Today is SOPA Blackout Day. Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, WordPress and other leading web sites have gone dark today in a coordinated show of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT-IP Act. Google goes semi-dark, partially blacking out its logo on the home page but leaving the search service accessible. The protests themselves have now triggered a backlash, however. MPAA CEO Chris Dodd denounced the blackouts as a “dangerous gimmick,” while PROTECT-IP sponsor Patrick Leahy accuses the protesting web sites of “hiding behind the black box of self-censorship.” Even some opponents of the bills take issue with blackouts, such as Fordham University media professor Paul Levinson,” who argues that blocking access to information on sites like Wikipedia is a poor way to make a point about the dangers of blocking access to information on the Internet.
The anti-SOPA and PIPA demonstrations don’t stop with site-wide blackouts planned for Wednesday by a number of web giants. People also have plans to meet up in real life and take the protest to the streets in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Seattle.
In the wake of a weekend announcement that the White House wouldn’t support SOPA as written as well as the canceling of the DNS provisions in the bill, the web has shifted attention from the Stop Online Piracy Act to the Protect IP Act.
The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has drawn the ire of many tech industry leaders for its potential to squash innovation. GigaOM talked to O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly about why SOPA is wrong and what the tech industry can do to stop it.
Much has been made of the success of Louis C.K.’s self-released video special, but Jessica Lee examines it as a social media marketing campaign, chalking his success up to one ingredient that’s often missing in marketing: trust.
A growing problem as the web becomes more central to how we share and work is that an average person doesn’t know how abstract laws can affect their lives and the media doesn’t expose how well (or poorly) politicians understand technology. These questions are a start.
Peter Kafka at AllThingsD raises an interesting question this morning about the anti-piracy legislation currently being debated on Capitol Hill (and elsewhere). Kafka links to a tweet by Union Square Ventures principal Fred Wilson describing his personal workaround for the blackout of MSG Network, which carries New York Knicks and Rangers games, on Time Warner Cable in New York over a dispute over carriage fees. Wilson, a highly successful venture capitalist with over 199,000 Twitter followers, said he found the MSG feed online through the feed aggregator adtheNet and watched the Knicks/Raptors game on his big screen TV, no problem. As Wilson pointed out in a follow up blog post, however, adtheNet is precisely the sort of web site targeted for blacklisting by the Stop Online Piracy Act. Similar sports streaming sites, in fact, have already been knocked off the net by the feds’ Operation In Our Sites initiative. In other words, his workaround was a form of piracy, as defined by the federal government. But as Kafka wonders, is it really an act of piracy for Wilson to access programming he has already paid for but is being denied through no fault of his own? Expect that question to be asked more frequently as disputes between cable networks and cable operators result in more blackouts, particularly with live sports.
Reading about hackers hitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I was struck by the hackers accessing a thermostat, and the tone of resignation around preventing such attacks. So how will we secure the Internet of things, and do we give up on perimeter-based security?
Congressman Darrell Issa, an opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act, said 157,767 people from more than 150 counties watched some portion of the House’s markup hearing held on Thursday to debate the bill. The hearing has adjourned, but could resume as soon as next week.
The House Judiciary Committee’s “markup” (i.e. vote) on the Stop Online Piracy Act is underway and it’s shaping up to be a donny-brook. You can watch the proceedings live on the committee’s web site, although I found a better stream here. You can also follow along via Twitter at #SOPA. In any case, pack a lunch, and maybe an overnight bag. Word is the process could take as long as two days. Somewhere between 55 and 60 amendments have been proposed, most of which are new to most members and the committee and all will have to be read and debated individually. Opponents of the measure are also trying to slow the whole process down by forcing a formal reading of the bill, which involves some poor clerk reading aloud through 75 or so pages of dense, legislative language, adding another hour or so to the proceedings. However the markup comes out, the fight over the bill has already a landmark in the evolving struggle for political power between Hollywood and Silicon Valley.