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What SOPA and PIPA meant to me

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.


On January 18th, 2012 the interwebs witnessed something truly …unique. Over 1000 (that we’ve heard of) web sites literally shut down in protest against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill that was introduced and has been heavily debated in the United States Congress since October 26th, 2011. And if you want to break this down even further, SOPA started out with PIPA (Protect IP Act).

Lets give you a brief history of the two, shall we?



PIPA was introduced into the United States Senate on May 12, 2011 by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley that essentially provides the United States of America high right to shut down any web site that they deem infringing copyright whether on United States land or not. This will also allow them to attack and sue Search Engines providing links to said web sites (IE Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc), force advertising agencies to remove the web sites as clients, and allows companies to sue the web sites and owners for not doing a good job in preventing possible copyright infringement.



SOPA was introduced on October 26th, 2011 as a method to work in conjunction with PIPA that would allow the United States Government and Companies to create a blacklist of web pages, sites and engines that violate PIPA. It will allow the US Government to seek a court order against search engines, advertisers, DNS providers, servers, and payment processors that will prevent them from having contact with the owners and facilitators of the web site. It will also allow private corporations the right to create a personal “hit-list,” composed of companies that they believe are breaking their copyright policies. The companies will then have the right to contact support systems of these suspected web sites to cut off all payment processes to the targeted web site and domain. The web site will then have 5 days to take down. Payment processors will also have the power to cut off any and all web sites they work with for suspicious activity due to copyright infringement.


So why is this such a big deal? A lot of independent, fan sites and blogs are the very first targets on the list. While you may giggle at this, consider this:

Most Twilight fan sites are owned by 15 year old girls. Under PIPA and SOPA, these 15 year old girls, because they are using likenesses owned by Summit Entertainment, could become federal criminals. Keep in mind too, this doesn’t just pertain the US Citizens. So watch our Disney World!

…All jokes aside. NO..this isn’t the biggest problem with SOPA and PIPA, but its something small to put it into context.

Lets look at the real problem…

SOPA and PIPA uses DNS (Domain Name System) Filtering. DNS Filtering is the act of utilizing a “filter” to weed out certain domain names (for example occupyns.org is a domain). What currently occurs now is that if you type senate.gov it would take you to its IP address without hesitation. This is what Domain Name System is, associating a specific IP to a domain name. What the DNS filtering, and DNS redirection will do is take said domain and filter it to retrieve YOUR IP address, then redirect your computer to an Domain that is owned and operates under PIPA. This is actually a trick that has been well established already…in the hacking community.

This can cause a security issue, as well as does not target Online Piracy correctly. Why? Because the websites that will be filtered are web sites that are only featured on Blacklists, and have yet to be subject of trial or conviction. Also, over the past year the US government has displayed that they aren’t as secure as they think they are. And theoretically, DNS Filtering with our technology and as it stands in development, leaves a lot of holes to get into.

So that’s problem number one…


Lets go to problem number two.


PIPA and SOPA doesn’t only attack the web sites, but it attacks the posters too.

Lets go back to those 15 year old Twilight fans. Or hey…lets have a look at us Star Wars fanatics (imagine the Imperial March playing while you read this part).

One of the largest, most coveted fan sites on this planet is none other then YouTube. Sure there are a lot of specified, specialized web sites out there, but lets look on the larger scale (ignoring problem number 3 because I’ll discuss that then).

YouTube is owned by Google. Your YouTube account, is a Google account. Next to Facebook, Google is actually the next highest rated internet based data-mining company that is currently running in North America. Google tracks not only your name that you provide them, the email it creates, the back up email, but all the videos you post and watch as well as your sacred internet ID; your IP address.

You IP Address surprisingly tells a lot about you. You IP address to a novice can at least tell your country and state/province, as well as your city. But to an expert, it can tell them your country, state/province, service provider and a radius of where you live. Some service providers also attach a list of service phone numbers to certain IP configurations, meaning that an experienced tech savvy person, or the government can obtain a list of street addresses that that server services within the radius of your IP configuration. Each service phone number is associated to your home address provided upon opening your account with the service provider. They already technically have this right, however the legislation that this act falls under is so garbled, that they redefined it under PIPA.

So, what all of this means is that if YouTube goes down (problem 3…) the United States government will not only reserve the right to take the web site down, but to take that information without subpena. Meaning for the awesome lightsaber kid, any parodies or cover artists, anyone using pictures or music, you could in face become a target if you land on American soil.


I saved the best for last…honestly I did.


The death of the internet as we know it.

SOPA allows for the targeting of engines that allow users to search for materials online. Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube…these are all engines. Even Facebook is currently an engine.

All of these competing web sites have one huge thing in common: they all link to copyrighted material. Meaning that under SOPA they are a support system for web sites that infringe on copyright policies and laws.

PIPA and SOPA allows for the United States government to sue these search engines, but where as these companies technically host cached material on their servers that then leads into the web sites own servers, they also break the law if SOPA/PIPA were passed.

Therefore, these large companies, that literally hold up our internet system, could potentially be blacked out under the blacklists and DNS filtration OR completely shut down.

A lot of people question why Wikipedia cares about this. If you consider what Wikipedia is, it is also technically a low level engine that infringes on copyrighted/plagiarized material and lead and links up to web sites that are known to do the same.

When you read a Wikipedia article, scroll to the bottom to “Sources.” Wikipedia considers that the majority of those web sites that are automatically linked are at the very least hosted on servers that are hosting copyrighted material.

Not only that, but consider the reference shots. Just because the sources are there, doesn’t mean that they have permission to utilize them under the law (the rules in high school don’t apply into real world copyright infringement…sorry!). Wikipedia is host to MILLIONS of images that are not the intellectual property of the posters or to Wikipedia. Meaning that just because their users posted this material, Wikipedia is then found liable and could either be blacklisted or completely taken down.

What does the inevitable blacklisting or take down mean for us as users of these companies services. Well, lets look at Google:

That means that if Google gets taken down there will be no Google Searches, Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Images, Google Video, Google Reader, Google Scholar, Google News, Google Weather, Google Translate, Google Books, Google Aps, Google Sites, YouTube, Google+, Google Alerts and RSS Feeds, Google Earth, Google Universe, Google ToolBar, Google Trends, Picasa, SketchUp, Blogger, Orkut, Panoramio, Google Talk, Google Phone, Google ChromeBook, Google Phone, Android inc. To list a few.

Lets jump to the biggest partnership that Google has that will be targeted: Apple. It is understood that Googles servers host an unbelievable amount of Apple information and data, and visa versa. This could potentially mean that yes, Apple too may become a large target.

Lets also not forget that the majority of these services are not only hosted on Googles servers, but on Amazon servers as well due to routing. Shall we kiss those goodbye too? If so, I couldn’t even begin listing all the web services hosted on those.

Lets look at this from an international scale now. Seeing that you are reading a blog based in Canada, for a Canadian Occupation.

In Canada, uploading and streaming copyrighted material is arguably not illegal. Meaning that if you upload for the purpose of streaming online it could be argued in court whether or not that is an offence. Under SOPA/PIPA, while you may not be a target here, you surely will be in the states. Also, that wonderful web site that you thought wouldbe a great idea to post your latest mix featuring a sample from your favourite artist, the entire website could be completely Blacklisted or taken down, because you did something arguably legal in your nation. Even if that web sites servers are also completely Canadian.

I’ll leave the rest up to you. Really…its up to you to research and make up your mind on these issues. This is why, on January 18th, thousands of web sites voluntarily take their services down in protest. We just wanted to provide your the opportunity to think about it. But since January 18th, SOPA and PIPA has lost a lot of steam. After congress blatantly ridiculed the experts, after they admittedly stated they didn’t even understand what SOPA and PIPA were discussing, they were ready to pass it. Until the entire world who understood what this bill was going to do stood up and said “NO.”


*Updated: SOPA has been halted for the time being. Will it be re-written…probably. But right now, we can breathe fresh(ish) air. This is an example of what change can come from protest*



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