Former Senator Chris Dodd, now head of the MPAA, is pissed at Obama. He's threatened to withhold entertainment lobbyist money from Obama's upcoming re-election war chest over the administration's lack of support for SOPA and PIPA. As an ex-Senator, Dodd is prohibited from directly lobbying Congress for a couple more years, and some insiders tell me he feels that this hamstrung his efforts because he couldn't sit down over lunch with lawmakers who directly owed him personal favors and demand that they stay firm on SOPA and PIPA.
"Candidly, those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake," Dodd told Fox News. "Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake."
EXCLUSIVE: Chris Dodd warns of Hollywood backlash against Obama over anti-piracy bill
(Image: Blackmail - South Congress Avenue, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from swanksalot's photostream)
With PIPA off the legislative calendar and SOPA paused, this tool may seem a bit redundant, but it's a nice piece of advocacy work.
Creator Jonathan Vanasco sez, "I tossed together a mashup over a few hours while
sick on the couch. It uses the data from Propublica and SunlightLabs to create
very-shareable profile pages for every Senator and Representative
that were geared for 'viral': - language is designed to motivate
people to read and share - leverages all the Facebook and Twitter
tools to increase ranking - text and graphics are optimized for
Facebook sharing, educating users about the issue and how much
lobbyist money may be influencing things - automatic twitter
suggestions for tweets with likely-to-share language ie: -
challenge a senator to give back $x in media contributions - notes
if a senator has received more media contributions than 50% of
other senators - asks a senator how much money is needed for them
to represent people, not lobbyists."
Hi. My name is Dianne Feinstein.
James Losey from the New America Foundation sez, "Great news, the PROTECT-IP Senate vote scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed!"
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid [ed: D-NV, Senate Majority Leader] released the following statement today on the Senate’s PROTECT I.P. Act: "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act..."
Reid Statement On Intellectual Property Bill
Writing for Cato At Liberty, Ars Technica alum Julian Sanchez has a timely redux of the research he did on how the made-up piracy numbers quoted during debates about SOPA and PIPA come from, and how little relation they bear to reality. It seems like every discussion of SOPA/PIPA includes a phrase like "Everyone agrees that piracy is huge problem," but in fact, the "huge problem" they're agreeing on has been inflated to farcical proportions through the most transparent financial funny business.
Siwek takes an estimate of $6.1 billion in piracy losses to the U.S. movie industry, and through the magic of multipliers gets us to a more impressive sounding $20.5 billion. That original $6.1 billion figure, by the way, was produced by a study commissioned from LEK Consulting by the Motion Picture Association of America. Since even the GAO was unable to get at the underlying research or evaluate its methodology, it’s impossible to know how reliable that figure is, but given that MPAA has already had to admit significant errors in the numbers LEK generated, I’d take it with a grain of salt.
Believe it or not, though, it’s actually even worse than that. SOPA, recall, does not actually shut down foreign sites. It only requires (ineffective) blocking of foreign “rogue sites” for U.S. Internet users. It doesn’t do anything to prevent users in (say) China from downloading illicit content on a Chinese site. If we’re interested in the magnitude of the piracy harm that SOPA is aimed at addressing, then, the only relevant number is the loss attributable specifically to Internet piracy by U.S. users.
Again, we don’t have the full LEK study, but one of Siwek’s early papers does conveniently reproduce some of LEK’s PowerPoint slides, which attempt to break the data down a bit. Of the total $6.1 billion in annual losses LEK estimated to MPAA studios, the amount attributable to online piracy by users in the United States was $446 million—which, by coincidence, is roughly the amount grossed globally by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
How Copyright Industries Con Congress
(via Making Light)
Here's a great photo of the beaming staff of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, posed with their laptops showing the sites that were blacked out yesterday. Visitors to EFF's site sent over one million emails to Congress yesterday.
Thank You, Internet! And the Fight Continues
Stephen Colbert provides some perspective on the net-wide blackouts yesterday, as well as some alternatives in case the Internet needs to stand up for itself again. Now I've got to find that video of Vader eating cheesy bread...
Joey Sellers sez, "I know you've been covering PIPA-SOPA and wanted to share a large flowcart I just completed on the subject. It brings together a slew of material to get folks new to the subject up to speed and fill in the blanks for those who have been following it."
Super PIPA-SOPA Flowchart
Markos of DailyKos tears into Democrats who lack the fortitude and intellectual honesty to oppose SOPA, and continue to back it because they fear losing the campaign funding that comes from Hollywood. PNH sez, "Markos highlights a couple of paragraphs from a Politico story assessing the landscape following the SOPA/PIPA protests:"
Leo Hindery, a major Democratic donor whose New York media private equity firm owns cable channels, said Obama might have reason to worry about his entertainment industry fundraising base.
“[The bill] is an issue that has no business being decided politically – by anybody on one side or the other – and the fact that it might be becoming a political issue is unfair to the content producers,” said Hindery, who’s contributed more than $3 million to Democratic candidates and groups.
"An issue that has no business being decided politically." I can't recall seeing a purer expression of the idea that certain decisions ought to simply be reserved for whoever shows up with the largest bag of cash. Not that the world is like this, but that it's right and just that it should be like this.
It's very illuminating to hear people like this speak frankly.
Hollywood bought its politicians, and it expects them to stay bought
Writing in Mother Jones, Siddhartha Mahanta and Nick Baumann describe the unprecedented legislative difficulty that the entertainment lobby faces today in Congress. The MPAA was able to win a legislative battle with Wall Street's over "movie futures," but they're losing the fight to pass SOPA and PIPA, and they're losing to people, not lobbyists.
Minds changed. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chair of the powerful House budget committee announced on January 9 that he would oppose the bill (after taking nearly $300,000 from pro-SOPA donors). Ryan's aspiring 2012 opponent, Rob Zerban, had raised tens of thousands of dollars through a Reddit campaign denouncing Ryan's position on the legislation.
Late Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the House bill, announced that he would consider dropping the DNS-blocking provisions from the bill. Late on Friday, Smith, SOPA's sponsor, did Leahy one better, removing the provision altogether. Not long after, six Republican senators—including two co-sponsors—released a letter they wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), asking him to hold off on a January 24th vote to end debate on PIPA and move to passage.
Big Hollywood's Big Copyright Defeat
William Gibson weighs in
on SOPA/PIPA: "I think that SOPA as it stands now, or as it stood before they paused to think about it, is extremely ill thought out, and a basically crazily Draconian piece of legislation."
has come out against SOPA
. He previously had no public position on it.
Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete continues to investigate the copyright shenanigans that SOPA and PIPA's authors get up to (see the saga of how SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) ripped off the photo on the front page of his website).
Now Taete is digging into PIPA supporters, having a quick look at their Twitter profile photos and websites, and yup, the Senators backing PIPA are a bunch of depraved pirates.
This is a screencap of PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt's Twitter page from a couple of days ago. The background image is by photographer Walter Rowland. I spoke to his wife Linny, and she told me:
"Wow, I'm so surprised to see that someone would do this. Especially a senator! It's even more of a violation because I'm actually in the photo so it's as if I'm supporting his beliefs. Yes, that's one of my husband's photos who is actually a semi-professional photographer, and no, they weren't given permission."
Roy has since changed the background on his Twitter in an attempt to cover his tracks.
Other offenders: Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (who ineptly swapped out her infringing Twitter profile image for another infringing image -- nice one!); Dennis Ross (R-FL) (technically a SOPA supporter, as he's in the House), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
PIPA Supporters Violate Copyright Laws, Too
Writing in the Guardian, Dan Gillmor argues that SOPA and PIPA aren't foolishly extreme because their proponents don't understand the net; rather, they are extreme because their proponents understand that the net breaks the monopoly of the powerful over communications and organizing.
So, why do they make unsupportable statements?
Because they don't dare make an honest argument. If they were saying what they believe, it would go roughly this way:
"The internet threatens our longstanding control of information and communications, and that is simply unacceptable. Therefore, it is essential to curb the utility of the internet for everyone else."
Stop Sopa or the web really will go dark
As Xeni wrote on Tuesday, the MPAA isn't pleased about sites like this one going dark to protest SOPA and PIPA. Former Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America called it "an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."
Well, he should know.
After all, he is the CEO of the organization responsible for inserting those unskippable FBI warnings (which are highly prejudiced and factually incorrect, advising, for example, that DVDs can't be rented, even though the law says they can) before every commercial DVD. He's the CEO of the organization that inserts those insulting PSAs in front of every movie chiding those of us who buy our DVDs because someone else decided to download the same movie for free.
And he's the CEO of the organization responsible for the section of the DMCA that makes it illegal to build a DVD player that can skip these mandatory, partisan, commercially advantageous messages.
So he knows a thing or two about "abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."
(Image: Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick)
The globally praised Khan Academy comes out against SOPA and PIPA in this explainer video, which does a really excellent job of digging into the implications for legitimate sites (like Khan Academy) in a world where SOPA/PIPA become law. This is a great explanation of what SOPA and PIPA means for people trying to communicate with a broader public, but one thing to keep in mind as you watch is that there's another constituency that's missing: all the people who are using the net for other reasons: people who want to post videos of human rights abuses, who want to talk with other sufferers from a rare disease, who want to privately share private family moments with distant relatives. All these constituencies depend on services like YouTube and Twitter as a platform for communications, too.
SOPA and PIPA
House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) has vowed to resume his markup hearings in February
. (Thanks, Adam!
Yesterday, literally millions of Americans contacted their senators and congressional reps to ask them to withdraw their support for SOPA and PIPA. The result? A massive withdrawal of support from elected lawmakers for the bills. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Boozman (R-AR) all vowed to oppose PIPA (all were co-sponsors of the bill). On the SOPA side, Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Lee Terry (R-NE) voiced their opposition to the bill, and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) blacked out his own site in protest (!).
Remember, this is what happened on the day. The momentum is breaking, and I predict more defections in the days to come.
Update: More defections abound: Ars Technica lists a total of 18 new senators opposed to PIPA.
SOPA / PIPA Co-Sponsors Drop Like Flies As Millions Protest
Michael Geist sez,
While there is little that people living outside the U.S. can do to influence SOPA and PIPA, there are many reasons why it is important for everyone to participate in tomorrow's SOPA protest.
First, the SOPA provisions are designed to have an extra-territorial effect in countries around the world.
Second, non-U.S. businesses and websites could easily find themselves targeted by SOPA. The bill grants the U.S. "in rem" jurisdiction over any website that does not have a domestic jurisdictional connection.
Third, millions rely on the legitimate sites that are affected by the legislation. Whether creating a Wikipedia entry, posting a comment on Reddit, running a WordPress blog, participating in an open source software project, or reading a posting on Boing Boing, the lifeblood of the Internet is a direct target of SOPA. If non-Americans remain silent, they may ultimately find the sites and services they rely upon silenced by this legislation.
Fourth, the U.S. intellectual property strategy has long been premised on exporting its rules to other countries. SOPA virtually guarantees that this will continue.
Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest
Jonathan from Hackers and Founders
sez, "We're planning
SOPA/PIPA protests in SF
on Wednesday the 18th to coincide with the blackouts."
sez, "The websites for 2600 will go dark
on Wednesday, joining many others around the world in protest against the potentially devastating effects of bills like SOPA and PIPA."
Former Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), pooh-poohs the January 18 internet blackout protests over SOPA and PIPA
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use
their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the
marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as
gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected
and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign
criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to
stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to
PDF link to entire statement.
On Wednesday, January 18, Boing Boing will be participating in the dangerous gimmick.
Big news: although Google won't be blacking out tomorrow in protest of SOPA and PIPA, they will have a homepage graphic and link protesting the laws
: "Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet."
We need more websites to join the fight against PIPA and SOPA. With the Hello Bar, sites will be able to easily show their opposition and raise awareness for this important issue."
Stop PIPA. Protect freedom of speech online
Jimmy Wales has announced that Wikipedia will join Reddit, Boing Boing, and many other sites around the Internet in going dark on Wednesday to protest SOPA/PIPA, the pending US legislation that would make it impossible to run any website that links or allows commenters to link, by making us liable for copyright infringement on the sites we link to.
Wales used his Twitter account to spread the news, writing “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa”
In place of Wikipedia, users will see instructions for how to reach local members of Congress, which Wales hopes "will melt phone systems in Washington."
He also noted that comScore estimates the English Wikipedia’s web traffic at 25 million daily visitors worldwide.
Wikipedia to Shut Down in Protest of SOPA
Pierre Far recommends using a 503 HTTP status code—but read on for important details
. Other options include Zachstronaut's beautiful splash page
; a WordPress plugin
In an interview with GigaOm's Coleen Taylor, publisher Tim O'Reilly explains what's so wrong about SOPA:
Tim O’Reilly: Why I’m fighting SOPA
I talked with Nancy Pelosi about SOPA the other day, and she said that the experience with piracy is different for people in the movie industry. Maybe — I’m not a movie producer. But I do know that right now the entire content industry is facing massive systemic changes, and to claim that declining sales are because of piracy is so over the top. Any company that is providing great content online in a way that’s easy to use with a fair price has a booming business right now. The people who don’t are trying to fight that future.
So here we have this legislation, with all of these possible harms, to solve a problem that only exists in the minds of people who are afraid of the future. Why should the government be intervening on behalf of the people who aren’t getting with the program?
(via Beth Pratt
Updated: Commenters have pointed out that I've jumped the gun here. SOPA is shelved, but not killed. It could be put back into play at any time.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has killed SOPA, stopping all action on it. He didn't say why he killed it, but the overwhelming, widespread unpopularity of the bill and the threat of a presidential veto probably had something to do with it.
Before you get too excited, remember that the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), the extremely similar Senate version of SOPA, is still steaming forward, and has to be stopped.
But you can get a little excited, as this is pretty goddamned great news. Six weeks ago, I was in DC talking to all the Hill rats of my acquaintance and to a one, they sucked their teeth and said, "Yeah, this thing really looks like it's going to pass. I don't like our chances." A friend who had served in several administrations said he'd "never seen the MPAA get its ducks in a row like this." So we did something amazing here. Thank you all for helping to save the net again.
Let's keep on saving it. Let's kill PIPA, then use this amazing energy to build something positive: a lobby for networked freedom, that acknowledges that the net is more than a glorified form of cable TV -- it's the nervous system of the information society. Any pretense that is used to build censorship and surveillance into the network will touch every part of networked life.
House Kills SOPA
Zachary sez, "I needed someplace to vent my frustration with SOPA
between calls to my Congress members. I created a homepage design
option for people who want to take their sites dark on January 18.
It's public domain and on github so people can fork it."
You can preview it here.
zachstronaut / stop-sopa
Ranking members of the Obama administration have published a memo condemning the approach taken in SOPA and PIPA, the punishing, pending Internet bills that establish and export a censorship regime in the name of fighting copyright infringement:
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy