So, that happened

I’ve never seen a day like yesterday online. Yeah, Wikipedia being out got most of the focus, and a lot of that was jokes at the expense of people who were kind of terminally clueless. People will forget about it over time, or take away the wrong message (already, I heard a BBC commenter say, “So, this is a blow against intellectual property?”… no, just against the use of it as an excuse to stifle completely unrelated areas.) It’ll be easy to forget the feeling of watching history change in front of our eyes, as the day went on. So consider:

Until the internet spoke up, SOPA and PIPA were considered to be a sure thing, with overwhelming majorities in both houses. Even worse, they were considered to be sure to pass because nobody would even bother to learn what was in them. 

According to, over 75,000 sites, large and small, took part in the protest. It was more than that, really: that’s only the people who added their names to the list.

Over 7 million people signed Google’s petition. It’s still up, if you didn’t get to it yesterday.

Thousands of people showed up in person in New York for the NY Tech Meetup’s protest at their Senators’ offices.

Dozens of legislators announced their opposition to the two bills. Some of them were previously unaligned, but the list includes several who were previously in favor, even co-sponsors of the bills.

We — the internet, the meme fields, the digital wild west — did a thing. Don’t forget it. But above, don’t stop until it’s done:

ACTION: If you couldn’t get through to your congress members because their phone and fax lines were slammed and their websites went down, contact them now. Even if you did get through, contact them again.


SOPA Linkspam

I had a whole different post planned for this morning, but everything is coming fast and furious, and I wanted to get a few links out before I forget or they go (even more) stale:

First up, because this is the first time I’ve seen them back off in a dozen or more years of crappy internet legislation.

Reeling MPAA declares DNS filtering “off the table”

… But Tepp and Brigner pledged to press on with the remaining provisions of the legislation. “We need to move forward as soon as possible,” Tepp said.

And while the MPAA appears to be abandoning the DNS-filtering provisions for this Congress, Brigner hinted that his organization may resurrect the proposal in the future.


From danah boyd: We need to talk about piracy (but we must stop SOPA first)

In talking with non-geeks, I can’t help but be fascinated that the debate has somehow been framed in the public eye as “pro-piracy” vs. “anti-piracy.” Needless to say, that’s the frame that Murdoch is advocating, even as geeks are pushing for the “pro-internet” vs. “pro-censorship” frame. What’s especially intriguing to me is that the piracy conversation is getting convoluted even among politicos, revealing the ways in which piracy gets flattened to one concept.


The EFF is excellent and thorough, and looks beyond just the immediate legislative horserace to the deeper issues at stake. Go read the whole thing. How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation

Anyone who writes or distributes Virtual Private Network, proxy, privacy or anonymization software would be negatively affected. This includes organizations that are funded by the State Department to create circumvention software to help democratic activists get around oppressive regimes’ online censorship mechanisms. Ironically, PIPA and SOPA would not only institute the same practices as these regimes, but would essentially outlaw the tools used by activists to circumvent censorship in countries like Iran and China as well.


So is SOPA Dead? Not Exactly

Though the battle is won, the war is not. SOPA could easily make a resurgence if it sculpts itself to whatever the White House’s unspecified specifications are, and PIPA could also pass, as even with recent changes to it (courts can’t force ISPs to block websites), it’s still harmful.


The President’s Challenge

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.


From Tim O’Reilly on Google+: SOPA and PIPA are bad industrial policy

Policies designed to protect industry players who are unwilling or unable to address unmet market needs are always bad policies. They retard the growth of new business models, and prop up inefficient companies. But in the end, they don’t even help the companies they try to protect. Because those companies are trying to preserve old business models and pricing power rather than trying to reach new customers, they ultimately cede the market not to pirates but to legitimate players who have more fully embraced the new opportunity.

This site is going dark

Like a lot of webheads, I’m deeply concerned by the proposed bills working their way through Congress right now. As a community and an industry, we must oppose SOPA (House) and PIPA (Senate).

This site and my main business site will go dark from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm (US Eastern time) on Wednesday January 18. Client beta sites, support, and the like will not be affected. If you own a website, consider doing the same; if you’re not in a position to go dark, please voice your opposition to SOPA/PIPA in other ways. My combined page views are nothing compared to the vast empire that is I Can Has Cheezburger, but the more sites are united against the proposed laws, the greater our impact.

If you’re not in the US, please speak up anyway. Yes, these are US laws, but they’re designed to hurt the internet outside US jurisdiction: needless to say, this is one of the really reprehensible things about these laws, but it’s not the only one.

    • Ipstenu has a tutorial on how to go dark using the WordPress .maintenance file. See the note at the bottom for blacking out selected sites in a multisite installation.
    • Or use a plugin. This one will let you set your time zone and the blackout interval you want, as well as customizing the page that’s displayed.
    • If you’re already using a scheduled maintenance plugin, keep in mind that most of them will let you customize your away page — you may already have the tools you need.
    • Add a “STOP SOPA” ribbon to your site now. You can see it in action at the top of this page.

UPDATE: New resources!

UPDATE 2: For hosted sites (, Blogspot, Tumblr, etc.)

  • is a snippet that will work on most hosted blogs. Special hint for users with the 2011 theme: put this in one of the widgets in the footer, since the side widgets don’t appear on pages!

UPDATE The THIRD: It’s Tuesday Night, Time To Get Your Blackout On!

  • A nice-looking javascript solution from estelle.
  • Another WordPress plugin: Go Dark
  • And a big announcement: is joining the protest along with big players like Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and (sorta) Google!
  • users now have an option in their settings to add a ribbon or black out their sites. (From what I can tell, they appear to be based on the Stop-SOPA Ribbon and SOPA Blackout plugins mentioned above.)