Yesterday, in protest at draft US laws that would harm the Internet ostensibly to fight digital content piracy, websites including Wikipedia, Flickr, BoingBoing and many thousands more went voluntarily dark. Crooked Timber was proud to be one of them.

Why should a global blog care about American legislation?

For all the talk of the unintended consequences of SOPA’s anti-piracy measures, it is no accident that Crooked Timber could one day end up as collateral damage of this legislation. SOPA/PIPA are the latest in a long line of laws that seek to externalize the enforcement costs of a beleaguered business model.

We could lose our domain name and more, and with no effective recourse, simply because a commenter posts a link to allegedly pirated content. Or because a touchy content owner doesn’t like us linking to them, and doesn’t like what we write. I say these unintended consequences are not accidental because to the intellectual property zealots who privately draft our public laws, Crooked Timber would simply be an acceptable level of road-kill. Funny how ‘tough choices’ are bad things that are done to other people, eh?

More broadly, you should care because SOPA/PIPA are explicitly extra-territorial. SOPA degrades the domain name system in ways that have been repeatedly and explicitly spelt out to US politicians by Steve Crocker and Vint Cerf, two of the guys who invented the DNS the Internet. They were ignored.

(Somehow, it’s ok for law-makers to screw up part of the critical infrastructure while cheerfully admitting they have no clue how it works. Think how that would go down with, say, healthcare or the economy. I know most of them have no clue, but can you imagine them announcing that to a hearing and everyone laughing sympathetically? Yes? Welcome to my world.) [click to continue…]

Pure, Unadulterated Good News

by Belle Waring on January 18, 2012

For the first time, India has gone a full year without a new polio case, the World Health Organization announced last week.

The last case, the only one in 2011, was of an 18-month-old girl in West Bengal State whose sudden paralysis was confirmed as polio on Jan. 13. There were 42 known cases in 2010.

Polio eradication officials described a year without new cases as a “game-changer” and a “milestone” because India was for decades one of the biggest centers of the disease.

All from the NYT article. I…can’t think of anything bad about this at all! Don’t help me.

Goodbye Walker?

by Harry on January 18, 2012

Fantastic news. The recall for Walker in Wisconsin needed about 550,000 signatures; a couple of hours ago about 1 million were turned in; in addition the recalls against 4 Republican state senators, including Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican Senate leader (about 30% over what was needed in his case) have gathered more signatures than needed. Signatures will be challenged, no doubt, but its unlikely that challenges will be successful. Prediction: once the Dems get a candidate this will be the most vicious, highest spending, election in Wisconsin history. I’ll provide links for non millionaire out of staters to help counterbalance the contributions of multi millionaire out of staters when the time comes.