Tweet of the Day: Here Kitty, Kitty
First off what is PIPA/SOPA all about:
And it looked like the opponents succeeded. Or did they?
Critics insisted that these bills were dangerous because they empowered the U.S. Government, based on mere accusations of piracy and copyright infringement, to shut down websites without any real due process. But just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.
In other words, 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).
So while stopping the bill was a victory (of sorts) it is too little too late. For you see, online piracy has now been elevated to the hollowed ranks of Special Crimes for which all measures must be taken to stop it, even if the punishments far outstrip the acts and the measures do far more damage than the results of the crime itself. And no, this not start on September 12, 2001. No, it as old as civilization itself. In fact the old “Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth” is an aversion to extreme punishments for even the smallest crimes, that is to say only take something of equal value to what you have lost, no more, no less. Another fact is how the only crime mentioned in the Constitution of the United States is treason. Why? Because it was a one of those special crimes for which little evidence was needed to prosecute that it was abused by the Crown with ease.
But what are these so called “Special Crimes”? They are the type of crimes that the State considers so heinous, so destructive, that the only way to deal with them is to chuck the Rule of Law and create “special” laws to deal with them. We seen it in the so called War on Drugs. Think that the government needs to convict you to cease your property? Nope. A mere accusation is all that it’s required. And good luck getting it back.
It gets worse of course if the subject is terrorism: indefinite detection, torture and of course capital punishment (assassination) and you don’t get the chance of even appearing before a court (no Habeas Corpus for you Bob!).
Also yesterday in American justice, a three-judge panel of a federal appellate court in Virginia upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush officials by Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen who was imprisoned for almost three years without charges or even a lawyer and was systematically tortured to the point of permanent mental incapacitation. Padilla sued the former Defense Secretary on the ground that he had authorized Padilla’s illegal imprisonment and torture. The Obama DOJ vigorously defended Rumsfeld, arguing (a) that Rumsfeld is entitled to immunity on the ground that he had reason to believe his acts were legal and (b) an American citizen has no right to sue a government official for the treatment he receives as a designated “enemy combatant” — even if the treatment in question is torture and prolonged imprisonment without charges.
And now online piracy has joined this illustrious group of “Special Crimes”.
There is old Spanish proverb that goes something like this:
“Justos por Pecadores”
Go ahead and have Google translate that for you, before someone in Hollywood slaps a copyright on it.