Dysmey Post > Essays > Politics > The Legalization of Censorship?

The Legalization of Censorship?

The members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary during the unanimous vote to pass COICA are:

The Vote of Shame

Techdirt reports that the CLOACA, um, I mean COICA bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though (a) it would likely never be passed this year, and (b) even if it were, it would not survive the courts as a clear violation of the First Amendment.

It's really quite unfortunate that these nineteen US Senators are the first American politicians to publicly vote in favor of censoring speech in America. This is especially true for Al Franken, who used to make a living relying on the First Amendment and a lack of censorship as a leftist comedian. I guess that all that money from the film, record label and book publishing industries is to political principle as vinegar is to bone, as it makes your principles r-e-a-l-l-y elastic.

Thankfully, nothing will happen with CLOACA this year, as another senator (Ron Wyden, D-Oregon) is putting a hold on the bill, keeping it from consideration for the rest of the year.

What Is CLOACA All About?

After discovering how ignorant its readership is about the nature of the COICA bill, Techdirt had to explain the following week what COICA is all about. The following is a paraphrase

The bill would let the Department of Justice remove from the Internet entire Web sites that offend against its concept of copyright infringement. That there would be judicial review involved does not matter, because the resulting takedown would still be prior restraint, a violation of the First Amendment and challengeable in the courts.

In previous prior restraint cases, one involving child pornography and the other involving scandal, the courts have struck down state laws banning such works as prior restraint. If such laws could not survive in the courts, what chances would a law that fights copyright infringement with censorship have, as copyright infringement is a lesser evil than child pornography or defamation? Nor is such a law necessary, as there are laws already to prosecute copyright infringement, as there are laws against the other two.

Why CLOACA No Longer Matters

It should not matter that those, who are urging the American State to stamp out copyright infringement, have far more money and pull than mere child pornographers or slanderers. And yet, it does.

Even if CLOACA never passes, the spirit of the bill is being carried out by a unit of the Department of Internal Security that was once the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This unit now has the authority to seize any domain name it does not like in the name of intellectual property. As if that were not bad enough, this unit is operating (by their own admission) as if it is working for the giant media concern Disney and for other elements of the American entertainment industry, about which the question is posed, Why are our tax dollars being used to protect legacy entertainment industry companies that refuse to adapt? .

This legally dubious behavior, reported here and here, and questioned here, is proof that the American State is utterly intent to practice censorship on a massive scale, whether or not CLOACA becomes a law.

BTW, have you ever noticed that the emblem of the NIPRCC looks like some of the older emblems of the Romulan Star Empire from the Star Trek franchise? There's a copyright violation for you. So should not Paramount go after the NIPRCC?

Just Another Nail in the Coffin

This is just one of a number of varied assaults on the traditional civil freedoms of the United States of America during the past twenty years. There have been attacks on freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, and of assembly: All attacks against the First Amendment to the Constitution, carried out mostly by those who:

Planning for Disaster

Anyway, as this domestic equivalent of the ACTA treaty is now in effect, even if it were to be challenged at once in the courts, I will need to do what I have planned to do to my Web site and blog if ACTA were enacted in this country. And I would do this in the name of legal prudence.

The primary results of this redaction would be a Caitlin Clarke Page reduced to the one or two pages that it was in the late 1990's, containing Ms. Clarke's biography stats and a list of credits, and maybe those pictures that some nice guys sent for the site. But no more. It will not even have any photograph of Ms. Clarke, for I do not know of any photograph or headshot of her that is not under copyright. (I may have to force myself to ask her sisters or relatives for photos of her.)

Addendum (11 October 2011)

ACTA has been signed by the United States in Tokyo on 1 October 2011. A treaty requiring Senatorial ratification rather than an executive agreement as claimed by the minions of Obama, and a copyright treaty more than an anti-counterfeiting agreement, ACTA will almost certainly be challenged in the courts due to its constitutional dubiousness.

In preparation for its implementation, I will put the following robots.txt file in my Web site.

# Old CC Page No Longer Searchable
User-agent: *
Disallow: /old_cc/

Prepare yourself for the new Caitlin Clarke Page with no copyrighted material.

The same people behind CLOACA have now excreted an identical bill, whose name is too ridiculous to reveal (visit this article for more), but which whose forward enforcement by the U.S. Department of Internal Security is already trashing the Domain Name Service by creating alternative naming systems beyond the reach of the American State. Do the polits care? No.

What's just as stunning as the fact that supporters of [the successor of CLOACA] still can't figure out how this is really, really bad, is that they also don't realize how this pretty much destroys any argument the US makes around the globe in trying to protest political censorship. Some claim it's entirely different, but it's not. Both involve a government entity deciding without a trial that websites cannot be reached. This makes the US look ridiculous in the eyes of the world, but I guess as long as it makes sure that Universal and Warner Bros. can prop up their profits for a few more years … it's all good.

As the first part of this article shows, it is also futile. The Web sites with the seized domains are still reachable via new alternative DNS systems. They are effect at routing around the attempts of the American State to censor the Internet. However, they also break up the Internet into separate indepedent pieces, making it at worst less secure and more vulnerable — and at best make portions of the Internet no longer available to the general public.

This could be the beginning of the birth of an Internet for la kodumularo, as there is already an Internet for the Feds (.gov), an Internet for the Pentagon (.mil) and an Internet for the universities and research institutes (.edu). When this process is complete, all the original denizens of the Internet will be safely extracted from the now commercial Internet. This will leave the general public to rot in Hell, as they deserve for poluting the Internet with their sordid presence.

Written by Andy West on 21 November 2010, updated 11 October 2011.