Link Round-Up: Yesterday’s Anti-SOPA/PIPA Protests

“‘Least restrictive means’? One way that SOPA could die in court” by Matthew Lasar at ArsTechnica’s Law & Disorder. Lasar ponders whether SOPA/PIPA could meet the same legal challenges and fate as legislation such as the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was found not to be the “least restrictive means” of addressing the issue of access to online materials by minors. Is SOPA/PIPA the least restrictive means of addressing online privacy or, rather, as the Supreme Court declared in the COPA matter: “If the State has open to it a less drastic way of satisfying its legitimate interests, it may not choose a legislative scheme that broadly stifles the exercise of fundamental personal liberties.”

“Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest” by Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa. Professor Geist summarizes the reasons why SOPA/PIPA, including its extra-territorial effects, should concern individuals and businesses outside the U.S.

“The Google Anti-Stop-Online-Piracy-Act Statement, Corporate Speech, and the First Amendment” by UCLA law professor, Eugene Volokh, asking how those who oppose 1st Amendment rights for entities such as corporations square those beliefs with support of yesterday’s anti-SOPA protest actions by prominent technology companies.

“SOPA and Censorship Spillovers” by University of Chicago Law Professor, Randal C. Picker. Professor Picker (a former classmate of mine in law school at the University of Chicago) examines claims regarding how foreign governments that desire to engage in censorship will respond to U.S. efforts to implement DNS filtering to address copyright infringement.

“Why SOPA is Dangerous” a close look at the bill itself at, and “An Updated Analysis: Why SOPA & PIPA Are A Bad Idea, Dangerous & Unnecessary” a more general effort to summarize the ill effects of the bills at

“Forget SOPA, Hollywood Already Had a Field Day with the Justice System” by Fenwick & West attorney, Alan P. Bridges, arguing at that content owners already have a good deal under current law given the oversized nature of current statutory copyright penalties that may be applicable even if there is no commensurate actual economic damage to any particular content owner.


“The copyright wars are just the beta version of a long coming war on computation … There will be programs that run on general-purpose computers, and peripherals, that will freak even me out. So I can believe that people who advocate for limiting general-purpose computers will find a receptive audience. But just as we saw with the copyright wars, banning certain instructions, protocols or messages will be wholly ineffective as a means of prevention and remedy. As we saw in the copyright wars, all attempts at controlling PCs will converge on rootkits, and all attempts at controlling the Internet will converge on surveillance and censorship. This stuff matters because we’ve spent the last decade sending our best players out to fight what we thought was the final boss at the end of the game, but it turns out it’s just been an end-level guardian. The stakes are only going to get higher.”

From “Lockdown: The Coming War on General-Purpose Computing” by Cory Doctorow at (based on his keynote speech to the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin, December 2011; youtube video of the full speech).

The practical effect of SOPA will be to create an architecture for censorship—both legal and technological—that will radically alter the costs of engaging in future censorship unrelated to piracy or counterfeiting … . [T]he portion of the bill laying out the specific types of criminal conduct that trigger this Rube Goldberg censorship machine occupy just a couple of paragraphs. With the legal framework in place, expanding it to cover other conduct—obscenity, defamation, “unfair competition,” patent infringement, publication of classified information, advocacy in support of terror groups —would be a matter of adding a few words to those paragraphs … . Any sane network operator is just going to build a filter that reads off the current list of banned domains from a government feed and automatically stops resolving them … . Once the up-front costs of implementing that filter mechanism are paid, the marginal cost of additional censorship is effectively zero for the providers.
Julian Sanchez: “SOPA: An Architecture for Censorship” writing at Cato@Liberty.