(H/T – Ed Morrissey)
Wired reports that a very-disturbing item known as CLOAC…er, BOHIC…er, COHICA is fast-tracking its way through the lame-duck Senate, unanimously clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 3804 has two parts ostensibly designed to combat digital piracy, but which can be (and probably will be considering the bent of the current administration) used to silence critics of the LeftStreamMedia. Since I am one of those critics, it really hits home.
The first part allows the Attorney General to petition the courts to force domestic hosting companies and DNS servers to block access to any site that the AG deems to have “no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than…(to) enable enable or facilitate a violation of title 17, United States Code, including by offering or providing access to, without the authorization of the copyright owner or otherwise by operation of law, copies of, or public performance or display of, works protected by title 17, in complete or substantially complete form, by any means, including by means of download, transmission, or otherwise, including the provision of a link or aggregated links to other sites or Internet resources for obtaining such copies for accessing such performance or displays….” That’s right – a thorough fisking isn’t necessary to be shut down; merely linking to a site that does said thorough fisking can get one shut down.
That is bad enough. What’s worse is the Attorney General will be maintaining a list of those domains that he or she didn’t decide to act judicially against, and that any domestic web host or DNS server that decides “on their own” to block access will get the same immunity against action that those ordered to block access by the court does.
As Ed puts it:
Furthermore, the ambiguous nature of the infringements covered and the definition of centrality could make this a bill with much more impact in the blogosphere. Many of us link to media articles and excerpt under the “fair use” provision of copyright law, designed to further debate and discussion without damaging the critical concept of intellectual property. However, it’s no secret that mainstream media organizations are mainly hostile to this process and occasionally threaten bloggers for engaging in it. If an administration decides it doesn’t much like a blogger or an alternate-media site — or a whole bunch of them — it won’t take many complaints from lawsuit-happy media outlets to convince an Attorney General in some administrations to suspend the domains involved, leaving the alternate media no recourse at all and no platform from which to dissent.
In effect, it hands the executive branch a big weapon to silence dissent, or at the very least, to threaten those who engage in it.
Point of order – it actually won’t take any complaints from an administration-compliant media. So, if this passes and this place suddenly becomes “unavailable”, at least you’ll know why.