Remembering the SOPA blackout, five years later

Five years ago, we won an unprecedented victory: spurred on by blackouts of more than 50,000 sites, more than 8 million Americans called Congress to object to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a brutal internet censorship bill that would have been a stake through the heart of the open net. SOPA, which had been tipped to sail through Congress without any fuss, died an unprecedented death. It set a precedent. Read the rest

2016: Once again, piracy was so bad that the movie industry smashed all box office records

As has been the case for many consecutive years, the movie industry beat all box-office records in 2016, earning $11.4B at the US box office (while simultaneously insisting that piracy was destroying the industry and demanding the right to control and redesign the internet to save itself from this existential threat). Read the rest

A madman has been given the keys to the surveillance state

When the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001, it erased many of the vital checks and balances that stood between the American people and their government. As Bush supporters cheered the unprecedented power that their people in Washington now held, the civil liberties world warned them: "Your president has just fashioned a weapon that will be wielded by all who come after him."

The MPAA lobbyist who wrote SOPA will help draft the Democratic Party platform

"Hollywood" Howard Berman, former-Congressman-turned-MPAA-lobbyist is one of the 15-member panel selected by the Democratic Party establishment to draft the party's platform for this summer's convention. Read the rest

Why is Congress so clueless about tech? Because they fired all their experts 20 years ago

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It's been 21 years since the Republican Congress zeroed out the $20M budget of the Office of Technology Assessment, a casualty of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" that deprived Congress of its principal source of technological expertise. Read the rest

Open-source your face and 3D print your own pirate invisaligns

Amos Dudley, a broke undergrad, casted a mold of his teeth using "cheap alginate powder, Permastone, and a 3d printed impression tray," then 3D printed and vacuformed a series of alingment trays for a fraction of what it would have cost to get name-brand invisaligns. Read the rest

Lamar "SOPA" Smith dispatches GOP commissars to National Science Foundation

The Republican Texas Congressjerk maintains a flying squad of political officers who descend upon the NSF to pore through its grant records looking for evidence of ideologically impure science. Read the rest

Aaron Swartz's FBI and Secret Service files

A large and very up-to-date archive of Aaron's government files, extracted through Freedom of Information Act requests. Read the rest

Nate Anderson's "The Internet Police" -- now in paperback

I reviewed it when it was released in August 2013, calling it "brisk, eminently readable, and important history of the relationship between law, law enforcement, and the net, and as you'd expect, it's excellent" ($13 for the paperback) Read the rest

Congressmen ask ad companies to pretend SOPA is law, break anti-trust

A murder of Congresscritters and Senators have told Internet ad-brokers that they expect them to behave as though SOPA passed into law (instead of suffering hideous, total defeat); they want the companies to establish a secret, unaccountable blacklist of "pirate" sites. The group comprises Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch. This isn't just a terrible idea, it's also an obviously illegal antitrust violation, as Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out: Read the rest

Obama whirls the copyright lobbyist/government official revolving door

The Obama administration has a new negotiator in its effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretly negotiated treaty that includes broad powers to censor and surveil the Internet: Robert Holleyman, one of the chief SOPA lobbyists. Holleyman just retired from serving as head of the Business Software Alliance. His successor is Victoria Espinel, who just quit the Obama administration, where she served as "IP Czar." Obama promised to shut down the revolving door between lobbyists and government, but it's spinning quicker than ever. Read the rest

Wikileaks publishes the "Internet Chapter" of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (SOPA's back)

Wikileaks has published the Internet Chapter of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade-deal negotiated between corporate leaders and government reps without any democratic oversight (the US Trade Rep wouldn't share TPP drafts with Congress, and now it is headed for fast-tracking into law). TorrentFreak has parsed out the text, and compares it to SOPA, the brutal US copyright law that collapsed in the face of massive public protest. The treaty is reportedly at a "negotiated stalemate" thanks to the US Trade Rep, who has refused to bend on treaty provisions that other nations objected to. Read the rest

Hacking Politics: name-your-price ebook on the history of the SOPA fight

Hacking Politics is a new book recounting the history of the fight against SOPA, when geeks, hackers and activists turned Washington politics upside-down and changed how Congress thinks about the Internet. It collects essays by many people (including me): Aaron Swartz, Larry Lessig, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Masnick, Kim Dotcom, Nicole Powers, Tiffiny Cheng, Alexis Ohanian, and many others. It's a name-your-price ebook download.

Hacking Politics is a firsthand account of how a ragtag band of activists and technologists overcame a $90 million lobbying machine to defeat the most serious threat to Internet freedom in memory. The book is a revealing look at how Washington works today – and how citizens successfully fought back.

Written by the core Internet figures – video gamers, Tea Partiers, tech titans, lefty activists and ordinary Americans among them – who defeated a pair of special interest bills called SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act”) and PIPA (“Protect IP Act”), Hacking Politics provides the first detailed account of the glorious, grand chaos that led to the demise of that legislation and helped foster an Internet-based network of amateur activists.

Hacking Politics Read the rest

Name-your-price SOPA history

Alan sez, "Demand Progress, part of Aaron Swartz's legacy, has been working for a while on a collection of essays and thoughts by people including Aaron, Lawrence Lessig, Techdirt's Mike Masnick, and Kim Dotcom. The collection is now available in ebook and paperback form. You can even pay in bitcoins, if that's how you roll." Read the rest

Cellphone unlocking is the first step toward post-SOPA copyright reform

Derek Khanna was a Professional Staffer for the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives. Khanna, 24, previously worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and in the office of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).

Lessig's Harvard Law lecture: "Aaron's Law"

Larry Lessig's Harvard Law address, "Aaron's Laws - Law and Justice in a Digital Age" is a riveting, bittersweet talk on the state of Internet law, and law in general, and, always, corruption.

Fall of SOPA explained in 3 minute video

Simon sez, " This is a short motion graphic video concisely documenting the fall of SOPA with great attention to detail, and recognising future bills that may be a threat to online democracy. It is notable for the way in which it highlights SOPA as a great moment in history; a bill that threatened democracy was felled by one the greatest democratic sources in the world -- the internet."

The Fall Of SOPA Read the rest

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