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I’ve been trying to read SOPA, and it’s a pain. Here’s a pdf if you want to give it a shot, maybe you’ll do better than I. I’m hosting it here because I had some inconvenience tracking it down on the Library of Congress site, so I figured I’d save you the trouble.

My trouble reading it is partly the language and partly the way it’s formatted. It’s so nested with paragraphs and subsections and clauses and sub-clauses that when it refers later to a specific clause or subsection you’re not sure which one it means. I think it would benefit from hyperlinks, or perhaps a complete rewrite by someone who knows how to communicate clearly.

I’ll rant about obfuscation in legal texts later, though. (Maybe tomorrow?) Today I want to talk about this claim made at the beginning of the document:

3 (1) FIRST AMENDMENT.—Nothing in this Act
4 shall be construed to impose a prior restraint on free
5 speech or the press protected under the 1st Amend-
6 ment to the Constitution.

It’s probably true that they don’t intend this thing to impede free speech or censor anyone. But should it pass it will be used to do that, and I know this because the DMCA is used this way. Read the rest of this entry

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