Guest Post: The Tide Is Turning Against SOPA … And We Might Actually Succeed In Stopping It

Is the Tide Turning on SOPA?

While a short week ago the Internet censorship bill – SOPA – looked certain to pass, the tide appears to be quickly turning.

Politico today:

The conservative and liberal blogospheres are unifying behind opposition to Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act, with right-leaning bloggers arguing their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill passes.

“If either the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) & the U.S. House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) become law, political blogs such as Red Mass Group [conservative] & Blue Mass Group [liberal] will cease to exist,” wrote a blogger at Red Mass Group.

***

“Some good news on the SOPA front: Its corporate base of supporters is starting to crumble,” David Dayden wrote at . “GoDaddy is not alone. Scores of law firms are requesting their names be removed from the Judiciary Committee’s official list of SOPA supporters.”

In the blogosphere, the trajectory of the bill seemed set — that it is destined for failure if the pressure of the online community is kept up.

“The dynamic is clear. Once SOPA — and its Senate counterpart, Protecting IP Act, or PIPA — became high-profile among the Internet community, the lazy endorsements from companies and various hangers-on became toxic. And now, those supporters are scrambling, hollowing out the actual support for the bill. Suddenly, a bill with ‘widespread’ corporate support doesn’t have much support at all,” Dayden said.

Conservatives took a slightly different tact, though with similar disdain for the anti-piracy measures.

Indeed, blogger Erick Erickson said that he would encourage a primary for any Republican who supports the bill.

“I love Marsha Blackburn. She is a delightful lady and a solidly conservative member of Congress. And I am pledging right now that I will do everything in my power to defeat her in her 2012 reelection bid” due to her co-sponsorship for SOPA, Erickson wrote at . “Congress has proven it does not understand the Internet. Perhaps they will understand brute strength against them at the ballot box. If members of Congress do not pull their name from co-sponsorship of SOPA, the left and right should pledge to defeat each and every one of them.”

Digital Journal :

The legislation, which many are suggesting is nothing less than censorship of Internet content and an assault on free speech, has brought many disparate groups together for the first time, such as … the and a Libertarian website.

***

Several Washington D.C. law firms and lobbying groups were added to a list of corporate supporters by mistake and those who were willing to speak on the record were decidedly unhappy with the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s just incorrect. The firm has no position on SOPA,” Davis Wright Tremaine LLP spokesman Mark Usellis stated to

Even the White House is looking toward opposing the bill, with a petition on the to veto the bill if passed by Congress. The petition needed 25,000 signatures and so far it has 43,351.

Time to redouble our efforts … the tide may be turning, and we have a chance of winning.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander… http://www.washingtonsblog.com

32 comments

  1. ScottS

    This is good news, but I can’t help but wonder if the whole thing is pointless. Isn’t this what politicians want? The next time “content providers” take another stab at something similar, they will double or triple the lobbying and the same poisoned dynamic that got us here in the first place.

    A true sea change would be if people deserted the “content providers” and found new forms of entertainment.

    I’m speaking more towards the “piracy” angle, not the Orwellian censorship aspects of the bill(s). Those are obviously terrible and should be stamped out.

    1. Art Eclectic

      There really are two distinct issues going on here.

      1) Content piracy – digital content is easily shared, nature of the beast. Hugely profitable entertainment industries have been built around control of distribution and those distribution business models are fighting for their survival by attempting to control digital distribution instead of crafting a new business model built on digital distribution. This is a specific industry issue that is being used as a stalking horse for the real issue below.

      2) Content control – up until the internet became a widely used communication medium, your news and viewfinder of life was entirely corporate controlled. Television, radio, film, newspapers, magazine, books, etc… All entry to the mass market was controlled, all messaging to the mass market ran through corporate controlled entities. Governments and corporations have watched in horror as Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogoshpere have changed the game. The message is no longer controlled. SOPA was a backdoor attempt at censoring the internet and controlling messaging just like Net Neutrality. It was not the first attempt, nor will it be the last. As we’ve all seen, uncontrolled messaging brings down governments and exposes corruption, which is why they are trying to so hard to gain control and censor.

  2. indio007

    What kills about this bill is that it will have zero effect . Someone can simply publish a “IP phonebook”. These already existed back in the days before Google and when search engines weren’t that great. It was like an internet yellowpages.

    Silliness and waste of paper.

  3. justanotherobserver

    I’m surprised that the aspect of this as a “reduction” ploy hasn’t been more widely discussed.

    You propose something clearly egregious so that you can get something merely awful passed.

    Wyden is proposing such a merely awful piece of legislation and I highly doubt his motives in leading the “revolt”.

    the man who thinks medicare is too generous cannot be trusted.

  4. Why does Marsha Want Congress to Regulate the Internet? Why not just say NO FEDERAL branch (the FCC and congress and the federal courts included) has any authority to decide or rule on any aspect concerning the Internet?

    BUT Marsha Blackburn did Vote FOR: Patriot Act Reauthorization, Electronic Surveillance, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening, Patriot Act extension; and only NOW she is worried about free speech, privacy, and government take over of the internet?

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her “blatantly unconstitutional” votes at :

    Mickey

  5. Charles Frith

    I’m not sure if the right wing bloggers will be prosecuted. The criminal justice system is bent and it’s those who publish the likes of seminal video testimony of people such as Cathy O’Brien (don’t bother with Wikipedia) will be taken off line.

    They’re the threat. Not the stupid Hegelian dialectic, Kabuki theatre of left right politics. That’s for the children to squabble over.

  6. Kukulkan

    Oh, goodie. We all get to work for nothing.

    Oh, wait. Not all of us. Just those who create content.

    Nice to see bipartisanship when it comes to “Fuck your rights; they don’t matter; my rights, however, are all important and must be defended at all costs!”

      1. Genghis Cat

        Just to see if you can do it, please pull your fingers out of your ears and try to respond to the points Kukulkan made.

        Best…H

    1. Rex

      SOPA is such a kiss-ass to the corporate mega powers that I can only hope human majority sensibility can prevail.

      Alas, the Sony Bono copyright nonsense is a revolting precedent that scares me a lot. I hope enough of an Occupy-like storm gets presented to stomp this crap legislation out of existence.

    2. Genghis Cat

      Yes, a troll who creates content and expects to be paid. Selfish bastard; why won’t you work for free? You’re trying to ruin the internet and change the world as we know it just so you can be paid. (sigh)

      Me too.

      At least the “Look what happened in Russia and China and could happen here if SOPA is passed” fear mongering bullsh*t has been abandoned. “Be afraid, be very… oh wait, no one bought it?”

      As always, I say this is about people wanting to steal music and movies. I don’t deny that copyright has been abused, so all of you anti-SOPA folks, what solutions do you suggest? Do your best to balance the rights of copyright owners, content creators and the public.

      No points for “record companies are thieves”, “not enough of the money goes to the artist”, etc. Also, anyone saying that those who “download for free” (read: STEAL) spend more on music than others OR that the music industry isn’t losing money from file sharing please try to find some evidence that can stand more than a cursory glance before it’s debunked. No need to post six useless and unrelated links: make your point and find one strong bit of evidence supporting it.

      It’s time to stop illegal file sharing. If SOPA is the wrong mechanism, so be it. What would work? What would be fair?

      Best…H

      1. Eagle

        1. The onus is on the music industry to prove illegal filesharing is costing them any amount of money that requires relief. They have utterly failed to do so.

        2. Trying to end piracy by passing laws is a fool’s errand regardless. Instead, develop better technology (see gaming industry).

        1. Genghis Cat

          The better technology you are requesting is available. It will mean that any of your keystrokes can be re-examined at a later date. While this sounds extreme, it is not much different from the trail you leave in other aspects of life, such as driving, going to the mall, banking, etc.

          Your cellphone tells your provider where it is every few seconds. Your car keeps a record of how you drive. Even my Jetski will inform Kawasaki if it has been turned over when I take it in for service.

          I understand that this is perceived as a loss of freedom – and I am happy to give it up, along with getting phished, spammed and threatened by anonymous creatures of the web.

          Internet freedom is an illusion. Nothing any of us does is invisible. Best…H

          1. Eagle

            “Internet freedom is an illusion.”

            By this logic, all freedom is an illusion, since it is technically possible to implant GPS chips in all of us that report our locations to the gov’t.

            This isn’t a technical solution you’ve proposed, just a totalitarian one. The fact that the industry can’t come up with a solution that doesn’t involve heavy gov’t enforcement is their problem, not ours.

          2. Genghis Cat

            You overstate in order to confuse. The technical solution I propose is no more invasive than the video cameras that watch nearly every shopping mall, bank, office building, warehouse; in other words, practically every place of business and public gathering. Why do you suppose those cameras are there?

            Do you really believe our government isn’t listening to phone calls and reading emails? I recently attended a symposium with presentations by the FBI detailing how they track sex offenders on the net. Yes – your internet freedom is an illusion, and it’s a dangerous one. Just ask Anthony Weiner. I teach my kids that they shouldn’t write anything in an email that they wouldn’t want the whole world to see, and it is amazing to see how many people don’t grasp this concept.

            The internet will become like every other public communication and business channel – regulated. This is to prevent the abuses we are seeing every day in our mail inboxes, illegal use of content, scamming spamming phishing and so on. This, and the ability to say “f*cK you” to someone we don’t even know behind a nom de plume.

            I agree that copyright has been abused. Finding a balanced solution is where the real discussion should be.

            Yves, are you out there? Testing, 1, 2, 3….

            Best…H

      2. Rex

        “It’s time to stop illegal file sharing. If SOPA is the wrong mechanism, so be it. What would work? What would be fair?”

        Thanks for asking.

        Not this egregious corporate over-reach. I don’t know what would work, but this is just crap, like the over-extreme extensions of copyright that already got passed in the Sony Bono legislation of “copyright forever”. The greater people’s benefits don’t matter because I have money to make by hoarding someone’s popular creation forever.

        I do think creators have a right to own their own creations for a reasonable period of time, and I appreciate that the internet facilitates some difficulties in controlling violations.

        Re: SOPA — my thoughts –> baby / bathwater. Or, my stuff is obviously valuable — everybody else get the f**k out of my way. If you make me blow my horn, you are subject to arrest.

        The 99% is thinking about what the guillotine may have accomplished in sorting ownership of questioned things like Mickey Mouse.

      3. Ransome

        What happened with information sharing before the internets? Reporters wrote articles, they were paid and published and the article recycled in the parakeet cage, never to be seen again. Retrieving articles from internet archives has enhanced both the writers and readers. If it was worth writing, people can be exposed to a viewpoint for the next hundred years.

        I stopped listening to music when I realized I kept paying for the same songs every time the media changed. Also, private ownership of a nation’s culture is almost criminal, it is the property of the people once in the public domain. In the old days, people that had something to say, paid to produce pamphlets. Now they get paid. Besides, you can’t be a responsible citizen unless you are informed. The last thing we need is only Fox news, 24/7. The WSJ is so tainted with trash and propaganda, that when an article is referenced and it links to the WSJ, I won’t click it. I can go to many other sites with alternate viewpoints from my own.

        1. Genghis Cat

          A fair point: how often do I have to buy “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” just because it’s on a new format? Best…H

        2. Dave of Maryland

          Very simple solution:

          Limit copyright to five years. Period. No extensions. Public domain thereafter. Strictly enforced while it lasts. Abuse it, you go to jail. No exceptions, no internet, no file sharing.

          Well, what about me? I’m a small publisher (44 titles). Well, most of my stuff is public domain stuff, i.e., a century old. What is actually under copyright is stuff the big boys don’t want anyway. If I lost copyright protection on my own stuff, I wouldn’t really be hurt. And that’s a hard one for me, personally.

          This will happen about as soon as corporations lose their personhood. Not a minute too soon if you ask me.

      4. liberal

        Yes, a troll who creates content and expects to be paid.

        Garbage. He doesn’t merely expect to get paid. He expects to get paid via a government-granted privilege which limits the freedom of others.

        The onus of showing fairness and economic efficiency should always be on those advocating the granting of government privileges, not their opponents.

        1. Kukulkan

          Just playing catch-up. Most comments are too old to reply to, but I just can’t let this one sit here unanswered.

          Garbage. He doesn’t merely expect to get paid. He expects to get paid via a government-granted privilege which limits the freedom of others.

          You are aware that limiting the freedom of individuals to take the products of other people’s labour with neither permission nor payment is one of the core functions of government? In fact, it’s one of the basic justifications for government; according to libertarians and the like, it’s the only justification for government.

          So, if the government is interfering with your freedom to pillage, I really don’t see that as a bad thing.

          Oh, and copyright isn’t a privilege; it’s not confined to a select few. It’s a right available to everyone, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, of all races, creeds, colours and political opinions. It’s automatic; as soon as you create some content, you have copyright on it. If you elect to never exercise that right by not creating anything, well, that’s your choice, but should you ever change your mind, it’s there waiting for you.

          The onus of showing fairness and economic efficiency should always be on those advocating the granting of government privileges, not their opponents.

          Fairness? Your argument is that some people (such as, I presume, you) should be paid for the products of their labour, while others should not and the products of their labour should be available for free. Are you really so obtuse that you can’t see the double standard in that?

      5. liberal

        As always, I say this is about people wanting to steal music and movies.

        You’re assuming that the verb “steal” applies to nonrivalrous goods, which is at best contentious.

        1. Genghis Cat

          When you *buy* a cd, I have no problem. When you illegally download content from a p2p site without paying, I say it is stealing. Rivalry is immaterial.

          Slice it however you like – people want music and movies for free. This means those who contribute to the creation of content will not be paid.

          Best…H

      6. PatrioticCitizen

        It’s obvious that the media companies’ business models are not adapting to a new competitive environment. It’s up to them create business models that allow them to compete and profit from the Internet. They need to innovate, accept that not all new approaches will succeed, and understand the needs of their customers.

        Maybe it’s time we went back to a time when innovation in music, film, and literature was recognized and appreciated. A time when local artist were locally promoted and could rise to the national prominence. We need to create more Motowns, not discourage their creation. We need to create innovative business models that drive our economy, not protect companies that can’t or won’t adapt to changes in the market.

        Capitalism doesn’t guarantee that a company will live forever, it is a system where consumers vote with their dollars.

      1. Genghis Cat

        Paraphrased: “SOPA threatens the growth of the most economically dynamic and technologically innovative sector of the U.S. economy – stealing content and using it to make ad money.”

        Piracy is stealing. If SOPA shuts down thieves, yes, they will be out of work.

        Best…H

  7. PatrioticCitizen

    SOPA, if passed, provides foreign government a potent offensive weapon against America’s economy. They can post links to pirated media or a counterfeit product on the web site, Facebook pages, and Twitter s of an American company. That company has no obvious legal recourse to prove its innocence. It will need to take its case to the Supreme Court to have the law declared unconstitutional, if it is still in business when the ruling is issued.

    Ebay and other eCommerce sites are extremely susceptible to SOPA attacks. A bricks and mortar competitor might even be the originator of a SOPA attack.

  8. Wentworth

    I’d be REALLY interested in a legal argument that truly balances the free flow of ideas and the culture of artistic expression against an individual’s or corporation’s right to shake every tenth of a cent it can out of a piece of art. Instead (to reduce both sides of the argument to absurdity) I hear one side screaming “THIEF! THIEF!” and the other side going “Like, groovy, man, everybody owns everything, dig it?”

    I personally think SOPA allows corporations to high-handedly punish internet providers based on the copyright holder’s say-so (mere allegation can shut down a website), as opposed to some sort of finding of fact about trafficking in pirated material. This is (to use Rex’s phrase) Baby-Bathwater, since there are hundreds of sites that make available for download stuff that’s unobtainable at any price, or not digitized, or exists only in a vault somewhere, etc., all of which, I’d argue, adds to the richness of our culture and benefits us all. It’s not stealing from an artist, because the artist isn’t making it available, AT ALL. SOPA, and copyright law generally, doesn’t make that distinction; and insists on the right not just to remove copyrighted material from websites (even if it’s unavailable any other way), but also to shut down all those sites, whether all their content is under copyright or not, thereby depriving our culture of the riches they provide, and compensating creators not at all. (In fact, it hurts creators; suppressing and removing material that if available, could spark further ancillary purchases of material through legitimate channels.)

    However, there is a HUGE problem with internet piracy, illegal downloads and so on, and a culture of entitlement that surrounds it, and it DOES affect not only corporate honchos but creators as well. Here’s an actual exchange between a composer and one of the thousands of kids who illegally downloads and trades his stuff:
    <>

    I am still chewing on the thread at Digital Society that was started in reaction to the above link; possibly some here will find it as interesting as I do:

    <>

    My own take on the whole subject at this point is similar to Dave’s above, except I’d like a legal distinction made between a creator (who is entitled to copyright protection for life X years) versus a corporation who buys the copyright after the creator passes on and milks it down to the last farthing.

    This, however, doesn’t address the reason that unions support SOPA: union artists (writers, directors, actors) make money from each sale; lost sales, where the downloader has the option to buy but chooses to download for free, ABSOLUTELY impacts artists’ incomes, and must be addressed. In this case, although corporations aren’t artists, they act as paymasters for artists based on contracts with the unions. (Eesh, I think I just fried my last neuron.)

    I think copyright holders currently have an affirmative obligation to make sure content IS available, or should lose their right to punish those who find other ways to obtain it. I also think we need to correct the “download for free/stiff the artist” mindset, because every artist I know who creates copyrighted material, needs every nickel they can realize from it.

  9. Wake me up when Google gives away its Algorithms and all the other rentier info tech schemes agree to make all their stuff open source.

    Let me know when all the slimy lying jackals in the asperger land of web slop agree to forgo their grotesque salaries for pushing 1’s and 0’s around into ever more marginal patterns.

    I’ll be all ears when this newer form of wealth confiscation finally gets its due along with to big to fail banks.

    ‘But…but… you can sell advertising in a rigged market monopoly for rates we determine’.

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