- The “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is an Internet censorship bill which is rapidly making its way through the Senate. Although it is ostensibly focused on copyright infringement, an enormous amount of noninfringing content, including political and other speech, could disappear off the Web if it passes.
- The bill creates a blacklist of censored domains; the Attorney General can ask a court to place any website on the blacklist if infringement is “central” to the purpose of the site.
- list of targets could conceivably include hosting websites such as Dropbox
- (Why would all these sites be targets?) There are already laws and procedures in place for taking down sites that violate the law. This act would allow the Attorney General to censor sites even when no court has found they have infringed copyright or any other law.
One-click hosting websites such as Dropbox, MediaFire and Rapidshare: these sites allow users to upload anything, and do not police files unless they receive DMCA takedown notices. That’s the way the law currently works, and although it causes problems, it at least strikes a balance between copyright enforcement and freedom for sites to innovate. Under COICA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) could decide that there is “too much” piracy on any of these sites and it is therefore “central” to their businesses.
It’s like getting on the Partisan Politics, Serve Special Interests Roller Coaster, an accusation that can be leveled at both Republicans and Democrats both. How do you know you’ve reached middle age? You’re disillusioned with both political parties.
In the meantime, what a neat tutorial from the MakeUseOf folks – The Magic Pocket: Unofficial Guide to Dropbox.