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What's all the fuss about SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the similar bill in the U.S. Senate, the "Protect IP Act" - PIPA? Most of us, myself included, believe that piracy of digital music, videos and software programs is wrong, and should be prevented. It pains me when someone uses Google-Mail or Google Groups to send me copyrighted material they've filched, so I delete it without reading it. If I catch my online students stealing intellectual property by plagiarizing someone else's material, I give them a zero for the assignment. The software and music industries are losing billions of dollars to pirates whose websites in foreign countries are loaded with knock-off copies of everything from Microsoft's Windows and Office software to the latest hard rock star's hit and the latest Hollywood movie - sometimes even before they're released in the U.S. The article What is SOPA and how does it work? The Stop Online Piracy Act explained gives a good description of SOPA and PIPA.

The basic problem with SOPA and PIPA is that they go too far: basically all an offended party needs to do is write a letter claiming it owns the copyright on material located on or even linked the supposedly offending website, and the website hosting company must block that domain within 5 days. There's already the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) that contains provisions for take-down notices to places like PayPal, AdSense, YouTube or Facebook, requiring them to remove links to pirated materials. In the opinion of most people, the DMCA is sufficient to protect the legitimate rights of real copyright owners and allow for appeal by the supposed offender, who is then considered innocent until proven guilty by the party claiming copyright violation.

But under SOPA and PIPA there are no such limitations: if someone doesn't like what citizen X writes or links to in his e-newsletters, the "offendee" Y can simply claim that Mr. X has violated copyright on something Y has produced, and X has no right of appeal - he can only promise within those 5 days to remove the supposedly offending material, or else his entire website is taken down... not simply removing links to supposedly offending material, but the whole website! This means he's assumed guilty with no opportunity to prove his own innocence - "Hang him first, then hold a kangaroo court and declare him guilty!"

The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

What this means is that sites like Facebook, Google, YouTube, PayPal, etc. will be forced to proactively police what the public places on these websites, or face the prospect of being shut down. Imagine for a moment Google having to investigate every link on every website it wants to display on every search, to filter out any possibility of posting a link to a website that might in turn potentially link to supposedly copyright-offending content. It's like suing General Motors if someone driving a Chevy runs into your car. Imagine your ISP having to block certain "offending" websites from the DSN tables it uses to look up websites that you want to visit. Not only is this virtually impossible from a technological and economic point of view, it is also just plain stupid: all a person would have to do is to type in the IP address (such as http://123.456.789.012) in his browser's address bar, and he goes directly to the "offending" website, bypassing all DSN tables!

This DNS blocking is the same sort of censorship practiced by such countries as North Korea, China, Iran and Syria - see The Dangers Of SOPA In A Nutshell. Why, you may ask, is this happening? Because Big Media conglomerates such as Viacomm, Activision, Universal Music, Warner Bros. and Paramount have been suing YouTube for years, but YouTube is currently protected under the "safe haven" legal doctrine, which states that a service is not responsible for content that users place on it unless the service is directly complicit in the copyright violation. Big Media also does not want independent artists and producers to be allowed to compete in a free market, so Big Media has bought Rep. Lamar Smith (R - Texas), the sponsor of SOPA, by being the Number-One contributor to his election campaign funds: over $500,000 in the past 10 years: see SOPA Creator In TV/Film/Music Industry's Pocket.

If SOPA or its ugly step-sister PIPA are passed into law, you can count on a huge slowdown in new artists and low-budget films becoming hits, because they can't afford a huge legal staff to fight Big Media's takedown requests. You can also count on a lot fewer software startups bringing their innovations to market because they can't find investors willing to take the risk of these startups being sued out of existence. Read The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas to get more facts. What can we do? We need to contact our legislators and tell them - "Vote NO on SOPA and PIPA!" Go here to contact them: Call your Representative: Tell them to Protect the Internet for Innovators!

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

By visiting the above Offsite Backup Services link, you'll see that I highly recommend " alt="Click to see full-size!" align="left" /> IDrive as the best Offsite Backup program for the money. Now they've just added another great feature: in addition to getting 5 GB of full-featured Online Backup for free, you can now Backup Unlimited PCs, Macs and iPhones into a Single Account!. For many families, 5 GB will backup all their emails and documents on multiple computers. But if you or your family have thousands of priceless photos and multi-gigabytes of music files, you can get up to 150 GB of Online Backup space for just $4.95 a month, or $49.50 a year (two months free). I've been using IDrive for almost a year now, after switching from Mozy, and I'm very pleased with it. I'm backing up just under 15 GB from my PC. Today I downloaded the new IDrive client program, and I'll be uploading all our photos, music, documents and emails on all three of our PCs into one combined account. I set it up once, and just let it run automatically.

Why bother with offsite backups anyway, if you're already backing up to an external hard drive or flash drive? Well, what about burglary, theft, fire, flood, tornado - the list could go on - when your local backups are Gone. (And by the way, most people don't backup their files locally because it's a bother and takes time. So do it automatically, and offsite!) According to the 3rd annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 92% of computer users still don't do regular backups, and yet 46% of people need to restore data every year: this means nearly one of every two of you, your friends, family and co-workers will lose data permanently. Work files? Gone. Photos? Gone. Music? Gone. These people don't backup their files because they never heard about doing backups, or it's too confusing, or they don't have the time... and then it's too late for data recovery. When your computer and peripherals are stolen, all or some of your files get deleted, or your hard drive crashes, what will you do? You need to start doing automatic offsite backups now, before those things happen!

The Security Blurb:
Is malware the big threat for smartphones that computer security companies are making it out to be? Yes and no, says Bruce Schneier in Malware on Smart Phones. In this article, he states that viruses aren't much of a threat on smartphones, but - "when your phone becomes your digital wallet, your phone is going to know a lot more intimate things about you." That's the thing to watch out for - it's much better to continue using a debit or credit card over tried-and-true secure networks than to store this financial info on your phone where a trojan app could get at it.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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