Why We Don’t Like SOPA

The proposed SOPA (and equally odious “Protect IP Act“) legislation is fundamentally flawed in how it works and the damage it is likely to do to the Internet, which has been the greatest platform for innovation the world has ever seen. For that reason we will be joining the blackout organized by our friends at Reddit by blacking out the Tucows Software Download site on January 18th from 8am to 8pm EST (1300-0100 UTC).

The Internet is a global creature. A “Made in the USA” solution will no more work to stop the problems talked of than would one made in any other single nation state. Worse, the US has been at the forefront of ensuring that the Internet has remained free and a platform for innovation for the last fifteen years. With SOPA, or ProtectIP, that leadership will effectively end and Syria, China, Iran and others will not only use the US as a role model, they will also use these actions as further evidence of US control of the Internet and justification for trying to turn it over to the UN/ITU. This is best described by Susan Crawford.

Worse, the legislation itself is fundamentally corrupt. It is bought and paid for by big media, trying vainly to protect anachronistic business models. This has been demonstrated clearly in all of the hearings and the very conduct of the debate. Listening to how deeply uninformed those being asked to legislate this issue are has been nothing short of scary. Watching how support and opposition has lined up has been disheartening. This is the worst example of the kind of fundamental corruption that is at the heart of the US political system currently and is well defined by Professor Larry Lessig. If you have ten minutes please watch this video on the subject. If you have an hour please watch this one.

The Internet is not a corpus, it is not a thing. It is a series of protocols, which are really agreements on how computers will behave when connected to the Internet. Treating the Internet like a thing to be legislated and controlled is as ill conceived as treating “Intellectual Property” like physical property and leads to even greater perversions. If governments squeeze too tightly, the Internet as we know it will simply get up and walk away. It will fracture and split with a “clean” Internet and a much larger Darknet. than there is today, but not one used mainly for file sharing. Instead the Darknet will become the real Internet. Brands will sell things and Media will offer content on the “Cleannet”, but the Darknet will be where ideas are shared, plans are made, memes are propagated and where most of the cool people, including most of our children, will be.

Prohibitions have never worked to change behaviours. They simply make people who fear things feel good and create a new mini-industry for fear mongers to make money off of. They do not change behaviours.

If you wish to get involved we suggest you visit Stop American Censorship, BlackoutSOPA.org and that you follow @tucows on Twitter where we’re we’ll be tweeting regularly about the movement to stop SOPA.


51 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Like SOPA

  1. WallaceAllison

    All of this is great, but what you need to do is personally phone–don’t email, write, tweet, etc…PHONE your representatives in that laughable body we call Congress and tell them  (in your own words, of course) simply, “You vote for this and neither I nor anyone I know will ever vote for you again.  Not only that.  I and my friends will get out and work for whoever runs against you and do our very best to see they are elected over you.  Period.”  Then ask your friends and associates to make the same phone call. 

  2. Sam

    I do sell my own software and while pirating dose mean I may lose a few sales (not everyone who pirates would of bought it) I would rather lose those few sales than risk letting any government have the control SOAP would give them over the internet.

    This is nothing to do with stopping pirates, this is about keeping the internet free and I fully support what Tucows is doing! Well done!

  3. Onegoodman25

    I am shocked, why people thing this will stop pirated copies ? you will find these links on IP addresses.

    This is about freedom of speech. There are laws that prevent selling
    pirated software and or even share it. People who still think it is
    about pirated software may need to read what is SOPA.

  4. Wayne

    If we ignore for a moment that SOPA should only affect US citizens (only about 10% of total internet usership), and the fact that SOPA will also be really simple for pirates to get around, we’ll also ignore that segregating the US internet from the rest of the world’s will at best only create confusion, and at worst damage the proposal of a more secure Domain naming system, we’ll ignore also that it moves the onus of proof from the accuser to the accused  and we’ll also ignore the fact that there will be no due-process to corporations banning (potential competitors) from the internet.

    If we ignore all of those things, then SOPA is a good idea.

    I know you’re only trolling, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who actually do believe that SOPA will be effective against copyright infringement. It wont. Copyright infringement is an issue, to all industries, but SOPA is not the way to solve it.

  5. Tinuva

    This will not just stop pirated copies. Not to mention I myself am a fan of open source software. Free in the GNU way doesn’t mean without money but able to modify, learn, help etc. I pay for what I like but my closing all your software you close the gateway for new developers to start learning.

    Not to mention SOPA/PIPA has nothing to do with that. There is a DMCA already. This just means people can take a site down without any court interference about any copyright. Looking at the Bethesda vs. Mojang “Scrolls” lawsuit that could be taken quite far, eh?

  6. M D P

    Well SOPA will not make anything better.
    there will still be torrent. so it’s pointless.
    believe me they don’t care about piracy, they just want to increase their access.

  7. William Wayman

    I wonder what would happen if someone started reporting websites for copyright infringement once SOPA passed?  Could a terrorist use it to cripple the web; and thus the economy?

  8. George Zirfas

    As history dictates, nothing the government gets control of gets any better, or any different. They just get more control. This bill MAY marginally decrease pirating but we already have laws in place for this. Have they been effective? The venue will simply change for pirates. I will be blacking my site tomorrow.

  9. TermReductionNow

    First get rid of the Censorship Bills, then get rid of the ridiculously long copyright term; at 20 years (parity with the term of protection inventors enjoy) Windows 3.1 would still be copyrighted today, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 would enter the public domain on January 1st, 2014 and windows XP on January 1st, 2022.

  10. chad

    I’m all for protecting content and creative works but this is way to far reaching and there are no checks and balances, the government will be able to run rampant. The US is not a police state! …. or should I say it isn’t…. yet… 
    If sopa or pipa get through we will be well on our way.
    If you want to see how bad it will be just go on youtube and randomly select a vid and report it for copyright infringement,  weather it is or isn’t infringing on anything it will be shut down. Think of that happening to ENTIRE WEBSITES!

  11. David Brickner

    So essentially these acts against freedom in the internet are supported by the “moneychangers in the temple”  that we learned about in the Bible……… the lobbyists of Hollywood who may find THEIR ox gored someday…..!!

  12. Chris Murry20

    keep the internet free 
    I think its wrong  you are asking for a young guy in UK to be deported to USA to stand trial for  downloading films on is internet site in UK  and our daft UK government it allowing it to happen 

    our courts have  tried to get some murders back from states to stand trial in UK for crimes they commited in the UK  and USA wont do that

     like CHAD said seems like its a police state in the making 

     We Don’t Like SOPA 

  13. Steven

    I program software and I am totally against SOPA / government controlling anything on the Internet. Good job to tucows.


    As a long time supporter of Tucows I am delighted they are taking this stand and as domain registraiton customer I am happy to join them

  15. Chav

    I’ve been a tucows user since the beginning, and I’m happy to see you guys rock just as much now as you ever have!  Thank you for your support of freedom!

  16. Wtchywmn9

    Interesting that the contact links to my legislators are taking forever to load. Sherrod Brown’s gives you an error message and sends you back to the main Senate page. I take this as a good sign…they’re jammed with people saying they don’t want this legislation to pass.Let’s hope they listen.

  17. Info

    we have 29 sites, mostly offshore, we are just starting, and with this it would be too hard to even stand, because most of our sites are informational sites, with censorship etc its impossible to even be listed on searches!

  18. Gunther Haas

    WE the PEOPLE must STOP SOPA and PIPA- let’s win our war against SOPA and PIPA from our computers and on the internet!!! This is bigger than the Superbowl. Lets WIN IT!

  19. Richard Boulanger

    The fundamental difference of opinion from the Congress is their interest in maintaining ‘priveldge’ for a select few businesses rather than the billions of people that use the internet.  Let the companies police their piracy issues.  They’ve sued many a 13yo in the past for thousands of dollars.  Is that legal path too expensive for them that they seek to redress their issues by fundamental changes in freedom of speech?

  20. Jshcmoe

    I this really serious!  Why haven’t I heard about this before.  Giving the censorship power to the greedy entertainment industry will send then internet into a downward spiral!  So the entertainment industry will control online banking?  What a joke this bill is.  If this happens, I am just going to give up trying to do the right thing anymore!  I will quit using the internet entirely (been considering this for a while) and go back to paper for everything.  If I can’t pay my bills by paper if this goes through, then screw it I won’t pay them!

    I am tired of a few trying to control the masses (don’t push us) and trying to suck every last dollar out of our hands.  You know there’s a saying Sh#t rolls down hill, but eventually the Sh$t starts to pile back up to the top! 

    This has got to be a joke.  If the government gives the greedy entertainment industry censorship control over the net, watch out for a revolution!  I join the revolution.  So much has been squeezed from my pocket book that I have nothing left but to fight or die.  So bring on the fight!!

  21. Esu Karlsson

    This darkness of a few corrupted minds who lust after absolute power are the most wretched of all beings. The seek to control what will never be there own, they punish us who have done these fools no wrong, and they victimise those who have supreme genuine creative skill and they cripple potential. Down with SOPA AND DOWN WITH PIPA.

    Say no to limited, evil and corrupt legislation. Always in All Ways always.

    The Light Of Feminine Truth and the Vast Sophia rules Earth Now, May Senet Kumara Now Rise Supreme.

    Long Live The Revolution Of Light & Peace

    Ehieh Shalom, Ehieh

    L.V.X. (Light Is My Witness)

  22. Downwithgreed

    I think it’s time to get rid of the quacks in Washington who have lost touch with the average American and how hard it is to make a living while they eat dinner on their gold plate and with their silver spoons!

    This SOPA bill should not even be given the time of day.  Sites like this one should not have to shut down for 12hrs to protest this! 

    It’s time for our politicians to pull  their heads out of the asses and hands out of the pockets of Big Business and do what they were elected to do!  Damn greedy crooks!

  23. Unreal

    How can you give a private industry the right to censor out speech when the government itself does not have that right!

    This is clearly a violation of our bill of rights, because our government does not have the right or power to give power (to anyone) over that which it has no power over itself!

    Isn’t it obvious that our government has not power to cencer our speach, well how can this bill be given consideration if it in-tales giving censorship of speech to a private industry? 

    Corruption at it’s finest!  I say pass the bill so that it fuels the revolution that we so greatly need!  If this passes you will see a fight like you never have seen before on your hands!

  24. Mail Fetch

    WHY on earth do we need a LAW to restrict people from downloading pirated copies of material?   WHY???  

    If we’ve determined which sites are offenders and we’ve determined that we do not have the jurisdiction to shut down those sites then WHY do we need a LAW to simply block our access to those sites??????

    If Time Warner, for example, a supporter of this dispicable legislation, KNOWS that there are IP addresses that are pirating movies and what not — then BLOCK THOSE IP ADDRESSES FROM BEING ACCESSED BY ME AND OTHERS ON TIME WARNER!!!!!!!!!    And this goes for all ISP’s. 

    My God.  We allow Al Quaeda to have web sites and email communications and as it has been since 2001 – these terrorist PIGS are going to get even more rights while the rest of the world LOSES rights and freedoms. 
    Screw this.  ANYONE who votes for this legislation will be fired.  You will never receive my vote again.  And with millions and millions of like-minded people out here – good luck retaining your politcal job.  Same goes for you Obama.  Sign this into law and you’re evicted in 2012.   Well, you’re most likely evicted anyway – but that’s another topic.

  25. Doran Baker

    : ) Thanks, Tucow for promoting this until the end… Some sites only did it for a day, Thumbs up craigslist and all the others except godaddy shame on you guys still!

  26. nugraha syarief

    im agreeing with chad.. SOPA will makes entire web underground .. US Government made this crazy D*mn Thing

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