Welcome back, Internet! In case you’ve been in a coma for the last week or so, Wednesday was Internet Blackout Day. Reddit, Wikipedia, and yours truly all went dark in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two bills currently up for debate in congress that threaten to blacklist sites without due process, bring criminal charges against individual copyright infringers including fines and jail time, and even cut off financial support for sites suspected of dealing in copyright infringing material. Needless to say, the internet rallied to protect the netizens from these bills.
So, now that the dust has settled, what’s changed in this post-blackout world? Well, for starters, at least 19 Senators (at last count) have dropped support for PIPA, including seven co-sponsors. Doezns of supporters in the House have also dropped their support for SOPA in the wake of the protest.
Speaking of the disruptive forces left behind by large moving objects, many Senators websites went down on Wednesday due to the flood of traffic from individuals coming to either express their protest or educate themselves on the topic. The flood of traffic shutting down Senators websites sends a hard-to-ignore message. Judging by the number of supporters dropped, it seems the message was heard loud and clear.
Google, one of the largest companies participating in the protest, managed to get over 7 million signatures for their digital petition. Theirs wasn’t the only petition being signed yesterday, but it was certainly the biggest. The protests weren’t all online, though. Close to a thousand people took to the streets to protest outside the offices of their Senators to protest the bills.
The shockwaves from the protest were huge. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news. MegaUpload recently made headlines for recruiting Universal artists (among others) to create a pro-MegaUpload video. This pissed off Universal who issued a takedown notice for the YouTube video, despite having no copyrights on any of the content to enforce. The video was reinstated, but not before Tech News Today had their own video pulled for covering the story. Yesterday, the day after one of the biggest online protests in history, MegaUpload’s site was taken down.
This is in keeping with current copyright law, which only points to a larger problem than SOPA and PIPA cover. Several of MegaUpload’s staff were arrested on copyright infringement charges, as well as conspiracy to commit racketeering. The site, as well as all of their sister sites (yes, including that one) were inaccessible. Megaupload has since announced their return, and even been back online briefly, but the site is only intermittently available.
Naturally, the internet is not pleased with this news. Anonymous has fired back in their typical fashion by bringing down several high-profile sites including the RIAA, the MPAA, the Department of Justice, the US Copyright Office, and Universal Music Group. The attacks went on for the better part of the day.
There was one other fairly high-profile group that expressed some reservations about the proposed legislation. Maybe you’ve heard of them: the Obama administration. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the President’s staff has issued statements expressing reservations about legislation the President would later sign into law. Now, the President could still veto SOPA/PIPA if it became necessary, however rumor has it that Hollywood brass is pulling funding for Obama’s campaign if he continues in this direction.
This is, of course, bad news for opponents of SOPA/PIPA. We can hope that the Obama administration will ignore the financial incentives of supporting the Hollywood old guard instead of the overwhelming outcry of both major tech companies and internet citizenry, but money is a powerful motivator. Especially in an election year. Our hopes may lie (and it physically hurts to write these words) solely with Congress’s wisdom and support for Internet freedom.
Here at the Noisecast, we’re not exactly known for covering politics, but as we approach the South Carolina primary, it’s not hard to see copyright becoming a major issue for this year’s election. If you’d still like to voice your opposition to these bills, or just keep track of who’s supporting what, head on over here to keep track, as well as find contact information for any congressfolk you’d like to contact.
Keep up the good fight, Internet!