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Marvin Ammori

As Silicon Valley hones its political agenda, Marvin Ammori has become the go-to First Amendment guy--as evidenced in January, when he helped destroy PIPA and SOPA. His method: "You're only going to win if you have better ideas, better persuasion, and better ability to organize people."

Step 1: Spot a bill's weakness

SOPA and PIPA would have blocked sites that spread pirated, copyrighted material. Ammori thought they were too broad in scope and had friendly lawmakers propose amendments to buy him time to respond.

Step 2: Form a story

Ammori reframed the bills as censorship: Popular sites such as YouTube and Tumblr were at risk. "It's a threat to social media," he said repeatedly on the TV talk-show circuit.

Step 3: Recruit big advocates

Ammori encouraged sites to show users life with censorship; on January 18, Wikipedia, Reddit, and 115,000 sites went dark, affecting 1 billion people and inspiring 10 million signatures and 8 million calls to legislators.

Step 4: Kill the bill

The blackout scared off lawmakers, effectively killing both bills.