SOPA Blackout: Craig Newmark on Online Anti-Piracy Bill

[ 0 ] January 18, 2012 |

SOPA protest encourages thousands of Internet sites to go dark as Congress prepares to debate controversial bill to end piracy; CraigsList Founder Craig Newmark offers tips on what you can do to voice your opposition to SOPA

SOPA has taken over the Internet. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) making its way through Congress has caused such an uproar that thousands of Internet sites went dark today in protest of the bill. Wikipedia, Reddit, and Boing Boing are among those sites dark today, along with many grassroots groups, and they are urging people to tell Congress of their opposition to SOPA. Other businesses and sites like and The Electronic Frontier Foundation are posting reasons why they oppose SOPA on their home pages; EFF is calling on websites to black out their logos. Google’s home page also has a big black box covering its logo.

Search “#SOPABlackout” on Twitter and find a host of comments about today’s protest, including:

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SOPA, along with its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), would allow law enforcement and copyright holders to shut down websites, or prevent business with sites outside the United States that host pirated content or traffic counterfeit goods. The bill would allow US law enforcement to force Internet service providers (ISPs) and others to use the Internet domain name system to prevent consumer access to sites outside of the United States selling or trafficking pirated goods.

But SOPA advocates argue that the United States needs more effective tools in halting commerce with rogue Web sites outside of the United States who traffic counterfeit and pirated goods like it’s going out of style. Even those opposing SOPA agree that more needs to be done to combat online piracy, but that this particular bill is not the answer. Some, including the Motion Picture Association of America, are calling today’s blackout “irresponsible.”

“Some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions,” said Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA.

“It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who heads the House Judiciary Committee and SOPA author. “The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.”

But so many have protested certain parts of the bill that members of Congress have slowed movement of the legislation; the Senate is due to consider the bill Jan. 24, while the House Judiciary Committee will debate the bill next month.

Craig Newmark

Looks like the Internet is winning a battle against some really bad potential law,” CraigsList Founder Craig Newmark wrote on, which is black today. “To me, ‘the Internet’ means the people who use it; the systems, not so important.’ Although SOPA and PIPA are supposed to address real problems, Newmark continued, “in practice, [they] are means by which bad actors (with lots of money and lawyers) can take sites down.”

Related: How Craig Newmark Connects Non-Profits

Newmark offers 3 ways to find out more about SOPA and what you can do to voice your opposition:

“And please think about how you, as part of the Internet, can contribute to the common good, and think about how that can become part of what you do every day,” he added.

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