'If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Joseph Goebbels

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Comment by Sam Kay on February 16, 2012 at 6:46pm

Yeah, the Hitler video was kinda tasteless...

Comment by Marc Draco on February 10, 2012 at 6:27am

@Ruth - I think the message using Hitler in this way is even stronger due to the irony involved!

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on January 22, 2012 at 3:42am

The Significance of SOPA to the World

1 What is Sopa?

It is the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill put before the US House of Representatives. Its counterpart in the Senate is Pipa, short for the Protect Intellectual Property Act. If enacted in its present form (which now seems unlikely), the legislation would significantly expand the powers of US law enforcement to combat online trafficking in copyrighted and counterfeited goods.

2 What kinds of powers was Sopa set to provide?

In a word, sweeping. Companies which claimed that their intellectual property was being appropriated or infringed could request court orders to forbid advertising networks (such as Google) and payment facilities (online services such as PayPal) from conducting business with infringing websites. Complainants could also ban search engines from linking to allegedly infringing sites and could obtain court orders requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to those sites. The proposed legislation would have expanded existing US criminal laws to include the digital streaming of copyright material, with a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

3 Why were these powers being sought?

The driving force behind them is undoubtedly the lobbying power of US and international multimedia companies (movie studios, record companies, publishers) concerned about loss of revenue stemming from widespread online piracy. These companies feel that existing US legislation is inadequate to deal with infringing websites that are owned and/or based in other countries. The legislation is also aimed at US-based search engines and other referring services which, proponents say, effectively engage in active promotion of infringing sites.

4 Why has there been such controversy about Sopa?

The main reason is that the powers being sought were not only so sweeping, but that they might cause significant collateral damage. They would permit US law enforcement agencies to block websites at the "domain" level rather than at the level of the allegedly infringing site. In that way, Sopa would interfere with the domain name system (DNS) which is at the heart of the internet. The DNS acts as a kind of phonebook for the network – it's what translates "www.bbc.co.uk" into the machine-readable address of the BBC – 212.58.244.67, for example. If the DNS is barred from providing the address of a particular site, then that site effectively becomes invisible (though technically adept internet users will still be able to find it).

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on January 22, 2012 at 3:40am

5 Why would DNS blocking be such a bad thing?

First, because it would give commercial corporations the power to interfere with the basic architecture of the internet, and in that sense set a very worrying precedent for a network that has become central to our lives and economies. Second, while it might be necessary to do it in some circumstances, DNS-blocking is a very blunt instrument. Most websites are hosted under large umbrella domains. Blogger.com and wordpress.com, to give just two examples, each host tens of thousands of individual blogs. But if either of these blog-hosting sites were DNS-blocked because some individual blogs contravened Sopa, then they would also disappear from the net. The collateral damage in this case would be to freedom of speech, which is why some opponents of the legislation think it contravenes the US constitution. But in fact the impact of Sopa could be even more chilling, because it could also be used to take down services like Google, Twitter and Wikipedia simply because they might be providing links to infringing sites without in any way endorsing them.

6 Is there a real problem with piracy?

Yes. There are a lot of sites and services that, for commercial or ideological reasons, are contemptuous of copyright and other forms of intellectual property, and it is reasonable for society to address that problem in intelligent and proportionate ways that do not do more harm than good. But tackling piracy is not easy because one of the defining properties of digital technology is it that it makes it easy to make and distribute perfect copies of digital goods.

7 Who has been opposing Sopa?

An unprecedentedly broad coalition of industry, activist, engineering and lobbying groups. US legislators seem to have been taken aback by the vehement opposition of the big US technology companies, for example – companies which have traditionally tended to have a relatively low profile in Washington, at least compared with the movie studios and their representatives. The truth is that while the so-called "creative industries" are important, they are economic minnows compared with the technology industries, and realisation of this may have led politicians to backpedal on Sopa.

8 So what happens next?

The White House recently issued a statement on the bills, saying it would oppose Pipa and Sopa as written, and emphasised that the president would not support any bill "that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet". On Friday, the Senate and the House of Representatives shelved votes on the bills to enable a rethink. But, as people say in the newspaper business, this one will run and run.

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on January 20, 2012 at 3:56pm

@ Ruth - This scene in the film, The Downfall (2004) is popularly used by satirists with the same formula of placing English sub-titles to the German dialogue making seem it plausible to non-german speakers. I have found four different works with the same scene and formula with subjects ranging from the film industry to the drugs trade. The producers of this film are endorsed by Viking Trance who are not associated with nazism and would not recruit any nazi demographic.

@ Steph - I saw the Downfall when it was released too. It's good quality.

I agree that Nazi germany would have controlled the internet just like many countries do today. I think it's outrageous for people to be arrested all over the world for breaking American law in the computer/Internet/entertainment industries.

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on January 20, 2012 at 11:37am

The brilliant dialogue and high power acting of this video is sabotaged by posing Hitler as the champion of free speech. Duh! He's the archetype of the big lie, as your great Goebbels quote reminds us. Was the producer trying to recruit the NeoNazi demographic?

Comment by Steph S. on January 20, 2012 at 10:45am

I saw this movie -- It was a very good one on Nazi Germany. I think the Nazis would just love SOPA -- it's police state. I like the quote -- very appropriate for the situation.

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on January 20, 2012 at 10:14am

Megaupload closure in US prompts New Zealand arrests - video

Police in New Zealand have arrested four men after US authorities shut down the filesharing site Megaupload. Detectives also seized cash and luxury cars in a raid on a luxury mansion. The United States now has 45 days to request extradition of the four, who include the site's founder, Kim Dotcom.

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