SOPA Opera

Look, Up In the Sky! Internet League Launches with its Very Own Cat Signal and a Big Party

Internet Defense League: Assemble.

Last night, Betabeat checked ourselves in with a nebbishy man holding an iPad, rode the elevator up to “PH” with another nebbishy man (a copy of The Leaderless Revolution tucked under his arm) and arrived upstairs at the Internet Defense League‘s New York launch party, just as the OpenPlans roofdeck was beginning to fill up.

It was one of those rooftops that aren’t quite at the top of the world–in fact, we could see the tealights of another party happening several stories up, right next door–but rather one of those that leave you hovering smack in the middle of the skyline, feeling pleasantly loomed-over. Read More

hands off our internet

Hey Ho! Backpage Protesters Hit Village Voice on the Hottest Day of the Year

backpage-cruiser

Backpage.com, owned by the Village Voice, is one of the more controversial web enterprises: according to some reports, it hosts 70 percent of the web’s sex ads. On Wednesday night, there were two protests outside the Voice’s offices in Cooper Square. One was led by radical feminists and evangelical Christians who compare Backpage to a pimp, hoping to shut it down the way Craigslist’s “adult services section” was shut down. The other protest was led by Backpage users: escorts, dommes, and rent boys, who say shutting down the site will run them out of business or onto the streets. Read More

Planet Reddit

Loving the Alien: How Erik Martin, King Bee of Reddit’s Hive Mind, Harnessed the Buzz

erickredd

The top-scoring link of all time on the social news website Reddit is a post that users were never meant to see at all. It is titled “test post please ignore,” but almost 27,000 Redditors found it so amusing that they voted it up.

That is testament to the website’s impassioned community—and their brand of dry, often geeky humor (the site’s logo is an alien, after all). But Reddit’s user base, which a recent PBS documentary pegged as 72 percent male, has wide-ranging interests. Other top posts include a link to a news item about the elderly volunteering to clean up nuclear waste in Japan following the 2011 tsunami, and a Q&A session with the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Reddit is one of the country’s most highly trafficked websites, but its general manager, Erik Martin, keeps a remarkably low profile. Most Redditors know the 33-year-old Mr. Martin solely by his username: HueyPriest. Read More

hands off our internet

SOPA and PIPA Hang Over Personal Democracy Forum

Rep. Issa discussing CISPA, which he supports, at the Personal Democracy Forum.

One of Andrew Rasiej’s favorite jokes is that legislators don’t know the difference between a server and a waiter. Mr. Rasiej, chairman of the NY Tech Meetup and founder of Personal Democracy Forum, a summit on tech and politics, moderated on stage at NYU’s Skirball Center. Mr. Rasiej faced off with netizens Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). “Why is it that so many members of Congress don’t seem to understand the Internet?” he asked. Read More

hands off our internet

Why Isn’t Wikipedia Blacking Out Over ACTA?

The United States Capitol c. 1913 | The Library of Congress (flickr.com)

It’s starting to feel like someone declared war on Internet piracy earlier this year while we were busy reading Reddit. But while the battle over Internet laws continues, the discussion sparked by anti-piracy legislation earlier this year seems to have disappeared.

The fight now centers on ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that the European Union signed in January. This still-murky law, most of which was crafted quietly behind closed doors, has potential to threaten those who make the Internet their livelihood. So where are the Internet masses who came out in full force, blocking out websites and amassing in person in protest of the twin anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA? Read More

SOPA Opera

Fred Wilson to Media Execs: ‘Everybody, and I Mean Everybody, Is a Pirate’

Screen shot 2012-02-15 at 10.19.53 AM

At the Paley Center for Media yesterday, New York tech’s paterfamilias Fred Wilson offered something largely absent from recent anti-SOPA debates: a plan for an alternative. Better yet, he wasn’t just preaching to the choir. Rather, the Union Square Ventures managing partner broke on through to the other side: media execs.

Last month, he seemed frustrated, tweeting out “#screwcable” when a feud between MSG and Time Warner Cable forced Mr. Wilson to consume pirated content if he wanted to see the (pre-Linsanity) Knicks. But during yesterday’s talk, Mr. Wilson seemed more convinced of the universality of the condition. Read More

SOPA Opera

Lookout Washington, Reddit Just Organized Another PAC

Inside jokes.

Fresh of the heels of feeling its own might in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, a civic-minded Redditor who goes by the handle “ajpos” has decided to start a section 527 political action committee.

It’s called Test Pac, it has its own Tax ID number and it purports to represent “the special interest group that represents the views of Reddit’s users,” which we guess means boobs, the free flow of information, weed, and cats. In that order.

However, as Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin informed us, it’s not Reddit’s first “unofficial” PAC. Under the subreddit /r/rpac, you can also find threads about Hive PAC (another recent organization inspired by the SOPA Opera), as well as The OSDF, or Open Source Democracy, an older initiative. Read More

Math

Freakonomics: Piracy Costs the Economy $200 B. a Year? ‘These Figures Were Made Up Out of Thin Air’

illegal_downloading

Anti-piracy rhetoric holds that online piracy is a devastating force on the U.S. economy, responsible for the theft of between $200 billion and $250 billion per year and the loss of 750,000 good American jobs. “These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010,” write the economists over at Freakonomics.

But those numbers are wrong, the authors say, citing a breakdown by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez.  Read More

Survey Says

SOPA/PIPA Discussed More Than the Super Bowl, Oscars, Oprah Finale and American Idol Finale

A new report from sentiment analytics firm General Sentiment shows, astoundingly, that the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts have not only been discussed online more than any other legislation, but they’ve been discussed more than the Super Bowl the Oscars, the Oprah Winfrey Show finale and the American Idol finale and premiere. “When compared to 2011’s biggest online events, the SOPA/PIPA Protest ranked third in overall volume,” the report says. Guess that means SOPA/PIPA were discussed more than any other legislation, too. Additionally: “Wikipedia proved to be the top influencer, generating over 4.1M mentions on January 18; 99.1 percent of mentions about the SOPA and PIPA Protest came from social media and Twitter; and the most common hashtags were #wikipediablackout, #StopSOPA and #FactsWithoutWikipedia.

SOPA Opera

Scenes From the New York Anti-SOPA/PIPA Rally

8 Photos

Two prostestors drop the signs and go for the 'tape-over-mouth' approach, which is SO in right now.

The self-proclaimed geeks of the New York tech industry gathered outside senators’ Gillibrand and Schumer’s office Wednesday afternoon to protest the PIPA and SOPA acts, that they say will lead to the end of the internet as we know it.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, brought sympathy cards which he planned to hand-deliver to the senators, mourning the death of the internet.

Scott Heiferman, Meetup CEO, held up a sign after his speech that read, “Can we go back to work now?” in a cunning reference to the jobs the industry creates in New York, and perhaps the cold weather too. Read More