SOPA … So?

January 19th, 2012

As you probably know, many major sites went dark yesterday to protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation. (Get the full text of SOPA here. Get the full text of PIPA here.)

Twitter, of course, was all abuzz with SOPA and PIPA. Mashable reported some 2.4 million tweets on the issue. The ones I saw displayed everything from hair-on-fire lunacy (“If #SOPA passes, there’ll be NO YouTube, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook & Tumblr, #SOPAstrike today and End Piracy, Not Liberty!”) to delicious irony (“This is kind of funny, in a predictable way: Author of #SOPA paper uses uncredited stock photo on website“) to things that make you go “hmmmmmm” (“Under #SOPA you could get 5 years in prison for file-sharing a Michael Jackson song. That’s one year more than the doctor who killed him”). Buzzfeed posted a gallery of kids who were angry about being unable to do homework because of Wikipedia being down.

Was the reaction to the proposed legislation overblown? Probably. Nevertheless, the protest had real effect: Republicans have bailed on the legislation. Politico reports that Congress has been “rattled.” As Jeff Jarvis notes: “We are the lobbyists,” which — more so than the specific effects on SOPA and PIPA — may prove to be the more significant outcome of the protest.

If you want to dig deeper into the context and ramifications of SOPA and PIPA and hear an interesting discussion between two intelligent critics of the legislation, one who has been a longtime tech journalist and one who has actually read both bills, check out episode 374 of the No Agenda podcast. Or, at least, check out the links in the show notes to a fistful of interesting articles about the legislation.

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