Paul Vixie vs. The Hill

Paul Vixie objected to a response on thehill.com (my response is on page 2 of the comments) to his (and other key Internet engineers’) objections to SOPA/PIPA on technical grounds, response by Paul is here. I agree wholeheartedly with Paul on the technical issues – not sure I would publicly try to disagree with Paul on the guts of DNS – but there is a more fundamental issue at stake, specifically the limits of government intrusion vs. freedom, and the limits of liability/culpability for unintended involvement in liable/criminal acts.

Here is my response as posted there:

@richard, @paul,

I think we miss an important point here. Richard, Paul knows far more about DNS and DNSSEC than almost anyone else on the planet, including you and me. He is correct – and I would trust him even if I didn’t understand him – that end-to-end security of DNSSEC is similar to that of https; if anyone in the middle changes an element or response, then the whole thing is invalid.

However, you both miss a key point. The issues with SOPA are not technical in nature, although, as @paul says, there are technical issues. If it were possible to do DNSSEC and the restrictions of SOPA/PIPA, the backlash would still exist.

The Internet-using population as a whole objects not to the mucking with the guts of the Internet as the attempt to create censorship. No one (at least no one mature) objects to anti-crime. There are already laws on the books that make it a crime to copy and distribute copyrighted material. If someone takes a copy of the last Harry Potter film, copies it and redistributes it without approval from the copyright holders (Warner Bros), then they can be charged with criminal activity under Section 5 http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html

However, SOPA/PIPA does not even attempt to criminalize copyright infringement; that is already done. It attempts to criminalize any intermediary, knowing or otherwise, and give government and sometimes private individuals the power to shut down entirely those intermediaries.

If someone carries 500 copies of Harry Potter on his person, flies American Airlines into LAX, and is caught by Customs, he is held liable (as well as suppliers), not American Airlines nor LAX, and Expedia is not held liable for selling a ticket on AA, or Google from providing search results to Expedia. Yet SOPA/PIPA ask that the moment that happens, American Airlines can be shut down, as can LAX, Expedia and Google.

The only time AA or LAX should pay is if Warner Bros warns them in a timely fashion, and they don’t take reasonable action. We have a law like that for Internet copyright, it is called DMCA.

The issue is not the technical, it is the fundamental.

 

 

 

About Avi Deitcher

Avi Deitcher is a technology business consultant who lives to dramatically improve fast-moving and fast-growing companies. He writes regularly on this blog, and can be reached via Facebook, Twitter and avi@atomicinc.com.
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