32. Marvin Ammori

Lawyer of The Ammori Group, How To Kill A Bill On Capitol Hill

32. 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.


  • 1998

    Graduates from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in three years, with honors

  • 2003

    Graduates cum laude from Harvard Law School

  • 2004

    Publishes the first of several academic articles on First Amendment theory; the paper is now assigned in a First Amendment theory course at Harvard Law School

  • 2007

    Serves as head lawyer for Free Press, the U.S.äóÁí_Œçíëíí«Œés largest non-profit advocacy group working on open Internet and media reform issues

  • 2007

    Serves as an advisor to the Obama campaign on technology, media and telecom and advises Obama Presidential Transition Team on FCC Review

  • 2007

    Handles the Comcast-BitTorrent case before the FCC and the DC Circuit federal appeals court

  • 2009

    His filings on competition in online films and TV shows result in the most significant legal conditions imposed by the Department of Justice in the Comcast-NBC merger.

  • 2011

    Leads the coalition that brings down SOPA and PIPA