The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ
) released findings
from its New Media Index
, which revealed that for the week of Jan16-20 there was an overwhelming opposition towards the proposed internet legislation in Washington. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA and the Protect IP-Act (PIPA) were the dominant topics of conversation in the blogosphere and on Twitter
During this particular week, Congress had scheduled to vote on these two pieces of legislation to supposedly combat illegal downloading, streaming of movie services and TV shows. During this debate the participation was unprecedented because bloggers, Twitter users and other social media outlets or feared internet censorship.
In spite of having lobbyists from 115 companies and organizations backing both SOPA and PIPA, there was an extensive group of powerful technology companies condemning it. Who exactly opposed these bills? Well-known search giant Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, Mozilla Corp., Reedit, Wikipedia and many more.
“I have to say as a piece of legislation, given its impact on the internet, on social media, in the last couple of years there's the most significant and voluminous response that we have been seeing in any particular piece legislation,” said Associate Director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center, Mark Jurkowitz. “This represents a landmark victory for social media in being able at least temporarily to derail a piece of legislation that initially had a lot of support from politicians that had a lot of lobbyists behind it.”
The associate director emphasized it was an unusual event and a rarity for that week alone to see to such a large degree of commentary on a single topic.
The PEJ conducts another project called “The Pew Research Center for the People & Press” where the survey identified about 25 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29 following closely the developments of this story.
The quote that may encapsulate or even capture the essence of this debate can be described from an email from Danny from Firepole Marketing warning the implications of this proposed law.
“SOPA basically means that anyone (read: Hollywood) can accuse anyone else (read: small businesses like yours and mine) of copyright violation, and punitive action will be taken (read: our sites will be taken down indefinitely) with no recourse, no chance for appeal, and with a ‘guilty until proven innocent' mentality that is completely antithetical to Western democracy.”
The takeaway for some may have been Wikipedia’s blackout, Google’s black bar covering the logo on its homepage, Twitter’s trending topics or Hashtags about SOPA or PIPA-with many more examples. This was a topic of legislation that generated large interest and traffic. The mobilization on the internet and social media
sites clearly signaled how the commentary and online activism led to a temporary halt of PIPA and SOPA.