New bill resurrects website eviction powers

A proposed bill, PROTECT IP, is just the old COICA in disguise. It must not pass!

What the heck? How many times do we have to go through this nonsense? How stupid can our representatives be that they don't understand there are positions they adopt and bills they sponsor that highlight, with glaring clarity, their monumental ignorance and the fact that they have been quite clearly bought by special interests!

What's has me so annoyed is a draft bill titled "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011," which also goes by its deviously misleading acronym, "PROTECT IP."

OVERVIEW: New copyright bill targets ISPs, search engines

Allow me to digress for a moment and note that the practice of giving bills "cute" names should be absolutely stopped because it allows simplistic political spin to be wrapped around a complex idea. Given that most bills are mazes of impenetrable verbiage, obfuscating the real issues under a redefining sound bite is simply unconscionable. Of course, if the general public stopped behaving like sheep and actually paid attention to what their representatives were up to, this nonsense would soon stop but, alas, that's something that could only happen in an alternate universe.

Anyway, remember the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," or COICA? (Curiously, someone forgot to work the spin magic on that acronym.) I wrote about that terrible piece of proposed legislation in November last year which was, at the last minute, blocked by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (yayyy, Ron!).

COICA, a bipartisan insanity sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposed that upon a request to the Department of Justice by an aggrieved party, a website alleged to be involved in music and or video piracy could be effectively "evicted" from the Internet by blacklisting. This would be achieved by requiring ISPs to stop resolving domain names to IP addresses associated with the allegedly offending site.

But not to be thwarted in doing the bidding of Big Media, all of which support this new bill, Leahy and co-sponsors Hatch and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a new version of COICA that supposedly narrows the definition of an infringing website.

As I pointed out, the disturbing thing about COICA was that it would have short-circuited due process and thereby become a powerful vehicle for censorship and, big surprise, it turns out that PROTECT IP is no better in this regard. Indeed, the wording of the proposed act includes the following:

"The Act includes safeguards to allow the domain name owner or site operator to petition the court to suspend or vacate the order [blacklisting the site], including in the situation in which the Internet site at issue is no longer, or never was, dedicated to infringing activities; or the interests of justice require it."

In other words, the framers of the act are stating the remedial action can occur after the allegedly infringing site is whacked! This will result in a system of guilty-until-proven-innocent that can't possibly stand up to a Supreme Court challenge, yet these numbnuts are determined to waste everyone's time and money in trying to forward legislation that is, ultimately, un-American in spirit if not in law.

So, if you're not one of the sheeple, if you're paying attention and you care about crazy, abstract stuff like due process and fairness, make your voice heard by signing the Demand Progress petition. Your involvement really matters because if this bill passes, your website or your company's could be blacklisted, which will suck away your time and money and quite possibly your job. And the politicians will still be employed.

Gibbs rages in Ventura, Calif. Your spleen to backspin@gibbs.com.

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