Monday, January 30, 2012

SOPA Opera

Plot twists evolve storyline in the great debate of online censorship


In a story Hollywood wishes were its own, the tumultuous battle surrounding SOPA and PIPA last week resulted in an inspiring, albeit brief, victory for users of the internet and the voting public at large. But at the awards party, while everyone was high-fiving and chugging Champagne, someone broke in and stole the civil liberties online users thought had been saved. Now, in our half-drunk party haze, we try to assess what just happened—and where we go from here.

Quick Plot Synopsis

Act I: After months of growing concern online and increasingly worrisome newspaper articles, Wikipedia, Reddit and dozens of other websites go "dark" Jan. 18 in protest of the antipiracy legislation they fear could "shut down the internet." This leads to national media coverage putting pressure on Capitol Hill to postpone both bills.

Act II: Literally at the same time, the U.S. government shows how this legislation would work—or, perhaps, demonstrates its redundancy—by shutting down file-transfer site Megaupload, which it deemed "responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works." The Department of Justice announced the shutdown Jan. 19, and the next morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he would postpone the vote on PIPA he was so desperately pushing for just one day prior.

Act III: This has yet to be fully written. Minutes after the Megaupload shutdown, hacker group Anonymous crashed sites of several organizations affiliated with the process, the FBI and the Department of Justice, as well as entertainment-industry groups like the MPAA and RIAA. But nobody knows what comes next. In a Lost-esque writing style, the script is given to the players with fresh ink. Maybe SOPA and PIPA will be amended to reflect public concern. Maybe they'll drop out of public eye and pass with little fanfare next month. Or maybe, with the shutdown of one of the world's largest copyright infringers, proponents and lobbyists will determine that legislation is unnecessary, garnering several upvotes and raking in karma points.

But on Capitol Hill, Mr. Smith does not always go to Washington...

more > SOPA Opera | Features | North Bay Bohemian

SOPA STRIKE - Largest online protest in history

"January 18th was unreal. Tech companies and users teamed up. Geeks took to the streets. Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms. The network defended itself. Whatever you call it, we changed the politics of interfering with the internet forever--there's no going back..."

Photo credit: @craigrcannon

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