The internet strike may have worked

The Wikipedia blackout and other protests on the internet to the SOPA bill may have done some good.   Congressmen, including former sponsors in the House and the Senate, are now running away from the bill.  President Obama has also come out against the bill as it stands, provoking Hollywood moguls to threaten to withdraw their financial support of his campaign.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Dr. Veith, the way your post is worded, it sounds like the White House was last in line to oppose the bill. The actual order of events was as folllows.

    From Huff Post Politics (emphases and comments added):

    The White House released a statement on the anti-piracy bills on Jan. 14 [four days before the blackout] that, while calling for some kind of legislation to be passed, echoed critics of the bills supported by Dodd and the movie industry … Close to two dozen lawmakers, mostly Republicans, responded to the campaign [Jan. 18] by announcing that they were switching their position to oppose the legislation as currently drafted.

  • Tom Hering

    Dr. Veith, the way your post is worded, it sounds like the White House was last in line to oppose the bill. The actual order of events was as folllows.

    From Huff Post Politics (emphases and comments added):

    The White House released a statement on the anti-piracy bills on Jan. 14 [four days before the blackout] that, while calling for some kind of legislation to be passed, echoed critics of the bills supported by Dodd and the movie industry … Close to two dozen lawmakers, mostly Republicans, responded to the campaign [Jan. 18] by announcing that they were switching their position to oppose the legislation as currently drafted.

  • Kirk

    My question is: does this constitute regular people standing up to major corporations and the uncomfortably closer relationship the big business and politicians share? Or is this a case of one industry more successfully exploiting said relationship than another?

  • Kirk

    My question is: does this constitute regular people standing up to major corporations and the uncomfortably closer relationship the big business and politicians share? Or is this a case of one industry more successfully exploiting said relationship than another?

  • Tom Hering

    An industry with its own special forces unit.

    From Post Tech:

    In retaliation for the [Megaupload] shutdown, members of the loose hacking collective Anonymous targeted several Web sites including the Justice Department, Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with denial-of-service attacks. The group also vowed to target lawmakers who have expressed their support for the Stop Online Piracy Act.

    Ah, Anonymous. Just average guys fighting for the freedom of other average guys:

    http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/19/megaupload-indictment/

  • Tom Hering

    An industry with its own special forces unit.

    From Post Tech:

    In retaliation for the [Megaupload] shutdown, members of the loose hacking collective Anonymous targeted several Web sites including the Justice Department, Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with denial-of-service attacks. The group also vowed to target lawmakers who have expressed their support for the Stop Online Piracy Act.

    Ah, Anonymous. Just average guys fighting for the freedom of other average guys:

    http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/19/megaupload-indictment/

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: Does it matter? The bill was/is an horrific idea.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: Does it matter? The bill was/is an horrific idea.

  • Kirk

    @4 Yeah, I totally agree. Still, I’m looking for a greater moral victory.

  • Kirk

    @4 Yeah, I totally agree. Still, I’m looking for a greater moral victory.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: It’s a valid question. For example, I know that Google is opposed to the bill, and I trust Google’s slogan about as far as I can virtually throw it.

    But a lot of the sites more publicly opposing the bill–Reddit, imgur, Wikipedia, even my university’s student newspaper website, etc.–could hardly be described as corporate elites, and their opposition strikes me as more organic and populist. After all, they’re the ones who would likely suffer. If I were to take a copyrighted photo (say an AP photo from a news article), alter it, um, humorously, and post it to Reddit in hopes of starting a meme, Reddit itself could be shut down virtually unilaterally for “illegally” hosting copyrighted material, according to the language of the bill. No more fun interwebs.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: It’s a valid question. For example, I know that Google is opposed to the bill, and I trust Google’s slogan about as far as I can virtually throw it.

    But a lot of the sites more publicly opposing the bill–Reddit, imgur, Wikipedia, even my university’s student newspaper website, etc.–could hardly be described as corporate elites, and their opposition strikes me as more organic and populist. After all, they’re the ones who would likely suffer. If I were to take a copyrighted photo (say an AP photo from a news article), alter it, um, humorously, and post it to Reddit in hopes of starting a meme, Reddit itself could be shut down virtually unilaterally for “illegally” hosting copyrighted material, according to the language of the bill. No more fun interwebs.

  • Tom Hering

    @ 4: it matters to me. But only because I’ve grown exceedingly tired of the self-canonization practiced by internet leaders. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    @ 4: it matters to me. But only because I’ve grown exceedingly tired of the self-canonization practiced by internet leaders. :-D

  • Kirk

    @6 Yes, this is true. But my question is whether congress is killing SOPA because they got a lot of phone calls from constituents due to a grass roots effort on the part of the sites you mentioned, or if because Google threw some money around on the Hill.

    And it’s officially been tabled: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57362783-17/sopa-halted-in-house/?tag=mncol;topStories

  • Kirk

    @6 Yes, this is true. But my question is whether congress is killing SOPA because they got a lot of phone calls from constituents due to a grass roots effort on the part of the sites you mentioned, or if because Google threw some money around on the Hill.

    And it’s officially been tabled: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57362783-17/sopa-halted-in-house/?tag=mncol;topStories

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: Again, a valid question. How can we know? I ask that non-rhetorically. Is there a way to “follow the money,” assuming there’s money to follow?

    Tom@7: Ok, but what’s the “end game” for you? Would you change your mind and support the bill if you found out that its most effective opponents were these “self-canonized internet leaders” (whoever they are)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk: Again, a valid question. How can we know? I ask that non-rhetorically. Is there a way to “follow the money,” assuming there’s money to follow?

    Tom@7: Ok, but what’s the “end game” for you? Would you change your mind and support the bill if you found out that its most effective opponents were these “self-canonized internet leaders” (whoever they are)?

  • Kirk

    Actually, funny we should be talking about this. I asked my friend on the hill who deals with communications issues for a certain senator and he says that grass roots efforts killed SOPA. These were, of course, facilitated by Google and Google lobbied hard in a traditional sense, but it was ultimately the citizen response.

  • Kirk

    Actually, funny we should be talking about this. I asked my friend on the hill who deals with communications issues for a certain senator and he says that grass roots efforts killed SOPA. These were, of course, facilitated by Google and Google lobbied hard in a traditional sense, but it was ultimately the citizen response.

  • Cincinnatus

    Potential proof that we little people can still make the beast pause every now and again.

  • Cincinnatus

    Potential proof that we little people can still make the beast pause every now and again.

  • Tom Hering

    @ 9, the end game for me is finding a way to protect the financial rewards that the creators of original works have earned, without destroying truly fair use on the internet.

    I’m thankful each morning I’m not the one tasked with figuring it out.

  • Tom Hering

    @ 9, the end game for me is finding a way to protect the financial rewards that the creators of original works have earned, without destroying truly fair use on the internet.

    I’m thankful each morning I’m not the one tasked with figuring it out.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus said (@11):

    Potential proof that we little people can still make the beast pause every now and again.

    Or, slightly more accurately, the entities that entertain/inform we little people can have that kind of influence, provided that they threaten to withhold said infotainment and can frame the issue in ten words or fewer, as well as giving us a near-push-button solution with which to contact said beast.

    I mean, you know all that — I hardly expect to improve upon your cynicism — but I’m just fleshing out your statement.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus said (@11):

    Potential proof that we little people can still make the beast pause every now and again.

    Or, slightly more accurately, the entities that entertain/inform we little people can have that kind of influence, provided that they threaten to withhold said infotainment and can frame the issue in ten words or fewer, as well as giving us a near-push-button solution with which to contact said beast.

    I mean, you know all that — I hardly expect to improve upon your cynicism — but I’m just fleshing out your statement.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom, you mentioned (@12):

    finding a way to protect the financial rewards that the creators of original works have earned

    I guess my question is: are those financial rewards truly in need of novel forms of protection? Have creators suddenly lost the ability to make a living from their works since the dawn of the Internet? What, exactly, do you have in mind here?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom, you mentioned (@12):

    finding a way to protect the financial rewards that the creators of original works have earned

    I guess my question is: are those financial rewards truly in need of novel forms of protection? Have creators suddenly lost the ability to make a living from their works since the dawn of the Internet? What, exactly, do you have in mind here?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom,

    I second tODD’s questions. Those who stand to “suffer” from piracy are record labels and, in general, corporate conglomerates. The internet and its vast sharing capabilities are a tremendous boon for artists (in many media) who would like to share–and profit from–their creations without the parasitic intervention of a label, promoter, manager, etc.

    Is “illegally” downloading music equivalent to “stealing” something? In my opinion, no. At most, it is only stealing by a legal technicality. But even if you do believe it to be theft and even if you do believe that online piracy is a genuine threat to artists and their vocations, SOPA isn’t the way to ameliorate this threat.

    In other words, no need to be coy here. You’re either for SOPA or against it. SOPA’s allies tried to make the question this: “You’re either for online piracy or you’re against it.” But, as in so many other things political, the issue was framed improperly and hyperbolically (remember? “You’re either with us or against us,” “You’re either for terrorism or against it”—aaand thus we have the PATRIOT Act). You can be opposed to piracy or in support of intellectual copyrights without being a fanboy for SOPA, which, let me remind you, is a sloppily written cession of tremendous power to big government and big business.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom,

    I second tODD’s questions. Those who stand to “suffer” from piracy are record labels and, in general, corporate conglomerates. The internet and its vast sharing capabilities are a tremendous boon for artists (in many media) who would like to share–and profit from–their creations without the parasitic intervention of a label, promoter, manager, etc.

    Is “illegally” downloading music equivalent to “stealing” something? In my opinion, no. At most, it is only stealing by a legal technicality. But even if you do believe it to be theft and even if you do believe that online piracy is a genuine threat to artists and their vocations, SOPA isn’t the way to ameliorate this threat.

    In other words, no need to be coy here. You’re either for SOPA or against it. SOPA’s allies tried to make the question this: “You’re either for online piracy or you’re against it.” But, as in so many other things political, the issue was framed improperly and hyperbolically (remember? “You’re either with us or against us,” “You’re either for terrorism or against it”—aaand thus we have the PATRIOT Act). You can be opposed to piracy or in support of intellectual copyrights without being a fanboy for SOPA, which, let me remind you, is a sloppily written cession of tremendous power to big government and big business.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    SOPA and PIPA -both ‘slow slide’ –govt tyranny —
    There-I said it!
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    SOPA and PIPA -both ‘slow slide’ –govt tyranny —
    There-I said it!
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    btw-never thought I would applaud such as ‘Anonymous’-

    to shut down the DoJ (Dept of Justice) site–great in and of itself!
    much less the other sites-shut down-

    don’t want the govt to be able to shut down free speech!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    btw-never thought I would applaud such as ‘Anonymous’-

    to shut down the DoJ (Dept of Justice) site–great in and of itself!
    much less the other sites-shut down-

    don’t want the govt to be able to shut down free speech!
    C-CS

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, “C-CS” (@17), you support illegal (and, perhaps more to the point, potentially harmful) activities? Just because they agree with your goals when they’re applied to groups you don’t like? That’s some moral code you’ve got there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, “C-CS” (@17), you support illegal (and, perhaps more to the point, potentially harmful) activities? Just because they agree with your goals when they’re applied to groups you don’t like? That’s some moral code you’ve got there.

  • http://simdan.com SimDan

    One thing I am noticing is completely absent from both this and the previous comment thread is that the laws would completely fail to affect piracy. The Internet was built to be resistant to attacks and most big online pirates are very well versed in how the Internet works.

    The technology for those in the know to circumvent these laws have been in existance for years. The only users who will be affected by this law are those who are not computer geeks.

    The only way to stop online piracy is to shut down the Internet entirely.

  • http://simdan.com SimDan

    One thing I am noticing is completely absent from both this and the previous comment thread is that the laws would completely fail to affect piracy. The Internet was built to be resistant to attacks and most big online pirates are very well versed in how the Internet works.

    The technology for those in the know to circumvent these laws have been in existance for years. The only users who will be affected by this law are those who are not computer geeks.

    The only way to stop online piracy is to shut down the Internet entirely.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@18:

    There’s a profound difference between “illegal” and “immoral.” Of course, maybe I can only say that because I’m not Luther-an. There are many cases when morality requires illegality.

    Is this one of those cases? Eh, I’ll cop out on that one except to say that I have no particular problem with what the dregs of 4chan managed to accomplish this time. There are a lot of scruples I am willing to bracket if the bureaucracy suffers as a result.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@18:

    There’s a profound difference between “illegal” and “immoral.” Of course, maybe I can only say that because I’m not Luther-an. There are many cases when morality requires illegality.

    Is this one of those cases? Eh, I’ll cop out on that one except to say that I have no particular problem with what the dregs of 4chan managed to accomplish this time. There are a lot of scruples I am willing to bracket if the bureaucracy suffers as a result.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@20) said:

    There’s a profound difference between “illegal” and “immoral.”

    Indeed. Which is why I took care to mention (@18) “illegal (and, perhaps more to the point, potentially harmful) activities”.

    That said, I’m curious by what standard of morality you would look approvingly on a denial-of-service attack like the ones Anonymous routinely doles out. Especially one against the Department of Justice website. What higher purpose was being served, exactly, by that action? Was this just a case of Anonymous’ following the scriptural dictum of “we must obey God rather than men” — is that it?

    Because, frankly, I’m more than a little bit shocked that you would attempt to defend Anonymous’ actions from a moral standpoint.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@20) said:

    There’s a profound difference between “illegal” and “immoral.”

    Indeed. Which is why I took care to mention (@18) “illegal (and, perhaps more to the point, potentially harmful) activities”.

    That said, I’m curious by what standard of morality you would look approvingly on a denial-of-service attack like the ones Anonymous routinely doles out. Especially one against the Department of Justice website. What higher purpose was being served, exactly, by that action? Was this just a case of Anonymous’ following the scriptural dictum of “we must obey God rather than men” — is that it?

    Because, frankly, I’m more than a little bit shocked that you would attempt to defend Anonymous’ actions from a moral standpoint.

  • formerly just steve

    Cincinnatus, #20, I’m sorry to hear that. You’re not alone in your sentiments, by a long shot, and I’m disheartened by that too. We know nothing of these basement-dwellers except that, a) they’re very bright, b) they are willing to do some illegal and pretty damaging things, and c) they did something against the “man” that is very popular in this case. But you know what? These three things can be said of Chinese hackers (with the exception of popularity). Yet nobody would champion the Chinese for bringing down the DoJ website, would they? You basically know no more about the group called anonymous than an anonymous Chinese hacker. Well, actually you know a bit more about the Chinese hackers. You know their loyalties side with China. You know nothing about the loyalties of anonymous.

  • formerly just steve

    Cincinnatus, #20, I’m sorry to hear that. You’re not alone in your sentiments, by a long shot, and I’m disheartened by that too. We know nothing of these basement-dwellers except that, a) they’re very bright, b) they are willing to do some illegal and pretty damaging things, and c) they did something against the “man” that is very popular in this case. But you know what? These three things can be said of Chinese hackers (with the exception of popularity). Yet nobody would champion the Chinese for bringing down the DoJ website, would they? You basically know no more about the group called anonymous than an anonymous Chinese hacker. Well, actually you know a bit more about the Chinese hackers. You know their loyalties side with China. You know nothing about the loyalties of anonymous.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@21:

    I don’t categorically defend “Anonymous” or their hacks. In fact, I strongly disapprove of their hacks of Mastercard and other private entities for no apparent reason. But I’m rather ambivalent, at best, regarding their attack on the DOJ. The DOJ has been an instrument of tyranny since its founding, so I couldn’t possibly care less about what happens to their public propaganda website. Were they doing “God’s work”? I wouldn’t go so far. Like I said, I’m not defending them from a “moral standpoint.” Put more properly, I simply don’t find what they did to be clearly immoral. How was that attack even “harmful”? The FBI couldn’t check for open job positions back in DC while stalking more harmless white civilians? Internet browsers couldn’t read the latest news releases from Eric Holder’s office? Illegal? Yes. Immoral and/or harmful? Eh. Maybe I just don’t care enough when the “victim” is a massive, faceless bureaucracy.

    formerly just steve@22:

    Sorry to hear what? I know quite a bit about these basement-dwellers, actually, aside from their specific identities of course. (I probably should be embarrassed about that. 4CHAN? I’VE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A WEBSITE!!1) And I do know their loyalties; i.e., I know that they have no loyalties at all except to amusement or, on more philosophical days, a rather thin notion of anarcho-libertarianism (which is the sort of paradigm the internet embodies anyway). I have no interest in “championing” them. But I also have no particular interest in demagoguing the issue, as have the media in general, who have exalted Anonymous as some sort of massive collective of hyper-intelligent cyberterrorists. They’re not. It doesn’t take much skill to bring down a commercial website like Mastercard or the DOJ’s frontpage for a few hours. In fact, if you and I and a few thousand of our friends (give or take) simply browsed to that website at the same moment, we could do it right now by overloading their servers–no programming skills needed, and it’s not even illegal. Anonymous has done this a few times; apparently this constitutes “hacking” in the popular, media-fueled imagination.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@21:

    I don’t categorically defend “Anonymous” or their hacks. In fact, I strongly disapprove of their hacks of Mastercard and other private entities for no apparent reason. But I’m rather ambivalent, at best, regarding their attack on the DOJ. The DOJ has been an instrument of tyranny since its founding, so I couldn’t possibly care less about what happens to their public propaganda website. Were they doing “God’s work”? I wouldn’t go so far. Like I said, I’m not defending them from a “moral standpoint.” Put more properly, I simply don’t find what they did to be clearly immoral. How was that attack even “harmful”? The FBI couldn’t check for open job positions back in DC while stalking more harmless white civilians? Internet browsers couldn’t read the latest news releases from Eric Holder’s office? Illegal? Yes. Immoral and/or harmful? Eh. Maybe I just don’t care enough when the “victim” is a massive, faceless bureaucracy.

    formerly just steve@22:

    Sorry to hear what? I know quite a bit about these basement-dwellers, actually, aside from their specific identities of course. (I probably should be embarrassed about that. 4CHAN? I’VE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A WEBSITE!!1) And I do know their loyalties; i.e., I know that they have no loyalties at all except to amusement or, on more philosophical days, a rather thin notion of anarcho-libertarianism (which is the sort of paradigm the internet embodies anyway). I have no interest in “championing” them. But I also have no particular interest in demagoguing the issue, as have the media in general, who have exalted Anonymous as some sort of massive collective of hyper-intelligent cyberterrorists. They’re not. It doesn’t take much skill to bring down a commercial website like Mastercard or the DOJ’s frontpage for a few hours. In fact, if you and I and a few thousand of our friends (give or take) simply browsed to that website at the same moment, we could do it right now by overloading their servers–no programming skills needed, and it’s not even illegal. Anonymous has done this a few times; apparently this constitutes “hacking” in the popular, media-fueled imagination.

  • Tom Hering

    “… while stalking more harmless white civilians …” – @ 23.

    Interesting statement, Cincinnatus. Care to expand on it?

  • Tom Hering

    “… while stalking more harmless white civilians …” – @ 23.

    Interesting statement, Cincinnatus. Care to expand on it?


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