Posting this in accordance with the format specified in Disinguishing Proposal Types.
Budget Amount: Max 10%/2,000,000 SC per month, from legal budget block subsidy (further details below)
Timeline: Indefinitely, as long as the service is utilized and provides value
Other terms same as legal budget
The Budget Category: Legal, as of this writing, proposes a 120M SC kickoff amount and 20M SC/month ongoing to stockpile up to 1.82B SC for future potential legal challenges to the Sia and Skynet networks. The logic is that this amount will hopefully and largely go untouched, and act as more of a “war chest” type deterrent to any legal actions against Sia or hosts for events like illegal or copyrighted content being uploaded to the network.
Right now the legality behind host liability for what hosts store isn’t 100% clear, and it seems it is anticipated that someday this may become an issue in the courts. Overall, I agree that a proactive strategy here is good, and the fact that defense of hosts is being considered is also forward-looking.
However, I believe that with Skynet, the potential liability of hosts has increased significantly due to both the ability to make data on Sia public via Skynet, and the fact that hosts now hold full unencrypted files for Skynet. Outside of stockpiling funds to fight issues when they inevitably arrive, I believe another step can be taken which I have previously proposed to develop as a private service, but which I think could be better covered by the legal budget instead as a community and Foundation endeavor.
I have previously announced plans to build a DMCA service for Skynet which would handle DMCA and other legal takedown requests for content on Sia and Skynet. This service would offload the burden which each portal operator currently faces in needing to respond to DMCA and other legal requests, which is essentially having to police the entire Sia and Skynet network because each portal is an equal and independent gateway to all of Sia and Skynet.
This service would centralize abuse reporting for all portals, and create a central blacklist which each portal could pull into their local blacklist. Each portal would also be able to customize their blacklist within this service through a central dashboard, adding or removing items to the list and suggesting that other portals add items as well. A number of sub-lists would exist, such as verified DMCA complaints, complaints from known government agencies, and community lists, similar to spam filter lists which can be used in spam blocking service for email. Only skylink hashes would be published on the blacklists so as to avoid exposing the skylink content and potentially spreading objectionable or illegal material through viewing of the blacklist. Each entry on the blacklist would be categorized with a general reason why the content was objectionable, and who reported it or added it to the blacklist (i.e. Material supporting terrorism - blacklisted by United States NSA).
This service would serve to protect the Sia and Skynet ecosystem by providing a standard and central means to handle the most common legal challenges and comply with regulations around abuse and DMCA reporting. While we’d like to think that Sia and Skynet are very decentralized and content should never be able to be taken down, the fact of the matter is that most public portals will need to respond to takedown requests in order to continue to operate legally. Essentially, this DMCA service would resolve 99% of potential issues before they became an actual legal threat to any portal or host, and would protect all portal operators simultaneously and equally. This service could eventually extend into protecting hosts if they were ever individually targeted with complaints.
With a legal budget allocated to defending hosts and handling legality issues, it would make sense for this service to be subsidized by the Foundation, as it would not be run for profit and will require considerable development hours and ongoing maintenance in responding to takedown notices, interacting with reporters, and managing blacklists. I would intend to develop and operate the platform as a full-time endeavor, under a LLC in order to help protect myself considering the nature of what the service will deal with. The platform would be centralized similar to current community sites, but the source could be made available to the Foundation or open-sourced if it was deemed to be of the most benefit. My reputation in developing and running a major Sia community site for the last several years, my computer science/software development background, and my familiarity with Sia, DMCA and legal challenges surrounding copyrighted and other content make me qualified to undertake such a project.
The response to my initial announcement of my intention to build such a service was overwhelmingly positive, and the majority of public portals operating now agreed that they would sign on to it. For this reason, I’m putting it forward as a proposal to fall under Foundation funding.
A max 2M SC/month budget would cover a development and management position for the service, which is currently at below-market rates for full-time development and managerial work (approximately $5,000/month at a SC average price of about $0.025 over the past year). While this currently consists of 10% of the proposed legal budget, it is funding which will be directly and immediately put to use in order to protect the Sia and Skynet ecosystem from legal challenges and host liability.
A cap of $10k USD/month would be placed on this budget, as it is in line with current average software engineer salaries, and the intent of the service is not to profit unreasonably from the subsidy - rather, to provide reasonable compensation for the work done to create and maintain the service. It is also expected that once the platform is launched, development work will decrease and support work around handling complaints will be the primary function of the service. Any excess SC over the USD cap would be returned to the treasury and/or legal fund stockpile.
Again, this is not simply a platform which can be built and then left alone - it will require ongoing staffing in order to verify and respond to complaints, and support several entities (portal operators, DMCA lawyers/agents, government entities, copyright owners, etc) in order to ensure that Sia and Skynet are operating legally.
This could also fall under Budget Category: Community Service Provider Subsidy, but I think legal is a better area for it because it is more relevant, better funded, and will have less of an impact on community services by not taking funding away from that category. Server costs for the service may fall under community services, however. That aside, I’m interested to hear thoughts on it.