When it comes to copyrighted material, you certainly want to curtail the illegal supply, but you also have to deal with the illegal consumption (demand). Both are extraordinarily complicated, especially when dealing with piracy over Internet channels.
Protecting the creative folks who come up with really cool ideas is not easy. This is a real problem and it comes down to the same issue. To make something bad stop, do you disrupt supply or focus on demand?
If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA by now, you haven’t used the Internet or utilized social media much over the last week. In short, these two bills are pending American Internet legislation known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). They seek to curtail online piracy of intellectual property through government intervention.
Both were written with good intention, but poor method.
The bills mandate the use of DNS Blacklisting to shut down offending suppliers. In other words, the government has the right to pull the plug on any ISP or block out any website that they suspect to be a “victim” of end user (customer) fraud until they find the criminal and fix the process. And we all know how long government processes take.
Seriously? If the FBI issued a block Google or Wikipedia users will find another search engine and advertisers will find another place to lurk (and take their dollars with them). These users INCLUDE the criminals that they are looking for. Then another site falls victim of the same crime and is shut down...and so goes the downward spiral. Internet predators are incredibly hard to find--and they are smart.
So who are the true losers in this deal? Mid and small business that provide Internet services or rely heavily upon them are the losers. Why? Google may lose millions in advertisements, which sucks, but what about the smaller ISP companies and other business that would tank if their website was shut down even for a few days?
SOPA and PIPA would have sharpened the craft of thieves and increased unemployment of otherwise hard working Americans.
If you are a network operator like me, you may have received an email notification (or three) from the U.S. Department of Justice. This notice from the FBI reads “you may be a victim.” I have done some investigating of my own on these FBI notifications and have some answers. Read the following blog post:
Additionally, I have a radical proposal for a reasonable solution to the failed ideas of SOPA and PIPA that any politician is free to use. I call it Scott’s Reinvestment in Stuff that Makes Sense Plan. Click the link below to download a white paper on my proposed solution.
Oh, and I also have a plan to pay for my solution. I always think it best to look at the full scope of a project before implementation. I may be a geek, but this geek knows Capitol Hill waste when he sees it.
During the time that the SOPA and PIPA legislation was being formed and debated a separate, yet timely, campaign began at the Department of Justice.
If you are a network operator like me, you have received urgent and seemingly important emails from the FBI stating, “You may be a victim.” The email includes this information link: fbi.gov.
The Department of Justice has decided to let you know that your DNS system may have been compromised. Yes, you are a victim. A victim of bureaucracy trying to demonstrate its value in something it simply does not understand.
Recall the enforcement method SOPA and PIPA were to use: DNS.
Words from the FBI Operation update:
“DNS Changer was used to redirect unsuspecting users to rogue servers controlled by the cyber thieves, allowing them to manipulate users’ web activity.”
So, the bad guys can change your DNS settings? Is that a way to get around the SOPA and PIPA regulations? Yep. Plus, the folks wanting to obtain pirated content can just make the change themselves. Who needs malware and viruses?
Geeks, you’ll love this--The following is an IP Address representation as stated in my email from US Department of Justice: (123.456.789)*. Ironically, the FBI has just revealed how useless the core method of enforcement (DNS blacklisting) of both SOPA and PIPA legislation is.
Through this “victim” campaign the FBI has proven their incompetence on the subject. Sure, the FBI will catch some Internet preditors--the less crafty ones. However, we will have a much harder time catching the smart criminal Internet suppliers, if we can at all. And it will be the innocent service providers, businesses and end users that get caught in the messy cross-fire.
NOTE: If you have received this email from the US Department of Justice, do investigate to see if it is legit. I am NOT suggesting that you delete or ignore it. I am asking you to think about the process that our government is taking to catch criminal activity on the internet. Is it affective and comprehensive of the real problem?
I say no.
*255 is the highest number in an IP Address, so 456 and 789 are right out bogus.