Mike Sharpe on SOPA/PIPA

First, I am not a US Citizen, but my server and my “clients” are in the US. A the moment SOPA and PIPA “clauses” hardly affect me, but this would be hard if I moved my server to the UK.

I am not a lawyer, so what information I have found is not always understandable, therefore I may not learn what it really means. The good news is I did some reading up on laws given that I have several scenes taking places in a fantasy world’s court, so I had to some research in the area.

My stance, Well, kinda on the fence.

Internet piracy not good for the people who products are being “stolen.” As someone who effectively sells on the net, I want to know if my stuff isn’t being given away for free. I am not a supporter of Internet piracy. I however don’t support the ways they’re doing it, and their definition of pirate.

Issue 1: DNS or site domain name

SOPA and PIPA both tackle this issue by blocking US customers from visiting the domain of the offending site outside the US. Three example domain names are MikeSharpeWriter.com, bbc.co.uk and google.com.

Casual users would be blocked, but what if I told you all that all they did was remove the site from the directory? Well, that is exactly what the law does. Several Online Gamers and Many technical minded people already know of several ways around this. The gamers use them to connect to temporary servers for their games, the technical minded people they use this information to build the internet.

Quick tech lesson: When you type an address, for example: Google.com, in to your web browser, your computer will go and ask a Domain Name Server (DNS) for which computer it’s on. All computers online have a IP address to identify it, like this 123.123.123.123, and can only find each other using it. The DNS will look it up and send back an IP Address, using Google as example, 74.125.224.72. (Click on it and you’ll see it will bring you to Google.)

  1. By typing in the IP address, you by pass all DNS and access the site “normally.” You may get scuppered due to the way the site is coded, but then it’s not much for a programmers perspective to allow longer use of IPs.
  2. DNS outside the US do not have to, or required to remove their entry for a website. You can force your computer to use a certain DNS, which doesn’t have to be in the US. So you can by pass the “affected” DNS. Someone has created a plug-in for Firefox checks several DNS and tries to give the correct site: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/desopa/

My Impression is that this is more of less a waste of time and man power, as many of the technologies that the pirates use already either support first workaround, or use it already.

There is ability to already ban certain web pages with in a country.

EDIT: I read that they’ve removed this part in the proposed acts. Countries that actually do this thing include China and Iran, who are known for not having free speech.

Issue 2: Advert removal

Most sites have adverts on them, which provides a bit of funding. A second step force Advert companies to cancel their funding contracts for an Offending site. The aim is to force the pirates be unable to pay their server fees.

Companies can already do this based their topics.

Well, Some people will use non-US based Advert companies, who can’t be forced to cancel their contracts, again cancelling out the loss.

Sadly, this is the only one that seems to have any real effect and generally are more disastrous than not.

Issue 3: Search engine removal

Forcing Google and other search engines to not display an offending result, will have an effect, but not what the Law makers are expecting. Except it’s already available to many companies.

Most Sites that “host” questionable material are either on US soil and current laws already in effect, or hosted on elsewhere. If you can get on the site, you can effectively search for the offending material using their sites own engine.

It may kill YouTube, (which US based) but there are several Video sharing sites, which includes Japan’s Nico Nico Douga, can host content with may be offending content with little trouble.

Issue 4: Who’s going to use it?

Well, anyone who can. Most likely People who are “interested” in keeping their copyright safe from people, and can afford to file the legal paper work and gather evidence. The only place I know can that is in Hollywood. And wording is so Vague that anyone can shut down any site with no real proof.

Strange thing is they’re already can do this on certain sites, such as youtube which is known for holding questionable content.

They already have many things to use against sites. The Biggest is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is forces offending users to remove content within a certain time period or face going to court. I will publicly remove any offending items if and when I receive it.  I would actually contact the person and try to find what is offensive and why I must remove it. If ZeniMax sent me an email stating that I should shut down, I’d seriously question it. (For those who aren’t aware, ZeniMax own indirectly id Software, who makes Quake, who’s code is part of the Half life 1 & 2 engines. Since this the first time I mention their software, I’d seriously question it.)

With many gaming developers rejecting it’s not as believe it or not, it affects their sales. While they’re the “victims” that the acts are for, it’s not going to be good for their fans who are undecided on their games.

Is there an other ways to combat Piracy?

Instead of Punishing people for using content, I find that a lot of people will pay a money for good products, provided they are the right price.

I know that most gamers will buy games if they can, if it’s affordable. Currently there are several Movies that I have to pirate. No UK distributor has released certain Pokémon Movies, there is no legal means to obtain them other than video recording them off the TV if they’re shown.

Naruto and Bleach two of Japans biggest Animes at the moment are shown online a little while after their Japanese airing with English subtitles. Before this several Popular “fan dubs” translated the show in to English, to allow the current fans to be up to date. In the UK, neither show has been shown on TV for a few years, but that hasn’t prevented Bandai Namco selling several games in the UK. These games are based on episodes only premièred in Japan since the Last UK TV showing of Naruto. The DVD is available for those who can afford it.

I know that many Game companies enjoy the free advertisements given by sites like Twitch TV and Own3d TV. Actually some game companies even add function to create Videos in their games.

The Proposed Acts in it’s current form could lead to serious trouble as there is a little too much power for a group of people who almost own two networks in the US already.

I’m against SOPA and PIPA in their current forms.

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