Reddit Creates The Freedom Of Internet ActBy: Zach Walton - February 24, 2012
The users of Reddit are more than just Internet warriors who fought bravely against SOPA and PIPA with the legendary Net blackout of January. They are also amateur legislators which they have proven by writing a law of their own.
The law is called “The Freedom of Internet Act” and it seeks to be what SOPA and PIPA aren’t – a level-headed approach to dealing with copyright infringement on the Internet. What makes this law creation unique is that it’s posted in an open Google docs file that anyone can edit it. It’s similar to what the OPEN Act has done by allowing users to propose changes to the bill.
The law has numerous articles that deal with various facets of Internet law and culture that the creators obviously feel must be considered in any proposed law. The first article addresses the most important concern right out of the gate – censorship. The law proposes that government can not pass any law that imposes censorship unless it meets strict criteria. That criteria is illegal content that is defined as thus:
“All false information stored to misguide, scam, cause damage, trap users financially, or mutilate collateral are illegal content.”
On the subject of culpability, the bill proposes that the only persons who should be held accountable for illegal content are those that upload it – not those that download such data.
On a different note, only if the content contains 40 percent of the original work can it be considered as copyright infringement.
ISPs can not be held accountable for the uploading of illegal content under their service. ISPs are also not allowed to monitor the data of their users. They also can not filter, restrict or distort any data being transferred over their network.
As a final protection for the user, they can not be held accountable if they can prove that they didn’t know the work they were uploading was illegal.
A short, but important article restricts ISPs or governments from being able to throttle users’ Internet as a form of punishment.
The content removal section is somewhat similar to what is already in the DMCA except for a few key exceptions. Notice for the removal of content must be sent within 30 days of the deletion of the content. This will allow the uploader of said content to appeal the accusation that his content is illegal.
On that note, ISPs must give notice to uploaders of infringing content that their content has been flagged for takedown.
The bill also includes a provision that deals with groups who claim to own content that they don’t. I’ll let the bill itself explain in all its glory:
Willful false claims of copyright infringement shall be treated and tried as equivalent to copyright infringement, and will only be diminishable on the sole condition of proof provided and accepted by a ruling court that supports the defendant’s reason for claiming infringement. No law or act shall diminish the liability wrongful claims of infringement shall carry as set forth by this act.
To perhaps stop the recent trend of people in foreign countries being tried in the U.S., the bill states that anybody accused of infringement must be tried in the country where they committed the crime.
In what would be a major change to current digital crime proceedings, there is a provision that says the courts can not use IP or MAC addresses as evidence to identify users as they are not reliable enough to determine identity.
One of the biggest wins for the average citizen, however, is that the bill would require the government to reimburse any damages caused during the seizure of their property if it’s used as evidence.
Article seven details the rights of the user. The biggest right is of course anonymity on the Internet. Everything a user does on their computer is considered private under the provisions of this bill with the only exception being if they are suspected of illegal acts.
It also protects the right of the user to use proxies for anonymous Internet use. The state would also not be allowed to make any assumptions on the actions of a user based solely upon their efforts to protect their privacy.
The liability of the user that has committed infringement can only be 110 percent of the calculated damage at market level.
I highly doubt that a crowdsourced bill would ever be considered before Congress, but I’m willing to believe in anything.
Do you think Reddit’s bill is a better alternative to even the OPEN Act? Or is it just wishful thinking on the part of the Internet? Let us know in the comments.