Blackout Day

Stop SOPA, Pass on PIPA! Hundreds of Internet-Lovers Gather Outside Senatorial Offices

protest e1326914809707 Stop SOPA, Pass on PIPA! Hundreds of Internet Lovers Gather Outside Senatorial Offices

Photo by Walter Forsberg

UPDATE 1:27 p.m.: About 300 to 400 900 to 1,000 New York techies are gathered in front of the Midtown offices of Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at 780 Third Ave to protest their sponsorship of the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts that internet workers say will have destructive effects on the web.

“They’re making chants,” Stephen Duffy, our man on the scene, told Betabeat over the phone. The protesters reportedly took a page from the Occupy playbook with “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” and crafted the cachy, “STOP SOPA, PASS ON PIPA!” (N.B.: It’s apparently pronounced “pippa.”)

“What we have here is one of the geekiest, most rational protests in NYC history,” Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder and now advisor, told the crowd (via Ben Kessler).

“This is a whole rearranging of the way the web works,” Jessica Lawrence, managing director of the New York Tech Meetup, which helped organize the event, told our reporter. “Taking away the free speech elements and making it censored in the U.S. in way that it shouldn’t be, and that it is in foreign countries.”

Aren’t you guys just all our here to protect your businesses? Mr. Duffy asked.

Yes, she acknowledged. “But we are growing and we are the future of the U.S. economy. It makes sense to protect us [rather] than a dying industry that is not going to be saved. I think the current format of the the motion picture or music industry is not going to survive.”

She advocated a middle ground to protect artists “in a way that doesn’t shut down innovation.”

“This is a classic case of a 20th century government dealing with a 21st century problem,” said NYTM chairman Andrew Rasiej, who has experience lobbying in Washington.

It sounded like things were getting heated. “Hollywood is willing to stop your right to know just so they can ride around in their Porsches a few years longer,” said John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Clay Shirky, Scott Heiferman, Andrew McLaughlin, Eli Pariser, Tim Karr, and David Segal are slated to be at the rally. The senators have not indicated they will attend.

Sen. Schumer’s office has said the senator is carefully considering the PIPA legislation and does not support the bill 100 percent as written.

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