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I don't post enough on this thing.

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Posted 7th December 2011 at 03:46 PM by CDarklock

I have this thing I do where I post on my main blog (http://www.darklock.com/) every Wednesday. But my server is being migrated to a new bigger and better VPS this week by my supremely awesome host (Bolt Web Hosting and yes that is an affiliate link), so I'm being cagey about messing with things until the DNS propagates and I know everyone's looking at the same server.

And I keep meaning to post more here on my WaFo blog, so I figured I'd come post something here instead of on my main blog.

So everyone's talking about the charity debacle at PayPal where Regretsy got shut off because of their efforts to get toys to needy children.

What nobody's talking about is that PayPal shut down literally hundreds of accounts in that particular sweep, and only a couple mistakes were made.

Two of them are trending on Twitter and throughout the social universe; first, they shut down the Regretsy thing, and second... well, for inscrutable reasons, they shut down George R. R. Martin's account. He's the author of the book A Song of Ice and Fire, better known to most people today as the television programme Game of Thrones.

So let me be the first person to stand up and applaud those hundreds of actual money-laundering criminals and newbie-scamming jackholes PayPal shut down. Good riddance, and I hope you all go bankrupt and die shivering under a bridge somewhere.

Nobody ever really appreciates the good things do. Consider the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Basically, here's what's happening right now and you can probably buy a WSO about it if you want more information.

People run PPC ad campaigns where it costs between a dime and a quarter to get a click on their ad to "watch this brand new movie for free."

When someone clicks, they go to a blog where they can see a video player. But before they can click, the screen is greyed out and a popup window covers it. This window is a form for a CPA offer, and it's the key to what they call a "content locker" script which will not let you interact with the web page until you submit the form - which, oh by the way, will pay the site's owner a buck fifty or so.

Once the form is submitted, you can finally click on the "Play" button on the video player which... surprise!... is not a real video player. It's just a picture of a video player, which is a plain old boring hyperlink, which leads to...

A torrent site! This site conducts piracy on a massive scale and has collected thousands of commercial movies which you can download and watch, along with software and music and television and God only knows what else.

Now, right this moment, only the torrent site is doing anything illegal. But wait! That site is not in the United States! It is off in who knows what tiny little country where they don't give a fig what you do so long as you pay your domain registration. Maybe it's Tuvalu. Maybe it's Belize. Maybe it's the Republic of Tonga. However you slice it, they're not signatory to the Berne convention and they don't have to recognise or respect your damn copyright so you can just go to hell.

So what the SOPA proposes to do is give the United States Federal Courts power to issue a court order that says every ISP in the country has to prevent access to that site. They have no jurisdiction over the site or its server, so they have to exercise their jurisdiction over the users who try to go there.

In addition, while the site linking to it is not currently doing anything illegal, the SOPA proposes that what they are doing should be illegal because even though they're not breaking the law themselves... they are making a commercial profit through promising other people an opportunity to break the law.

Which is where the whole world goes off the damn rails.

Basically, they're complaining that the government COULD start rampantly shutting down web sites all over the place for perfectly innocent links that the owners didn't know pointed to pirate sites.

And that the government COULD start blocking marketing sites off the internet for no reason at all, just because nobody likes marketers.

Now let's turn this around and look at property theft laws. It's illegal to sell stolen property for profit, even if you didn't steal it, and we have a place called "prison" where we put thieves when we catch them.

The complaints about SOPA amount to "what if I don't know it was stolen?" and "what if they put innocent people in that prison?"

Funnily enough, while the government has pretty much the exact same power to make your life a living hell in these cases, it somehow... doesn't happen.

We do not normally take someone reselling a stolen bike on eBay and charge them with selling stolen property unless there's some really good reason to believe they knew it was stolen.

Similarly, we are not known for putting innocent people in prison. We may put guilty people in the wrong prison for too long when what they did shouldn't be illegal in the first place, but in general we don't often put actually-innocent people in prison.

SOPA is the same way. Yes, they could abuse the crap out of it, but they won't. There's more than enough work for them to do using it like it's intended, and they're not going to start searching around for sites to block just on the basic principle of "marketers suck."
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