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January 17, 2012

Making Light to go dark against SOPA and PIPA
Posted by Patrick at 10:36 AM * 86 comments

Tomorrow, from 8 AM to 8 PM EST, Making Light will go dark as an expression of our opposition to SOPA and PIPA, the bills making their way through Congress which, if passed, would create an American apparatus of censorship, liability, and prior restraint in which Making Light will, quite simply, be unable to continue to exist.

By “going dark,” we mean that all links to content on will return a 503 error message explaining why we’re doing this, and linking to sources and tools pertinent to the fight against these bills. It will not be possible to read or post comments to any part of our normal site. In doing this, we are joining a long list of sites that will be similarly powering down tomorrow, including Wikipedia (which will go offline for a full 24 hours beginning at midnight EST tonight), Reddit, Boing Boing, Tucows, and many others. A substantial list can be found at Another site involved in coordinating this action is

Make no mistake: These bills are an existential threat to this site and to the entire internet, whether or not you live in the United States. Although opponents of this legislation have won some significant skirmishes in the last few days, the bills as presently constituted are still catastrophically bad; the EFF has a very good roundup, posted just yesterday, of exactly how.

On Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow explains just what these bills would do to that site. We would be affected in exactly the same ways. Quoting Cory:

[I]n order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits. […] If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, [and] our domains confiscated.”
Cory further notes that since Boing Boing’s servers are physically in Canada, once they were shown to have linked to a site that itself linked to an “infringing site,” their IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the United States would be required to maintain. So relocating Making Light’s server to someplace outside the US would do us no good.

A critical fact about these bills is that they completely replace the existing rules for dealing with genuine copyright infringement. There’s a lot to dislike about the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but at least it provided a framework (albeit a widely-abused one) in which sites such as ours had some protection against being held liable for content posted by our users. If passed, SOPA and PIPA will change all that. We will be completely liable for ensuring that nothing posted to our comment threads infringes anyone’s copyright or links to a site on which someone, somewhere, infringes anyone’s copyright. In addition, under SOPA, the Justice Department would be mandated to target and punish any site, domestic or foreign, that provides technical information about ways to circumvent the bills’ censorship regimes. We would be required to continually monitor user-generated content, not just for copyright infringement, but for links to—or discussions of—anti-censorship browser add-ons, anonymization software, VPNs, TOR (The Onion Router), and many other tools used by activists to fight tyranny and injustice in China, Syria, Iran, and around the world. (Wonderfully, some of these tools owe their existence fully or in part to support and funding from organs of the United States government; The Onion Router, for instance, was originally sponsored by the US Naval Research Laboratory, and other such tools have been spread worldwide by the State Department.)

As the EFF has pointed out, a further aspect of SOPA and PIPA that hasn’t been discussed enough is the immunity it offers to US ISPs if they “overblock” users and sites that they suspect of infringing activity, based on the ISP’s own “good faith” and possession of “credible evidence.” This immunity will allow ISPs large and small to institute private censorship regimes, free of judicial oversight or due process, with little or no fear of being held liable themselves. Of course, we can count on the telephone companies and cable operators who supply internet connectivity to most Americans to handle this responsibility with sensitivity, judgement, and the unswerving commitment to free speech and fairness for which they are renowned.

By contrast, the DNS provisions of SOPA and PIPA have been much discussed, possibly because their mere mention has a tendency to cause anyone who understands the actual architecture of the global internet to jump out of their seat and run down the street screaming with their hair on fire. Under these bills, the Justice Department would be empowered, upon receipt of a court order and with no guarantee of a proper hearing for the affected sites, to inject changes into the DNS system in order to cause sites accused of “infringement” to disappear from the Internet as seen from the US. Leaving aside the insane level of injustice here, tantamount to burning down an entire apartment building because someone living there has unpaid traffic tickets, implementation of these DNS-poisoning provisions would fatally undermine DNSSEC, the longstanding global project to repair security flaws in DNS and improve its security overall. In recent days, the Obama Administration has urged Congress to remove the DNS provisions from both versions of this bill, and various online and offline news sources have reported that these parts of the bills are being set aside. Don’t be fooled, says Donny Shaw of Fight For the Future, parent organization of

All that the bills’ sponsors have said is that they are willing to study the issue before it gets implemented. Even if the DNS requirement was taken out of the bill, messing with DNS is still the only reasonable technical solution for ISPs to implement the bills’ provisions. Furthermore, without the DNS language, the bill would still target financial transaction providers, online ad services, and “information location tools” (defined so broadly that it includes all sites that allow users to post hyperlinks).
Techdirt has more.

Finally, I want to note that Teresa and I feel a particularly urgent need to make our opposition to this legislation completely clear, because among its publicly-listed supporters is Macmillan US, the publishing conglomerate of which Tor Books is a part. Intentionally or not, in a very real sense our employer is trying to destroy our web site. As Cory Doctorow points out, the Hollywood studios and Big Six publishing companies are behaving in a manner precisely described by the legal term “depraved indifference.” Cory continues:

Big Content haven’t just declared war on Boing Boing and Reddit and the rest of the “fun” Internet: they’ve declared war on every person who uses the net to publicize police brutality, every oppressed person in the Arab Spring who used the net to organize protests and publicize the blood spilled by their oppressors, every abused kid who used the net to reveal her father as a brutalizer of children, every gay kid who used the net to discover that life is worth living despite the torment she’s experiencing, every grassroots political campaigner who uses the net to make her community a better place — as well as the scientists who collaborate online, the rescue workers who coordinate online, the makers who trade tips online, the people with rare diseases who support each other online, and the independent creators who use the Internet to earn their livings.

The contempt for human rights on display with SOPA and PIPA is more than foolish. Foolishness can be excused. It’s more than greed. Greed is only to be expected. It is evil, and it must be fought.

It must be fought. Learn more. Get involved.

EDITED TO ADD: NY Tech Meetup plans a rally against SOPA and PIPA, tomorrow from 12:30 to 2 PM, at the New York City offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, both of whom support PIPA and both of whom have, so far, refused to personally meet with opponents of the bills. This will take place at 780 Third Avenue, near 49th Street. NY Tech Meetup is a pretty substantial organization with a lot of reach, so this should be interesting.

Comments on Making Light to go dark against SOPA and PIPA:
#1 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:24 AM:

Will my blog's comments about a book I've read an enjoyed have me marked as a Pirate if I post an excerpt - even a short one - from that book?


#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:26 AM:

I think this is a regrettable necessity.

#3 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:35 AM:

The American Library Association is of course strongly against PIPA and SOPA. They're taking a look at an alternative, OPEN, which MAY be more palatable.

#4 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:53 AM:

One long term effect of these bills that IMO isn't mentioned enough is that as various versions of them are implemented in different countries, they would fracture the internet into a set of walled-off national subnets with electronic border guards, razor wire, and machine gun nests designed to keep the citizens of their nations from accessing whatever content their governments or media corporations don't want them to have.

Some nations like China have already tried to do this, but if the US succeeds in doing it, and removes itself from the list of nations trying to undo it elsewhere, many other nations will follow the example, and those who try to circumvent these walls will be at a much greater disadvantage.

In my mind, the greatest benefit of the internet to the human race in general has been the way it ignores borders, and spreads information as far as physically possible. SOPA and PIPA are direct attacks on this feature and would stifle what could be one of our best tools in dealing with the global issues like climate change that we face.

#5 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:58 AM:

I wrote to my Senators about this weeks ago, and they both seemed to support it. Thinking about writing to them again and threatening not to vote for anyone who votes for this.

#6 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:04 PM:

This protest is necessary, although I'm not sure how many people don't already know about it.

On the plus side, apart from a call and a letter to my representatives, tomorrow should be a very productive day.

#7 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:08 PM:

I absolutely don't think it's a coincidence that we're seeing this bill less than a year after a whole bunch of protests all over the world, which were organized largely by doing an end-run around the media gatekeepers that had formerly prevented such organization happening.

#8 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:09 PM:

Thanks. I work for one of the Big Studios behind this. A few months ago they sent us a form letter that we could send our congresscritter in support of this mishegoss - then they trumpeted the "grass roots" efforts we were making against piracy.

I thought things might get better when we were bought by a different company - the old one used to send similar form letters urging our congresscritter to approve whatever defense bill would allow the Corporation to continue building massive killing machines. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss.

#9 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:45 PM:

Thanks, Patrick and Teresa. I don't know how much a 'me, too' from a minor member of this community counts, but...well, me, too.

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:53 PM:

I don't really fantasize that taking Making Light down for twelve hours will accomplish much of substance. It's more that we wouldn't be happy with ourselves if we hadn't supported the many more important sites that are doing this.

#11 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:03 PM:

I have been fuming all week over the decision to extradite to the US a British student - who reportedly has never been to the US, nor used US servers - for alleged piracy that may not have been illegal in the UK to begin with: see

Apparently the US owns the Internet, and is turning it off.

#12 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:12 PM:

Emails sent to my congressmembers—blessedly, two of them get to be "Thank you for opposing these bills!" Recurring donation made to EFF.

#13 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:15 PM:

Good luck.

I can't help but wonder if 24 hours is long enough to get through to enough people, and the government.

The grand irony here is, if this goes through, it's not going to save them, it will, instead, kill them.

For all the ranting about protecting their bottom line, how many additional movies, books, albums, and etc., have been sold because people saw an excerpt or heard a song, and wanted it.

There was a sidelight a long while back about how part of the problem that the music industry is in now started because of their fight against Napster, and their insistence not to allow on-line sales of music when that's what their customers wanted, and that it was that refusal to pay attention that left them with no control.

If everything gets shut down, they will lose sales, and lose business.

If they shut down the "fun" internet they will lose their ability to advertise and get new customers.

I suspect that with significantly less draw to make people want phones and tablets, sales of tech will drop.

So to "protect" themselves, they will tank an already bad economy still further.

Silver lining? This has got to make Facebook really scared ... :)

#14 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:23 PM:

By the way, all the EFF links are coming back as '111 connection failed' errors.

Anyone know if they are just overwhelmed, or if they're really down?

#15 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:26 PM:

pedantic peasant @14: I'm guessing overwhelmed; that's where I sent my congessmember emails from.

#16 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:29 PM:

Patrick @ 12:

It's more that we wouldn't be happy with ourselves if we hadn't supported the many more important sites that are doing this.

I think that's a really good reason to do it.

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:35 PM:

In his comment #5, Xopher says he's thinking about threatening to vote against any politician who supports this. I started to reply that I feel the same way -- and then stopped, thinking to myself, "Wait, I'm willing to vote to re-elect Obama despite the drones, Guantanamo, non-prosecution of torturers, etc, but this is the issue that will make me vote against liberal Democrats?"

Thinking it over, though, it is the issue for me, and here's why. Killing people unjustly is a vile sin. America does it under Obama; it's done it throughout its existence as a state. States do this. Very few countries have clean hands. This fact doesn't justify a single wrongful death, or take away an ounce of Obama's guilt, or Bush's, or ours. But it remains a fact. States kill innocent people. Very often in secret.

The public internet as it's emerged, evolved, and become part of everyday life since the early 1990s may well be our last, best hope of getting to a world in which that kind of secrecy is harder to maintain. A world in which states kill innocent people less frequently, in which we manage to solve our urgent problems equitably, in which we don't wind up fifty or a hundred years from now as a baked, boiled, drowned world full of round-the-clock-surveilled old people huddled together in fear of the sky. In most American elections, given the usual choice between the candidates of (respectively) the sane billionaires and the insane billionaires, I'll support the candidate of the sane billionaires. But not this time. If we let them break the internet, everything else breaks too.

#18 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:36 PM:

All I've got's this flashlight, but I'll keep it off in solidarity.

#19 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Well, I won't vote for a Republican against a Democrat who voted for this. But I might leave the column empty.

For a Republican who voted AGAINST this? That would be difficult. Fortunately I'm more likely to be hit by a meteor and a lightning bolt simultaneously.

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:57 PM:

Congressional Republicans on record as opposed to SOPA/PIPA:

Rep. Justin Amash (MI-3)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6)
Rep. John Campbell (CA-48)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-3)
Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)
Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14)
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1)
Rep. Aaron Schock (IL-18)
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (WI-5)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3)
Sen. Jerry Moran (KS)
Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

Representatives Chaffetz and Issa have been particularly notable in their constant and articulate opposition to SOPA.

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:03 PM:

(Liberal Minnesotans despairing over the fact that both Senators Franken and Klobuchar are avid supporters of PIPA can take some heart from the fact that Keith Ellison, House member from MN-5, opposes it--creating one of the few situations in which Ellison, the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, is in alliance with his far-right Minnesota colleague Michele Bachmann. Go, Ellison-and-Bachmann!)

#22 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:07 PM:

Well, shut my mouth. Sorry, I wouldn't vote for Bachmann if she were the only opposition to the "Kill all half-tongued people" bill. Found a limit there.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:11 PM:

Fortunately, politics in the real world -- even in situations this dire -- rarely forces such extraordinary choices on us.

#24 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:27 PM:

My representative is against it; my senators are split the last time I checked: Boxer against it, Feinstein leaning toward a yes vote, of course.

I note that the administration has announced its opposition to SOPA, and maybe to PIPA as well, I'm not sure. That might mean if it passed, Obama would veto it. But I can't be certain of that.

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:27 PM:

albatross, #7: I think you're absolutely right. "Copyright infringement" is nothing but a smokescreen -- its primary purpose is to stifle dissent.

Thank you, Patrick and Teresa. I'll miss being able to hang out here tomorrow, but I agree with you that it's the right thing to do.

#26 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:32 PM:

#24 Lizzy L: I called Senator Boxer's office this morning to ask about this. Her staffer said that she was a co-sponsor of PIPA.

#27 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:32 PM:

Not that I think SOPA and PIPA can possibly be anything other than an unmitigated catastrophe— once the DNS is effectively destroyed, it will finally give Internet engineers a good reason to build a greenfield replacement for it, one which isn't a hideous kludge like DNSSEC.

"We had to destroy the DNS in order to save it." —not my preferred engineering method, but if it works...

#28 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:45 PM:

This could kill Google and every other search engine.

You will not see me on the net tomorrow.

#29 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Despite the fact that, once I've factored things like travel into account, I spend a four-figure sum on music a year, Andrew Orlowski appears to consider me a "freetard" for opposing SOPA.

Yes, I know they guy is just an internet troll...

#30 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Patrick and Teresa: I should have said before: thank you for doing this.

This seems to me like another part of the ongoing process of building up the infrastructure for some really serious internal control of dissent. I see two likely paths forward:

a. Additional powers of this kind are mostly used as a threat held in reserve, and seldom are explicitly used. Many websites find themselves being a little more careful what they say. A few foreign media sources, as well as sites like wikileaks, simply go away from the US point of view. Like the incredibly broad material support of terrorism laws, like the presidential power to have people bumped off or disappeared, like the presumably still going on massive domestic surveillance, like the watchlists and no-fly lists, dissent just gets a little...scarier. Fewer people do it, and those who do are more careful what they say. Journalists and bloggers are a little more careful not to step too hard on the wrong toes.

b. One day, a real crisis arises. The president's poll numbers are in the toilet, thanks to the tanking economy and the latest scandal. The most recent set of protests were damned big, and all the arm twisting of both parties and all their friends haven't entirely kept them off the TV. And that video footage of how the protests were broken up is making the rounds now. The worst of it is the footage of those women being beaten to death by the cops--that threatens to be the lit match tossed into the gas tank. And the president silently thanks God he's got the tools to clamp down on all this. And we discover whst it's like living in a police state.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Happy New Year to you, too, albatross!

I think those are plausible "paths forward," but I think other futures are plausible as well. I don't generally think it's a good idea to habituate ourselves to Grim Meathook Future pessimism.

In general, I'd rather be disappointed at some point in the future than depressed 24/7 in the present.

#32 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:28 PM:

thank you, Making Light.
Without this site I wouldn't have the access and the community I feel I have---even trapped in my particular circumstances.
SOPA passing would be disastrous to someone like me, who relies on even this nominal raft, this tether of sorts, that would be lost if the internet locked down and fragmented into fiefdoms.

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:31 PM:

Tim Hall, #29: <facepalm> Oh no! How could I possibly have forgotten to inquire into what Andrew Orlowski thought of this issue. </facepalm>

#34 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:35 PM:

And, quelle surprise, Rupert Murdoch supports SOPA as well. Who's have thunk it?

#35 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:16 PM:

I'm guessing that we know, around here, about Eric Cantor deciding to put the SOPA bill into cold storage for awhile. (I don't want to imply that that should deter the protest, with PIPA still on the table.)

Atrios observed, yesterday, that playing footsie with the bills may be more lucrative for Congressmen than just accepting one-term bribes and passing them in this session. FWIW, I wish Atrios/Duncan could team up with someone who does rope tricks (or maybe with Gogo Bordello) and go out on a national tour.

#36 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:22 PM:

Well said, and I am hoping that enough sites going down for the day will make people notice.

SOPA/PIPA are all about control in the guise of content protection. This really reminds me of Dune - "The power to destroy a thing is the power to control a thing." If you could shutdown DNS like that you'd be able to effectively kill off parts of the internet at will. That level of control should not be had by any government for any reason. Nor should any corporation or individual be able to petition to get that done.

#37 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:23 PM:

I repeat, don't put too much stock in reports of SOPA, PIPA, or any particular provisions being "dead," "in cold storage," "shelved," or anything like that. Tanker trucks full of $100 bills from Hollywood will ensure that these bill's supporters try some pretty fancy prestidigitation to lull us just before they attempt to ram the worst stuff through in the middle of the night under a new name.

This fight is going to take vigilance, lots of it.

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:36 PM:

Martin has posted a set of instructions on how to do this is you're hosting your own blog and using Apache here.

There's a WordPress plugin (for sites here.

And instructions for WordPress hosted blogs are here.

#39 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:03 PM:

Wendy Bradley @11: "Apparently the US owns the Internet, and is turning it off."

Do you suppose CERN could repossess the WWW?

#40 ::: forgot the name ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:26 PM:

That they're even proposing stuff like SOPA and PIPA and possibly OPEN makes my heart hurt.

They're hurting their own people first and foremost, and they don't even care.

#41 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Speaking as someone who isn't based in the US, but who uses the internet as their primary medium for obtaining information and entertainment, I can see a great deal of potential in both of these bills to pretty much shut down not only the utility of the internet as an informational medium, but also as an entertainment medium. As I've mentioned elsewhere (antipope), I can't be the only person who pretty much cut their consumption of "standard" informational and entertainment media right down after they started using the internet (simply because there's only so many hours in a day, and I need to do things like work, eat and sleep). And one of the main reasons I cut my consumption of "standard" media right down was because the internet was supplying things which were much more to my preference than the regular media here in Australia was willing to do.

I suspect the argument isn't really about intellectual property, and in many ways it never was. It's about eyeballs, and advertising dollars, and the loss of both of these that the internet is causing the "traditional" entertainment industry. It's about "professionals" losing out to "amateurs" in the chase after audience and advertisers.

And it's about the way that one petulant sector of a hegemonic culture can cause major impacts across the globe by throwing their tantrum in the correct places.

#42 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:40 PM:

PNH @17, I believe our Senators aren't up for reelection till 2014 (Gillibrand) and 2016 (Schumer). If PIPA/SOPA are defeated, will any of us still be pissed off enough at them to make it the determining factor in our voting? (There'll undoubtedly be some entirely new fresh hell to be pissed off over by then.)

I'd thought my Representative, Yvette Clarke, was on the record as against SOPA, but now I can't find anything to back that up; the various bill-trackers I've just looked at don't know what her position is. Probably I'm mixing this up with her position on some other recent bill. So there's a to-do item for me.

(Dammit, I typed pee-ehn-aitch at seventeen and my brain immediately went "that love is meant for beauty queens" and now I'm earwormed.)

#43 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:46 PM:

Here's a modified version of Martin's .htaccess code that cuts in automatically on the 18th, then switches off again on the 19th.

#44 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:47 PM:

s'far as I know, both or Oregon's senators oppose SOPA.

I currently don't have a Representative . . . I mailed in my ballot for the special election for District 1 today.

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:34 PM:

People, this page from ProPublica is doing a fine job of keeping track of who in Congress is a declared supporter or opponent of these bills. You really don't have to guess.

In Oregon, Ron Wyden is opposed; his fellow Democratic senator Jeff Merkley hasn't yet committed either way.

#46 ::: Dave DuPlantis ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:37 PM:

I wrote both Senators and my Representative back when quite a few of us did. None of the reactions I got were surprising.

Lugar's email read "blah blah thank you blah blah", which I translate as "supporting it despite your concerns." Disappointing but expected, given the possibility of a Tea Party challenger.

Coats did not respond, which is no surprise. I'm not sure he knows how to use a keyboard.

Burton responded by mail ... one thing I will say for him is that he (or a staffer) sends a reply every time I contact him. It was also a "blah blah thank you blah blah", so I suspect I was 0 for 3.

ugh. Between this and the "right-to-work" stuff, I've felt quite a little boy waiting at the counter of a corner shop ...

#47 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:47 PM:

Question for people here. In the horrible scenario that albatross proposes at #30, especially part 2, what would happen to spreading information through individual emails, through IM, through txet messages, and most important, through Twitter? Might these be used to spread the most vital information and do crucial organizing? Indeed, I think a lot of the organizing for Arab Spring may have been through the phones, but I'm not sure.

Or would the cell phone companies be able to shut down free communication? (in the sense of getting through whatever you want people to know, not in the sense of without payment.)

Just curious what the possibilities are.

I wrote to my Congresscritters weeks ago, when I first heard of this. I'll email again tomorrow.

#48 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:52 PM:

Sent Sen. Udall and Rep. Polis my heartfelt thanks for their opposition to the bills; urged them to remain firm and vigilant and unwavering. For those whose congresscritters are supporting it -- please, please don't give up on writing them. There's got to be some tipping point at which it begins to matter to them at least in terms of potential votes. Even if their aides are sending back "blah blah thank you for your input blah blah gonna support it anyway" letters, this might not be an accurate reflection of what's going on in their heads.

Examiner Mountain West just emailed bloggers in the region about how we might want to blog about SOPA/PIPA. "Help local readers understand this law, what implications it could have for them, who agrees and disagrees with the legislation." I'm going to do exactly that. As Examiner is not likely to go dark tomorrow, I'll take the opportunity to highlight sites that do.

It occurs to me that Macmillan are particularly foolish in supporting the bills, given the whole Macmillian/Amazon delinking debacle. If passing the bills would make illegal linking to any site that has, anywhere upon it, a single copyright violation, then the bills will make linking to Amazon illegal -- and would probably kill Amazon outright. Not only is their user content (which isn't particularly well or consistently monitored), but there is also a non-trivial amount of content piracy going on there via self-pubbed ebooks full of stolen content (which Amazon doesn't particularly seem interested in cracking down on when authors report such copyright violations).

I'm not a fan of Amazon (for all the reasons that have been observed here over the years), but I have to acknowledge that a bill that kills Amazon is pretty damn bad for authors. Just another pinprick in the constellation of badness that is SOPA/PIPA.

#49 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:54 PM:

Dave DuPlantis @46 - ugh. Between this and the "right-to-work" stuff, I've felt quite a little boy waiting at the counter of a corner shop ...

(And indeed, it isn't fair.)

#50 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:14 PM:

Nicole, #48 -- Good for Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), whose opposition to SOPA/PIPA doesn't seem to have been yet registered by the ProPublica site. It's definitely for real -- here's his blog post on the subject.

It's also notable given that his cousin, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), is a co-sponsor of PIPA. Of course, as students of Rocky Mountain West politics know, the Udall clan encompasses Tom Udall, Mark Udall, Stewart Udall, Gordon Smith, Mo Udall, Mo Mowlam, Stewart Brand, Heber C. Kimball, Kimball Kinnison, Dixy Lee Ray, Spider John Koerner, Carl Hayden, Hayden C. Hayden, Vermin Supreme, Ev Mecham, Beth Meacham, Valentine Michael Smith, the entire population of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Jerry Brown, Downtown Julie Brown, and the Social Credit Party of British Columbia.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:18 PM:

Blacked mine out for tomorrow. (Not that I've been posting much: when you're blogging '150 years ago on this date' things can be slow.)

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:20 PM:

The irony is that people who track BitTorrent usage have found downloading - a lot of it - on congressional office computers. Maybe the people inside the congressional offices think they'll be exempt somehow from the blackout they're trying to bring down on everyone else, but I think they're in for a nasty surprise.

#53 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:29 PM:

Just emailed my senators and representative, making strongly worded noises about just how repulsive SOPA and PIPA are to me as a citizen. Ugh, I'm not sure what I should be more disgusted by - the fact that they're even trying to get acts this suicidal through Congress, or that that there is so little understanding of them within Congress. Blergh.

#54 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:42 PM:

Avram, #42: And now so am I -- thanks for sharing, dammit! :-p

#55 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:42 PM:

Now now, neither Kimball Kinnison nor I am a member of the Udall clan.

I'm kind of looking forward to the cries of rage and woe tomorrow, when google is dark. I am not looking forward to the way my fingers will be twitching.

#56 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:04 PM:

I wonder why Senator Al Franken is siding with the bad guys on this issue.

#57 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Someone sent me a link to a list of companies that supported the bill. One of them was Macmillan.

(apologies for having lost the reference in my facebook slush)

#58 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:10 PM:

You found that list anyway.

#59 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:14 PM:

I hear that Google isn't actually going to go dark, but will be providing a special link to explain what's going on.

#60 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:28 PM:

Erik Nelson, #57: "Someone sent me a link to a list of companies that supported the bill. One of them was Macmillan."

Congratulations on your admission to the We Comment After Reading Only The First Paragraph Of The Post Club.

#61 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:44 PM:

I work for John Wiley & Sons, another named supporter of SOPA. I don't believe the folks at Wiley who chose to have the company endorse it understand the issues, but I'm so ready to stand with Patrick and Teresa on this one.

The only reason Laurie Edison and I aren't darkening our blog is that I personally believe that the worst parts of SOPA are dead. But I wholeheartedly support anyone who wants to take this action.

#62 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:57 PM:

Patrick @ 50... the Social Credit Party

Wow... Reading those words take me many decades. Is Réal Caouette still around? :-)

#63 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:58 PM:

beth meacham @ 55... Kimball Kinnison, Richard Kimball, or Hank Kimble?

#64 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:59 PM:

Just went dark on The Online Books Page-- literally. The site's still up-- I'd rather not turn away readers looking for books-- but the backgrounds on many of the landing pages are now black. The resulting color balance isn't particularly pleasant for extended reading, but you can still use the site if you need to.

Some of the books I link to, most notably those that are among the Internet Archive's 2 million volumes, won't be available for at least parts of the day.

I posted my reasons for going dark on my blog, which remains open for the day as well (and unchanged in color, so still easy to read).

#65 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 12:38 AM:

Dave DuPlantis @46 & Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @49

Sorry not to add anything to the discussion, but I do want to say the both of you have earwormed me good and proper now. If there's a Moving Pictures song I don't need (because it was played ad nauseam on Australian radio way back when), it's that one.

#66 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 12:45 AM:

I set the background of my blog to black, so the anti-SOPA image on the front page stands out. It's not a perfect blackout, but then I only get visited by spiders and spammers.

#67 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 12:52 AM:

Boing Boing and Wikipedia (English) have gone black.

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 01:32 AM:

The news of various sites like Wikipedia going black was high-level news on the BBC radio programs tonight, so I think it's getting some international attention. But I don't recall seeing anything in the Wall Street Journal this morning. Maybe tomorrow. If so, I'll mention it when ML comes back up.

#69 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 01:52 AM:

The regular version of English-language Wikipedia (the domain) seems to have gone on strike, but the mobile version ( looks like it's scabbing.

I've set (which even I forget to look at for months at a time) to start 503ing automatically at midnight, California time.

#70 ::: Arthur D. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 02:42 AM:

Avram @ 69

It looks like the mobile site has a banner up now, at least.

As a Minnesota resident, well, I have some interesting letters to write.

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:14 PM:

PNH #50 "and the Social Credit Party of British Columbia." As opposed to the Social Credit Party of New Zealand?

#72 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:16 PM:

Well, it did make the front page top of the second section of the WSJ, under the headline "New, Old Media Battle Over Net Rules." They give points to the opposition to SOPA for "showing a strategic ability worthy of the best political campaigns."

It's interesting how they characterize what PIPA/SOPA are attempting to do: stop foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music, and other products. Most of the discussion I've seen has not been about websites that are selling product -- merely websites that have "infringing material." I've gotten entirely domestic pirated product from people on eBay, and paid money for it (unintentionally, and I've managed to get money back and destroy the pirated disks. eBay is a much more likely site to get shut down than ML, except for one thing -- eBay has a lot more money to throw around.

If the bill only did what the WSJ says, I wouldn't oppose it. I think someone's being disingenuous here.

#73 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:46 PM:

Jo MacQueen @65 If there's a Moving Pictures song I don't need

-- there were others? I kid, I kid... #US_OneHitWonderPhenom

PNH @50 - Yeah, I checked ProPublica, and upon not finding Udall listed, I went Googling and found that blog post. Also, I am but a tadpole in the Rocky Mountain Politics, and I very much appreciate the lesson from you and Beth. :D

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 09:02 PM:

While Congress is getting massive pushback, the Supremes are engaged in this:

#75 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 09:06 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @73 -- there were others? I kid, I kid...

That's all right, as that one bombarded my ears for so long that I tend to forget they had others too.

More relevantly, I added my e-mail address to the international petition last night.

#76 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 09:59 PM:

I spent much of the day signal boosting on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 10:21 PM:

It was on the front page of the LA Times site. I would assume the printed edition also has coverage.

#78 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 10:41 PM:

The Bryan Lehrer Show on WNYC did a segment on it. That's me calling in at 8:25.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 02:05 AM:

I wonder how the famous musical film, Singing in the Rain, would fare under a SOPA/PIPA regime, when the melody to the song "Make 'em Laugh" is so obviously a rip-off of "Be A Clown", with no acknowledgement of the original author, the apparently obscure composer Irving Berlin.

#80 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 08:20 AM:

Dave Bell @ 79... When Berlin went "What the heck?", MGM financially compensated him.

#81 ::: LisaJulie ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 08:48 AM:

And from the toobs:

The Day the LOLcats died

#82 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:19 AM:

Dave Bell, 79, and Serge, 80: I certainly hope MGM didn't really compensate Berlin, since it was Cole Porter who wrote "Be a Clown." (The link suggests Porter wasn't that upset.)

#83 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:54 AM:

Chris Quinones @ 82... Porter, no Berlin? I obviously was remembering wrong. I stand corrected.

#84 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:47 AM:

Dunno where I got Berlin from.

#85 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:15 PM:

In the vein of one's publisher attempting to harm one's liberties, it may interest Making Light to know that Nicolai Josuttis, author of The C++ Standard Library, is ceasing work on the nearly-finished second edition until his publisher reverses their support for SOPA.

#86 ::: Dave DuPlantis ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:42 PM:

Jo @ 65, guilty as charged! I must confess that exhaustive repetition didn't seem to bother me quite as much back in those days ... plus I seem to recall a significant period of time, many years later, when I could not find that song to play again.

And if I posted a link to it, well, I just condemned this site, should these bills become law. I'm not sure which is worse: the idea that it would be OK for the government and ISPs to treat online sites/businesses with the same care they use with existing legislation, or the near certainty that takedowns would be aimed squarely at those least able to defend themselves and those most likely to object to the law in the first place. (In other words, Making Light goes down, texansforlamarsmith stays up.)

I guess it's another reminder that money goes a long way in politics. The bills as written seem to be obviously bad ideas (although seeing some of the discussion via Jon Stewart, I'll bet some representatives didn't even bother to look at the bill before agreeing to support it), and yet even with a significant public outcry, even in an election year, there's no guarantee they won't pass.

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