SOPA: A Mega, Meta Mashup Of News

We sifted through the news covering the SOPA protests to bring you the mother of all news roundups, with virtually every line gleaned from somewhere else.

January 18 is a date that will live in ignorance

The blackout movement to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act that began with reddit and Wikipedia… spread to more than 10,000 other websitesmany of which are important examples of Web entities that could be shut down without due process by SOPA-like legislation

The Senate bill and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House are backed by the movie and music industries as a means to crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods by non-U.S. websites. Hollywood studios want lawmakers to ensure that Internet companies such as Google share responsibility for curbing the distribution of pirated films and television showsBut opponents say that the way SOPA is written effectively promotes censorship and is rife with the potential for unintended consequences

Three of the Internet's most popular destinations—Google, Wikipedia, and Craigslist—launched an audacious experiment in political activism … by urging their users to protest [the] Hollywood-backed copyright lawsGoogle … put a black censorship bar over the logo on its home page. "Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet," [a] Google spokeswoman told CNETWikipedia went black as midnight struck the East Coast [and urged users to] take action now by calling your US Representative and Senators.  "This is going to be wow," Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, said on Twitter. "I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!

Craigslist [greeted users] with a black page and information regarding sopa/pipa asking visitors to "imagine a world without craigslist, Google, Wikipedia" [and] provid[ed] visitors with a link to a page with online tools for contacting lawmakers to voice opposition to the Hollywood-backed legislation, adding: "P.S. corporate paymasters: KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET.The SOPA landing page display[ed] for a minimum of 10 seconds, after which you [could] continue on to the normal Craigslist site

Other sites joining the protest included WordPress, TwitPic, Cheezburger, BoingBoing, several gaming companies including Minecraft, and Mozilla, source of the Firefox web browser. Online photo sharing site Flickr [let] its members darken their own photos in an effort to raise awareness about the proposed, highly damaging legislation. But that's not all—Flickr is going a step further, and will allow users to darken other members' photos, too. Now that's what censorship really feels like. [Wired] blacked out the headlines on [its] website homepage today as part of a global internet protest. Mark Zuckerberg… the celebrity Facebook founder… is using the best tool at his disposal: the social network he created. "The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet's development," Zuckerberg wrote in a note posted to Facebook. "Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet." 

For Zachary Johnson, a creative developer, working in web, games, and mobile, [partial blackouts] wasn't good enough… He developed a code that… turns users' cursors into digital flashlights that illuminate an anti-SOPA message and a link to Not only does the program serve an important function for anyone wanting to protest, but from a design standpoint, it has the added bonus of looking pretty cool. Meanwhile a cartoonist asks: "What Goes On When the Net Goes Dark?"

The Internet community's rally cry against anti-piracy legislation is triggering its intended effect, though the final outcome remains far from settledBy now, about the only people unaware of the bill are those on camping trips in the wildernessYou know the protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has gone mainstream when the headline of the Drudge Report [read], "Hands Off the Internet!"

Members of Congress, many of whom are grappling with the issues posed by the explosion in new media and social Web sites, appeared caught off guard by the enmity toward what had been a relatively obscure piece of legislation to many of them. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were flooded with calls … in response to [the] online blackout by technology companies... Some key lawmakers who've supported or co-sponsored the legislation are also backing off.  Eight U.S. lawmakers dropped their support for Hollywood-backed anti-piracy legislation as Google Inc. (GOOG), Facebook Inc. and other websites protested the measures. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act in the Senate, while Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) said they were pulling their names from the companion House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Rubio tweeted, "After hearing from people with legit concerns, have withdraw support for #PIPA. Let's take time to do it right" and provided a link to Facebook, where he wrote: "I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs. However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies." Hours after [the senator] pulled support of the anti-piracy bills, his website slowed to a crawl and crashed.

"Seems blogosphere has succeeded in terrorizing many senators and congressmen who previously committed," Rupert Murdoch huffed in a tweet. "Politicians all the same." 

Last week, the White House issued its first official statement opposing the bill, stating that it "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," prompting Murdoch to tweet, "So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery." 

"It's such a ludicrous statement," Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, said [in response]. "We're a charity devoted to sharing free knowledge." 

Nevertheless, Murdoch isn't the only critic. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), sponsor of SOPA, responded to Wikipedia going black: "It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy."  And Dick Costello, CEO of Twitter, tweeted: "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish." 

The Financial Times weighed in: "Silicon Valley damages itself with its persistent scaremongering over efforts to crack down on piracy. By refusing to engage in a serious effort to prevent it – instead equating copyright enforcement with censorship, or with "breaking the internet"—it undermines its credibility."

Meanwhile, there's a new song for the soundtrack of angry, confused howls from users who can't call up Wikipedia and Reddit, thanks to today's blackout in protest of the proposed intellectual property legislation: ["The Day the LOLCats Died, sung to the melody of "American Pie"]: 

"Why, why are laws a thing you can buy. 

They got paid off, should be paid off, re-election denied,

Our Web means more than lawyers, lobbies and lies,

So speak up before the Internet dies."

Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at NYU and a contributing writer to Fast Company. Follow him on Twitter: @penenberg.


1. Peter Svensson, Chicago Sun-Times

2. Casey Johnston, Ars Technica

3. John Eggerton, Multichannel News

4. Eric Englman and Derek Wallbank, Bloomberg

5. Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney 

6. Declan McCullagh, CNET

7. Connor Adams Sheets, International Business Times 

8. Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times

9. Wikipedia

10. International Business Times 

11. Reddit

12. Josh Wolford, WebProNews

13. Lov-3

14. Deadline Hollywood 

15. Sarah Perez, TechCrunch 

16. Evan Hansen, Wired 

17. Jennifer Van Grove, VentureBeat

18. Joe Berkowitz, Fast Co Create 

19. The Joy of Tech


21. Will Oremus, Slate 

22. Glenn Peoples, Billboard 

23. Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

24. USA Today

25. Bloomberg 

26. Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

27. Sen. Marco Rubio tweet 

28. Sen. Marco Rubio Facebook page 

29. Orlando Sentinel

30. Mike Schuster, Minyanville 

31. Taylor Hatmaker, Tecca 

32. Rubert Murdoch tweet 

33. Nando Di Fino, Mediaite 

34. Deadline Hollywood 

35. Dick Costello tweet 

36. Financial Times

37. Torie Bosch, Slate

 38. The Day The LOLcats Died

[Image: Flickr user AN HONORABLE GERMAN]

Add New Comment


  • Chris Reich

    This issue seems blown out of proportion. I see numerous sites and friends citing Google or Wikipedia as their guide to the decision to oppose this legislation. Hey, if dear Google is against it, I should be too, right?

    In my younger days, when a big corporation opposed something, 'we' questioned the motive. Why would anyone oppose such great innovations as DDT or genetically modified seed? DDT kills pests. Genetically modified seeds produce crops that are drought tolerant. These are good things. Right?

    We questioned that stuff and looked deeper. That doesn't seem to be the case today. Google opposes this intrusion on our freedoms so we should too.

    When I asked those who put up cute animated gifs and black boxes supposedly representing the dark hand of censorship coming to take my internet away, about the bill numbers or where I could find the actual bill's text, not one could answer me. When I located the bills on both the House and Senate websites, I posted the links to the respective text. Only a couple of people read the bills, the rest said they weren't going to read through all that ....   Various terms were used to describe what took me all of 10 minutes to read.

    I personally did not find the bills all that scary. What is scary, very scary, is the lack of depth of thinking that is too pervasive in this country. No wonder we are deeply divided. If we follow what our red or blue team spokespeople or organizations tell us to believe, without question, we will never come together with solutions on anything. We can't even talk across lines without being ostracized by our 'teams'. A conservative simply cannot support gay marriage! The very idea goes against God Himself! A liberal cannot see even a modicum of reason in why conservatives oppose Obama Care's mandatory participation provision.

    Take a side on this issue and stand by your decision. Base your decision on the content of the bills and not what Jesus, Google, or the late Steve Jobs would do.

    SOPA bill number H.R. 3261
    PIPA bill number Senate Bill 968 or S. 968

    I would post the links but not sure that is allowed here. If Google hasn't shut down in protest, you can use it to find the actual text of both bills— unless Congress is closed.

    Do your own thinking.

    Chris Reich

  • Eric Rice

    You can learn more here, if you'd like some responsible analysis from opponents:

    (Rather than going dark, Ars spent the day publishing a series of very good articles analyzing the bills and their implications.)