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Why You Should Oppose SOPA, and Let Disney Know

22 Dec

Anybody familiar with the history of the Copyright Term Extension Act (aka the Mickey Mouse Protection Act) should not be surprised that Disney’s supporting SOPA, the very bad no good ready-to-break-the-internet Act on which the US Congress will resume deliberation in January.

You don’t believe that SOPA’s really all that bad? Maybe you’ll listen to Adam Savage of Mythbusters:

These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the “good faith” assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

Okay, he’s a TV star. Maybe you want something a little less glossy, like perhaps the Stanford Law Review (not usually my go-to site for internet technology discussions, but they distill this one quite nicely):

Directing the remedial power of the courts towards the Internet’s core technical infrastructure in this sledgehammer fashion has impact far beyond intellectual property rights enforcement—it threatens the fundamental principle of interconnectivity that is at the very heart of the Internet. The Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) is a foundational block upon which the Internet has been built and upon which its continued functioning critically depends; it is among a handful of protocols upon which almost every other protocol, and countless Internet applications, rely to operate smoothly. Court-ordered removal or replacement of entries from the series of interlocking databases that reside in domain name servers and domain name registries around the globe undermines the principle of domain name universality—the principle that all domain name servers, wherever they may be located across the network, will return the same answer when queried with respect to the Internet address of any specific domain name. Much Internet communication, and many of the thousands of protocols and applications that together provide the platform for that communication, are premised on this principle.

Or, well, my spouse, who writes on internet security for CIO:

SOPA and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), another piece of legislation, both want to crack down on internet pirating – a goal every bit as laudable as the measures themselves are flawed. The bills would require companies to monitor user content, limiting the use of pictures, video and audio and other media. One problem that is it is pretty much impossible to tell the difference between an ISP interfering with a connection because of a court order and a hacker interfering prior to an attack.

The US House of Representatives lists both ABC and “Disney Publishing Worldwide” as supporters of SOPA. It’s not clear to me how to contact their offices; when I tried the number listed for them on Gizmodo, I had a lovely conversation with a receptionist in upstate New York, after which I was convinced that Disney’s support of SOPA is coming from somewhere other than this small local office. Which, of course, would be consistent with the fact that many other companies on the list are essentially part of Disney (ie, ABC, Marvel, ESPN). So, I’ve directed my comments through the Disney Corporate Citizenship feedback form, and invite you to do the same. Here’s what I wrote:

The US House of Representatives web site tells me that Disney Publishing Worldwide is a supporter of SOPA, HR 3261 (http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/Rouge%20Websites/SOPA%20Supporters.pdf). SOPA poses threats both to the First Amendment, and to the fundamental technical underpinnings of the Internet.

As a regular consumer of many Disney media channels, parks, and products, and as a US citizen and voter, I ask that Disney retract its support of this act.

And if all this opposition to SOPA is for naught? For all the technical and legal problems SOPA would cause, certain of its intrusions would be surprisingly easy to get around. Download this episode of GeekNights now, on Circumventing SOPA. You’re welcome.

(And hey, am I the only one who noticed that the House.gov URL above includes the phrase “Rouge Websites?” I know they mean rogue . . . but it makes me think SOPA is targeting Sephora.)

Pediatricians Want Austism/Vaccines Show Axed

30 Jan

From the DIS News:

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging Disney’s ABC network to cancel its first episode of ‘Eli Stone’ scheduled to air on Thursday.

The legal drama debuts with a story based on a link between vaccines and autism. A trial ensues in which the lead character discovers that the vaccine manufacturer won’t allow his own child to get the shot which leads to a guilty verdict.

I have to be careful here . . . I don’t want to venture down the road of commenting on the purported link between autism and vaccines. I’ve had a horse in this race, and I have some opinions, but they’re better shared among friends, over coffee (preferably at Kona Cafe, the one decent cuppa java at Walt Disney World).

But I do get a little twitchy when people want fictional shows yanked off the air because they’re afraid people don’t know the difference between drama and news shows. (A certain Mr Quayle comes to mind, and his distaste for a certain television drama featuring a single mom by choice.)

True, there are plenty out there who have a hard time telling the difference between drama and documentary. But does that mean we have to self-censor? The First Amendment isn’t at issue here, since these pediatricians are not acting with the force of government. But there’s a similar chilling effect.

YouTube: Muppet Mobile Lab at Epcot

22 Aug

Orlando Attractions Magazine and Inside the Magic podcast have posted a video to YouTube, showing Bunsen and Beaker’s Muppet Mobile Lab in its latest test run, this time at Epcot. Based on the current video, it would seem they’ve made some real progress since the tests at Disney’s California Adventure earlier this year.

A higher-resolution version is available from OA’s own video page. The Orlando Sentinel has a brief article yesterday about the Muppet Mobile Lab as well.

Dave from MouseExtra is one of many who feel that the Muppets don’t belong at Epcot. I’ve got to agree that they’d make a lot more sense at MGM. But I assume this Epcot run is mostly just a technical test, and an opportunity to get a bit more feedback from guests who interact with the Lab, so I’ll cut a little slack here for Imagineering, and hope that they’re still making the rounds when I’m back at Walt Disney World next week!

Tigger Socks Protected Under First Amendment

4 Jul

San Francisco Chronicle has the scoop (hat tip to Mousevine!):

As long as they’re not carrying messages about “bong hits 4 Jesus,” students have the right to express themselves in the clothing they wear to school, whether it includes a cancer awareness pin or embroidery of Tigger on their socks, a Napa County judge has ruled in halting enforcement of a school’s dress code.

For the past nine years, Redwood Middle School in Napa has required students’ clothing and backpacks to be entirely solid colors and has banned pictures, words, symbols or patterns — except the school logo — as well as jeans or “denim-looking” clothes.

So, um, I guess those “bong hits for Tigger” shirts are out, but now the socks are A-OK.

My favorite commentary during the battle for Tigger socks was posted recently (but before the ruling above) by Little Tigger, on Mr Broke Hoedown’s blog Collateral Damage:

I will always wear my Tigger overalls,
I refuse to wear stupid plain growedup
clothes, if it becomes law, it will
be the first law I will have broken
in my whole life.

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