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Piracy Your Rights Online

Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In" 241

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-today's-sopa-news dept.
bdking writes "Reddit's planned 12-hour 'blackout' on January 18 sounds like an ineffectual, if not self-defeating, strategy for opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act. But the social news site actually will use that time not to 'go dark,' but to educate visitors about the ramifications of the House legislation that many fear will lead to widespread shutdowns of Internet sites."
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Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In"

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemesisghost (1720424) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:53PM (#38667478)
    Hopefully other major supporters(Google, Facebook, etc) will follow suit and get the word out how bad this piece of garbage is.
    • And Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Skewray (896393) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:57PM (#38667534) Homepage
      "Hopefully other major supporters(Google, Facebook, etc) will follow suit and get the word out how bad this piece of garbage is." And don't forget Slashdot. Participating in Reddit's blackout is something we could do also.
    • by Avarist (2453728)

      Hopefully other major supporters(Google, Facebook, etc) will follow suit and get the word out how bad this piece of garbage is.

      The thing is, every single person vaguely familiar with the Tech world already knows this. It's everybody else that needs convincing, and I'm pretty sure neither Google nor Facebook, 2 Tech giants, are the right pick the counter this.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tanktalus (794810) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:02PM (#38667580) Journal

        The thing is, every single person vaguely familiar with the Tech world already knows this. It's everybody else that needs convincing, and I'm pretty sure neither Google nor Facebook, 2 Tech giants, are the right pick the counter this.

        Google, Facebook ... these are perfect places for a "learn-in". Imagine if Google or Facebook "went dark" for every user (at least in the U.S.) once a day for a week, and, instead of serving up normal content, served up content that explained what SOPA would mean to them, the non-techies, in a language they could understand. Hitting reload would get you through to the content you were originally looking for, so it's not a huge impediment, but enough to wake people up.

        Reddit is not the best place for this, but it's a start.

        • Hitting reload would get you through to the content you were originally looking for, so it's not a huge impediment, but enough to wake people up.

          People will hit reload, shrug it off, and think that Google is exaggerating the problem. If Google were to go offline all day, every day, then people would notice...and switch to one of Google's competitors. People do not care about the hypothetical problems with SOPA; it will take Facebook, Youtube, etc. being taken offline because of SOPA before people realize there is a problem.

          • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:18PM (#38667770)
            Facebook and youtube will be fine! You know the rules: Only sites that don't have enough money to mount a serious defence will be killed. It's all the little sites that are at risk. thatguywiththeglasses.com already did an announcement - they have faced copyright threats before for using clips from films in their reviews (This is why 'The Room' review was pulled), and under SOPA the whole domain might be closed down.
        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MDillenbeck (1739920) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:12PM (#38667680)
          Imagine if Google went "dark" - I bet our politicians use many of their services. Imagine if google search, google+, gmail, youtube, and so forth for a 24 hour period was reduced to a simple message that this is what SOPA may result in on a more permanent basis. I think that would send the message loud and clear - but why would google loose all that revenue? After all, if the big guys like Google and Facebook wanted to stop SOPA they would just put the money into lobbyists. (My suspicion, they are paying lobbyists, but since they believe the government wouldn't take them down while taking down their competitors, guess which way I suspect they are trying to influence the vote). The Wild West days of internet are fading fast, but not because the internet is getting deeds - its because Intellectual Property laws are giving away deeds to concepts and ideas.
          • Re:Good (Score:4, Interesting)

            by sidthegeek (626567) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:44PM (#38668062)

            The Wild West days of internet are fading fast, but not because the internet is getting deeds - its because Intellectual Property laws are giving away deeds to concepts and ideas.

            That is an awesome analogy. My hopefully-relevant car analogy would be like: You are free to purchase any car you want, but the manufacturers still own all the components inside, down to the nuts and bolts. And you have to pay those manufacturers a fee every time you want to use the car, or they'll take the parts out of the car and charge you an exorbitant amount FAR exceeding any possible monetary value the parts could have or earn.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

          by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:32PM (#38667938)

          Imagine if Google or Facebook "went dark" for every user (at least in the U.S.) once a day for a week, and, instead of serving up normal content, served up content that explained what SOPA would mean to them, the non-techies, in a language they could understand

          I think this is a good start, but an even more (I think) effective strategy for Google and FB would be if they served up normal content with random entries (search results/Feeds) darkened out or redacted with a hover box explaining this is what the internet could be if SOPA passes.

          That's a lot more illustrative than just spelling out for a visitor what SOPA could do.

      • Of course Google and Facebook (along with ANY company that offers internet services) are tech giants, their *USERS* are the ones we are trying to educate!
      • Ya, everyone knows that Google and Facebook are only use by the technically knowledgeable. /Sarcasm

        • by Fluffeh (1273756)

          Ya, everyone knows that Google and Facebook are only use by the technically knowledgeable. /Sarcasm

          That's exactly the point here. The technical masses know about SOPA and what a PITA it will be. However, technical people alone won't get the bill revoked. What we need is the mindless masses. In this case, the people that you appear to snubbing your nose at are the ones whose help we need.

          This bill needs to be decimated, and the best way to do that is to take the circus and free bread away from the plebs.

          • This bill needs to be decimated, and the best way to do that is to take the circus and free bread away from the plebs.

            You want them to take out every tenth word? 0_o

            • by Fluffeh (1273756)

              Decimate:
              1) Kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage of.
              2) Drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something): "plant viruses that can decimate yields".

              Decimalized:
              1) Convert (a system of coinage or weights and measures) to a decimal system.

              Amusingly, taking out every tenth word of the SOPA bill might just make it unusable to the point of acceptable. Not as good as wiping it off the face of the western world, but a good start.

      • The thing is, every single person vaguely familiar with the Tech world already knows this. It's everybody else that needs convincing, and I'm pretty sure neither Google nor Facebook, 2 Tech giants, are the right pick the counter this.

        I'd say it's our/the tech community's responsibility to educate everybody else that needs convincing. If not us, then who? The papers? ........

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:18PM (#38667766)

        The thing is, every single person vaguely familiar with the Tech world already knows this. It's everybody else that needs convincing, and I'm pretty sure neither Google nor Facebook, 2 Tech giants, are the right pick the counter this.

        Sure they are. Google and Facebook probably experience close to 95% of the entire web traffic, especially those who you want to educate.

        All Google has to do is simply put in an interstital page of censored results with the overlay "The Stop Online Piracy Act has will remove many sites from the Internet, including the ones you probably were looking for. Write your congressperson and then click here for the full internet." which redirects to the proper search.

        Facebook is similar. "Posting this on your wall could remove your Facebook access due to the Stop Online Piracy Act. Click here to object to this law and continue posting."

        For Google, it presents a borked listing of sites - perhaps culled from the pages near the end, and completely useless results.

        For Facebook, it threatens people to loss of access. Given how people are addicted to it, that could be quite scary.

      • by stanlyb (1839382)
        The biggest problem is, that almost no one knows what is Magna Carta, and why it matter....
        Only if everyone knew what i am talking about, such a stupidity like Patriot Act, would never ever happened. And SOPA? Let me tell you, even the kings were afraid of the people...
      • Maybe you've got it backwards... if the people who read tech sites are forced to read about SOPA all day instead of reading about the latest golly gee whiz iCrap, maybe those sites would be educating the most teachable people.

        Put it on a mainstream news site, and maybe their typical viewers will just knock over their drool buckets searching for a keyboard they haven't used since the mouse was invented.

        I dunno. I don't interact with the normals very much, they see my leet tatts and pet laser shark and it a

    • I have to agree. Doing a pure blackout I think will just make average users mad at the companies not SOPA. Doing some kind of educational page or system of "Hey if SOPA passes this service may have to go offline and here is why and what you can do about it" seems to be a much better idea.

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Actually, I hope that's the goal. Seems to me that Slashdot and Reddit have treated the topic quite often and their audience knows about it (both sites normally front-page articles about it).

      Clearly Google and Facebook can reach audiences that have absolutely no clue about it.
  • by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:59PM (#38667550)
    Can we get /. to join in the blackout? I suppose everybody who visits /. already knows about SOPA, but we really need to get everybody in on this.
    They're going to ruin the internet. The INTERNET. :O Think of the lolcats!
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      I hate lolcats. You have now convinced me to support SOPA.

    • by Elbereth (58257) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @06:22PM (#38668406) Journal

      The internet isn't going to be ruined. The internet will change for the worse. There's a big difference.

      Mostly-legitimate sites like YouTube and MegaUpload will arguably be hit the hardest. Their primary draw is the rampant copyright infringement. Users who upload original content will have to jump through hoops in order to validate that their content does not infringe anyone's copyright. There will probably be an initial month-long validation queue, which will eventually be streamlined down to a week-long wait. Some people will leave in protest, but most will just decry any dissent as "whining". In most likelihood, parody and other fair use exceptions will be suppressed, in the name of simplifying administrative duties. I predict the argument will go, "If we allow legitimate parodies through, then everyone will simply claim to be a subtle parody. Thus, our rule on no parodies, even if they are technically allowed, by law." In the end, YouTube will survive, but it will be nothing but insipid pet videos and hot, up-and-coming pop stars from major labels. Alternatives will pop up frequently on darknets, but none of the YouTube users will ever figure out how to access them. MegaUpload goes commercial, with no free accounts, in a move to pay for all the censorship that is required to clean up the site.

      Quasi-legitimate sites, like 4chan, will either disappear or radically transform. My guess is that they'll all go underground. Anyone who can't figure out how to access them will be ridiculed as a lamer or noob. The government will swat at them, off and on, but nothing will ever really stick. A couple of them will simply move to European or Asian servers and abandon U.S. users. I have trouble imagining these sites going fully legit, but I guess stranger things have happened. In that case, full-time moderators would roam the boards, searching out any kind of copyright infringement and handing out frequent bans. After a while, the workload gets to be too much and the site closes down.

      "Rogue" websites, such as piratebay, would be the first victims. They'll put up a token fight for a few months or years, but it won't go anywhere, and they'll all be forced to relocate to darknets or other various underground locales. Some will simply shrug and ignore the U.S. Again, the government will swat at them, and some of them will eventually be taken down, but new ones will simply pop up to replace them. Eventually, someone will be made an example of, with a 10-15 year prison sentence (if they're lucky). A show trial will briefly made the news, then be forgotten by all but the civil libertarians. A huge uproar on civil libertarian blogs will follow, along with further threads of "it's time for the ammo box!", but absolutely nothing will come of it, and they'll all stew in impotent anger. Slashdot follows every single fucking story with dogged perseverance, long after the mainstream media move on to other topics. In every single story, at least one person states, "If only you sheeple had voted for Ron Paul, none of this would have happened!", which becomes the newest Slashdot meme.

      Controversial web sites, such as those espousing hate speech, expressing sympathy for terrorists (pro-Hamas or pro-Hezbollah), and right-wing militia groups will quickly be added to the lists. Most people won't miss them, but the civil libertarians will go berserk. A freedom of speech case will make it to the US Supreme Court, but nothing will come of it. In a 5-4 decision, the censorship will be upheld as constitutional. All the web sites move to European servers or darknets. The government halfheartedly swats at them off and on for the next ten years, until an example is made of someone, who probably ends up successfully fighting off the charges. It's hailed as a major win for civil libertarians, but nothing really changes, because nothing ever does. The government goes back to swatting halfheartedly at websites on darknets.

      Sites like Flickr and Facebook, which generally depend on original conten

      • A freedom of speech case will make it to the US Supreme Court, but nothing will come of it. In a 5-4 decision, the censorship will be upheld as constitutional.

        Man, I feel like you're the voiceover for a future history channel show, chronicling the end times. I can hear it...

        Sorry, I was being a little hyperbolic to express my strong feelings. You're right, it wouldn't be the internet. But it would be largely the end of "the internet as we know and love it". All the undergrounding and moving to Europe you've described would likely result in splinter internets, similar to the chinese internet behind the great wall of fire, and multiple "Internets" = "THE intern

        • by Elbereth (58257)

          I feel lucky. We'll see if I'm right or not. Like anyone who likes gloating when he's been proven right, I'm usually cagey and wily enough to avoid making specific predictions, but it's just too tempting.

          And, yeah, I guess I'm responding more to the general Slashdot attitude of "SOPA will kill the internet!!!!!" than I am responding to you, specifically. Sorry that you had to take the brunt of my long-winded rant. Plus, you make a very good point, in that the Internet could very well die. It's somethin

      • Also, in my defense, I didn't say the internet would go down in flames. I said they were ruining it. And they are, they're taking all the fun parts (last vestige of free speech) away.
      • To put it short (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @08:00PM (#38669158)

        SOPA, if precisely enforced) will eliminate user-generated content from the Internet, reverting it to a dumb tube where you can watch what you are fed.

  • Sadly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:04PM (#38667604)
    My experience has been that people do not really care about hypothetical consequences. People will not understand that SOPA is a bad thing until it is passed and bad things happen that directly affect their lives. If Facebook were taken down by a SOPA complaint, people would believe that SOPA is bad.

    The blackout idea might help to convey the problems with SOPA. More likely, people will think that the problems are being exaggerated by the participants in the blackout.
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      The people who dismiss it are the people who don't count. Nobody's going to encounter a bunch of websites blanked out and then call their senator to express their love of PIPA. But those who are educated and care will make the call. I imagine just Reddit will do to tie up the phone lines, but if enough smaller sites like Slashdot and Digg and so on join in it may shame the big guys like Google and Facebook into participating too. And that's a big whammy.
    • by mark-t (151149)

      You're right... fortunately for SOPA's supporters, SOPA has a few consequences that, I believe, most people will be able to relate to.

      Under SOPA, any new online service or technology that ever gets invented after SOPA passes, but which happens to depend on user-submitted content in some way, will be suppressed if it should happen to be the case that the service or technology starts to get used a lot for piracy before it has had a chance to really gather a lot of steam.

      That might sound like a far-fetche

  • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:16PM (#38667746)
    They could make up a list of words associated with trademarks/copyrights and every time someone either searched for, or posted a comment about something with one of those terms in it, they could use a popup "You used the copyrighted/trademarked term "(/insertstringhere)", Under the pending SOPA legislation, if the owner company sent us notice regarding this comment we would have no choice but to censor it. Please contact your representative and/or senator to let them know you stand with us in opposition to this extremely poorly worded piece of legislation"
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:28PM (#38667890) Homepage Journal

    While i applaud the attempts to get the word out to the general public the ONLY thing that will help the cause is money. The legislature must be offered more to can this than support support. Its really that simple. Sad, but simple.

    • I hope you enjoy your blanket & bottle - I'd rather fight this than pack my tent and lay down before their steamroller...
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Id rather pick battles i have a chance to win. I have a finite amount of energy so why waste it ?

  • by Arrogant-Bastard (141720) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:30PM (#38667920)
    Not because it will reach people who need to know; I suspect that most clueful people here already realize that SOPA and PIPA are awful legislation, written by industry lobbyists and supported by their pet Congressmen -- who have been well-paid for their votes. But because it will change the dialogue from "Reddit is blacking out" to "Two sites are blacking out" and then -- when another one joins "Three sites are blacking out" and then "Many sites are blacking out" and then "A lot of sites are blacking out" and that is when it will matter.

    It matters because it shows we'll make sacrifices to make a point. It's easy to post something whining about how bad these bills are, but much, much tougher to actually give up something to back that up. The supporters of these bills know that. They're counting on the millions and millions of us out here to grump about it...and move on. To ignore it, as if it doesn't matter to us, doesn't apply to us. We need to demonstrate that it DOES matter, that we're not going to let it go.

    A blackout isn't the end of that, of course. It's only the beginning. But it would be a good way to start.
  • add Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Wikipedia. Can you imagine the exposure? That would be the nuclear option.

  • by supremebob (574732) <themejunky&geocities,com> on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:35PM (#38667962) Journal

    Back when they were trying to pass the Communications Decency Act back in 1996, a bunch of the major web sites changed their pages to black backgrounds and included a link explaining why they were doing it. I remember that really getting my attention the day I went to Yahoo (remember when Yahoo was important?) and seeing that for the first time.

    If someone like Google or Facebook did that to protest SOPA today, I guarantee that it would get major news attention.

  • by alienth (2551034) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:44PM (#38668058)

    Disclaimer: I am a reddit admin

    Here is what I'm hoping to see as the result of the blackout:

    * Awareness raised among the users who don't login to the site(a majority of our traffic).

    * A day of action which encourages people to contact their representatives.

    * Other web properties participating in some form of highly-visible protest. A lot of the big players are considering how far they can go in protest. Hopefully the step we are taking here will give them some encouragement.

    Jimmy Wales recently indicated [wikipedia.org] that he is interested in joining us. If Wikipedia joins in a blackout, the message would reach a huge number of people, and will hopefully make a splash in mainstream media and news coverage.

    • It seems like a blackout of many sites would be more effective if all the sites were blacked out at the same time. If multiple sites people regularly visit are down simultaneously, then you are more likely to get an "OMG, the internet is broken" reaction than if sites were down at different times (which will give more of a "Dang, wikipedia is doing that same thing reddit did last week, weird" reaction).

      It would probably be like herding cats to try and get a large number of sites to all shutdown at the exact

  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:51PM (#38668148) Homepage
    I'm still confused about how SOPA is supposed to prevent (or at least hinder) piracy and file sharing. All it does is break the domain name system, it's equivalent to defacing highway signs, the IP still work just fine. People can easily edit their hosts file to be whatever they want. How is this at all hindering the p2p file sharing? What are they going to do, make it illegal to share 32-bit numbers? I present to you http://3259460367/ [3259460367] ... This entire law seems seriously ill conceived and idiotic at best.
  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @06:05PM (#38668274) Homepage

    "Reddit's planned 12-hour 'blackout' on January 18 sounds like an ineffectual, if not self-defeating, strategy for opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act."

    Yep, no trolling there.

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