Even Ashton Kutcher dislikes SOPA

posted at 7:20 pm on December 22, 2011 by Tina Korbe

The House Judiciary Committee has tabled the Stop Online Piracy Act until “early next year,” but the fight to stop SOPA isn’t yet over. Fortunately, advocates for informed Internet policy have recently gained a couple crucial allies in that fight.

Yesterday, for example, Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher posted an indictment of SOPA on his blog. That’s actually highly significant because Hollywood (not surprisingly, given that movies are an oft-pirated product) has provided a lot of the firepower for SOPA. The Motion Picture Association of America, for example, has lobbied for the bill. But Kutcher recognizes what MPAA officials apparently don’t: SOPA creates more problems than it solves. Kutcher writes:

At its core SOPA unwillingly recruits Internet industry companies like social networks, ISP’s and search engines to become policing agents and legally liable for it’s users content. Forcing social media sites and ISP’s responsible for users content is amazingly burdensome and costly. SOPA will create economic problems for Internet start-ups which will be an additional negative side effect. This may cause a slow down in the Internet economic sector, which is providing real jobs and innovation for the US economy. …

Moreover, what is most shocking, is SOPA’s idea of giving judges determination of Internet DNS. The bill suggests DNS administrators remove bad actor domains on judges orders; thus breaking the fundamentals of the Internet. It is a disastrous precedent to have Congress legislate Internet DNS control.

Placing search engines and ISP’s in the middle of policing for piracy is plain and simply a bad and confused attempt by well meaning people that fundamentally don’t understand how the the Internet works.

That’s a point that has been raised again and again: SOPA seems to have been written and promoted by folks who don’t fully understand the Internet. (That’s not a cheap shot; plenty of people don’t, even folks who use it unthinkingly every day.) For example, Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz — who was born in Silicon Valley — has pleaded with the House Judiciary Committee to “bring in the nerds” to speak to the pros and cons of SOPA. That, he says, is the only responsible alternative to continuing to listen blindly and one-sidedly to special-interest groups like Hollywood. “We haven’t done our due diligence,” Chaffetz said.

Meantime, in the think tank world, The Heritage Foundation also took a stand against SOPA. That, too, is no small matter, given the odd lines that divide the pro-and-anti-SOPA factions. The business community, for example, has been very divided about the issue. In a WebMemo yesterday, James Gattuso, a senior fellow in regulatory policy, cautioned legislators to consider “the unintended consequences” of SOPA. He explains:

A number of concerns have been raised. One is that, by blocking “resolution” of IP addresses by servers in the U.S., users (and their browsers) would instead use less secure servers elsewhere to continue accessing blocked sites. Some have also said such domain-name filtering could disrupt access to other, non-infringing domain names. There are also concerns that SOPA could interfere with deployment of a newly developed Internet security system known as “DNSSEC” (which is intended to ensure the successful “resolution” of IP addresses), further weakening security.

SOPA would undercut other policy goals as well. The requirement that search engines omit links to rogue sites undercuts the role of search firms as trusted intermediaries in conveying information to users. There are, of course, other circumstances where search engines already omit information and links—for instance, Google routinely screens out child pornography from its search results. But there has never been a government mandate that information be withheld from search results. Imposing such a mandate would represent the first step down a classic slippery slope of government interference that has no clear stopping point.

Arguably, the limits placed on search engines as well as other third parties under SOPA would also violate constitutional protections of freedom of speech. But even if not barred legally, any such restrictions should be imposed only after the most careful consideration, only when absolutely necessary, and even then, to the smallest degree possible.

Bottom line: Everybody agrees piracy is a problem — but SOPA is not the way to stop it. Rest easy over the holidays knowing Congress didn’t inadvertently create a major Internet firewall, but keep your eyes on this when the House Judiciary Committee resumes its discussion next year.


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gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 10:50 PM

I don’t understand why they’re not able to pursue more than a handful of people. I could grab a torrent now and use it to find the IP addresses of 1,000 people downloading the same movie. One court order and a no-contest plea later, I recover punitive damages and court costs and the effort pays for itself. What’s the problem?

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 10:53 PM

I don’t understand why they’re not able to pursue more than a handful of people. I could grab a torrent now and use it to find the IP addresses of 1,000 people downloading the same movie. One court order and a no-contest plea later, I recover punitive damages and court costs and the effort pays for itself. What’s the problem?

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 10:53 PM

It’s called “evidence,” Ronnie. The Pirate Bay nearly did get shut down. Or did you forget that? Shutting down The Pirate Bay won’t stop pirating. Shutting down every last P2P network currently in existence won’t stop pirating. What will reduce pirating is a business model that makes people more willing to pay for data than they are now.

But I’d like to address a fallacy in your thinking. You are thinking that “If a crime [piracy] is occuring, it must be that the law is not adquately enforced.” By that same logic, I can assume that nursing homes kill a lot of people because so many people die in them. Your assertion that the law needs better or more enforcement is just as ridiculous on its face to those of us who do know how the internet really works.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM

Also worth noting, a business model that makes people more willing to pay for data than they are now will reduce pirating, but not even that will completely stop it. You’ll always have your fringe hackers who won’t pay for anything at all they can get for free; but that’s been going on for a lot longer than the internet has existed.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM

It’s called “evidence,” Ronnie. The Pirate Bay nearly did get shut down. Or did you forget that? Shutting down The Pirate Bay won’t stop pirating. Shutting down every last P2P network currently in existence won’t stop pirating. What will reduce pirating is a business model that makes people more willing to pay for data than they are now.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM

TPB was saved by a lack of evidence? Hardly.

But I’d like to address a fallacy in your thinking. You are thinking that “If a crime [piracy] is occuring, it must be that the law is not adquately enforced.” By that same logic, I can assume that nursing homes kill a lot of people because so many people die in them. Your assertion that the law needs better or more enforcement is just as ridiculous on its face to those of us who do know how the internet really works.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 10:58 PM

lol what?

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:05 PM

Also worth noting, a business model that makes people more willing to pay for data than they are now will reduce pirating, but not even that will completely stop it. You’ll always have your fringe hackers who won’t pay for anything at all they can get for free; but that’s been going on for a lot longer than the internet has existed.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM

And I suppose rape will go down if prostitutes charge less. Still doesn’t feel like a real solution to me.

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:08 PM

TPB was saved by a lack of evidence? Hardly.

I didn’t say that, and you know better. They nearly were completely shut down. Legal wrangling over jurisdictional issues were the only way they managed to stay open at all. But did you not get the gist of my argument? Shutting down The Pirate Bay permanently, along with every other p2P networking scheme currently in existence, would not stop pirating. It would not slow pirating down. It would only cause other sources of pirated data to crop up.

Lack of evidence is the direct answer to your question about why so many people pirate without getting caught. You asked, I answered. Simple enough, no?

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:11 PM

And I suppose rape will go down if prostitutes charge less. Still doesn’t feel like a real solution to me.

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:08 PM

You are a master of sine non qua and non sequitur. You can keep up your moral crusading and believe everything the MPAA and RIAA tell you. But as God is my witness, if your goal is really to eradicate piracy, you are doomed to failure because you do not understand the nature of the problem.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

Lack of evidence is the direct answer to your question about why so many people pirate without getting caught. You asked, I answered. Simple enough, no?

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:11 PM

I got your answer. I just don’t agree with it.

I didn’t say that, and you know better.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:11 PM

It’s called “evidence,” Ronnie. The Pirate Bay nearly did get shut down. Or did you forget that?

If those are two completely different thoughts, it’s not very clear.

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:15 PM

But as God is my witness, if your goal is really to eradicate piracy, you are doomed to failure because you do not understand the nature of the problem.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

I feel the same way about you.

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:16 PM

You are a master of sine non qua and non sequitur.

gryphon202 on December 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM

What was that nursing home thing again? LMAO

Ronnie on December 22, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Knott Buyinit on December 22, 2011 at 10:44 PM

You’ve hit the nail on the head. Except I consider piracy making available to others copies of a copyrighted object one doesn’t own — whether for free or for a fee.

As for 20 seconds — yes, many copyright holders work diligently to crush fair use — including when their material is not the main reason for the fair use work — as you have so adroitly pointed out.

unclesmrgol on December 22, 2011 at 11:26 PM

On a lighter note, if Tina had used this shot as welcome to the thread, she would have 500 kabbillion comments by now./;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 22, 2011 at 11:28 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 22, 2011 at 11:28 PM

I’m wondering how Tina got a hold Demi’s dart board, for the picture she did use.

listens2glenn on December 23, 2011 at 12:55 AM

listens2glenn on December 23, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Bada Bing!! :)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on December 23, 2011 at 1:15 AM

it’s sad that you all can’t give kutcher credit when it is due- he’s against SOPA but because he’s a liberal hollywood type you just insult him anyway, even when he agrees with you!! that’s just dumb. i am glad he is speaking out against SOPA.

Ashton Kutcher wrote a well-reasoned, even intelligent commentary on SOPA, and demonstrated a pretty good understanding of the issues involved.

Granted, I never would have expected intelligent commentary from Ashton Kutcher, but I have to give credit where due.

“Unwillingly”? Did Ashton actually graduate junior high school? WTF?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 22, 2011 at 7:30 PM

what’s wrong with “unwillingly”??

Sachiko on December 22, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Misplaced modifier. It makes it look like the recruiting itself was unwilling, when the unwillingness is on the part of those being recruited. I think what Kutcher was going for was, “makes unwilling recruits.” A much better word would have been conscripts rather than recruits, which would have already implied the unwillingness of those being conscripted. But IMHO you have to cut him some slack, since the point he was trying to make was quite clear.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 23, 2011 at 2:18 AM

Why do conservatives suddenly become socialists when they’re talking about online piracy? No, the movie doesn’t belong to everyone.

I’m afraid this isn’t about who the movie belongs to. This is about crushing competing forces and removing embarrassing videos of politicians. (by blocking YouTube’s domain name)

I don’t think the Founding Fathers ever intended for copyright to last 100 years. Our current system is sort of like paying the ‘Thomas Jefferson’ foundation every time his writings are referenced thirty-some years after his death.

Nephew Sam on December 23, 2011 at 3:54 AM

Given the leftward drift of this country, it’s inevitable that the internet will eventually come under the de facto control and regulation of the federal government. I hope SOPA is defeated, but sooner or later, something will pass.

DRayRaven on December 23, 2011 at 6:47 AM

simply a bad and confused attempt by well meaning people that fundamentally don’t understand

This could be applied to every left wing idea passed over the last century.

Odysseus on December 23, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Erickson at RedState this morning:

The Act intends to stop online piracy. The way the Act goes about doing this is, in large part, allowing Eric Holder to take control of the internet and shut down websites he does not like. It is a totalitarian response from a bipartisan coalition of Congresscritters most of whom admit they have no freaking idea how the internet even works. Don’t believe me?

The legislation originated with Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX). As Neil Stevens explained in detail here the legislation will wreck terrible havoc on the internet. There is an alternative called the OPEN Act, which stands for Online Protection & ENforcement of Digital Trade Act. The OPEN Act accomplishes what SOPA intends to accomplish without handing Eric Holder the power to shut down websites that make him unhappy. Another big difference is that SOPA is backed by rich men in Hollywood and the OPEN Act is backed by people who actually use the internet and know how it works.

This battle is so important — and is one of those rare fights where the left and right are united against Congress — that I suggest the left and right unite and pledge to defeat in primaries every person named as a sponsor on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act.

petefrt on December 23, 2011 at 7:46 AM

Ashton Kutcher dislikes SOPA

Second look at…..SOPA?

Caper29 on December 23, 2011 at 8:01 AM

Just saw this and didn’t look at the comments, so if this has already been said, sorry.

I don’t believe Kutcher wrote that. He’s too much of a moron to write something like that. One of his personal assistants had to written that.

Torch on December 23, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Y’all do know that Kutcher is actually smart right? He was going to college for biochemical engineering but partied out as do many. He and Demi Moore also made a public service announcent against the sexual exploitation of children and got into a tiff with The Village Voice over actual numbers of children involved. As we know, it doesn’t pay to be smart or concerned in Hollywood.

Cindy Munford on December 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Y’all do know that Kutcher is actually smart right? He was going to college for biochemical engineering but partied out as do many. He and Demi Moore also made a public service announcent against the sexual exploitation of children and got into a tiff with The Village Voice over actual numbers of children involved. As we know, it doesn’t pay to be smart or concerned in Hollywood.

Cindy Munford on December 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM

I did not know that. Thanks for the info!

maables on December 23, 2011 at 10:19 AM

I’m betting that there are plenty of us goody-two-shoes around who would be willing to chase down and identify people illegally uploading copyrighted material for, say, a few free movies for ourselves every now and then. And, I do believe the fines for pirating digital material should be high – Joe Schmoe ought to fear losing his house and his car for stealing.

In return, though, the content providers need to set up their enforcement mechanisms so that I can keep a copy on my laptop and on my media center at home, and put it on a USB drive to view elsewhere, without onerous restrictions. (Amazon’s Unbox does this somewhat well, imho.) Oh, and if you try to put a rootkit on my computer, I ought to be allowed to sue you for hacking my computer (I’m looking at you, Sony).

GWB on December 23, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Y’all do know that Kutcher is actually smart right?
Cindy Munford on December 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Yeah…

Plus I heard he’s a Paterno fan..

Caper29 on December 23, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Actually Hollywood is solving the problem on their own, they aren’t putting out anything worth stealing.

echosyst on December 23, 2011 at 11:41 AM

I appologize but I could really care less what Ashton Kutcher thinks now or any other time.

RiCkY.D. on December 23, 2011 at 11:45 AM

The guy still has to work in a town that worships The Won and do you think he knew Paterno was covering for Sandusky?

Cindy Munford on December 23, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I’ve always said that you have to have some brains to successfully act like a moron, so I never believed Kutcher was a complete imbecile. However, I’ve seen numerous other things he has written, and this smacks of copying someone else’s work. There’s enough minor grammatical slips to believe he wrote it himself, but took the body of the content from articles written by others.

Still, credit where due, he is on the correct side of this particular argument. Any bill that has as it’s objective the reduction of crime will have a veneer of being good for society. That’s the big lie in this case, because the method of achieving that objective is to put the keys to the doorway of modern information access into the hands of a potential tyrant. And here I do not specifically mean the Obama administration, but the U.S. Government, whoever is in the lead. I would hate the idea if it was presented with Reagan at the helm. Government control over peoples’ access to information is dangerous, period.

Freelancer on December 23, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Everybody agrees piracy is a problem — but SOPA is not the way to stop it.

No, but it could be the Democrat-Leftist-Nation/Socialists-Marxist-Progressive’s dream answer to having any political opposition being allowed to speak.

oldleprechaun on December 23, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Considering the number of Republicans that have co-sponsored this legislation (both SOPA and Protect IP), we have much to be afraid of–namely, uneducated people elected to be our benevolent rulers.

Then again, Democrats outnumber Republicans in co-sponsorship 4:3, but I’m sure that’s within the margin of error.

More importantly, most people don’t realize or aren’t aware that Chris Dodd retired from his cushy Senate job and was given a job as the head of the MPAA, so his fortunes are greatly tied to this legislation’s passing.

mintycrys on December 23, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Teaching misplaced modifiers is racist.

Metro on December 24, 2011 at 9:55 AM

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