SOPA Blackout Fallout

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 1/19/2012 | 26 comments

Andrew Froehlich
If a single person wanted his or her voice to be heard in American politics, the standard "write or call your representative" has always been used. Do you know how many times I actually wrote or called my representative? Zero. I don't know if that makes me a bad citizen or just one of those people that has a million other things going on in his life and simply doesn't have the time.

But after seeing the results of the anti-SOPA blackout, I'm beginning to change my tune. No, I still won't get around to writing my representative. I no longer need to. With the Internet, my voice can be heard with a click of the mouse. It's fast, easy, and is going to change the world of politics and the world of business forever.

So what can I say about the SOPA blackout? For one, the big Internet companies were much more restrained than was rumored. In a past blog, I wrote about the potential blacklash that major Internet companies could face if they simply turned off their services for a full 24 hours in protest against the SOPA legislation. In reality, the only site that actually went "dark" was Wikipedia. Other companies including Google, Reddit, Craigslist, and Flickr simply added a splash page or modified their logo in protest of the Act.

One notable Internet giant that decided to sit this protest out was Facebook. And in my mind, this was an absolute genius move by Zuckerberg and company. Despite the fact that you have big Websites protesting, most of the noise is coming from regular Internet users. Through the power of social networking, the response from millions of everyday people was the highlight of the protest in my mind. And the wonderful thing was, you could protest in a variety of ways including:

  • Social networks -- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc
  • Wordpress and Tumblr anti-SOPA plugins for blog pages
  • Cloudflare's Stop Censorship app for Websites using the Cloudflare caching service
  • Sign Google's anti-SOPA petition

Basically, if you used the Internet on the 18th, you were almost guaranteed an opportunity to publicly state your opinion on the matter.

In the end, it looks as if SOPA (and its cousin PIPA) are quickly losing favor in the House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has already stated that a consensus is needed in order to take further action on the bill. Since there is no consensus, SOPA in its current form looks to be delayed indefinitely. Add to that the fact that the White House has already threatened to veto the bill if it ever reaches the president's desk.

This is great news, but the fight isn't over. Those in favor of SOPA are not giving up so easy. Hollywood execs (who are pro-SOPA) have already issued threats to stop donating to president Obama's re-election campaign. But while money is important in politics, you can't get elected if you don't have any votes, so I think that this time, the anti-SOPA side is going to pull off a win -- with much of the credit going to the millions of regular Internet users who participated during the anti-SOPA online protest.

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PamR   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/24/2012 5:51:20 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload
Agreed, not a coincidence. I do sort of think that the pro-SOPA forces were a day or two late--if they'd wanted to hold onto support, arrest the guy a couple of days earlier, let his history waft out there and maybe hold onto some its backers. But I'm not a great strategist, so perhaps I'm missing something. Maybe more to come, who knows?
SaneIT   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/24/2012 7:41:48 AM
Re: RIP Megaupload
I think Kim Dotcom made him self an easy target, he painted himself as a hacker, outlaw and made his flashy his lifestyle public.  What I find interesting is that many of the other file locker services have taken a very reactionary approach to their models and have stopped allowing files to be shared between users.  The seizure of MegaUpload had a bigger effect that I think anyone expected and it makes you wonder if SOPA/PIPA is really necessary after they way this is playing out.
Taimoor Zubair   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 11:38:34 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload
But then again Megaupload was not the only video sharing website which was involved in copyright infringement. Wonder why was it chosen as the first target.
Andrew Froehlich   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 11:22:11 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload

Timing stinks, though, and certainly not a coincidence.

Not a coincidence at all Pam.  And I'll even go so far as to say it was a brilliant move.  It sheds a bit of light on the other sides problem with stolen content and the people that are profiting from it.  Obviously this is just a single case, but this guy is the perfect poster child for the pro-SOPA camp!

User Ranking: Blogger
PamR   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 11:14:24 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload
Pretty hard to defend a guy who appears to have made millions off other people's work and not simply by making the system work for other people. Fight SOPA, yes, for its overreach and potential to harm the little guy but if what he is accused of is true, how is what he did anyhing but piracy? I understand it's easy to despise the Hollywood guys but, wow, I see this move against this particular guy to be a good thing. Timing stinks, though, and certainly not a coincidence.

 
Andrew Froehlich   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 9:41:05 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload
I'm not sure what to think about Megaupload...I was against the shutdown but then I read an article about its owner. Even the pictures speak volumes about what Megaupload is all about --money-- I'm not going to stand beside Kim Dotcom in this fight!
User Ranking: Blogger
Anand   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 2:48:50 PM
Re: RIP Megaupload
@Taimoor, I dont how this will this will shape things for SOPA, but definitely this US-led crackdown on Megaupload has left legitimate users of the site unable to access their files.
SaneIT   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/23/2012 7:49:15 AM
Re: RIP Megaupload
@ Taimoor  I think that the Megaupload seizure is going to be used as a "see we told you we needed this bill" type of example.  The timing of the take down is suspicious, they were an easy target so why wait until SOPA and PIPA seemingly failed before taking action against them?
Taimoor Zubair   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/20/2012 11:09:31 PM
RIP Megaupload
And just to update everyone, popular video sharing website Megaupload has been "seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S District Court" partly because of "copyright infringement". I wonder how this will shape things for SOPA now.

This is what the notice on the website says.


SaneIT   SOPA Blackout Fallout   1/20/2012 9:03:02 AM
Re: The Nerd Lobby
@David, I agree, the "nerd lobby" is a poor characterization.  My facebook page was filled with anti-SOPA messages from people with very little tech savvy and they understood the risk that SOPA and PIPA posed to their access of sites that they use everyday.  I think those who have tried to spin this fight as techies or nerds vs. the government are insulting internet users as a whole.  It might be the nerds who wrote the code for the protest messages but it was the communities that support an open and free internet that caused the backlash against the two bills.

 
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