SOPA Rep Blasts Wikipedia Blackout, Says Law To Go Forward In Feb.

17 Comments

Credit: Shutterstock / Konstantin Yolshin

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx), who is leading a push to pass a controversial anti-piracy bill, issued a statement today scolding Wikipedia over its plan to go dark with its English-language website for 24 hours in protest of the legislation.

The statement also suggests that supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are preparing to go back on the offensive after a series of setbacks in the last week:

It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. 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.

In a separate release, Smith said the House Judiciary Committee would go forward with a mark-up of the legislation in February.

Smith’s announcements are the latest twists in a months-long dust-up over a proposed law that would require internet companies like search engines and ad networks to help cut off so-called “rogue” foreign websites. Critics say the law is overreaching and will harm free speech and the architecture of the internet.

The bill appeared to be headed for defeat this weekend after the White House expressed doubt about its merits and Smith said he would remove controversial provisions involving internet domain names.

But on Monday, Wikipedia announced it would go forward with a rumored plan to “go dark” for 24 hours to protest the bills. But the blackout apparently does not extend to non-English Wikipedia sites. The blackout is slated to begin at midnight on Wednesday and will be joined by other sites popular with tech aficionados.

Wikipedia’s decision has already proved controversial. It’s unclear if the SOPA sponsors are treating Wikipedia’s move as a political opening to marshal support for the bill or if they planned to go forward all along.

17 Comments

contentnext

Agree with Pineapple, it’s all about convenience for most people.  If it’s easier and quicker to get what you want the legal way many people will go that route.  The problem is when the legal way is more complex and less easy. There’s always going to be pirates of course.  But you shrink the pirate audience by making the legal way better.

Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Pineapple

Star, people pirate because pirates offer them a better service. If you look at the video game industry, which has the same issues the major media companies do, they combat their piracy through digital distribution. To quote Gabe Newell, CEO of VALVe Corp., a major video game studio and developer of Steam, a popular digital distribution system:

“‘We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem,’ he said. ‘If a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.’
…’Prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become [Steam’s] largest market in Europe,’…” (taken from The Escapist)

Steam is the best digital distribution system that has been developed for video games. It helps curb piracy by tying the purchased game to the buyer’s account, which they can access by means of username and password. Steam also provides a means to communicate in game with friends, something that customers wouldn’t get if they bought a pirated game. Better service = less piracy. 

Digital distribution has barely started from the big media companies, when that’s exactly what people want and aren’t getting. Hulu was one of the best things that happened to the internet, along with any form of clips released by media companies online. I didn’t get to see Daniel Radcliffe host SNL, but I got to see the important bits released by NBC the next day. I got to consume media, and they made a profit off of me through their ad revenue. Everybody wins. 

Mike Peel

> “It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is
spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. 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.”

Wikimedians – those that voluntarily join in the process of writing Wikipedia – are amongst the best placed, and most experienced, people in identifying misinformation on the planet. They see people trying to insert misinformation into Wikipedia every day – and they ensure that it doesn’t stay there. They ensure that information is backed up with reliable, verifiable references. That well over a thousand of them are saying that this legislation is a problem indicates that it is indeed a problem that will cause significant harm to Wikipedia and other collaborative projects. The blackout simply wouldn’t be happening if that weren’t the case.

This blackout is no publicity stunt. Wikipedia doesn’t need publicity – it already has massive public impact without having to carry out any sort of stunt to gain extra publicity. It’s not driven by publicity – it’s driven by sharing factual knowledge freely with everyone on the planet. This blackout is a response to a threat that affects the fundamentals of the internet, and the basis upon which Wikipedia has been built. This legislation needs to be stopped, or it will cause irreparable damage to the internet as a whole.

Perhaps Rep. Smith can take advantage of this blackout to take a step back and appreciate and take onboard the concerns that the internet community is raising about this legislation, rather than taking the approach of “promoting fear instead of facts” that he is inaccurately (and ironically) accusing others of doing..

Mike Peel

> “It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is
spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. 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.”

Wikimedians – those that voluntarily join in the process of writing Wikipedia – are amongst the best placed, and most experienced, people in identifying misinformation on the planet. They see people trying to insert misinformation into Wikipedia every day – and they ensure that it doesn’t stay there. They ensure that information is backed up with reliable, verifiable references. That well over a thousand of them are saying that this legislation is a problem indicates that it is indeed a problem that will cause significant harm to Wikipedia and other collaborative projects. The blackout simply wouldn’t be happening if that weren’t the case.

This blackout is no publicity stunt. Wikipedia doesn’t need publicity – it already has massive public impact without having to carry out any sort of stunt to gain extra publicity. It’s not driven by publicity – it’s driven by sharing factual knowledge freely with everyone on the planet. This blackout is a response to a threat that affects the fundamentals of the internet, and the basis upon which Wikipedia has been built. This legislation needs to be stopped, or it will cause irreparable damage to the internet as a whole.

Perhaps Rep. Smith can take advantage of this blackout to take a step back and appreciate and take onboard the concerns that the internet community is raising about this legislation, rather than taking the approach of “promoting fear instead of facts” that he is inaccurately (and ironically) accusing others of doing..

fjpoblam

Lamar Smith needs a barrage of informative letters and phone calls. Email from outside his “district” not accepted. So, FWIW:

Washington, DC Office
2409 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
ph: 202-225-4236

San Antonio District Office
1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640
San Antonio, TX 78209
ph: 210-821-5024

Kerrville District Office
301 Junction Highway, Suite 346C
Kerrville, TX 78029
ph: 830-896-0154

Austin District Office
3532 Bee Cave Road, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78746
ph: 512-306-0439

Gengar

This really needs to end. Now. protecting intellectual property is absolutely important, and has a huge impact on the american economy, HOWEVER there are several reasons this garbage needs to end
 
First off (and I’m not shocked this is coming from a texan republican) somebody needs to sink it into Lamar’s head that THE ENTIRE WORLD USES THE INTERNET. This bill will have far reaching affects outside of the US. Nob ill should EVER be passed that will affect any other country as significantly as this one will. it just shows how completely ignorant this man is and just seems to assume that the US is the center of the universe and nobody else matters. He also has absolutely no grasp on how the internet works, the culture and economy twisted within it, or how much our society relies on and has been transformed by it. Piracy needs to be curbed, but this bill is WRONG and needs to be scrapped. Fight this bill!

Star Jonestown

Gengar, since you seem to philosophically support the end of piracy, what would you do to stop it?  Currently, 16% of broadband traffic is bit torrent (source: gigaom, stats from last summer).

DS

16% of broadband traffic sounds like a potential billion dollar business in the making to me.

Five years ago, Hollywood execs didn’t believe that a market for digital content existed yet it was completely obvious to anyone not working in the industry.

It took 2 years of rampant piracy on YouTube–and hundreds of millions of dollars of forgone revenue–to convince them to get around to launching Hulu.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology

Star Jonestown

DS, what “potential… business” are you talking about?  One stolen file becomes circulated and mass-distributed for free.  That’s what piracy is.   

And I don’t need to go to freakin’ wikipedia to understand the hackneyed tech cliche you reference.  This isn’t a technology issue, it is a theft issue.  Big tech – other than Apple and Amazon, who are credible partners – doesn’t want to admit that they’re used to traffic stolen digital files.  

Also, your history is wrong.  Whatever fictitious cabal of “hollywood execs” you’re talking about was well aware of online distribution in 2006.  Creative coalitions have been trying to pass reform since 2000.  The intent is not to limit free speech; the intent is to monetize that for which there is a market (unless that same item is trafficked off the back of a truck or through a pirate’s tool a la bit torrent).  

DS

Sorry, but you’re still not getting it. The reason there’s so much piracy is that an enormous, untapped market exists that’s not being served. Make the content available through legitimate means, don’t criminalize would-be paying customers, and everyone wins.

Anti-competitive legislation isn’t the answer, particularly not when the legislation contains numerous bolted-on provisions that are harmful to the public interest.

And no, few execs were aware that a legitimate market existed, even in private. Everyone insisted that few consumers were interested in watching movies and television on their computers or on a mobile device. Peter Chernin, who is one of the very, very few people in entertainment who is actually capable of independent thought, was a notable exception.

Star Jonestown

“You’re not getting it” is the laziest rhetoric device anyone can employ.  It’s the device of someone who is losing an argument.  

No, I’m not getting it.  Because you’re wrong.  Even your initial hypothesis re a “billion dollar business” is from the stone age.  A single film can be worth double that.  Make all the excuses you want, the era of Everything Free All the Time is over.  Artificial price compression because of theft is a combat-able problem in any business.  There is no logic that says ‘Stealing is o.k. because…’ that is meaningful.  That’s all just lazy B.S.  

gtharby2

>The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites.

Why not say that it will not harm any legitimate website?

Oh right, because that would be a falsehood.  Of course it wouldn’t harm Wikipedia because no rights holder is stupid
enough to attack Wikipedia, even if there is a problem somewhere.  Although not affecting domestic blogs is also a falsehood, they are affected by everything except the DNS blocking provisions.

>Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.

We all, including Wikipedia, know what online piracy is.  But we also know that giving tools to the content industry which can just as easily be used to censor and harm legitimate websites is not the correct way to battle piracy.

Star Jonestown

Lamar Smith is doing a good job refuting the nonsense and trend-whoring that has erupted online.  

“Publicity stunt”…  beautiful.  It has got to be irritating to him to see the lies spread as facts.  Not since Judy Miller and Colin Powell were used as props has a disinformation campaign so completely overwhelmed reality.  And the NY Times is, once again, putting the disinformation out beneath its logo.  Same with the LA Times.  The irony of newspaper columnists rushing to declare the internet sacrosanct is apparently lost on them…  Or perhaps they want other industries to suffer from the same decline.  Everything isn’t Free All the Time.  Property rights are imperative.  

Mr. J

Property rights sure are important. However, “fair use” exists, and in the Internet age, media outlets have more and more pushed against it. For discussion purposes, academic use and parody, fair use has always been sacred. However, in this age, I’ve seen several blogs be attacked and have things removed for quoting even A SENTENCE of an article from a media outlet. I know this because I, personally, have been hit by it. That is not acceptable, and that is exactly the problem with this bill – it could be used to shut down entire websites because people reference something in passing.

Star Jonestown

Would you mind being more specific and/or providing a concrete example?  

I’m not being contrarian – I want to know more.  Thanks.  

Comments are closed.