On Wednesday, Internet users came together to denounce two bills making their way through the American legislature: the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, also known as SOPA and PIPA. Many took directly to the streets, but the overwhelming majority expressed their opposition by spreading information about the issue on online social networks, signing petitions, writing emails to congress, calling their representatives’ offices (incredibly retro for some), and of course, tweeting about it.
Among the biggest organizers of the widespread protests were Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, and Reddit. These organizations have a lot to lose if the bills become laws. The regulatory measures being considered threaten to hold these institutions, already profoundly entrenched in people’s everyday lives and heavily dependent on user-generated content for their business, legally accountable for the copyright infringes of their millions (soon to be billions) of users.
The extent of the opposition demonstrated yesterday even caused two Republican senators to withdraw their support for the bills: Senator Marco Rubio, from Florida, and Senator John Cornyn, from Texas, no longer back the bills. President Obama expressed his non-support Saturday.
Speaking to the New York Times, Cary H. Sherman, the chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America delivered a quip telling of the uphill battle currently faced by the entertainment industry: “It’s very difficult to counter the misinformation when the disseminators also own the platform.”