Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists, and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet

BOOK: Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists, and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet
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All essays © 2013 by the various authors. All essays in
Hacking Politics
are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at [email protected]

Assistant editor: Joshua Bauchner

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data: A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

British Library Cataloging in Publication Data: A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.

Typeset by Lapiz

Printed by BookMobile, USA, and CPI, UK.

The U.S. printed edition of this book comes on Forest Stewardship Council-certified, 30% recycled paper. The printer, BookMobile, is 100% wind-powered.

Black cover: paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-04-6 • ebook ISBN 978-1-939293-06-0

Visit our website at
www.orbooks.com

First printing 2013.

The following honorary co-publishers made substantial contributions to the funding of
Hacking Politics
via the Indiegogo crowd-sourcing platform. We’re grateful for their support.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anthony Aiuto
Kelly Birr
Rosario Dawson
Eric Decker
Luke Gotszling
Jim Lastinger
Marian Maxwell
Robert R Miles II
Maxim Nekrasov
Daniel R Quintiliani
Michael Sriqui
Eric Usher

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A Moment for Aaron

Foreword by the Editors

Hacking Politics: TLDR

PART 1: The World Before SOPA/PIPA

AARON SWARTZ
For Me, It All Started with a Phone Call

CORY DOCTOROW
The History of the Copyright Wars

JOSH LEVY
Before SOPA There Was Net Neutrality

MIKE MASNICK
COICA, PIPA, and SOPA Are Censorship

PART 2: The SOPA/PIPA Battle

DAVID SEGAL
Now I Work for Demand Progress

PATRICK RUFFINI
Beginning on the Right

DAVID MOON
Demand Progress Needs a “Washington Guy”

GABRIEL LEVITT
SOPA’s Elevation of Profits Over Patients: The Online Pharmacy Story

PATRICK RUFFINI
Lobbying Republicans Through the Summer

DAVID SEGAL
The Tea Party Enters the Fray

DAVID SEGAL AND DAVID MOON
Gamers and Justin Bieber Join the Cause

DAVID MOON
Clashes With the Big Guns

DAVID SEGAL
Labor Sides with the Bosses

JONNY 5
Turning the Tide on SOPA

DAVID SEGAL
What Was Lamar Smith Thinking?

PATRICK RUFFINI
A Punch in the Gut

TIFFINIY CHENG
Waking the Sleeping Giant

AARON SWARTZ
Who’s Crazy Now?

DAVID SEGAL
Nearing the Point of No Return

PATRICK RUFFINI
The Markup

ANDREW MCDIARMID AND DAVID SOHN
Bring in the Nerds: The Importance of Technical Experts in Defeating SOPA and PIPA

ERNESTO FALCON
People Powered Politics

DAVID SEGAL AND DAVID MOON
To the White House

DEREK SLATER
On the White House’s Statement

OCCUPY WALL STREET
Proposal to Reach Consensus on Statement Against the Stop Online Piracy Act

TIFFINIY CHENG
The Blackout

DAVID SEGAL
Congress Says: “This Can’t be Happening”

SUICIDE GIRLS
I Live, Work, Play, and Love Online

OPEN CONGRESS
Blowing Congress Wide Open

ALEXIS OHANIAN
Why Reddit Helped Kill SOPA

DAVID SEGAL
If Reddit’s Turned Off, Maybe They’ll Leave the House That Day

PATRICK RUFFINI
Internet 1, Congress 0

ZOE LOFGREN
Championing Technology and Free Speech in Congress Was Lonely … But Not Anymore

AARON SWARTZ
After the Blackout

LARRY DOWNES
Who Really Stopped SOPA—and Why

EDWARD J
.
BLACK
Legislative Fights Are Like Icebergs

CASEY RAE
-
HUNTER
Not in Our Names: Artists Stand Up for Expression

ELIZABETH STARK
I Stopped SOPA and So Did You

BEN HUH
Why Did the Anti-SOPA/PIPA Movement Go Viral So Quickly?

DAVE DAYEN
The Internet Beat SOPA and PIPA: And Mean the Entire Damn Thing

DAVID MOON
A Political Coming of Age

PATRICK RUFFINI
This Time, the System Actually Mostly Worked

PART 3: Some Activism Since SOPA

DAVID SEGAL AND DAVID MOON
Cyber Security and Party Platforms

DEREK KHANNA
Fallout from the Copyfight

JOSHUA BAUCHNER
The Seizure of Dajaz1

NICOLE POWERS
An Interview with Julia O’Dwyer

DEMAND PROGRESS
Raps with Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom

PART 4: What We’ve Learned

YOCHAI BENKLER ET AL
Glimpses of a Networked Public Sphere

DAVID KARPF
Reflecting on the SOPA Blackout: Why Did It Work, and What Does It Mean?

DAVID SEGAL
That Was Amazing. Can We Do It Again Sometime?

PART 5: Where Do We Go from Here?

RON PAUL
The Battle for Internet Freedom Is Critical for the Liberty Movement

ERIN MCKEOWN
A Case for Digital Activism by Artists

BRAD BURNHAM
On the Freedom to Innovate

MARVIN AMMORI
SOPA and the Popular First Amendment

CORY DOCTOROW
Blanket Licenses: One Path Forward in Copyright Reform

LAWRENCE LESSIG
The Internet Can Help Strike at the Root

Conclusion

Aaron Swartz speaks at the New York City anti-SOPA rally on January 18th, 2012

A MOMENT FOR AARON: 1968-2013

This book was constructed over the course of the fall, and we intended to release it earlier this winter, but then tragedy struck: our friend and colleague Aaron Swartz committed suicide on January 11th, while under federal indictment for downloading too many academic articles housed by the online cataloguing service called JSTOR. The shockwave was powerful: thousands have attended memorial services across the country, hundreds of news stories have been written. As of the writing of this foreword, there are at least a dozen long-form articles being drafted about Aaron’s life and his death, and multiple documentary films being edited. A swarm of events that were to commemorate the anniversary of the January 18th Internet blackout became bittersweet remembrances of our fallen ally.

Aaron has largely been memorialized as an advocate for copyright reform, information access, and Internet freedom. He was indeed such, but
he was also so much more. He probably first cared about those causes for their own sakes, but his work on them provided a window into politics that made it impossible to ignore broader systemic corruption and injustices. He wasn’t a techno-utopian who believed that open access and an open Internet would alone fix all that ails humanity; he came to believe that a constant, directed, ideologically left-leaning layer of activism needed to be built on top of these platforms.

This transformation is perhaps best elucidated by Aaron himself in his own words, from a talk he gave at the Freedom to Connect conference in 2012. Here’s how he reacted when his close friend Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation first told him about the bill that would become SOPA:

“Oh, Peter,” I said. “I don’t care about copyright law. Maybe you’re right, maybe Hollywood is right, but either way is it really such a big deal? I’m not going to waste my life fighting over a little issue like copyright. Health care. Financial reform. Those are the sorts of issues I work on. Not something obscure like copyright.”

I could hear Peter grumbling. “Look, I don’t have time to argue with you. But it doesn’t matter for right now. Because this isn’t a bill about copyright.”

“It’s not?”

“No, it’s a bill about freedom of speech.”

You can see that his focus, more and more, was on matters of economic and social justice—but these new passions were synthesized with the old, as neither was enough on its own: to realize one’s vision of a better world, one must know how the world works (open access) and be able to share that information (freedom of speech) and be able to organize towards those ends (freedom to connect, online and off).

Rather than enriching himself—rather than assuming that he alone was responsible for his genius or deserved to benefit therefrom—he chose to employ his intellectual prowess and the modest fortune he achieved upon the sale of reddit to make the world a better place, for everybody. I’ve been fumbling for the precise words since his death, but he once told me something like, “Segal, I might seem a little cynical or misanthropic sometimes, but don’t worry: whenever I encounter a problem, I always try to identify the utility-optimizing solution to it.” He’d taken to calling himself an “applied sociologist.” And—always wearing a white hat—he was trying to hack the whole world.

It’s through social justice work that I first got to know Aaron, and that our organization Demand Progress came into existence: Aaron co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which endorsed my run for Congress in 2010. The day after I lost that election he emailed me to say, “We should talk some time. Need your help to fix the world.” So we joined forces
to build Demand Progress and fight against that very bill whose import Aaron nearly dismissed.

Much has been and will be written about Aaron’s state of mind, why he did what he did. We can’t purport to know what he was thinking down to the final detail, but it is unambiguous to those of us who knew him well that the stress and anxiety that followed from the draconian prosecution were the proximate causes of his decision to take his own life.

BOOK: Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists, and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet
10.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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