Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA = Dead [UPDATED 01.20.12] On Activism: Did the SOPA / PIPA blackout succeed?

Well, yesterday was interesting and exciting all at the same time.  It was the first major virtual protest that the internet created and organized, largely through the efforts of and

But did it succeed?  The fall out from this is going to be very interesting.

Here are some bullets:'s homepage during the blackout, January 18th, 2012.

And what are some of the responses?
Meanwhile, after the Obama Administration posted a note leading up to the black out on January 18th saying it would not support any legislation which limited Rights, brought out the ire of the moguls in Hollywood.
“God knows how much money we’ve given to Obama and the Democrats and yet they’re not supporting our interests. There’s been no greater supporters of him than we’ve been from the first day and the first fundraisers continuing until he was elected. We all were pleased. And, at its heart institutionally, Hollywood supports the Democrats. Now we need the administration to support us. This is a very important time for Hollywood."
If this doesn't illustrate the dangers of unlimited campaign funding, I'm not sure what does.  They give a politician a bunch of cash then they expect that everything they want to do is done.  That is bought politics.

The goal of the protest was to raise awareness about legislation that could change the way the internet operates.  In that, it was very successful.  From my own Facebook news feed and Google+ stream, quite a few people seemed to find out about SOPA and PIPA yesterday.  Quite a few friends on Facebook also contacted their Senators and Congressmen/women to voice their dissent.

That backlash apparently swayed more than a quarter of the Senate to come out in opposition against these bills.  That is no small feat.  It should make the lobbyists on Capitol Hill worry, too.  New Media is changing everything, and that is truly the heart of this battle.  It's not copyright versus illegal sharing.

This is Old media versus New media, the print publication vs. the internet, the record label vs. self distribution, the middle-man vs. the consumer.  This is about adaptation versus stagnation.

We're seeing New media start to stretch its muscles, realize that it can organize people into a cause, illustrate the impact that lobbyist-written legislation can have.  It can demonstrate who is bought and who isn't.  If this is just the first crash of a series of waves, than I would expect some rough seas coming up in this year.  It's an election year with many hot-button issues - from campaign finance reform to the wealth gap between the ultra rich and the shrinking middle class.

The internet is going to continue to influence and press politics.  People have to realize that as much as my generation, the 20 to 30-somethings, are ingrained in the internet, we are nothing compared to the generation behind us.  As they move from college into the world and politics begin to become a focus for them, the old method of lobbyists in DC controlling the strings will start to turn.  They will be raising money through sites like Reddit, educating through Wikipedia, and fact-checking for themselves, not buying what mainstream media is telling them.

This battle will be the first in a long series of confrontations.

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