How the Internet Killed SOPA

Posted by · December 21, 2011 11:34 am

After hitting a significant roadblock last week, the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act was yet again placed on hold when the House Judiciary Committee cancelled its markup of the bill that had been scheduled for Wednesday morning. As a result, SOPA will lay dormant until Congress reconvenes after the holiday season.

However, a report from The Raw Story gives reason to argue that the bill will be obsolete before it passes.

“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,” wrote Eric Dolan.

Thanks to the work of these developers, there is already an add-on available through the widely popular browser Mozilla Firefox. Known as DeSopa, the add-on would work around the primary means by which SOPA would be enforced.

Because the Act pays specific attention to the Internet’s domain naming system (DNS)—the system that translates domain names into IP address—the new Firefox add-on will thwart the DNS blockades that SOPA would establish.

“I feel that the general public is not aware of the gravity of SOPA and Congress seems like they are about to cater to the special interests involved, to the detriment of Internet, for which I and many others live and breathe,” explained DeSopa developer T-Rizk in an interview with TorrentFreak.

“It could be that a few members of Congress are just not tech savvy and don’t understand that it is technically not going to work, at all,” he added. “So here’s some proof that I hope will help them err on the side of reason and vote SOPA down.”

Despite the heartening news that DeSopa brings to those of us who support a free and open Internet, it remains uncertain if the creation of SOPA-circumventing applications will ultimately result in the bill’s downfall. It is Washington after all. Nevertheless, the creation of such an add-on before SOPA even makes it to the House floor does not bode well for those who seek to profit from the bill’s passage—specifically the entertainment industry, who claims but hasn’t proven that it has faced losses in the billions from copyright infringement.

Should SOPA eventually make its way through the legislative process and ultimately be signed into law, chances are DeSopa will be but one of several ways to avoid the primary means of SOPA’s enforcement. As such, the bill’s ratification would be more or less a non-issue.

And that’s how the Internet effectively killed the Stop Online Piracy Act.

  • Unfortunately, DeSOPA and related plugins/methods for circumventing DNS blockades only function if the domain is NOT using VirtualHosts. DeSOPA and others works by translating a domain to IP address and then redirecting the user. Domains would need to make architectural changes to their systems in order to enable the workaround for VirtualHost configured sites. We could be moved back to the days of one domain per static IP address.