything to help out the hard working men and women of the US but they sure get bipartisan support on pushing through legislation that strips away more Constitutional rights. Obama the corporate patsy wont veto it either. I am seriously voting against every single incumbent at every level next year (or course going 3rd party to avoid voting for corp whore Republicans).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Sad to say...

      ...but ALL politicians are corporate well as whores for votes.

      There isn't ONE in the US worth their weight in dog poo.

      1. Peter Murphy

        While I share your disdain for most US politicians...

        I have a soft spot for Bernie Sanders. He ain't no corporate whore. But any politician who is honest enough to be a "Socialist" AND get elected Senator in the US of A deserves some respect. Matt Taibbi on the man:

    2. Notas Badoff

      "I am seriously voting against every single incumbent at every level next year (or course going 3rd party to avoid voting for corp whore Republicans)."

      That worked sooo well in 2000 that a few thousand people who might otherwise have liked to debate with you on strategy aren't available to do so. Don't vote stupid.

      1. Greg J Preece

        "Don't vote stupid."?

        As opposed to voting for someone whose views you don't agree with because you're the kind of mouth-breathing retard who thinks that anyone not voting along established lines is "wasting their vote"?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The price ...

      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, it would seem that the price has not been met.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        they only have to get lucky once... we have to be lucky all the time...

        what I want to call these coprocrats is unprintable... however... what needs to be done with these corrupt senators involves a broom handle wrapped with some rusty barbed wire... and no reach-around while it happens either...

        1. Big-nosed Pengie
          Thumb Up


          I love it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Douglas Adams said it best...

      "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

      In regard to the proposed legislation:

      "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."

      The reason there hasn't been much outcry from America is that it hasn't been publicized by the media. I haven't seen anything in the papers or from the talking heads on TV. Not that I expect to anytime soon as they are all corporately controlled.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a real boon indeed...

    ... as we go back to the good old days where pirates actually SOLD their wares to the public and having a cd/dvd burner meant being able to make some decent pocket money on the side. Neat!

  12. Haku

    I can forsee the future news headlines...


    And nothing of value was lost.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      If Microsoft or Apple wrote your OS and their updates site disappears from your view of the net, I think you might reckon that something of value has been lost. But yeah, who'd use an operating system from a US vendor, eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah that's true. Unless they did something crazy like, oh I don't know, using their many servers in other countries? But that would be crazy right?

        Multi-national companies would have no issues using the many data centres they have plotted outside of the US. And for that matter, any US citizen or business won't find it to hard to register for hosting in a country that isn't so horribly repressed as your beloved USA.

        To paraphrase some of the other poster's headlines: America is cut off from internet. Nobody cares.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: something crazy

          I think you'll find that US companies are bound by US law even in their foreign activities.

          I don't personally think for a moment that the US authorities would be daft enough to enforce laws that cut their own corporations off the internet. But if they were, they *could* enforce it. Never understimate the resourcefulness of human stupidity.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Like the death of dialup

      That should free up all of those TCP ports being used to slowly trickle data through American last-mile internet. Everybody wants the same data so lots of people with slow connections consume more resources than lots of people with fast connections. Sorry, I meant "series of tubes."

    3. Soruk


      The USA can go their own way and have their own closed intranet.

      It's not like it hasn't been done before:

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative internets...

    Expect us.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it's great

    DNS was always a crap system anyway. Let's smash it and start over.

  15. Greg J Preece

    Not that our lot are any less guilty of throwing draconian laws at the Internet because they don't understand it. That said, if the US did start causing problems with the DNS system and others, it might highlight to the rest of the world how much of the Internet/Web's core infrastructure depends on that nation, leading to the development of a more globally administered alternative. I can't honestly see that as a bad thing.

  16. Mike Moyle

    What is the opposite of "Progress"...?

    "You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." -- Lyndon B. Johnson

    He may have been a damned bastard, but he was also a damned SMART bastard.

  17. Colin Miller


    So, what happens if someone starts filing maliciously incorrect allegations against various .gov domains?

  18. Juan Inamillion

    I think I see an upside

    If means the world is no longer subjected to the Kardashians...

  19. Martin Usher
    Big Brother

    Npthing to do with piracy...

    We hear a lot about piracy, how terrible it is, but I've yet to see a reliable statement of economic impact showing how a media company's been hurt through it. Sure, it will complain that "such and such's sales have been weak due to piracy" but everyone know the real reason is that whatever they're selling sucks.

    This is more about control over the net. The media conglomerates want to own it. Its a valuable resource that's owned by the public and these day's that sort of thing is regarded as obscene. Media consolidation also has some very nasty social side effects -- if the media companies can control information flow then they can control thought.

    1. DanceMan

      Media Concentration?

      Look at Canada. Four major media conglomerates, Rogers, Bell, Telus and Shaw, control almost all our internet, telephones both wired and cell, own most of the tv networks and the specialty channels and even many of the newspaper chains. And one of the corporate sector, Quebecor, is launching major attacks on our only alternative media, the gov't funded CBC.

      Look at our current federal gov't and you can see the result of this corporate control.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hark back to the early 1980s when Telstra auto-censored words which with a few selected letters deleted (primitive steganography?) revealed their hidden "naughty" meanings .........








    and of course the obvious ARSE(nal), (Hitch)COCK, DICK(ens), etc.

    Those were the days of REAL censorship!

    SOPA is for pissants!

    1. Jedit Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Harking back to last week, more like

      That's when Virgin Media in the UK censored all three of Arsenal, Hitchcock and Dickens (and also "canals").

      I also recall a couple of years ago one very annoyed Guild Wars player complaining he couldn't name his character "Scunthorpe United", and another protesting he couldn't name *his* toon after the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb.

  21. P. Lee
    Black Helicopters

    Government seizes control

    under the guise of protecting artists.

    It isn't about the content in the bill, its about putting the control mechanisms in place.

    And who said anything about incorrect accusations of infringement?

  22. Herby

    As the saying goes...

    Nothing is safe while Congress is in session!

    Not much else needs to be said!

  23. Lord Raa

    Assuming SOPA & PIPA Pass

    Could some hypothetical person with enough time, resources and inclination sue for breaching their First Amendment rights?

    And if they couldn't sue the Government as a whole, could they sue the individuals who voted in favour of these pieces of legislation?

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "total suppression of published opinion based on allegations "

    I have some vague memory that was not quite the basis the US was founded upon.

    Perhaps US citizens reading this would like to put pen to paper and remind their *elected* representatives of this fact.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before DNS

    It was the /etc/hosts file (unix) and HOSTS.TXT (vms)

    As it is in unix you can put in you own human readable entries into

    /etc/hosts that suplement DNS.

    So what will happen, I guess, is if sites are blocked people will make their

    own entries to thier local file.

    That will fragment the internet. Good thing too. Less easy to control, when its fragmented.

    SOPA will shoot its self in the foot.

  26. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    You know your problem.... (the) people know too much!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: your problem

      I think the correct response of a citizen of the republic is to say "No mate. That's not *our* problem. We've got guns, precisely so that when you start pissing about like this, it's *your* problem."

  27. Tony Paulazzo

    I would've thought the screams of first amendment violations would stop this thing dead in its tracks. The fact it hasn't are chilling...

    But, like the rest of the comments... America, fuck yea!

    It's the death cry of an empire, entropy in action - 'so long, and thanks for all the fish. (copyright D. Adams)'

  28. Bango Skank

    Cluelessness raised to an occupation

    "Even the legislators themselves are expressing concern at the lack of technical expertise they can access during House Judiciary Committee hearings on the bills and the speed with which they are being asked to act."

    Never stopped them before - they usually pass laws without any burden of knowledge or technical insight.

    It even goes so far as them not having a clue big enough to even ask the right people to help them - like when they wanted to get expert opinion on climate change and asked an author of science fiction to tell them, rather than the academies of science.

  29. 2cent

    Are patents next?

    Right after they pass this, US Patent holders will argue that you can't see a web site because one product outside the US legally uses similar capacity to their patent.

    How far they can take it is as far as politicians here will let them. Since money talks and Bullsh*t walks, I assume it is just going to happen that way.

    I don't mind a lock-out for reasons of national security, which is a lot to choke on if you really believe in free speech, but this stuff is no where near it.

    (Lock-out - Ref: No publication of recent research on how avian flue can be genetically modified)

    They should have to take it to the courts.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The response

    I suspect there would be a response against congressional members and especially against corporate executives that go along with it.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Circumnavigation Banned

    Having read quite a lot about this it seems that the bill has provisions written into it that outlaw any attempt to access the effected website via any means. So promoting or spreading tools like Tor or VPNs could potentially be illegal. Look at how hard the US government has gone after gambling websites. I have no doubt the Justice Department would go full pelt after copyright infringers (particularly when Hollywood commercial interests are involved).

  32. Anonymous Coward

    As an American who is profoundly angry and worried about SOPA, I find the support and assisance of our friends across the pon - wait, what? Oh, then fuck you, too. I get that you didn't like Bush very much, and that his every policy was agreed with 100% by every american, and that we all carry guns and own huntin' dawgs. But hey, I have no love lost for Blair or Brown, and honestly Cameron's euro-baiting is getting on my nerves too.

    So what do we get? Near-universal hatred and disdain, and an absurdly arrogant "You're so worthless we don't need you anyway". Right. Google, Microsoft (sorry, guys, every large company in .eu isn't going to instantly switch to a flavor of linux not headquartered in the US). Ford, GE, Lockheed, Boeing, Intel, AMD? Hey, how about those useless little chipmakers, anyway? Ehh, just use CyrixInstead!

    At any rate, it'll never happen. When money is at stake, greed finds a way.

    The self-inflicted euro zone debt crisis is a vastly, vastly greater threat. Unfortunately, it seems that the euro zone is too busy bickering over etiquette to bother doing what everyone knows must be done.

    And, of course, Britain, doing its best to use utter worldwide armageddon as a tool to pander to Daily Mail readers.

    We've all got our problems, guys. And trust me, if your "makes 2008 look like a pinprick" debt contagion starts knocking at our door, I'll take an opportunity to sever all ties if I can get it.

    1. mhenriday
      Big Brother

      David, you don't seem to realise

      that your own statement «[w]hen money is at stake, greed finds a way», now applies to such a degree to US political institutions (which, as is the case elsewhere as well, never have been squeaky clean) that the buying and selling resemble that described by Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth in their novel from 1953, «The Space Merchants» (capped by the US Supreme Court's decision last year in the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission case, which allowed corporations to contribute unlimited sums of money to politicians' campaigns, in the name of «free speech»). The criticism of the United States on this thread which you decry is not of the noble myths you were taught in elementary school, but of the country and its political, economic - and not least, military - leadership as it manifests itself today. I fear you will have to get used to it - as the Empire declines, it is taking more or more desperate measure both at home and abroad, and despite its control of the corporate media, people around the world are beginning to wake up to the true nature of the beast....


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or as someone put it

    "What's that piece of paper mean that all those suckers signed?"

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