Monday, January 30, 2012

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Law

SOPA is on Ice....But What About These?!

Last week, the federal legislature put the Stop Online Piracy Act to the side, after a windstorm of internet protests.  However, there's more to this push for regulation of rogue websites.  

We totally agree with regulating sites promoting counterfeit goods, infringing on brands, and encouraging fakes.  You know Fakes Are Never In Fashion!  But this cause impacts more than just fashion-- medicine and other goods are being compromised as well.  Let's take a look at other legislation we should be paying attention to:

The Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) came up just behind the uproar over SOPA and PIPA.  This one is the backup bill to SOPA, supported by the movie and music industries, to help protect their intellectual properties.  ACTA has been in the works for years, and is picking up steam with Poland, the EU, and Ireland agreeing to sign on.  U.S. Trade Representative describes the bill as an initiative to strengthen the international legal framework for combating global proliferation of commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy.  

Mixing counterfeiting and piracy is bringing, and keeping up some confusion as the details of the legislation are ironed out.  Counterfeiting is the selling of knockoff goods, posing as known designer brands.  Piracy is the unauthorized selling of real goods, like music and movies through unregulated sources.  Having both in the deal is not bad--clear language is the sticking point in not conflicting the 2.

What about the National Defense Authorization Act?
This legislation, recently signed into law, authorizes the military to execute anti-terrorism operations on U.S. soil.  Despite reservations on certain provisions, President Obama supported the bill because of the substantial interest government has in public safety--as provided by the Constitution.  He does promise broad discretion in the legal requirements to ensure protection of American citizens.  

The new law allows for vigilance over terrorist behavior, including social media.  It carefully watches what goes on on U.S. websites, and their interactions overseas.  NDAA not only watches internet activity, but suspicious behavior in general.  Proponents say the detainment provisions simply codify the procedures already used in placing suspects in Guantanamo Bay, etc. 

The harsh reality here is something inevitable in all lawmaking, not just NDAA or other possibly over inclusive rules: Many laws are made because of small numbers of the population and the harm they do, which in turn affects us all.  A few people do it, now we need legislation to make sure everyone doesn't start and to protect those susceptible to is.

No one said their job was easy; legislators are doing the best they can.  Surely the response to this one isn't over.  Stay tuned...

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