Successful internet blackout, Zuck tweets, but has Don McLean been ripped off?

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order

Internet blackoutAs you can't have failed to have noticed, yesterday some of the world's most famous websites chose a variety of ways to protest against proposed anti-piracy legislation in the United States.

Sites such as Reddit, Wired, Boing Boing and Google either blanked out their content or displayed clear links explaining why they were against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) being debated by Congress.

Wikipedia, for instance, used a simple JavaScript to obscure its website to English speakers (as it happens, that was something that was easy to bypass, as I described to some reader's consternation and presumably some college students' relief).

Wikipedia blackout

As a side note, I was bemused to hear that Experian claimed UK visits to Wikipedia were higher than normal on blackout day, with visits to the mobile version of the site (which was not blacked out) up some 14%.

And it wasn't just major websites which participated in the blackout - plenty of smallers sites and home-spun blogs jumped at the opportunity to express their dislike for the proposed legislation.

It seems to me like the blackout was a success in at least one way - more people, including those who don't commonly follow technology news, will now be aware of the proposed US laws and how it might affect them and other internet users.

Indeed, Wikipedia claimed that more than 162 million saw their blackout page, and over eight million went on to look up how to contact their elected representatives' contact information via their tool.

And I almost fell off my chair when Mark Zuckerberg tweeted - yes, tweeted! - urging Americans to contact their congressmen:

It was the first time Zuck has tweeted in almost three years. I guess he's not that much into this social media malarkey, so I'm glad he could remember his password.

But it wasn't just a day for internet celebrities to have their voice heard on the issue. Plenty of regular Joes had their say too, and some folks even found entertaining ways to get their point across - like in this video.

I wonder what Don McLean thinks about SOPA/PIPA? I wonder even if he knows about this video? He, after all, was the singer-songwriter who composed "American Pie", well remembered for the line "the day the music died".

One thing we all should be mindful of, is giving proper credit where it's due.

The SOPA/PIPA legislation is, in my opinion, daft and unworkable. It's not going to be effective way of dealing with piracy.

The news that more US lawmakers are withdrawing support for the laws is something that many of us will be relieved to hear.

And if the internet blackout helped make more people understand the concerns and depth of feeling about this flawed legislation, then I think we can say it was a good thing.

Image credit: PSantaRosa's Flickr photostream (Creative Commons)

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6 Responses to Successful internet blackout, Zuck tweets, but has Don McLean been ripped off?

  1. Gbird · 1007 days ago

    There's an exception in copyright law for parody. Someone who make their living off of parody songs (like Weird Al Yankovitch) pays royalties, but a one-off parody song falls under the parody/educational exception. So, no, Don McLean was not ripped off.

  2. Blockader · 1007 days ago

    Lets look into the future, Because you posted a video of someone using Don's music... does that mean, under Sopa, someone could request that this website could now be blocked?

    • Loads of companies block our website anyway - just because it includes the word "Naked" in its name.

      Which seems a pretty dumb filter if you ask me... "Naked Chef", "Naked Lunch", "naked flames".. you get my drift.

  3. datacrashMD · 1006 days ago

    People need to realize that the Fat Cats in Hollywood antd the rest of the Entertainment Industry have their hands in our Politician's pockets. Unless we act and contact our Legislater's in Washington D.C. this will become a world as fepecticted in Geore Orwells 1984. Imagine a world without the Internet?

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.