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“DeSOPA” Software Already Works Around Proposed Censorship Efforts

Chalk this one up to a victory for the open-source Internet:

Software developers have already found a way around the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which the House Judiciary Committee will not markup until sometime early next year.

Most critics say the bill would create an Internet “blacklist” that forces ISPs, search engines, financial firms and advertisers to de-list websites accused of copyright infringement, all without any actual court hearing or oversight. The legislation takes aim at the Internet’s domain naming system (DNS), which translates domain names like to numerical Internet protocol (IP) addresses.

But an add-on for the popular Internet browser FireFox, called DeSopa, would circumvent DNS blockades with the click of a button.

FireFox has actually lost market share to Google’s Chrome browser, so we’ll see if other plug-ins crop up. But this does show the utter futility in trying to stop information flow on the Internet. It’s just impossible unless you’re willing to basically cut off all channels indefinitely. Someone will always find a work-around.

Content creators can react to this in a few ways. They can play to the better natures of their audience, and instead of cracking down on their ability to accept and share information, provide them a simple experience of value that will reap rewards. This is what the New York Times has done with its leaky paywall, and what Louis CK did in selling his latest concert video over the Internet. Both have been successful. The other option is to act like the music industry, and punish fans for wanting to access quality product. The result of that has been clear – the industry is on its last legs.

Appealing to the government to officially censor websites represents the music industry’s style of action, and it’s as doomed to fail as ever. Content producers will need to innovate their way to profitability, not censor their way. And others have shown this is perfectly viable.

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David Dayen

David Dayen