Friday, January 20, 2012

People Power

We saw a remarkable change in Congress this week, when coordinated action by a number of internet services like Wikipedia and Craigslist brought the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills to a halt. The graphic below illustrates the magnitude in the shifts in Congressional voting positions. This chart could be seen as a measurement of the power of millions of citizens' voices drowning out the power of traditional lobbyists. Or perhaps the power of the new internet moguls overtaking the power of the moguls of traditional media. Or maybe a victory for the forces of freedom over the forces of control. Or this action could be seen as a victory for those who want all their information for free vs. the creative community, which is entitled to be fairly compensated for original content.

I'm not taking sides in this debate. I like the idea of a free Internet, but I live in Hollywood, and I also support (and sometimes represent) people who do not like to see their work ripped off. A website like this one represents a combination of re-publishing the work of others (not for profit and generally with attribution), along with a good deal of my original work. I'm in favor of protecting that freedom, while also respecting the rights of, and finding ways to compensate, those who create content. I believe there are ways of protecting both kinds of legitimate interests, and we ought to work on that.

The point that is germane to the theme of hope and change is to remember that Congress can be responsive to the demands of large numbers of people acting in a coordinated fashion. The anti-SOPA action this week shows how effectively this can be accomplished.

(Chart from

1 comment:

  1. I 100% agree with your observations. Sometimes many of us wonder if they care hear. Apparently they can. But it takes heavy hitters like Jimmy Wales and millions upon millions of people to move Congress. But it is SO nice to see it in action!