House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced yesterday plans to conduct a serious of hearings aimed at identifying problems with U.S. copyright laws and updating them for the modern digital age. Goodlatte was a key sponsor of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year alongside the bill's author, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).
On January 18, 2012 something amazing happened: the Internet community, advocacy groups, internet personalities, popular websites, and even some brave politicians banded together to send a message to lawmakers and special interests that backed the poorly crafted SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation.
House lawmakers are criticizing federal prosecutors involved with the Aaron Swartz case, who killed himself in New York City after the U.S. Government refused to give the internet activist a plea deal. Earlier in the week the Justice Department officially dropped the case. Lawmakers blasted prosecutors for pushing aggressive hacking charges against Swartz, and vowed to look into the details of the case.
Over the weekend MIT newspaper The Tech reported that Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide in his New York City apartment. Aaron was 26 years old. He helped build internet institutions like Reddit and Creative Commons, co-authored the very first RSS specification and was an internet activist through his work as the founder of Demand Progress. Aaron's suicide was related to his concerns about federal charges he faced for stealing 4.8 million documents from the online digital library JSTOR.
The incoming chairman of a key House of Representatives committee is bad news for those worried about internet freedom and great news for the RIAA and MPAA. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) was elected head of the House Judiciary committee this week, and seems to be even more enthusiastic about supporting Hollywood and the music industry than the previous chairman Lamar Smith.
President Obama is reportedly considering appointing one of the biggest supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as his new Secretary of State and many in the community do not like it. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) represented the Hollywood district in Congress from 1982 until the 2012 election, when he was soundly trounced by a fellow Democrat. He is notorious among open internet activists for his strong support of SOPA. The film industry gave $407,260 to Berman in the past two years prior to his loss.
A new bill being secretly passed around to certain members of the European Parliament is making headlines today because of its eerie similarities to legislation like SOPA, CISPA and ACTA. The bill is called "CleanIT," and it is currently in the early stages of being refined. But the draft has been leaked to the public, much to the chagrin of its main supporters and it has a lot of horrible provisions.
Rights groups are turning up the rhetoric on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), claiming that the new treaty being negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and other countries in the Pacific Rim will bring back controversial copyright enforcement provisions pushed by some US policymakers in recent bills and treaties such as ACTA, SOPA and PIPA.
Senators Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Barbara Boxer (CA), Jack Reed (RI), Bob Menendez (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Schumer (NY) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) submitted an amendment to the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 which would limit real-world gun rights. The language intends to make ownership or transfer of magazines (and other ammunition-feeding devices capable of holding ten or more bullets) illegal.
Update: We erroneously reported that the 1000th episode of Monday Night RAW would be airing live from Las Vegas next week (the show was in Las Vegas this week). The milestone episode of WWE's flagship program will actually be live from St. Lois, Missouri. We apologize for the error and have updated the story to reflect the corrections.
If you need further proof that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.) is not going to give up on the idea of a SOPA or PIPA style law, then you need look no further than a letter he sent to a constituent, who also happens to be a regular GamePolitics reader.
Vermont resident Brad Williams sent his senator a letter expressing his deep concerns about the Protect IP act.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) can't let the defeat of his bill go, and continues to insist that most of the provisions in his Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are still needed. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week the Senator from Vermont bristled at the comments made by White House IP Czar Victoria Espinel, who said before the committee that maybe the problem of online piracy was solving itself through voluntary action.
A recent interview with Mojang's Chief Executive Carl Manneh on IT 24 (translated by MCVNordic and reported on by GamesBeat) reveals that the Minecraft maker is seriously considering a subscription model for its popular world building game and why it decided to boycott the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles this summer.
Libertarian-leaning publication Reason Magazine offers a new episode of Reason TV called, "Too Much Copyright?" in a brand new video featuring Ben Huh, CEO and founder of Cheezburger; law professor Tom Bell; and MPAA's head content protection counsel, Ben Sheffner. Host Zach Weissmueller asks all three about the current state of copyrights laws, their effectiveness, and the push for new laws like SOPA and PIPA. Check out the video to your left.
The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting interview with the Motion Picture Association of America president Chris Dodd, who you may know better as the man who has served as both a Democratic Congressman and as a Senator from the great state of Connecticut. After having spent 36 years trapped inside the bubble that is Washington D.C., Dodd's first test were getting two bills fast-tracked through congress: SOPA and PIPA.
A new message posted on Pastebin and attributed to the hacking group Anonymous promises to shut down the entire internet on March 31. The group says that it will target the 13 root DNS servers that make up the bulk of the servers that give URL names to most of the Internet.
As to why they would want to do this, they say the following:
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s campaign to crowd fund a billboard in SOPA lead sponsor Congressman Lamar Smith’s (R-Texas) district has hit its goal of $15,000. The billboard will offer Smith a simple message: "Don’t Mess With the Internet." They used the Crowdtilt crowd funding service to fund the billboard idea.
Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge has launched a new web site called The Internet Blueprint. The goal of this new hub is to develop bills that will strengthen internet laws and ultimately make the internet a better place. The site is the group's response to lawmakers in Washington who asked Public Knowledge for input on how to improve the Internet.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is trying to extend an olive branch to the tech industry after taking a beating publicly over PIPA and SOPA. MPAA President Chris Dodd told an audience on Wednesday that Hollywood is "pro-technology and pro-Internet," but warned that the fight over piracy was far from over.
Readers of this story on Politico probably won't believe that it was simply a messaging problem that killed the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills earlier this year. We were there and we know that it was millions of people who lobbied lawmakers in droves until they cried "uncle."
According to that report, Hollywood is "rewriting the script" on these laws, with plans to reintroduce them in a better light to the American public at a time as-of-yet undetermined.
In a recent interview with Politico, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said that the protests last month against SOPA proved that democracy can still work if enough people get involved.
"It’s motivating because this was a decentralized movement. Lots of people with great ideas started contributing and it started to get momentum," Ohanian added. "This idea went viral. It’s powerful when you think we’ve now hit this critical mass. We can get a message out there that actually affects politicians."
SaveTheInternet points out some interesting information dug up by Media Matters about where a lot of big media money has gone and why some lawmakers pushed so hard for the passage of SOPA and PIPA. While their analysis can't show that the money was directly related to PIPA and SOPA, it certainly shows the level of influence money has in Washington.
We missed this the other day, but the White House has finally responded to an online petition asking that MPAA CEO and former Connecticut Senator (D) Chris Dodd be investigated for his comments about giving money to lawmakers in return for favorable results.
"This industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," Dodd told Fox News on Jan. 19. "Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."