"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tech Dirt: Once More, With Feeling: It Wasn't Silicon Valley Or Google That Stopped SOPA/PIPA, It Was The Internet

Once again the grassroots of America rose up and said "NO!" this time to the Stop OnLine Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate that were winding their way through Congress.  Google and others did their objections to these two bills in a bold way with blacking out their sites for a day, but in reality it was you and me along with millions of internet users who called and wrote their members of Congress to stop these bills who got the job done.  Members of Congress got the message loud and clear.

When Senator Rubio pulled his support as a co-sponsor, the house of cards started falling for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) who were pushing theses acts.  As more members of Congress joined the Senator in pulling their support, these two bills got shelved for now.  The two trade organizations pushing these bills were vocal in the fact they represented all of Hollywood and the recording artists.  Turns out that wasn't true as tens of thousands of the people represented by these groups did not want these Acts passed in Congress any more than the rest of us.

We have to remain vigilant to make sure these two acts don't arise from the ashes.  We also need to be more vigilant on the laws that are passed by Congress.  The Grassroots needs to start tracking what our Senators and Representatives are agreeing to with the President and keep making our voices heard.  This isn't over yet as we have just won the battle and now it is up to us to win the war.
Once More, With Feeling: It Wasn't Silicon Valley Or Google That Stopped SOPA/PIPA, It Was The Internet 
by Mike MasnickThu, Jan 26th 2012 8:45am
from the wake-up-folks dept 
Over the last week, after SOPA and PIPA were put on life support, we've noticed an incredibly tone deaf response from the supporters of these bills, lashing out at the wrong parties and trying to figure out where to place the blame. The usual target has been "the tech industry," by which they usually mean "Google." That's why the MPAA's Chris Dodd wants to sit down with "tech companies" at the White House to discuss this. It's why the head of the movie theaters' lobbying group, NATO, brushes this whole thing off as Google "flexing" its muscles. As we've said all along, that not only misses the point, and is totally tone deaf to what happened, but it pretty much guarantees the wrong response from supporters of the bill.

Larry Downes has a great piece over at Forbes making this point and tracing back who really "stopped" SOPA and PIPA (full disclaimer: Downes gives me unnecessarily nice billing in the piece, providing too much credit for my early coverage of the bills). The key point that he makes is that this wasn't about "tech companies" or "Google" rising up -- but about internet users. And until the bills' supporters understand this, they're going to make the same mistakes over and over again:
The sponsors of SOPA and PIPA don’t even know who stopped them cold. But supporters of the proposed laws are retrenching anyway, preparing to launch a new assault on an enemy it hasn’t identified.
Given both their arrogance and ignorance, it goes without saying that the content industries are unlikely to avoid similar catastrophes in the future, let alone find a way to work collaboratively with a political force they don’t know—or believe–exists.
This is the message that many people are trying to get out there, and which keeps getting dismissed. Perhaps an even stronger point was made by the many, many people "in Hollywood" who came out against the bill as well. Take a look at what the Future of Music Coalition had to say on the matter, highlighting that anyone who thinks this is "Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley" is missing the point in a big bad way.
Unfortunately, some folks seem to be missing that point entirely, and are clinging to the idea that the SOPA/PIPA kerfluffle was simply Big Content vs. Silicon Valley.
We beg to differ.
Among the millions of people who voiced concerns about the scope and application of these bills were many copyright owners. We’re talking tens of thousands of arts and culture reps and even individual artists like MGMT, Trent Reznor, Amanda Palmer, Jason Mraz, Zoe Keating and more. What does this tell us? That a lot of folks with skin in the game are uncomfortable with Washington trade groups like the MPAA and RIAA claiming to represent their interests.
This isn't about "Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley." This is about "the internet" vs. the old way that things were done (artificial scarcity, backrooms and gatekeepers). Misunderstanding that key point will lead to the same mistakes again and again. Understanding this presents a clear path forward.

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