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SOPA Blackout Has an Effect, May Not Be Totally Over

SOPA Blackout Has an Effect, May Not Be Totally Over
January 19, 2012 2:08PM

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Analyst Greg Sterling sees many ways to characterize what's happening with the SOPA blackout. "One is to see it as a clash of 'old' versus 'new' media. Another is to see it as a popular revolt against top-down control of the Internet," he said of the SOPA protests. "Regardless, powerful Internet brands were able to mobilize the public" against SOPA.

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The SOPA blackout had an effect. Four of the co-sponsors of SOPA's Senate version, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA, have withdrawn their support after thousands of people contacted their offices in response to popular Internet sites going dark for 24 hours.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Roy Blunt , R-Mo., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and John Boozman, R-Ark., withdrew their support.

The House's Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate's PIPA are still spawning controversy the day after the blackout, which saw the likes of Wikipedia, Reddit, Wordpress and Mozilla shut down at least in part, as well as Google and Facebook join in the protest.

There could be more blackouts in the future if the legislation doesn't change course.

"More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers," Wikipedia said on its Web site. "Your voice was loud and strong. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet."

Protecting the Internet

Wikipedia said it's not about money -- it's about knowledge. Wikipedia's mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity. Then Wikipedia warned:

"SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows. What's happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary. The Internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you've directed your energy to protecting it," the statement said. "We're turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly."

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg also got into the mix. He called the Internet the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world.

As he sees it, we can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet's development. He made it clear that Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and that he will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the Internet.

"The world today needs political leaders who are pro-Internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals," Zuckerberg said. "I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-Internet."

Son of SOPA?

Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, sees many ways to characterize what's happening with the SOPA blackout.

"One is to see it as a clash of 'old' versus 'new' media. Another is to see it as a popular revolt against top-down control of the Internet," Sterling said. "Regardless, powerful Internet brands were able to mobilize the public and beat back a deal struck between lobbyists and Congress."

As Sterling sees it, Congress was frankly blindsided by the response. However, he noted, both SOPA and PIPA were too broad. Nobody condones piracy, he said, but there is a more balanced approach.

"That's what will now be under discussion as the movie industry and others try and regroup and refine or reintroduce this legislation. SOPA as it stands is dead," Sterling said. "But get ready for what might be called 'son of SOPA,' the sequel."

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