Despite the fact that SOPA, the controversial internet piracy bill, has been stalled in Congress and that members of the Obama administration have denounced the type of legislation that reduces freedom of expression..., which is presumably a reference to SOPA, many New York techies are still aggressively trying to end any consideration for the bill and legislation that similarly restricts use of the web.
An emergency meeting from New York Tech Meetup, a group of 18,000 members, was called to gather outside the offices of New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both of whom sponsor a controversial bill, Protect IP Act. The NYTM demonstration is just one form of protest taking place across internet-based companies.
In an email addressed to NYTM, managing director of the group Jessica Lawrence described precisely what the group would be protesting: NYTM has called for an Emergency [sic] NY Tech Meetup on January 18 so that we can publicly demonstrate our collective dismay at the unprecedented attack being made on our industry and the Internet through the SOPA and PIPA legislation currently under consideration by Congress, and in the case of PIPA, sponsored by our two New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Lawrence later adds, It's important that we show our collective strength and the importance of the NY tech industry with our physical presence. The demonstration is planned for Wednesday, January 18 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. at 780 Third Ave just outside the offices of both Senator Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The invitation also alludes to special guest speakers which are to be announced later.
The International Business Times reached out to the offices of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand, but both were unavailable for comment when this article was published. We will update with comments as soon as we receive them. At the time of print, 1,118 people were committed to the demonstration outside the offices of the New York Senators.
In addition to the physical demonstrations in New York, man websites will be blacked out as a form of online protest. Websites that will be blacked out include Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales expects that 25 million daily visitors will be affected by the blackout according to a Washington Post report.
Wikipedia's stance against recent legislation has been explained in a recent post from executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation Sue Gardner, who wrote, We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects even if they can't pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States -- don't advance the interests of the general public.
Reddit, the social news website and community, has similarly taken a public stance against recent legislation and will also be blacked out on Wednesday. Reddit explains its stance against the legislation in a recent blog post in which the Reddit spokespeople write, The freedom, innovation and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience and put an end to reddit [sic] and many other sites you use everyday [sic]. In a post from Daily Dot, 28 million monthly unique visitors were cited in the final quarter of 2011.
Boing Boing, the popular blog, has also joined the mix. They'll be participating in the blackout because, in the words of the Boing Boing editorial staff, Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. Boing Boing has more than 5 million unique vistitors per month.
While Wikipedia, Boing Boing, and Reddit team up to create an internet with gaping holes, and while hundred demonstrate in New York, other smaller websites and demonstraters will be piling on. None of the demonstrators, however, will be any of the largest social networks in the world. Twitter, Facebook and search-engine juggernaut Google will not be participating in any demonstrations.
Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ebay, AOL, Mozilla, Zynga and Yahoo have voiced their opinion on the copyright legislation in a full page ad published in the New York Times. The entire text from the ad can be viewed on the Boing Boing website, though not on Wednesday when the site will be in the midst of a blackout. The letter from the granddaddies of the internet says, We support the bills' state goals--providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign rogue website that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new and uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.
The Business Software Alliance, which is an industry trade group composed of companies such as Apple, Microsoft and 27 others, originally backed the legislation, though they've recently revised their opinion. In a recent post on the group's website, BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman wrote, Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors.