Censorship


Fight For The Future 2

With all the news about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) which would allow the US government as well as the copyright holders to seek court orders against websites they felt were infringing on such rights. The bill also would make legal the ability to refuse payment of online advertising networks and stop companies like PayPal from conducting business with “the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites”.

“The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.” – [Source]

Proponents of SOPA say it serves to protect the intellectual interest, property and revenue of the copyright holder and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws while the opponents of the act say that it infringes on First Amendment rights, is Internet censorship and is the next step to threaten whistle-blowing and other forms of free speech. 

All that said, it was especially refreshing to get the following email 1&1 Hosting this morning:

 

Dear Sir/Miss,

You may have heard about Protect-IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act
(SOPA) currently under consideration in Congress. If passed, among other
things, SOPA requires Web hosting companies like 1&1 to police websites in
order to prevent them from communicating copyrighted information on the
internet. We would like to make sure you are aware of 1&1’s official
position on SOPA.

As a global provider of domains and hosting services, we oppose the Stop
Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or Protect-IP (PIPA) Acts currently under
consideration. While we observe the concerns of those who are troubled by
the potential impact on protecting intellectual property online, 1&1 feels
there is an urgent need to strike a balance between dissemination of and
access to information and protection against its illegal use within the
public domain.

The US government is currently reviewing SOPA and PIPA as possible ways to
prevent unlawful distribution of copyrighted materials available on the
internet. These current proposals, if passed, would allow for significant
interventions into the technological and economical basis of the internet.
This could put the vast benefits and economic opportunities of entirely
legal and legitimate e-business models at risk. Generally, companies
offering technological services should not be forced to be the executor of
authority in such matters. If they were to act upon every implication of
content infringement without any judicial research into the actual usage of
its customers, the integrity behind their customer’s freedom of
information and speech would be enormously harmed.

1&1 Internet, Inc. has worked through associations and with related
companies to ensure that these aspects are taken into account. Thus, we
welcome the serious consideration by the US Congress of the potential
harmful effects on Internet freedom should SOPA and / or PIPA be passed as
law, and hope the stability of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS)
remains intact.

We encourage every Internet user concerned about these plans to contribute
to the debate and to raise their voice with their local representatives in
the House or Senate. One way to express your concerns could be to use one
of the websites that emerged to protect user interests in the current
legislative debate, such as http://fightforthefuture.org/.

At 1&1 we support you, our customer, and an open internet. If you find that
you are supporting a company that encourages SOPA and wish to drop them as
a provider, please follow the simple instructions contained on the website
linked below.

Thank you for being one of our extremely valued customers, and for taking
the time to read this.

Best regards,

Frederick Iwans
General Manager 1&1 Internet Inc.


Beijing Olympics [08.08.08]

Edit: As my friend Joe pointed out in the comments, NBC is showing a ton of coverage online which is unprecedented but there is some trouble on the horizon for those of us who subscribe to Cablevision.  Cablevision has decided not to air all 3,600 hours of Olympics-related programming, but it appears viewers who get their broadband Internet service will be limited to 1,400 of those hours.

That is because NBC is charging carriers a premium for its 2,200 hours of live video from the Olympics – as well as for two special channels dedicated exclusively to soccer and basketball – but Cablevision has declined to sign up.

NBC said most TV and Internet carriers have agreed to its terms. It said in a statement:

“A substantial majority of the industry, about 90 percent of multiplatform subscribers, will have access to NBCOlympics.com broadband content. Nearly every distributor, including all majors [Comcast, DIRECTV, Time Warner, DISH, Cox, Mediacom, Verizon, AT&T] are making Olympic broadband content available to their customers. To date, Cablevision has not elected to offer its customers the enhanced Olympics package.”

Just fantastic news for us Cablevision customers. [Source: Neil Best, News Day]

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Well the Summer Olympics are finally here amid all the protest over human rights, Tibet’s freedom and internet censorship. I know a couple of people who are in Beijing either watching the games or helping out volunteer so good luck to them and hope you have a great time.

So is anyone else actually going to watch the Olympics? There has been talk recently that it does not generate much interest anymore but I find that hard to believe but then again, maybe it is not that hard to believe. I barely hear anyone talk that they are looking forward to watching the games and it is mostly about how they are overrated and not very exciting. I call all of that nonsense and completely garbage as the Olympic Games can be a place to bring issues to light, to bring athletes and people from all over the world together to watch an event that has entire communities and countries biting their nails awaiting the result. It used to be a stage where people spoke out on issues that were being suppressed in everyday lives.

Two people who come to mind for that are Tommie Smith and John Carlos who gave everything for their country (United States) and were humiliated when they returned home. Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the predominantly white U.S. sporting establishment in the following years and in addition were subject to criticism of their actions. Time Magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”, instead of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. Back home they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats. At least they made a positive difference in the world we live in today and it was nice to see them being honored by ESPN for their 40th year anniversary of the event at the ESPY’s this year (that I blogged about here).

I don’t know about all those doubters but I have always been a fan of the Olympics (Winter and Summer both) because once every other year, atheletes from all over the world can sort of come together and compete against each other while proudly wearing their country’s colors. For all the other times (at least in the US anyways) you just see the title of “World Champion” or “World Series” get tossed around like it means something when the teams only consist of the United States and only a handful of teams from north of the border.

I have tried to stay away from much of the details regarding the opening cermony as I want to watch it live tonight (7:30 PM on NBC) will be shown in taped-delay fashion. There has been much anticipation regarding what the Chinese have in store for the opening ceremony as it certainly will be lavish and I am particularily curious to see be the last to light the Olympic Torch. Who can ever forget Muhammed Ali lighting the Torch in the Summer Olympics of 1996 in Atlanta, Ga.

For anyone interested in the history of the Olympic Medals for a summer Olympics by country, year, or ranking, New York Times once again put out a brilliant interactive Graphic on the matter that can be found right here. The graphic is pretty clear as it changes the size of a particular country based on the number of medals they have won in a given year and they also detail each medal won if you just click on a specific country. For example who knew that the only medal Dominican Republic won in the 2004 games was a Gold Medal by Felix Sanchez in 400m hurdles.