SOPA Is “Unconstitutional”, Would “Criminalize” the Internet … China Is the Model

George Washington's picture

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe is one of the top constitutional experts in the country, and wrote one of the main treatises on the subject. Tribe wrote a letter to Congress last week stating that SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is unconstitutional.

As the Hill notes:

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert at Harvard Law School, argues [SOPA] violates the First Amendment in a memo sent to members of Congress on Thursday.


The bill would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines, Internet providers and payment processors cut ties with websites “dedicated” to copyright infringement.


Tribe argues the bill amounts to illegal “prior restraint” because it would suppress speech without a judicial hearing.


Additionally, the law’s definition of a rogue website is unconstitutionally vague, Tribe writes.


“Conceivably, an entire website containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement,” Tribe writes. “Such an approach would create severe practical problems for sites with substantial user-generated content, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and for blogs that allow users to post videos, photos, and other materials.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that the bill would criminalize the Internet:

An online piracy bill in the House would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet itself,” according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.


Schmidt said the controversial [bill] would punish Web firms, including search engines, that link to foreign websites dedicated to online piracy. He said implementing the bill as written would effectively break the Internet.


“By criminalizing links, what these bills do is they force you to take content off the Internet,” Schmidt said, calling it a form of censorship.




He compared the proposal to the Web censorship practiced by repressive foreign governments like China and doubled down on that comparison when speaking with reporters after his remarks at the Economic Club of Washington.

Indeed, China is exactly what the bill is modeled on:

If you’re wondering why lawyers and Hollywood folks would get behind legislation to censor the Internet, you only need to listen to former Senator Chris Dodd [the same guy who killed any chance of financial reform - see this, this, this and this], now the head of the MPAA, who last week explained to Variety that the lobby is only asking for the same kind of power to censor the Internet as the government has in the People’s Republic of China:


“When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.”




Even in China they are calling it the “Great Firewall of America.” At least the Chinese are enjoying the irony of the U.S. government moving toward a legal regime that would give it carte blanche to seize and take down websites on the basis of “infringement.” Tech Dirt, the site that reported on the above domain seizure, quotes one Chinese blogger on Sina Weibo subversively commenting on the progress of SOPA and PIPA [the Protect IP Act, which is the Senate version of SOPA]  in Congress:


It looks like that we can finally export our technology and value to the Americans. We’re strong, advanced, and absolutely right!


Postscript: Given that Joe Lieberman said that America needs an internet kill switch like China, that the U.S. economy has turned socialist (at least for friends of those with control of the money spigot), and that the U.S. government used communist Chinese torture techniques specifically designed to produce false confessions in order to sell the Iraq war, I guess that the bill's Chinese-style censorship is not entirely surprising.

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Carl LaFong's picture

Wow...We are now China. Ouch!

proLiberty's picture

News from the land of the used-to-be-free.

Wise startups will use non-US servers, non-US domain names and have non-US domestication.   And we continue to wonder where the jobs went.


paratrooper325's picture

I love the internet, I really enjoy the plethora of information uncovering the cronyism and corruption that exists today. If this gets implemented, I'm getting off the grid, period. I knew that something fishy was going on when the recent list of participants at the Bildeberger meeting was leaked on here. Google+Amazon+Facebook+NSA+CIA=BAD OMEN for free speech on the internet. Thanks for all your work GW.

Everybodys All American's picture

Could these politicians be anymore anti freedom? An internet kill switch serves what purpose? To control thought. Did I just wake up in the former Soviet Union?

How about part time congress? How about term limits? How about a balanced budget amendment? None of this stuff ever sees the light of day with these politicians. How about following the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights?  

One other thing. There are laws on the books right now that can be used to prosecute these crimes imo. This is just simply not acceptable in any way shape or form.

Give me liberty or give me death.

Wakanda's picture

Thanks GW.  Too much shit being imported from China. 

It gives me great joy to watch the internet become centralized power's worst nightmare.  The 'net is a beautiful, powerful thing.  I celebrate it every day!

GMadScientist's picture

These corporate cronies in congress will never get it. You can't stop online piracy.

You are lightyears behind the tech curve; the only way you can prevent filesharing on the internet is to not have an internet. 



Brought to you by the same people who think criminalizing plants was a good idea.

Element's picture

Thought crime ... here we come

swani's picture

The Motion Picture Association is lobbying for this. I heard that the Occupy Movement is going to boycott Opening Weekend of studios' most expensive movies in protest of this legislation.

If the Motion Picture Association softened their language and shaped the legislation just for bad players who refused to respond to judicial remedies, instead of hurting the freedom of speech of all Americans with such broad legislation that denies due process, this would be a vast improvement.

If Hollywood was pressured to change the language in the proposed legislation, this would be extremely helpful to the cause, since we know from past experience that Congress votes for the interest of the Multinational Corporations over those of Americans most of the time.

We know that Hollywood would respond faster than almost any corporate player to boycotts of Opening Night/ Opening Weekend, when every single ticket counts and producers, directors, actors and top level studio executives watch the ticket sales on that first weekend with their asses on the line. If Occupy did this globally, as they said that they would do, this would be a very big deal. 

I don't know what will happen with this. I just hope that whatever happens, Freedom of Speech wins over censorship. 


SMC's picture

Where is the Mayflower and when does it leave?

Big Corked Boots's picture

Where would it go?

(Stand and fight.)

Azannoth's picture

No wonder Joe Lieberman(The Jew) is somehow implicated in this, every country in History that let jews directly or indirectly influence or implement it's laws ended in the loss of prosperity, freedom and national identity from Bolshevik Russia through Germany and now USA

(Junk Truth at your own Peril, sooner or later The Truth will 'Junk' You)

durablefaith's picture Judge just fined blogger 2.5 million for not being a journalist.


GMadScientist's picture

" Cox represented herself in court."

Blogger makes 2.5M dollar mistake.

Azannoth's picture

Yes that 2.5Mil was not so much for what she did with her blog but that she refused to pay off the 'legal' system

bank guy in Brussels's picture

Google's corrupt CEO Eric Schmidt, hypocrite extraordinaire, is charged in Europe with criminally censoring the internet in a scheme to silence and murder two dissident Jews, one already shot dead, and the other a non-Zionist Jew in Brussels whose websites are blocked from search by Schmidt and his fellow Google gangsters.

German Google executive Philipp Schindler seems to be taking pleasure in censoring the EU internet against Jews not protected by Zionists, supporting threats to burn the books of such Jews, partnering with neo-Nazis who shot one such rebel Jew dead, and spreading lies about another Jew while censoring Jewish-authored websites.

And Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe is too frightened to say anything about internet censorship requested by bribed federal judges of the United States, even when a Harvard graduate is being murdered.

Live Photo: Google Inc. Caught Censoring EU Search Results (for USA - CIA)
Google Internet Censorship - Censure d'Internet par Google - Internet censuur door Google

'Ex-Agent: CIA Seed Money Helped Launch Google', retired intelligence agent Robert David Steele interviewed by Paul Joseph Watson on Alex Jones' Prison Planet site, and speaking of the CIA's Dr Rick Steinheiser and his connections with Google:

Report to the EU Parliament and the Commission of the European Union
Anti-Competition Crimes of EU Internet Monopoly Google Inc. (with CIA) and Wikipedia (with CIA), to Erase EU Journalism, to Slander and Murder EU - Polish Citizen, Writer, Journalist Non-Zionist Jew, Harvard graduate Dr Les (Leszek - Leslie) Sachs
Original in pdf format:

yt75's picture

Truth is the approach consisting of blocking pirating centers sites or servers is the right one for the struggle against piracy :

- There are always centers (peer2peer also vast hypocrasy in the words)

- It would allow to completely discard monitoring end users trafic (and their IPs)

- But if, a big if, this is done though public judicial procedures