Who Really Stopped SOPA and Why? (Tech Freedom)

I always suspected there was more to the story when Hollywood and the music industry just rolled over so easily after the net protested SOPA and PIPA. But what? Larry Downes from Tech Freedom asks the same question. This is a great read. Good job, Tech Freedom.

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Here at Macworld | iWorld 2012, over coffee in the press room I came across a terrific piece online from Larry Downes on Tech Freedom. If you’re following this SOPA/PIPA debacle, this site is one to follow.

Downes asks — and it is a great question that’s been nagging me, too — who really stopped SOPA? And why? He wants to know, as I do, what happened behind the scenes.

With the major bucks behind Hollywood, TV and the music industry, surely a little blackout online wouldn’t be enough to get the congressmen and congresswomen who supported it on behalf of Big Entertainment to just roll over. So was there something else going on behind the scenes? My gut says yes.

Larry Downes, writes a great article on Tech Freedom that addresses exactly this. Good job, Tech Freedom.

By Larry Downes for Tech Freedom: I split my time these days between Silicon Valley and Capitol Hill, and last week was a very good week to be in Washington.

In the fall, I witnessed the beginnings of a unique revolt over proposed legislation that would have dramatically changed the Internet’s business landscape.
Last week, that revolt achieved a stunning victory, sending Congress into a tailspin of retreat from bills that seemed certain, only months ago, to pass with little notice or resistance.

The two bills were the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act, or #PIPA and #SOPA as they became known on Twitter, where millions of Tweets condemned them and their supporters in and out of Congress. Heavily backed by D.C. favorites including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the music and motion picture industries, the legislation was superficially aimed at combating the scourge of foreign websites selling unlicensed or counterfeit American goods to U.S. consumers outside the legal reach of criminal and civil enforcement.

But to Internet users, the proposed legislation and the process by which it was steamrolled through a supine Congress took on mythic attributes. By the end of last week the firefight had morphed into a battle of old economy vs. new, of business as usual in Washington vs. the organized chaos of online life, of K Street lobbyists vs. ordinary … read the rest of the Tech Freedom piece here

This story contains several reasonable theories about what happened to cause SOPA and PIPA supporters to so rapidly withdraw … and why. Excellent commentary. Nice job, Tech Freedom.


  • Actually, my understanding is another factor is that one of the conservative think tanks also called SOPA and PIPA a bailout for Hollywood. Since the Republicans are doing everything they can to distance themselves from bailouts and pin that on Obama, they started jumping off the wagon.

  • So scary this SOPA and PIPA deal. I hope it’s all worked out and lil’ “common folk” like myself have to watch what we say on the web or even view.

    -RAP, II

  • Great find Gina — thanks for posting it here. I love the concept of a “bitroots revolt”, and love that it was successful, but the battle won’t be over until we have strong legislation protecting the rights and freedoms that SOPA/PIPA threatened. Without that, efforts to shackle the internet will continue. We may never see another standalone bill for that like SOPA or PIPA. Instead, we’ll probably see nasty chunks of them wrapped up in other legislation–things like defense bills or other national security-related legislation that are harder for Congress to vote against it or for a president to veto.