back to article Bill would let feds block pirate websites worldwide

US lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow the federal government to quickly block websites anywhere in the world if they are dedicated to sharing copyrighted music or other protected content. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” would empower the US Department of Justice to shut down, or …


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  1. hplasm Silver badge

    Six months later...

    The US finds that it can't talk to the rest of the Internet. Nobody else notices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      What has the United States ever done for the internet? The internet would have been better off if DARPA had never been involved, I tell you what!

      And seriously, what US companies would anyone even MISS if they were gone from the internet? Baidu is a perfectly good search engine, after all!

      1. hplasm Silver badge


        "What was that?"

        "Oh, the sound of Google relocating to Switzerland..."

      2. Displacement Activity


        There was a lot of packet-switched comms work in the early 60's, prior to DARPA and the ARPANET. The first UK packet-switched computer network dates from, I think, 1970, one year after ARPANET. There'd still be an internet without DARPA; we just wouldn't call it the "Internet". There'd still be a web without CERN; we just wouldn't call it the WWW.

        The real problem with this sort of misguided legislation is that it will inevitably lead to fragmentation of the DNS as different countries try to take on local control. Most of the physical root servers are outside the US, and it's hard to see why any other country would want to play this game.

  2. John McEchron
    Thumb Down

    who pays?

    Policing the entire series of tubes that make up the internet would require employing a ton of plumbers. I hope the bill at least includes a hefty charge/bribe for disabling each site the RIAA/MPAA requests the government to kill.

  3. David 45


    Looking at this from a UK viewpoint, the scheme smacks of censorship, pure and simple. Where does this thin end of the wedge stop? ANY site could be deemed pirate-connected and blocked on the whim of a government who, at present, obviously do not have the control they obviously desire over internet content. I just hope that politicians this side of the pond of the calibre (not) of the likes of Peter Mandelson don't get wind of this. I do not like the sound of it at all.

  4. Radelix

    Did not vote for the clowns

    and will do my best to persuade other to not either. This type of thinking from politicians is unacceptable.

  5. trachycarpus


    So the Yanks think they rule the world and are entitled to enforce their laws globally.

    1. JarekG

      "So the Yanks think they rule..."

      Yap, and the world is laughing at them (not with them as they may think).

    2. OffBeatMammal

      not ruling the world. just hurts them

      so the US Govt decides that a copyright infringing (or politically embarassing) site is "a bad thing" and issues an order to block it.

      suddenly the Americans who cared about something outside their country (other than liberating oil) can't see it so they go back to their regular diet of Jerry Springer and marrying their cousins

      the rest of the world.... notices less traffic to some sites from the US so they start to look at alternate markets/revenue streams... which may lead to the realisation that an anglophone internet supported by US heavy brand advertising isn't a good thing and when the Americans next venture out past the firewall they'll discover a web where Chinese and French are commonplace and the ads are for companies they've never heard of

      isolationism isn't a particularly smart idea in a Global economy... but is a global viewpoint something most Governments and us to subscribe to?

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The geezer duo is at it again?

    These two never find a bill to enlarge federal powers that they don't like. Except if they didn't table it.

    Of course, one knows where that is going. After all the certain actors certainly have copyright claims to documents found on, say, Wikileaks.

    Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act.

    "COCOA", I'm sure.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      They misnamed it

      Properly, it should be called the Combating Online Infringement Traffic in the United States (COITUS).

      Because it is a fuck of a bill...

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. kain preacher Silver badge

    they tried

    They tried to get the law passed before and failed. What makes you think it will pass this time around. Even G.W. Bushed said he would veto such a law. plus this law would conflict with Fourteenth Amendment.

    1. Quxy

      The new boss != the old boss

      Umm... because whatever other noble characteristics they undoubtedly possess, the current crop of clowns in Congress is VERY deeply in the pockets of Hollywood et al.

  9. Ray Simard
    Thumb Down

    Criteria, and other questions

    1. What are the criteria for determining if a site is "dedicated" to piracy? A particular percentage of its offerings falling into that category? Someone going to sit around and count them? What legal definition of "dedicated" applies here?

    This is an all-or-nothing kill; there are no degrees of impairment of a site's function. Any site that meets whatever threshold of alleged piracy applies is off the air completely (or as completely as the technology allows) regardless of how much of its stock in trade is legitimate.

    2. Who determines if any particular item infringes? Sure, most would be fairly obvious, but when it comes to killing a site in toto (and the liability that implies), you need more than just assumptions and impressions.

    3 How long before there are miles-long queues of other interests clamoring for similar protection of their interests?

    4. Who pays for all of this?

    5. Fair use?

    6. Isn't this effectively enlisting the government to participate in what amounts to a civil dispute on behalf of one side? Or if it's criminalizing whatever activity is found on a particular site that can be called infringement, where is due process?

    7. What about cases where something infringes under U.S. law but not the laws of other countries?

    8. If a site is registered using a U.S. based registrar, and gets spiked, its operators need only re-register elsewhere, and then it's only interference with DNS to worry about, which shouldn't be much of a problem.

    9. In the cases where offshore sites get blocked by DNS: who will troll the net to ensure that providers everywhere are complying?

    The entertainment industry is getting to the panic stage and enlisting the help of its sympathizers in legislatures to float ever more ridiculous ideas. I really doubt that this thing is going to go anywhere, or that even if it does, the courts will not kill it at the first opportunity.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      in reply to point 7

      to add to my previous post.

      there was a problem in the past where a programmer, working for a Russian company, was arrested when he visited the US because the software he worked on violated the DMCA. The fact that the program was legally made in Russia didn't matter.


      Sklyarov boss exhibits cojones

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @Ray Simard, 21st September 2010 23:23 GMT

      some of your points have already been addressed in the bill and the article. The bill only effect the internet from the US point of view, therefore, if a site is registered in the US then the US government to take control over the site. If the site is not hosted and/or registered in the US then the government will seek a court order that will *force* all local ISPs* to block traffic to that site.

      (*) you should assume that this will include all local DNS servers such as Google DNS and OpenDNS (if both are hosted in the US). Also it should effect all VPN and proxy service providers should they be operating from the US.

      P.S. note that the infrastructure required to enforce this bill will enable the government to censor the internet.

  10. Kelvari

    The US is not...

    ... the police of the world. They need to stop acting like they are. Just because American's don't like what's going on in Siberia, the Ukraine, or wherever else, that doesn't give them the right - by any stretch of the imagination - to go in and raise a temper-tantrum about it. They really need to grow up and learn to play by the same rules as everyone else, I'd say. Worry about your own country first, and don't try to tell everyone else how to live their life.

  11. Matthew Anderson


    Sounds fair enough to me. If I was US based I would of course happily use a proxy, installed on a third party computer without their knowledge, to access said blocked sites.

    Now now, no complaints about me hacking someones server to install redirect code onto it please. If you are OK with me using torrentz to steal shit, then you are OK with hacking surely? Oh, what's that you say ell reg commentards? Hacking is bad and I should be strung up as it causes all you sysadmins amongst you lots of extra work? Poor souls, but it's OK for you to then download shit for free that you should be paying for right?

    I don't really give a fuck if they block, stop, prosecute. I just give a fuck about all you morons going on about it and using censorship issues as your main defence when actually you just want shit for free cause' you're used to it.

    Que the down votes :-)

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      The above poster has been blocked.

      Someone with the ear of someone with power has claimed an infringement of copyright in the above content. There is no recourse or appeal chanels. Be a good little citizen and shut up now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Que" was the only sensible word you wrote.

      1. Roger Jenkins


        Queue would be more sensible.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Semantic fail

        And even "que" was mis-spelled. Either "queue" or "cue" seem to make sense here.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        and it couldn't even manage to get that right!!! Arse.

  12. Bryce Prewitt

    The most obvious comment possible.

    By blocking access to the most superficial means of piracy they will only force people to learn more technical avenues of piracy - almost all of which will be more difficult to track and enforce copyright law against. The side-effect of this will be that developers will seek to make it easier for people to pirate while making it more difficult for the government to track them. Everybody loses, even the corporations.

  13. LaeMing Silver badge

    Keep in mind

    than online "piracy" is killing street-corner bootleggers and commercial disk-duplicators. It may be a bit like the "war on drugs" heartily supported by big organised crime as it keeps their monopoly in place and street prices inflated.

    1. A J Stiles

      And also remember

      Piracy isn't harming the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk.

      If people could not obtain a pirate copy of Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Autocad or whatever, then they would buy a legitimate copy of something else -- something cheaper -- instead.

      The real victims of piracy in this case are small, independent software vendors. Who the hell is going to save £450 buy buying a cheap office suite with all the fuctionality they need to write letters, organise their finances, keep track of their CD collections, and so forth; when they could save £500 by getting a pirate copy of Microsoft Office?

      Furthermore, if someone who has already learned to use a £50 graphics editor (assuming someone manages successfully to compete in the marketplace against £0 pirate copies of Adobe Photoshop -- see preceding paragraph) gets a job retouching photos for a magazine, they might persuade their employer that they don't really need to splash out on Photoshop because something else will do what they need for less money.

  14. Old Marcus

    Not world police

    They will block access to sites all over the world... from the US. People in the rest of the world will know no difference.

    Though I think this will be hard to enforce, since most of the serious pirating sites aren't registered to a US based domain, nor are they physically in the US, since they know that basing their servers in western countries is suicide.

  15. LaeMing Silver badge

    As the good senators said

    "Duh, wot is a orf-shore proxy server?"

    "Uh, I dunno. Wot is orf-shore?"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      More like

      Typical yank stereotype comment..."There's a shore? A sea? Other countires out there? Well I'll be!"

  16. Daniel B.
    Black Helicopters

    So that's why

    So that's why Anonymous targeted them as well. I wonder how this would play out in reality; the DoJ has already landed in hot water when a Kentucky judge ruled that a non-US-based domain name could be seized by a US state. Taking over a domain name owned by someone not in the US is something that will definitely unleash a legal and diplomatic firestorm.

    I hope that legislators aren't as stupid to pass this thing, and/or Obama to veto this stupid bill. Hell, even Bush blocked the previous one...

  17. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    So once again...

    ... the Yanks decide that *they* own the internet and they can enforce their arbitrary standards (and the wishes of media companies who make big contributions to certain lawmakers' campaigns!) on the rest of the world.

    The Land of the "free to do only the things that we like..."

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Woo, anti-american jingoism unleashed!

    I find it bizarre that reading comprehension overseas is so flawed when it's clear that we "merkins" are the stupid, slow ones.

    Regardless, I feel compelled to point out that

    a) The bill in question applies only to US citizens visiting other sites and is thus not policing the rest of the world

    b) The bill has the support of only the most idiotic 10% of our senators

    c) The bill was rejected before - with the largely same crop of greedy, RIAA-pocketed pols in power *and* a more corporate-friendly president

    d) Brits are hardly in a position to be acting sanctimonious about internet censorship, given that the US currently has absolutely none, and you guys are stuck wondering whether cartoon tigers will get you thrown in prison.

    Fair enough? I await your downvotes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Happy to oblige.

    2. peyton?

      ssh quiet

      David, you're interrupting the Daily Hate.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    America - F*ck Yeah!

    Comin' again to save the motherf*ckin day yeah!

    File sharers your day is through,

    'Cause now you have to answer to...

    America! F*ck yeah!


    It will take f*ck all of 2 days and a few mountain dews for this to be circumvented. If they keep it up and really knock the tracker sites offline somehow it will just evolve to something else that will be even harder to track, much less control. I do, however, and in all seriousness find it embarassing that my government is seriously considering this.

    1. John F***ing Stepp

      Well, our politicians are a bunch of puppets after all.

      And bribery pulls the strings*.

      *Where not fisted**.

      **No wait, that would be the muppets.

  20. Philllip

    Conviction without Trial

    This whole bill allows the government to essentially "convict" a website without any sort of a trial.

    I think part of the problem is copyright law itself. When copyright protection lasts longer than the lifespan of the vast majority of the country, something is wrong.

    Copyright was initially used to force copyright owners to give up ownership, and to force them to create new works to have a continuing income stream.

    I think 34 years max is appropriate for copyright.

    I've always said that the only way to prevent mp3 copyright violations is to ban mp3 files. That didn't happen, but not for trying.

  21. irrelevant


    Presumably the "court orders directing US-based internet service providers to stop resolving the IP addresses" means they want a blacklist of domain names, which ISP-provided DNS servers must check against. So, simple - use a foreign DNS and carry on as normal. No proxy needed.

    If they expect ISPs to block actual server IP addresses, then stand by for much mayhem and devastation as I suspect the majority of smaller sites are on shared-servers and blocking their IP address will affect many other probably legitimate websites...

  22. Velv Silver badge

    Thin end of the wedge....

    How quickly on the back of this will Gambling sites be blocked?

    Was it Jacksonville that issued a seize order on the domain names of many gambling sites, and initially succeeded until the higher court overturned the ruling as ridiculous. I can foresee a number of states pushing the boundaries.

  23. YumDogfood

    Britards are stupid, thow facts at them

    Downvoted "David W." for punting out some useful info, instead of ranty insults? *facepalm*

    Point 'a' should have the /. foamies ( barking from the treetops while actually doing _nothing_ (like voting, protesting, switching off the xbox, not buying the corporate music and movies). Welcome to the internet, assemble your own truth.

    Points 'b' & 'c' show we have some hope this broken attempt has a slim chance (and exposes those with noses in the industry pork barrel).

    Point 'd' hits home. Hard.

    1. Bryce 2


      I find it amusing that people skip over the US-based part and only see the "anywhere in the world" part.

      While I think the bill is stupid and likely not to be passed, the fact remains that it is intended only for US-based users/companies/domains... NOT the rest of the world.

  24. bexley

    so just dont use a US based name server?

    So all the torrenters in america just change to an offshore name server?

    or, use ipaddresses instead.

    DNS is astupid way to try and block access.

    for example, wont be resolved, so everybody will just use



  25. The BigYin
    Thumb Down


    Extraordinary Rendition.

    One-sided extradition treaties (like they got with the UK).

    Now this?

    USA, "land of the free"? Time for a branding change methinks.

  26. Gordon861

    Real Target

    I expect the real target will be Wikileaks and so called extremist websites (basically anything considered unamerican)

  27. SlabMan

    Hosts file

    That is all

  28. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    This should really be common sense...

    This will just be what destroys the music industry altogether, most of the music i buy, i heard from pirate copies in the first place.

    Now if many people only download their music, will they really switch to buying it?

    No chance, the music industry will just criminalise their biggest consumers and put themselves out of business.

    I don't watch MTV and i don't have a car, so don't listen to the radio.

    Will i buy music without hearing it first? No chance

  29. Ray Simard

    Repeating history instead of learning from it

    Before network file sharing it was CD/DVD ripping that was going to destroy the industry.

    Before CD/DVD ripping it was VCRs that were going to destroy the industry.

    Before VCRs it was audio tape that was going to destroy the industry.

    Before audio tape it was broadcast TV that was going to destroy the industry.

    Before broadcast TV it was radio that was going to destroy the industry.

    Before radio it was the phonograph that was going to destroy the industry.

    Before the phonograph it was the player piano that was going to destroy the industry.

    Every one of these technologies was decried as a threat to the entertainment establishment at the time, and every one save the most recent has instead enriched it, once it stopped wasting time fighting it and found ways to monetize it instead. There's no reason why that trend can't continue.

  30. Jeremy 2

    What a dumb idea.

    Blocking sites at the DNS server is stupid. It's like trying to evict somebody by painting the door the same colour as the rest of the house in the hope they won't be able to find it any more.

    Casual Bittorrent users will just learn to type instead and the habitual users will have it (and the rest) in their HOSTS file within minutes of the 'ban' coming into effect. Oh, and there will be a massive upswing in the popularity of alternative (non-US based) DNS services. Watch OpenDNS move their corporate office to Belize or something....

    God help us all if they ever get people with some actual technical knowledge in government! Then they might actually know what they're doing.


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