SOPA: We win round 1

T.A. Barnhart

SOPA: We win round 1

A few basic tenets:

1, The internet, like the airwaves (and the air, and the water, and the ground we all live upon), is a public good. We the people own it, not corporations. We the people lease this resource to them, not so they can get freaking rich but so that we can all use this resource productively.

2, Wealth is not a magic key to a Special Internet. Corporations have no special rights over individual citizens. Their desire to make vast profits by selling services gives them no more right to the net than my desire to use it to blog about, for example, SOPA.

3, We're going to be fighting about this for a very long time.

Those of us who support an internet that serves all and who oppose censorship efforts that have nothing to do with the legit goal of stopping online theft (including pirating the works of individuals and businesses) have won this first round. SOPA and PIPA as originally proposed are dead. The White House said Nyet and the bills have been pulled. Yay. This shows the effectiveness of grassroots activism united with those in positions of clout (especially when the campaign to persuade the President is one based on the issues, not with calling him names or accusing him of being a sellout).

But this is just Round 1. I am sure those who want to privatize the internet and stifle free speech are already at work trying to figure out how to craft a bill that has a better chance of getting through. While we can probably count on Sen Ron Wyden to not get fooled and, if necessary, threaten a filibuster, that's a reactive approach we cannot afford. We have to take this issue on in a positive way. I'm hoping others will inform us about what's going on in that regard; I admit to being ill-informed on this matter. But I don't like playing defense all the time. My 49ers have a great defense, but they beat the Saints by showing offensive brilliance — and incredible toughness.

That's got to be us. Our defensive measures that have led to Blackout Day have done the initial job of stopping SOPA and PIPA for now. But we need to find ways to ensure our right to an open, accessible internet is guaranteed. If the net is to be a tool that all of us can use to learn, to earn and to have a richer life, than we have to enshrine the right of "we the people" to own and control that tool. Not the corporations, not the anti-freedom censors, not the religionists. I look forward to learning what can be done in this regard and becoming more involved in those efforts.

Blackouts get attention, for a day, but the greater danger is not that we'll suddenly have our internet taken away by the passage of a single bill. The danger we should really fear is that the internet will be slowly greyed out, step by tiny step, until one day we wake to find ourselves in darkness.

Comments

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    The president has announced his opposition, but no, the bills have not been pulled - and SOPA and PIPA are not dead.

    The big tech companies and social media sites don’t think SOPA is dead. Lamar Smith, the bill’s architect, sure doesn’t think that SOPA is dead. Far from killing the bill, the president’s statement simply brought it to a temporary halt. For opponents of the legislation this is a victory, but not a total victory.

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      i heard otherwise. major retooling is happening.

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        Do not underestimate the resolve of the monopolists. They've already convinced the Supreme Court than the 1st Amendment on its face includes intellectual property protections and that copyright terms that cover almost two lifetimes are Constitutional and in the public interest. They are fighting an ideological war. They really see culture as property.

        I'm using my SOPA blackout day to reread Larry Lessig's "Free Culture". I also recommend James Boyle's "The Public Domain."

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        Wishful thinking earlier today on the part of tech geeks who don't understand Congress - just because a "sponsor" of the bill flips, doesn't mean a bill is dead.

        As Senator Wyden notes in his open letter, SOPA is still scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday.

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