SOPA and PIPA lost 3 co-sponsors this afternoon, presumably in response to the blackout protests by many prominent internet sites such as Reddit and Wikipedia. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) withdrew his co-sponsorship of PIPA while Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Ben Quayle (R-AZ) did the same for SOPA in the House. To explain why he withdrew his support, Sen. Rubio states on his Facebook page that while he maintains a “strong interest in stopping online piracy that cost Florida jobs,” that we “must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.” His statement came in response to overwhelming feedback he received from his Floridian constituents, and further goes on to encourage his colleague Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to stop from rushing this bill to the Senate floor.
While not outright dropping support, other politicians like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) also wrote on his Facebook page that Congress needs to slow down, citing that it’s more important to do this right than to do this quickly.
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) also had their say – they claim that the web blackout is nothing more than a political stunt by technology businesses. Speaking from what I can only guess is a platform of an ego over-inflated with our money and ticket stubs, here’s what MPAA CEO Chris Dodd had to say to USA Today:
“Some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem.” Further, “A so-called blackout is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently.”
Well allow me to retort.
Here’s the thing, Mr. Dodd. We support the blackout. We know better, and we support decisions and provisions that protect the rights of our citizens. My profession is Information Technology and as such I’m a heavy internet user, and I don’t feel punished by the blackouts in the least. I admire what these sites have done. And when you speak about an unwillingness to come to the table to discuss options, please don’t do it without mentioning that the MPAA had the luxury of being consulted before SOPA went to a markup session in House Judiciary Committee. Curiously absent were technical experts from around the country. Fathers of internet technology like Vint Cerf had to make their opinions known with help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in an open letter on the web. You see, unfortunately for them, and us, they don’t have a lobby powerful enough to warrant an invitation to the table as the MPAA had.
While the interests of the MPAA and similar organizations can be secured with money and a powerful lobby, the rest of us use the tools we have at our disposal: knowledge and numbers. And as for punishment of elected officials? You’re absolutely right. They work for us. For democracy to work, or a democratic republic as it were, the onus is not only on the politicians, but on the peopleto make their voices heard, so that those who represent us can, in fact represent us. This is the internet age Mr. Dodd, and the American nerd will be the single strongest force in determining this world’s digital and technological future.
You want to stop piracy? Fine. I’m not arguing with you. But there’s other ways of doing it than firing a missile into a village just to get one man. What’s required is a surgical strike. But naturally you and your colleagues would want SOPA and PIPA to go through in their broadest forms. You wouldn’t mind a void where a host of user generated content used to be, so the exclusive source of what you shamefully call entertainment is in your hands and your hands alone. Who cares if it stunts American innovation and creativity? Who cares if this will cause ripples throughout the entire world? Who cares if entire domains are blacklisted for the crimes of a few? You’d get yours, and that’s all you care about.
I absolutely cannot wait for the children of the Internet Age to run the show.
Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu brown belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.