While we’ve been busy celebrating our little victory on SOPA and PIPA, the Justice Department has been busy showing us this legislation isn’t necessary, they can take down sites without proving a thing whenever they damn well please. They seized and took offline Megaupload, a popular file-sharing site, indicted it’s owners and froze millions of dollars of assets, claiming the site deliberately aids copyright infringement.
Sweet. Cool. If true, they maybe need to be taken down. It’s a good thing we have the Constitution, which guarantees due process, so we can assume that these claims were proved in a court of law, eh? It’s a good thing we blocked PIPA and SOPA, keeping Justice from taking down sites willy-nilly whenever their suspicions are lit.
Ooops… It seems as if nothing has been proved. No court has ruled; no verdict has been rendered. Some Feds have decided that Megaupload is breaking the law and that’s all they need to put them out of business and seize every penny they own. How’s that for a deficit reduction plan?
Yesterday I pointed-out that the record companies and movie folks have been getting laws like SOPA passed for decades? Here’s Glen Greenwald writing today in Salon on the same subject:
“…many SOPA opponents were confused and even shocked when they learned that the very power they feared the most in that bill — the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial — is a power the U.S. Government already possesses and, obviously, is willing and able to exercise even against the world’s largest sites (they have this power thanks to the the 2008 PRO-IP Act pushed by the same industry servants in Congress behind SOPA as well as by forfeiture laws used to seize the property of accused-but-not-convicted drug dealers). …”
Before PRO-IP, of course, there was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), still in effect, that also allows government and copyright holders to take drastic action against web publishers without the need to bother with chores like proving a case or convincing a jury.
You see, while we’ve been busy not paying attention to our rights, our feudal lords have been busy taking them away from us. We keep forgetting that our rights aren’t something we can just take for granted; we have to fight to keep them each and every day. The loss of our precious freedoms goes far beyond IP. Since the end of the 1960s we have lost rights in every aspect of our lives.
Today would be as good a day as any to begin working towards regaining those rights and these dangerous IP laws would be as good a place as any to start. Indeed, this might be the perfect place to start, for if our ability to communicate with one another is strangled we will have no chance of changing anything at all.
This might be a good time for each of us to sit down and write letters our representatives in Congress – old fashioned letters with pen and ink that require an envelope and stamp for delivery. This isn’t a time for convenience, dashing off emails or making a quick phone call won’t do. A snail mail letter sends the message that you’ve thought this out, that this is important, and that your vote might be determined by the answer you receive.
For starters, we can suggest they might consider repealing any and all Internet or IP laws that deny constitutional guarantees of due process. That would just be a start, however. As I said, we have many lost rights to regain, but we can work on other needed changes after this is accomplished.
One step at a time is a good way to go.