Senator disputes Aaron Swartz's SOPA, Protect IP role

Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, is taking issue with a description of how a discussion with one of his aides led the late Aaron Swartz to campaign against Hollywood-backed copyright bills.

At an event in San Francisco last weekend, Peter Eckersley, Swartz's former roommate and the Electronic Frontier Foundation's technology projects director, told an audience that the late activist created the advocacy group Demand Progress after a fruitless meeting with one of Leahy's aides.

Aaron Cooper, who works for Leahy -- the author of the Protect IP Act -- as the chief intellectual property … Read more

SOPA legislation

When it comes to cracking down on Internet piracy, Hollywood has been used to getting its own way on Capitol Hill. For the last 15 years, the Motion Picture Association of America and its allies have tallied an enviable list of political victories: the No Electronic Theft Act (1997), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998), the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (2005), and the Pro-IP Act (2008).

But in 2012, something strange happened. Hollywood and its allies among large copyright holders actually lost.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and a parallel Senate version called Protect IP were designed … Read more

Congressman proposes two-year ban on Net regulation bills

A new proposal would temporarily stop the federal government from pushing through bills and regulations on the Internet's content.

Recent attempts to regulate the Internet -- in the form of SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA -- are all dead in the water after failing in Congress. But the potential of poorly thought-out changes remains a reality.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft of the proposed bill, dubbed the "Internet American Moratorium Act 2012," to Project Madison on Monday. The crowdsourcing platform allows people to read and amend draft bills online, striking through text and adding … Read more

The 404 981: Where the world is a vampire (podcast)

As the case for Web censorship moves forward, Twitter announced today that it'll soon block tweets on a countrywide basis when they violate local restrictions, so we can look forward to our government making it illegal for Nickelback to fight back against their Twitter haters.

We're surprised that some Google users are upset about the company's new "streamlined" privacy policies--don't they know that Google knows more about you than your own mother?… Read more

SOPA-proponent Dodd under attack by Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales

Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America and former U.S. Senator, made a few comments recently that have made him extremely unpopular in the Web world.

According to VentureBeat, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called for the MPAA to fire Dodd, saying that Dodd's statements undermine the MPAA and make the organization seem corrupt.

During last week's major online protest against SOPA and PIPA--the two antipiracy bills pending in the Senate and Congress--Dodd told Fox News, "Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching … Read more

Obama to Internet: Hang out with me on Google+

Having worked for years to connect with voters on the Internet, President Obama will actually hang out with some in a Google+ video chat.

Later this month, Obama will meet with selected members of the public in a videoconference chat using the Google+ hangout feature on January 30, said Ramya Raghavan, YouTube's news and politics manager, in a blog post yesterday.

It won't be just anybody, though. People must submit questions at the White House's YouTube page, either in text or 20-second video form.

"Your YouTube questions will drive the interview, and several participants with top-voted … Read more

SOPA song shows times a-changin' for would-be Dylans

The times are indeed a-changin' -- even when it comes to folk anthems.

This generation's Bob Dylans, Joan Baezes, and Ramblin' Jack Elliotts aren't gathering in locales like New York's legendary Washington Square Park to swap chords and licks. They're busily congregating in the gigantic public park that is the Internet, via social media.

And, as a recent video makes clear, YouTube, Facebook, and other such sites seem also to be taking the place of street corners or truck beds when it comes to providing a stage for budding protest singers and their songs.

Forest Gibson and Zachary Cohn's "The Day the LOLcats Died" (embedded below) is certainly not the first Internet protest song, or even the first anti-SOPA tune to wend its way across the Web. ("Firewall" and "SOPA Cabana" are but two other anti-antipiracy screeds that have come before -- with "Cabana" even suggesting Dylan and his "Subterranean Homesick Blues" via handwritten lyrics on cards).

But the presentation and form of "LOLCats" call to mind, in a way these other tunes don't, the stereotypical image of the protest singer: a lone soul busily killing fascists with his or her acoustic machine.… Read more

EU Internet czar piles on, says SOPA is bad news

It's becoming increasingly clear that supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a political mistake--even if you live in Europe.

European Commission vice president and European Union Internet czar Neelie Kroes tweeted today that she's happy to see the "tide is turning on SOPA," adding that we "don't need bad legislation when (we) should be safeguarding benefits of (the) open Internet."

That "tide" came on quite strong recently, with major Web sites, including Google and Wikipedia, staging protests and attracting Web users to stand behind them. Things have become so … Read more

Wikipedia shows traffic uptick during SOPA protest

Although Wikipedia completely blacked out its English language Web site yesterday in protest of potential U.S. antipiracy legislation, traffic on the Web encyclopedia was higher than usual, according to research and analysis company Zscaler.

"If you want a quick way of increasing traffic to your website--change or take down portions of your website in protest," Zscaler wrote on its blog yesterday. "At least that is what we have gleaned from today's (1/18) Wikipedia protest against SOPA."

Graphs on the Zscaler blog show that unique Wikipedia visits during the blackout were higher than surrounding … Read more

Anonymous goes nuclear; everybody loses?

In the aftermath of Wednesday's SOPA/PIPA blackout protests, the Internet community amassed quite a bit of goodwill, flexed its muscles in a friendly, humorous, civil-disobedience kind of way, and, remarkably, even managed to change quite a few minds.

Just 24 short hours later, Anonymous legions nuked that goodwill and took cyber security into thermonuclear territory. The real question now is: were they played?

As I write this, #OpMegaUpload is in full effect. The Internet is seemingly coming down all around me. Global Internet traffic is fluctuating between 13 percent and 14 percent above normal, and, as you can … Read more