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Why My Website Went Dark Yesterday

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Thursday January 19, 2012
The Toronto Star runs a special op-ed in which I discuss why I turned my site dark for 12 hours yesterday. The article (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reiterates how SOPA could be applied in Canada and emphasizes that if the U.S. passes the legislation, it is very likely to pressure other countries to do the same:

the U.S. intellectual property strategy has long been premised on exporting its rules to other countries, including Canada. The same forces that have lobbied for SOPA and PIPA in the U.S. are the primary lobbyists behind the digital lock provisions in Bill C-11 and the recent submission to the U.S. government arguing that Canada should not be admitted to the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations until it complies with U.S. copyright demands.

SOPA virtually guarantees that this will continue. Not only is it likely that the U.S. will begin to incorporate SOPA-like provisions into its IP demands, but SOPA makes it a matter of U.S. law to ensure that intellectual property protection is a significant component of U.S. foreign policy and grants more resources to U.S. embassies around the world to increase their involvement in foreign legal reform.
Comments (20)add comment

Mel said:

Working protest
That was the most boring Wednesday afternoon I've spent. Couldn't research, couldn't check facts.

If the general public felt the same, and if they figure out where to put the blame, the dark web protest maybe worked. Today's news picks on Groklaw indicate that it did.
January 19, 2012

Allen said:

Absolutely worked
Senators and congressman were dropping their support left and right. Good job, internet!
January 19, 2012

Crockett said:

...
Nice to see some 'by the people, for the people'
January 19, 2012

Chris Brand said:

Hopefully...
US politicians at least now know that the Internet is as sacred as TV - "whatever you do, don't break the Internet". We'll see...
January 19, 2012

Crockett said:

Don't take this as fight over ...
While the message on SOPA/PIPA got out yesterday about the real (yes real) dangers of too much control over information access by a few, one must not fall into complacency.

One should also be aware that as the push back continues it does not just sweep it all into the arms of another gatekeeper. Google, Facebook or Wikipedia may be the new faces but human nature, being what it is, are likely susceptible to the same urges that drove big content into their current legislative survivalism.

Some see the 'collective' voice of the internet yesterday as the babble of lemmings. Sure, there are those who will follow the cause of the day, but as the seriousness of what was going on below the currents surfaced I think there was generated genuine concern and realization of the issues. Contrary to some people's world view, I think more information, discussions and diverging opinions on an important issue such as this is a good thing, and we certainly had people talking about it least.

Be sure that interested parties on both side of the debate will continue to push for their positions, it is up to us to see that it remains in view.
January 19, 2012

end user said:

...
SOPA was just a fall guy so they can pass PIPA. Don't kid yourself, with the amount of money involved in political donations politicians can afford to lose their elected job. They'll just get a cushy CEO job from the media companies.

People only stood up when they found out it was going to affect their facebook, gmail or youtube experience other wise they wouldn't have paid any attention to it.
January 19, 2012

Jack Robinson said:

Corporate Control of Web Content usage will make us all 'Criminals'
While I'm now spending as little time on the increasingly toxic, crap-clogged Net as my own essential needs for information, communication and inclinations towards social and political activism dictate... I dutifully partcipate in Open Media on-line initiatives, post gnarly guy commentary to mainstream media such as the Star and Ottawa Citizen and regale friends and acquaintances to yank their heads outta their ego-bloated Facebook Twit data-mined butts long enough to consider the Big Macro: Corporate lobbied legislation that controls, stifles or has the uber scary potential to criminalize any organization, group or individual citizen for the 'unauthorized usage' of published content, regardless of it's authorship... will ultimately make us all Enemies of the dystopia on-our-doorsteps State.
January 19, 2012

Baloo said:

Why do they need SOPA/PIP When they can shut down Megaupload with the current rules?
The Megaupload site was shut down on January 19, 2012, during an investigation into alleged copyright infringement.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16642369
January 19, 2012

Concerned Citizen said:

...
By the uninformed mob, for the uninformed mob.
January 19, 2012

end user said:

...
>http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16642369

>Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue.

So I have a new business model. I'll set up a retail store with some fancy window displays. Then I'll charge everyone who walks by and looks at them with stealing as them looking at the items and not buying them has cost me $$$$$ in revenue.
January 19, 2012

oldguy said:

@Concerned Citizen

..."By the uninformed mob, for the uninformed mob."

Keeping the "mob" uninformed while lobbying our elected officials, is the hardest task of the lobbyist.
The blackout protest is/was an attempt to raise awareness and inform that "mob". In that respect, it was a resounding success.

The phraseology of your comment is very elitist. Elitism is very similar to racism. You may want to review the motivations that caused you to make such a statement, both in sentiment and phraseology.

January 19, 2012

Byte said:

Uninformed mob
The uninformed mob ("digiliterates") is exactly what the problem is; this is by far the largest voting block. This is why the SameOld,SameOld parties get away with what they do. They know that uninformed mob doesn't even know what the Public Domain is (and so they don't care about it).

With the big SOPA protest, the MSM were forced to pay attention to these matters, but expect this on the 2nd or 3rd page of the Business section soon. That's where the copyright term extension news (if not through CETA, then through TPP) will be too.
January 19, 2012

oldguy said:

Khan Academy weighs in on SOPA and PIPA

http://www.khanacademy.org/vid...can+Civics

More and more respected institutions are putting up informational background on SOPA and PIPA. And it's interesting how much attention/hits these sites are getting.
It's becoming a lobbyist's worst nightmare, and the backlash is sure to hurt any politician associated with them. The trust of their constituency is critical to a politician. Even a hint of association with these lobbyist groups will affect that trust. Forget the pocketbook, association with these lobby groups will end up hitting them in the ballot box.

A new form of activism is on the horizon. Activists no longer need to gather in physical groups to awake awareness and inform. Things are going to get interesting.

January 19, 2012

KF said:

...
No corporate entity should ever be given carte blanche to decide what is and isn't on the internet, period.
January 19, 2012

Byte said:

Activism
Concur with oldguy, but only partially. For the largest part, the success of the blackout was due to Wikipedia.org chiming in. What it did, though, is that it has shown that people (activists) no longer feel alone. That with sufficient numbers, they can effect actual change.

For SOPA/PIPA, it was more about maintaining the status quo, at most drawing a line in the sand. But don't forget how many were adding the "in its current form" caveat. Will they cave in if SOPA v1.1 merely requires for instance an East Texas judge to put his signature on a piece of paper?

We haven't really gained anything yet, just not lost more than what little we currently have, and with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) we may be about to lose more than I care to imagine.

January 19, 2012

oldguy said:

@Byte

I see where you are coming from, and you have an excellent point. It's a start, but it doesn't address the fundamental root of the problem. To do something about that will be difficult, if not impossible.
The internet has turned many other institutional structures upside down, it may yet supply a means to address the root problem as well. Lawrence Lessig recently gave a talk about the root of these problems. Although it is very US centric, and it takes more time investment (an hour) than a small "sound bite", it is well worth reviewing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...k1AK56FtVc

The issues you are referring to are simply more symptoms of the fundamental problem. Set in a Canadian framework within an international arena. It doesn't mean we should ignore these symptoms, but it helps if we recognize where they sit in the larger picture.

The corollary to an old saying about doing the same thing and expecting different results, is to do something different. This was something different, and points to other coordinated possibilities. It won't be easy, but it does show it is possible.

I wouldn't be surprised if the blackout response to SOPA/PIPA has an effect on the tone of the negotiations within CETA and TPP. I admit it will take time for that to filter down to the actual negotiator agendas, but hopefully not too late.

January 19, 2012

Crockett said:

...
@Concerned Citizen "By the uninformed mob, for the uninformed mob."

Sometimes the sound of one against the multitude is the spark of light in the dark mundane, more often its just fumes from a Pompous ...
January 20, 2012

Concerned Citizen said:

...
The phraseology of my comment is very elitist?

You don't say.
January 20, 2012

pat donovan said:

meanwhile...
the US supreme court allows the copyrighting of works already in public domain..

orphan works get scrapped and monetized..

pay-per-byte billing is alive yet..

web 3.0 stalks you

thankfully, cheap machines without the new security devices are getting around.

packrat

January 20, 2012

Concerned Subject :D said:

An ode to our favourite troll
A troll is one who purports
To make some sense of sorts
But has nothing to say
And stays anyway
With arguments they cannot support

Hypocrisy can be such a shame
It sullies what was once a good name
Coupled with denial
We all crack a smile
When all they produce is a flame

Of course there is always a way
To find something to say
Watch your p’s and your q’s
For apparently its news
When grammar on blogs doth stray

Which is sadder? Tis’ a hard proclamation
To bar some from their site in frustration
Then to do here the same
Under assumed name
Is it denial or self actualization?
January 21, 2012

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