Content industry supports "Stop Airline Piracy Act" (SAPA)

Spokesmen for the MPAA, RIAA and several other content industry companies recently issued a statement of support for the new "Stop Airline Piracy Act" or SAPA, now before congress.

SAPA seeks to address the massive tide of copyright infringing material flowing into the USA on commercial airlines and delivery services. Today in China and many other countries, bootleg DVDs, CDs and software disks are being manufactured in bulk, and sold to visitors on the streets of these cities in illicit malls. Then, these visitors fly back to the USA with the pirate disks in their suitcases, taking them into the USA. Other Americans are ordering these pirate DVDs and having them shipped via both airlines and other shippers directly to their homes.

SAPA addresses this problem by giving content owners tools to cut down this pirate flow. A content owner, once they learn of an airline or shipping service which is regularly and repeatedly bringing pirated material into the country, can file claims alleging the presence of this infringement. The bill allows them to shut off the flow of money, traffic and customers to the airlines, by getting US companies to stop directing people to the airlines, and stopping payment services from transferring money to them.

"Last month, we worked with customs and border patrol to inspect planes coming into LAX from overseas," said Pearl Alley, a spokesperson for the MPAA. "We found that every single plane of an unnamed airline had pirated material in passenger bags or in the hold. Not just a few planes, every single plane. Most planes had multiple pirated products, including DVDs and CDs, and files on laptops and music players." Customs is able to seize any laptop or music player coming into the country for any reason and copy its drive to see what's on it, according to CBP officials.

"These airlines and shippers are enabling and facilitating infringement. This has got to be stopped, and SAPA will stop it," said Alley.

Under SAPA, an airline alleged to have been regularly carrying in pirated material can be blacklisted. Travel agents will be forbidden from booking passengers on the airline. Travel web sites can be ordered not to list flights or even the existence of the airline. Phone book and Yellow page companies can be ordered to remove any listings for the airline, and in some cases, phone switches can be ordered to not complete calls directed at airline phone numbers. Travel review books and sites can be ordered edited to delete mention of the airline or recommendations to fly on it.

To shut off the money flow, an accusation of alleged infringement under SAPA can result in an order to Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and other financial processors to not accept payments for the airline or shipping company. "They may be overseas, but we can stop them from destroying American jobs with tools we have at home," said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), co-sponsor of the senate version of the bill.

Airports can also be prohibited from allowing the planes to land. However, planes in the air can file a counter-notice within 5 days of a claim, providing they subject themselves to US jurisdiction and agree to be liable if they are found to have copyright material in their holds. Aircraft which can't file a counter notice are free to turn around on approach to LAX and return over the Pacific, but may not land at any airport in a country which has signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement with the USA.

"Legitimate Airlines, ones that are not carrying in pirated material every day, will not be harmed by this act, because of the counter-notice provision. In addition, if a rightsholder files a false claim, and there are no copyright violations on board the plane, the airline has a right to sue for damages over misuse of the act -- so it's all safe and does not block legitimate trade," said Alley.

Several airlines, travel agencies and travel sites have, not surprisingly, filed opposition to this bill, but it is supported by a broad coalition of US job creators in Hollywood and Redmond, as well as domain name site GoDaddy.


I don't know if it is good or bad that I can't tell whether this is real or a joke, though I don't see the "humor" category.

Replace "copyrighted material" with "underage sex slaves"; would you still feel that the rights of the airline are being limited?

I know that you have a rather libertarian stance on copyright (though not as absurd as some). However, if one believes that copyright infringement is a crime, then it is only logical to stop those aiding and abetting it.

Are you so mentally crippled that you can't figure this out yourself with out a "humour tag"? says more about the pro-piracy policy of so-called libertarians than about me.

You completely missed the point. This is a parody of the SOPA act. The point of this is that if these kind of laws are passed, every single airline or ISP would be shut down because of something they could not ever seek to control/check.

You say "if one believes that copyright infringement is a crime" but do you really believe yourself that people copying media (which is not a speciality) is a crime?

so if a baker says it is a crime that people bake their own bread at home then you also agree that it becomes forbidden to do so?

you say "if one believes that copyright infringement is a crime" but do you really believe that people copying media is a crime?

so if a baker says that baking a bread at home is a crime because it takes away his income and should be forbidden then you accept that?

of that post companies want to make it a crime to use e-mail also again because it takes away their income.

there is a "law" of market: if one can do something special it should be rewarded (thus in the previous century it took special factories to reproduce media) but if everyone can do it then there's no money in it. If laws are made to keep a monopoly on media distribution then hey, i think of a crime.

Your comments are so brain-dead it is pathetic. First, it is not an opinion whether copyright violation is a crime. One might think it shouldn't be a crime, but one's opinion does not decide whether or not it is. Second, learn one basic fact: your freedom stops where it infringes the freedom of others. Baking my own bread does not infringe the freedom of the baker (as long as I don't steal the ingredients from him). Hurt his income? Maybe, but he doesn't have a right to exclusivity. If someone copyrights a work, then it is his freedom to determine who can copy it and how; that's the whole purpose of copyright.

The argument that nothing is stolen since the original work remains intact is bogus. If someone rapes your wife, what have they taken from you? Same bogus argument.

It is indeed not a matter of opinion whether copyright violation is a crime. In the majority of cases, it is not a crime. It is, in particular, not a crime for you to copy a song or download a movie in violation of copyright, though it can be a crime for you to put that movie on the open internet for others to download.

Attacking people on a personal basis by subversive remarks only hurts your own integrity.

Aka don't shoot the messenger.

The current copyright laws are worldwide in discussion because of the current situation and technology. The laws were originally made for the makers of work and to protect companies from each other, nowadays they are used as an excuse to supress the innocent people to protect profit for companies not the makers.

There is no real comparison to basic laws. The often made comparisson to stealing is incorrect as the owner still has the a original copy the material. It is more like fraud if one impersonates the company selling the original product. But the maker of the work is still known (it is hard to change faces of persons in a movie to do as if you are the maker) (also the intro is mostly present with the name of the original makers). So fraud is also not comparible.

Also making public of secret information is not the case as (mostly) only published material is copied (publishing: a DVD/CD is brought to the public market). Of course distributing non-published material is something different (i.e. a movie not yet in cinemas)

About that cinema thing, it is really annoying to see movies at the Oscars which are old in the US but still not in cinemas elsewhere in the world, with the bluray already on amazon and thus already worldwide available to download. This is absurd and the companies still are slow/old fasion.. how come citizens can distribute something in hours worldwide nowadays while the distribution companies take months.

The whole point about copyright is that it exists because it is relatively cheap to copy things. If not, there would be no need for copyright. The money doesn't primarily pay for the media, but for the creative work involved, which does take effort. A society which doesn't value creative works will return to the state it was in when only the rich or people patronized by them could be creative. Copyright made possible the democratization of society. It is pathetic that you want to endanger this good because you are too cheap to pay a musician, actor, screenwriter etc for doing something you enjoy. Don't tell me that The Rolling Stones are rich enough already. Most creative people are not. Also, by that argument, you could rob anyone richer than yourself.

That's the problem: all the money goes to the copyright-holders like the Rolling Stones.

Every simple musician is pushed out of the market by them. You see something is wrong if a very small percentage of people in the business is getting all the money.

If the Rolling Stones make more money than Sam's Blues Band, then because they sell more records. How is a simple musician pushed out by them? Copyright is what makes it possible for people who aren't independently wealthy to work as musicians at all and make a living from it.

What do you advocate? Anyone who calls himself a musician gets an equal piece of the pie?

Somehow, discussion of music copyright (in particular) seems to turn people's brains off. I once heard someone state that people started downloading music illegally because DMR was introduced, rather than vice versa.

Reading this 5 years later, after SOPA's no longer in the front of my mind, I actually believed this for a second. Having been subject to stupid industry regulations proposed/passed by Dianne Fienstien before, that made the entire 'article' make sense.

There is no point in a law which is impractical. For example, making the post office responsible for the content of letters. However, it is wrong to make this don't-shoot-the-messenger principle a strict rule, since sometimes it is practical to make people responsible for content which they transport but do not originate. Why not just come out and say that you believe artists have no right to be rewarded for their work? Why hind behind the don't-shoot-the-messenger principle? Suppose I have a web page where people can register who are looking for children for sexual exploitation, and others can register who offer them. Would/should the EFF or anyone else stand up for me, saying "He was just the medium for the exchange; we can't shoot the messenger; if we shut down his operation we have to make the post office read every letter it transports?" No, and rightly so. Same with the Pirate Bay. There is a difference between some service which is occasionally abused and a service whose entire reason for existence is aiding and abetting illegal activity. Just because the police can stop someone driving a stolen car doesn't mean that they have the right to stop any car. Nor does the fact that most cars are not stolen mean that the police don't have the right to stop a stolen car.

In most cases, aiding and abetting a crime is itself a crime. Whether on the net or not, the issue in the case of a communicator, transporter etc is a) whether he knew he was doing so and b) whether it is reasonable for him to make some basic checks.

The problem with such exaggerated libertarian arguments is that they seriously hamper the work done by people trying to stop human trafficking etc. some of these sites being intentionally malicious. Fine, so a website is designed to aid in piracy, shut it down.

But let's say that you have a website designed to aid in people sharing files with each other. Let's say, further, that you don't actually HOST those files. The people who are sharing them host the files, and they just upload to your site a handy link to allow other people to find the files that they (not you) are hosting. Suppose, then, that a lot of these people end up hosting illegal files on their machines (not yours) and just uploading links which were created by them. The links are certainly not in violation of any copyright, as those links were created by the users themselves. All you are hosting is those links, and maybe a description of what can be found at the link. No file in violation of copyright are held by anything that you or your website or your service provider are in possession of. At all. Ever.

Does your website get shut down?

Let's say you have a website where people gather to discuss music. Someone brings up a song. Someone else doesn't know the song. No problem, a guy uploads it (let's say to YouTube) and posts a link to the video. Okay, he probably shouldn't do that, since YouTube says you shouldn't upload content to which you don't own the rights of reproduction. Whatever, that's YouTube's problem. But now YOUR website has the link to it. Let's then say further that the RIAA notices your link on the forum and reports your website. Now, since SOPA passed, you get your site taken down because some guy who you don't control posted a link to a file on a completely different site. Not at any point did you ever host an illegal file or even CONDONE an illegal link to an illegal file. But there it is, and you're screwed.

This is where SOPA leads.

As I've said (also here) many times, there is a huge difference between something which is occasionally abused (say, the post office for sending bombs through the mail) and something essentially the whole purpose of which is copyright violation (e.g. The Pirate Bay). If the legal stuff is just a front, then shutting it down as well is a side-effect which is necessary. While it's too much to expect the messenger to be responsible for the content of his message, if he is informed of the content it should be possible to make him destroy the message. It's not illegal to be a bus driver, but if the police has reason to believe that a passenger is transporting a bomb for a terrorist attack, say, then it is OK to stop the bus and even search everyone on it. This is not a violation of anyone's civil rights. The same laws apply to the internet.

What annoys me are folks like The Pirate Bay and, yes, those selling their own children for sexual abuse who hide behind a civil-rights cloak. It also annoys me that some civil-rights activists allow themselves to be used. Usually, the argument is "give them an inch and they'll take a mile, so we won't give them anything even if that means we have to live with occasional abuse", but I don't buy that. Life is not black and white.

Your writing suggests you are under the impression that opposition to SOPA is intended to defend pirate sites. This is of course not the case. Opposition is around how the law intends to attack pirate sites, the conditions under which the attacks may be made, and the parties conscripted into becoming the executioners, and the effects this has on them and their technology.

My satire is of course a satire, an exaggeration, intended to make clear that it would be ridiculous to ask travel agents, search engines, airports in mid-flight and others to deal with the problem of planes coming in every day with pirated DVDs on them. This is to assist people in understanding the somewhat less ridiculous, but still dangerous concept of making the 3rd parties be the police and executioners based on allegations (rather than the results of trials) by copyright holders.

It's decidedly easier (almost infinitely, since the electrons carrying data are almost infinitely small) to check whether the package you are transporting carries human beings than if it contains copyrighted data. Visit youtube and look up and popular song, and you will find several instances where that song has been uploaded by someone who doesn't own the rights to do so. To automate such a thing leaves far too many options for filtering not enough or too much data. Filtering too much data infringes on situations where a person HAS the right to post something, and obviously not filtering enough wouldn't jive well with you (I assume based on your arguments).

Also, your conflating copyrighted data violations with human trafficking are laughable. At no point in the transport of illegal music is another human being being captured, beaten, raped, etc... In fact, there is a significant body of evidence out there which shows that free content has, if anything, a tendency to INCREASE legitimately sales of that content, rather than losing, as it were "ALL TEH MONIES".

There is also the argument that, no matter what the laws say, pirates will be smarter than the lawmakers. We've seen it in the field of video games where essentially the only people who are inconvenienced by anti-piracy tactics are the legitimate consumers. No matter what draconian rules or processes are put in place, the pirates will circumvent them. All we will see is increasingly draconian lawmaking to try and prevent whatever NEW piracy arises between the cracks, and at some point, a lot of people are going to have their freedoms restricted. I can name some other countries with laws regulating which websites are allowed to show what content: China and North Korea. Israel had a similar problem earlier this year. I'm not saying the implementation is going to be the same under SOPA, but it certainly looks like the same sort of result.

And in the end, as I said, the pirates will get away with it anyway. So you've got a lot of restricted honest citizens and a lot of pirates still running free with copyrighted data.

"Visit youtube and look up and popular song, and you will find several instances where that song has been uploaded by someone who doesn't own the rights to do so."

Increasingly, I see a note that it has been removed due to copyright violation, so it does seem to be possible.

YouTube is, however, not really a fair comparison, since before it existed nothing like it did, so it doesn't cause anyone to lose money. MP3 files available over the internet illegally have, however, demonstrably reduced legitimate sales. For everyone who buys a CD (or legal download) because he heard something illegally, there are hundreds who don't buy any music anymore.

"Also, your conflating copyrighted data violations with human trafficking are laughable."

I'm not comparing the two crimes. Rather, I'm saying that this should make it obvious that it is OK to reduce freedom to fight crime. Again, if you want to argue that artists shouldn't be compensated, be my guest (though I don't agree), but don't hide behind civil-rights arguments (which is a slap in the face for those who really do benefit from civil rights). Suppose I figure out a way to transfer money from the account of a very rich person to my account without anyone noticing. Is that OK? No-one suffers any bodily harm and the rich dude probably won't even notice. Straight answer, please.

"There is also the argument that, no matter what the laws say, pirates will be smarter than the lawmakers."

Maybe most criminals are smarter than most cops, so why not do away with all laws?

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