Revenge of the Nerds

Most excellent news:

Software developers have already found a way around the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which the House Judiciary Committee will not markup until sometime early next year.

Most critics say the bill would create an Internet “blacklist” that forces ISPs, search engines, financial firms and advertisers to de-list websites accused of copyright infringement, all without any actual court hearing or oversight. The legislation takes aim at the Internet’s domain naming system (DNS), which translates domain names like www.google.com to numerical Internet protocol (IP) addresses.

But an add-on for the popular Internet browser FireFox, called DeSopa, would circumvent DNS blockades with the click of a button.

In a battle of wits between Firefox developers and Congress, you know who I pick every time.






60 replies
  1. 1
    Veritas says:

    Wow, looks like even Hugo Chavez has had enough of Obambi:

    http://www.politico.com/news/s.....70694.html

    That ought to give leftists some pause about voting.

  2. 2

    Re: SOPA and DeSopa — It’s like trying to keep squirrels out of the bird feeder.

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    While all this debate has been going on, I thought that there had to be a high tech solution that would prevent this control over the internet. I’m glad I was right.

  4. 4
    jo6pac says:

    dim lights of congress VS Fire Fox isn’t much of a contest.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Veritas:

    You’re off topic, fucktard.

    Good for the Firefox developers. One of the truisms of the ‘tubes is that they were designed to survive major physical disruption, but the sort of disruption that criminal parasites like MPAA and RIAA represent are just as easily bypassed.

  6. 6
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I saw one of the MPAA’s commercials where all of the white bars in the US flag are percent download bars for various things. It was on FOX (saw it at the gym). Didn’t seem all that appealing as an ad.

    I didn’t think it would be that hard to get around. They can’t stop the IP addresses, and ever computer has a file that you can update if you had to, or you could have a program do it.

  7. 7
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Somehow I just knew this would happen – the geeks are always one step ahead.

  8. 8
    cat says:

    the sort of disruption that criminal parasites like MPAA and RIAA represent are just as easily bypassed

    Until they make bypassing the disruption an offense. The DMCA has such language and if COPA doesn’t it soon will.

    Soon in America running or using an unsanctioned DNS server will be a criminal offense… How soon till the revolution?

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    My bet is on the Internet cops. Mozilla is an American company. They will be pressured to make their browser stop supporting this add-on whose purpose is to circumvent the law and they will likely agree.

    Please do not imply any normative judgments one way or the other into this prediction.

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    Go with the kitsune. Always bet on the kitsune.

  11. 11
    chowkster says:

    Wouldn’t the government just ask the ISPs to block these sites by IPs?

  12. 12
    John PM says:

    In a battle of wits between Firefox developers anyone and Republicans in Congress, you know who I pick every time.

    FTFY.

  13. 13

    @Steve: yeah, but even then there are ways around it. i’ll take the computer software developers every day of the week. think of sopa like the volstead act. ten internet cops aren’t going to be able to stop everybody that uses the internet.

    @Veritas: keep fu@%ing that chicken!

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:

    I’d bet on the side with guns – because a bullet will stop a brain more surly than a brain can stop a bullet – but thats just me

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @Veritas: Hugo Chavez can vote in the US? HOOCODANODE??

  16. 16
    Ian says:

    @Veritas:
    The moderates in the US look to Venezuela for political advice?

    Is this like the time you told us to trust Mitt?

  17. 17
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    This has always been the problem with legislation like this. Most of the people you’re actually after, the most savvy of the pirates and distributors, they know their ways around and how to use or create workarounds so they can keep on doing things as they’ve always done. The casual users, those who might not even know anything about pirating since Napster , but still use Youtube, Facebook, Twitter like mad, those are always the ones the worst fucked over. It’s the same issue as in the Drug War: laws and methods that are good for picking off the user on the street whose contribution to crime is negligible at most while allowing precious little leeway in going after the sources.

  18. 18
    amk says:

    clueless congress critters just like our veritas. hackers hijacked a fucking, top-secret hi-tech drone. when will they learn ?

  19. 19
    gaz says:

    @Veritas: We don’t give a fuck.

    And as the balloon juice commentariat, you know we speak for the entire left.

    Veritas, are you this stupid naturally, or did you have to practice at it?

  20. 20
    kdaug says:

    M_C bait.

  21. 21
    steve says:

    An old quote from an internet vet was (para) ‘the internet treats censorship like damage and routs around it.’

  22. 22
  23. 23
    D. Mason says:

    Congress can never win in a fight against the tech industry because it takes them months to act. In the meantime am army /b/tards are coding away into the wee hours of the morning.

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @chowkster:

    The full employment for NOC monkeys act of 2012!

    This would be, um, difficult to implement. As in utterly impossible, because you forget, the “bad guys” are much, much smarter than the buggy whip wielding “good guys” of the RIAA and MPAA, not to mention the troglodytes of the GOP controlled House.

  25. 25
    MikeJ says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    They can’t stop the IP addresses,

    Most sites actually require a site name in the request headers. Every site where there’s more than one site per box anyway.

    The easiest way around sopa is to simply point your dns at a server in another country.

    I’m all in favor of this add on, and I think SOPA is a dreadfully stupid law. It is not, however, the end of the internet, even if it worked as designed.

    It only applies to web sites outside of the US, and all it does it stop US DNS servers from resolving those names. The only thing it really does it make US nameservers untrustworthy, and people will stop using them.

  26. 26
    Zifnab says:

    As I understand it, we should probably consider renaming the bill to “Please stop letting the United States run the master DNS”.

    I mean, hell’s bells. I can create a local DNS on my computer at home. If its just a matter of collecting IP Addresses… well… anyone can do that. It’s not like BitTorrent hasn’t been operating under this model for years. “Here’s a website with a bunch of IP Addresses that link you to people sharing content”.

    Of course, people will be heavily inconvenienced, and there’s a serious concern that internet censorship will come hand-in-hand with heavy police enforcement. But given the wild success of the TSA, SWAT teams, and the like, I guess that’s something Americans will just learn to live with.

  27. 27
    Disgruntled Lurker says:

    In a battle of wits between Firefox developers and Congress, you know who I pick every time.

    Chrome?

  28. 28
    eldorado says:

    firefox is open-source, so there isn’t a whole lot mozilla can practically do to make these sort of plugins stop working. if they are forced to try, then the code will be forked and made available under a different name.

  29. 29
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Zifnab:

    I mean, hell’s bells. I can create a local DNS on my computer at home. If its just a matter of collecting IP Addresses… well… anyone can do that.

    Yep, this. Your linux or mac box has an /etc/hosts/ file to edit. Your Windows box also has a hosts file (location depends on the vintage of Windows). On all systems, this hosts file overrides the DNS.

  30. 30
    MikeJ says:

    @Judas Escargot: I wouldn’t muck around with hosts files.
    sudo apt-get install bind9
    sudo make me a sandwich

  31. 31
    zzyzx says:

    “The easiest way around sopa is to simply point your dns at a server in another country.”

    Yeah, that’s the workaround I’ve been telling everyone for weeks now. It’s stupid but ultimately trivial.

  32. 32
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Zifnab: Yeah, this got me wondering…I haven’t really followed SOPA terribly closely, but is the enforcement mechanism really just going after the DNS servers? Because if so, that’s ridiculously easy to circumvent…

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    @Veritas: Leftists may not want the US or loony Venezuelan right improperly fucking with the elected leader of the country, but this is the guy who just got done praising his dear departed comrade Kim Jong Il, and doing so tearfully. He’s not exactly at a rhetorical high, right now.

    [Let me clarify, though: Obama’s comments that the ties between Venezuela & Cuba have not been helpful to the Venezuelan people were stupid & wrong. The numbers helped merely by Cuban medical care alone staggeringly refute this point. It’s typical moron US boilerplate.]

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Cid:

    It’s typical moron US boilerplate.

    That’s our UnrealityCheck/Veritas. Typical US moron.

  35. 35
    Judas Escargot says:

    @MikeJ:

    I’m old enough to remember when ‘bind’ was a security nightmare (Old habits die hard). For modest home use, I just edit the hosts file (with gvim, no less) so I can assign names to the various machines scattered around the house. I’m too busy (ie lazy) to set up a DNS server at home.

    Obviously, should SOPA come to pass, folks would end up setting up home DNS servers, and others would find alt-DNS servers overseas. There are already some websites popping up that are collecting addresses of often-used sites for exactly this reason.

    As others have already pointed out, TCP/IP was designed from the ground up to be decentralized and robust. And the PTB can’t ‘take down the internet’ in any substantive way without hurting their bottom line.

    MPAA/RIAA are basically just another sort of ‘damage’ to be routed around.

  36. 36

    In a battle of wits between Firefox developers and Congress, you know who I pick every time.

    D’aww, thanks John. Seriously folks, please call your congresspeople and tell them to vote against SOPA. Add-ons help, but if it passes, big media companies will still use SOPA to bludgeon sites they see as a threat.

    Please call your congressperson now. It’s easy: fightforthefuture.org has a form to get you connected to the right phone number, and they’ll even give you suggested talking points.

    Dave, Mozillian and Balloon Juice fan, except when people are nasty to ABL (what gives?)

  37. 37
    MikeJ says:

    @Judas Escargot: bind is better than it used to be, and I’m used to living with it since it’s been on at least one machine in my house since the olden dayes. But you’re right, for the average home user it’s overkill.

  38. 38

    This is a bill that’s having trouble getting out of a Republican dominated House committee? As much as everything I’ve heard about the bill is abominable, isn’t it jumping the gun to worry about it passing? The House has been throwing out jackass world destroying legislation that dies in the Senate long before Obama even gets a chance to use it as toilet paper since the Tea Party moved in.

  39. 39
    Ken J. says:

    The effective weapon in this war is going to be the financial blockade. Getting Visa, MasterCard and PayPal to cut off funding for Wikileaks is looking like a success, from the point of view of controlling what sites can function on the net. Add in the advertising ban to be sure that survival is impossible.

    Ratchet that weapon up one level and point it at whatever hosting company is hosting Pirate Bay IP addresses. Collateral damage simply does not matter to the content companies.

    The key point is to make sure that this weapon functions on the mere say-so of the copyright industries, because 12 years of litigation have taught the copyright industries that litigation doesn’t scale.

  40. 40
    Ken J. says:

    (comment link failed: this is re: Frankensteinbeck above)

    The usual party alignments are not holding for the SOPA/Protect IP affair. Myself, I find myself cheering for Darrell Issa (R), extremely angry with John Conyers (D), and planning to withhold all future support for Al Franken (D), to whose campaign I made a small donation.

    If anything, the Dems are more likely to be on the wrong side on this issue, because “Hollywood” — mostly a part of the Dem coalition — wants to squash unauthorized sharing of their materials.

    As for this being a product of Crazed House Republicans — there is a Senate version, “Protect IP”, which is going to be portrayed as the reasonable compromise, though it is not much better.

  41. 41
    Ken J. says:

    @Ken J.:
    IIRC, the Senate version, “Protect IP,” has 40 co-sponsors in the Senate. Harry Reid (D) is lining up the cloture process for late January.

  42. 42
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I’m ambivalent about the idea of “tech fixes”. Tech fixes are what allow gaijin internet users in China to route around the Great Firewall, but that doesn’t change the situation for the bulk of users. Tech fixes are too often a retreat from policy advocacy when facing state actors that want, literally, to break the internet, whether it’s OMG Teh Childers or on behalf of Hollywood.

  43. 43
    burnspbesq says:

    This is nice, but it would have been even nicer if the announcement had been delayed until the legislative process was complete. Watch Thomas for an amendment criminalizing the use of this little goodie or anything like it.

  44. 44
    carpeduum says:

    Silly Cole. Do you even understand how the internet works? This is not much of a solution except for the script kiddies.

  45. 45
    Auldblackjack says:

    I think the reason for SOPA is the same as our drug laws and as with the drug laws we will find SOPA laws enforced selectivly to criminalize specific political and economic segments of the population.

  46. 46
    Judas Escargot says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Watch Thomas for an amendment criminalizing the use of this little goodie or anything like it.

    Good luck to them, enforcing that.

  47. 47
    EvolutionaryDesign says:

    @carpeduum: GOD. Just shut the fuck up already. You are boring, repetitive, and useless. Sorry to feed, but my god you are relentless.

  48. 48
    gaz says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    MPAA/RIAA are basically just another sort of ‘damage’ to be routed around.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    The more they pull this shit. The more I will pirate.

    I go to live shows. I don’t watch many movies, and as far as TV, they are so full of product placement nowadays that the devil gets it’s due one way or another (see Chrysler/The Shield), (Huandai (sp?)/Burn Notice) etc.

  49. 49
    gaz says:

    @carpeduum: You’re demonstrably wrong, and stupid.

    Take if from someone that was SYN’ing usda.gov back when you were still a nutstain on your moms pillow.

  50. 50
    Nutella says:

    @Ken J.:

    Yes, it’s the payment side that’s really going to hurt. People are working on developing non-credit-card web payments but that’s a lot harder than rerouting DNS. Other than bitcoin, I don’t know how they can avoid the banking system which will quickly bow to legal pressure and shut off any accounts the government asks them to.

    And as several have pointed out above, a technical fix that can be prosecuted is a technical fix that won’t be widely adopted.

    Please don’t get complacent about the self-healing internet. Keep shouting at your legislators in both the house and senate.

    These bills are designed to protect the huge profits of the buggy-whip manufacturers in old media while destroying the software, networking, and new media industries. Between this and the software patent mess, the software industry could move to other countries and Silicon Valley get plowed up for orchards again. And that’s not much of an exaggeration – I know some developers who have already left the US because of our anti-business regulations.

  51. 51
    gaz says:

    @Nutella: I don’t really give a shit if they take down megauploads or something.

    thepiratebay.org is free and outside the US
    same with demonoid.

    Your paypal argument is a non-starter.

  52. 52
    Genghis says:

    Sorry, but as someone who works to create content that is routinely stolen (squirrels in bird feeders was an apt comparison), I’m in favor of re-establishing copyright. I have doubts about SOPA, as I suspect it protects the big corporate copyright owners more than the individual creator.

    Before I get shouted down, I’d be interested in possible solutions for re-establishing copyright for owners of all sizes big and small. BTW, over at nakedcapitalism.com the argument against SOPA was that it would lead to the US government cracking down on dissent, saying that incidents in Russia and China show how “it could happen here”. Glad to not see that argument here.

    Best…H

  53. 53
    Nutella says:

    @Genghis:

    Copyright itself is established, and with the 1998 changes in the Copyright Term Extension Act has been changed to run far too long so that most of the term is not used to protect the rights of creators but to restrict usage and profits to non-creator rights owners.

    What we’re talking with SOPA is enforcement of copyright. Are you saying that DMCA is not a solution to that?

    I don’t thing requiring John to check all links in comments for infringing content before publishing them is going to help anyone.

  54. 54
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Genghis: As someone who also works to create content that is routinely stolen, I don’t understand why you think copyright has not been established.

    Establishing a copyright doesn’t guarantee that your product will never ever be stolen. You’re thinking of magical faeries that do that, not copyright law. Easy mistake to make.

    Having a copyright means that if somebody else makes money off your work, you can take that money. Then, after you die, a giant corporation gets to do that for the rest of eternity since Congress never fails to extend copyright duration every time Mickey Mouse’s deadline comes up.

    Frankly, wanting the structure of the whole world changed, and the open internet wiped out, all in a vain attempt to stop piracy, is fucking selfish. I have little respect for my fellow creators who are so myopic as to support SOPA. I mean, if I thought it would work I could respect it, but it won’t. It will simply ruin the internet for most users while the hardcore pirates continue their pirating.

    Copyright holders already have plenty of enforcement tools. Giving Comcast obscene control over the net is not needed or helpful.

  55. 55
    Genghis says:

    I’ll make my own arguments, thanks.

    Copyright, as it relates to my work, is severely damaged. A great recorded song used to have value that translated into money. That money supported the writer, the label, the musicians, the recording engineers, and so on. As the ability to make perfect copies of music spread, sales plummeted, as did budgets. (I’m not going to argue in favor of the labels: with few exceptions, they suck.)

    So, by saying re-establish copyright, I am referring to the money lost by file sharing.

    I don’t think the tools to re-establish copyright are there yet; if they are, they aren’t in use. I agree copyright has been abused, and by asking for balance I am asking for the rights of consumers to be protected also. The endless extension of copyright is a prime example of abuse. Why invest in new music if you can keep the old stuff floating?

    I don’t want the structure of the world changed, but I do want users to be held responsible for their keystrokes, especially if they use their keystrokes to steal content that they should pay for. I’m willing to give up the freedom to be phished, spammed, and threatened by people who will never be held accountable (or identified) to get it.

    We are held responsible for our actions almost everywhere else in our lives; when we drive, go to work, go to the grocery. But not on the internet. Why should that continue? If we were speaking face to face, I doubt you would use the tone you did. (Maybe you would – as Gandhi said; “be the change you want to see in the world”.) Is that why people want the internet to remain free? So they can be insulting without fear of being identified? Or is it just to watch free movies and listen to free music?

    And make no mistake, it’s not free now. The information harvesting that is being done has already eliminated the idea of internet freedom. We can only guess at what the governments of the world are doing. Internet privacy is an illusion. Also, I’m no fan of Comcast. But if they are willing to help me get paid I have to at least consider their point of view rather than the pirate’s. Both viewpoints are seriously flawed; one requires that I work for free.

    So, if SOPA won’t work, fine. What would work?

    Best…H

  56. 56
    Barry says:

    @Schlemizel: “I’d bet on the side with guns – because a bullet will stop a brain more surly than a brain can stop a bullet – but thats just me”

    In the case of North Korea (or Burma, or a few other places), this holds. The trick here is that the powers-that-be want to keep the internet functioning, so that they can profit.

  57. 57
    Barry says:

    @Genghis: “I have doubts about SOPA, as I suspect it protects the big corporate copyright owners more than the individual creator.”

    Yes, because they’d have the money and lawyers to fight shutdown attempts. Ordinary Joes don’t, and especially don’t have the lawyers to fight a blizzard of notice.

  58. 58
    Barry says:

    @Genghis: “Copyright, as it relates to my work, is severely damaged. A great recorded song used to have value that translated into money. That money supported the writer, the label, the musicians, the recording engineers, and so on. As the ability to make perfect copies of music spread, sales plummeted, as did budgets. (I’m not going to argue in favor of the labels: with few exceptions, they suck.)”

    The way I heard it put best was that our idea of copyright and how it behaved was formed back in the days where mass ‘printing’ was a capital-intensive business, and therefore mass pirating was traceable and controllable.

    We are not in that world anymore. The big people can deal with it by mass marketing, and live with some level of leakage (for now).

    I don’t know how the small guys are going to deal with it. I have a feeling that they (and you) will have to see content as ‘advertising’, which leads to making money in some other ways.

    I do not envy you your position.

  59. 59
    lol chikinburd says:

    DeSopa has already been harmonized. Didn’t take long at all.

    (Here’s the developer’s own site, for the curious.)

  60. 60
    lol chikinburd says:

    Wait, it’s back on Mozilla’s site. Had been disappeared. No idea what’s going on over there.

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