The day after the SOPA blackouts…what did it accomplish?

Several itmes: Time Magazine the Seattle Times and ABC News have interesting takes on the anti-SPA blackout. Time reports that before the the blackout 5 Senators were on record against the bill, and now one source it is now 19 with 7 more “leaning no” in the Senate. To find key remaining supporters…follow the money: of the 19 Senators that received over 75K from Hollywood and the Music Industry, 13 are supporters, and only 1 Roy Blunt (R-MO), is on the record firmly against.

Interestingly, Silicon Valley money does not seem to carry the same weight, as the 16 Senators with over 75K in Silicon valley money, only 2 are firm “No’s”, though 7 in that category saw Hollywood outspending Silicon Valley, with a “yes” resulting…outspending your competition seems to work 😉 The group “Fight for the Future” claims the Senate ‘No’s’ have increased to 35 no, but that seems to be a single, biased, source. Total donations to the Senate by Hollywood/Big Music were 5.6M$ (Big winner Barbera Boxer (D-CA with a whopping 571K$) while Silicon Valley gave 4.2M$ (Big winner Patty Murray (D-Micro$oft…errrrr WA) with 363K$ – note Barbera Boxer was 2nd with 348k$)

The House is far more hostile, with only 27 on the record for, and now 83 opposing. Of the 15 House Members with over 75K in Hollywood and Music Industry Money, only 6 supporters remain. Only 7 received over 75K from silicon valley, 5 are nos, and none of those 7 were outspent by Hollywood/Music interests. 7.9M$ was donated to House members by Hollywood/Big Music (Big winner Howard Berman (D-CA) with 286K), 6.5$ by Silicon Valley (Big winner Anna Eshoo (D-CA) with 163K).

The Administration has weighed in threatened to oppose legislation that contains language that would make it easier for the government to censor the web or make the internet less secure, but not saying it considered either SOPA or PIP contained such language. Opponents say it’s obviously implied, but there is a ton of re-election money at stake that Obama does not want to put at risk with a clear answer.

The opposition seems to be remarkably non-partisan with groups ranging from the expected host of conservative and libertarian groups to taking their sites down in protest. Google had

The “rest of the story” however, is where the interesting innovation is taking place.

The neatest thing that has come out of all this is that the rival legislation to SOPA/PIP – the OPEN act – has been used to debut an alternative to the library of Congress’ legislation publication site “Thomas”, dubbed informally by its users “Madison” here. Rather than Thomas’ bare bones search engine that often returns a confusing array of bill versions, both with and without pending amendments, Madison employs real-time mark-up as proposals for changes and amendments are passed – INCLUDING the ability to show those recommended by the public. – It’s a Thomas meets Wikipedia and Twitter experiment in participatory democracy. The site tracks amendments proposed, passed, and failed along with video clips of proceedings. It has a LOT of room for improvement, tracability and filtering of comments, more comprehensive video archives cross-indexed to amendments. Compared to the sterile and confusing “if you are not a poliwonk have fun slogging” that is Thomas…(my search on ‘SOPA’ – resulted in “no items found” – you need the HR/SR number just to get started…) it is a potential “game-changer” for how individuals can observe and if desired PARTICIPATE in the sausage-making of bill -crafting.

Is opening the door in this way fraught with peril? Are we not after all a Republic, and not a direct Democracy for good reasons? Can’t the Hollywood and Music shills exploit this to get language they want into bills? Yes. But the current system has that happen behind closed doors enabled by access largely granted by campaign donations. In my mind, anything that moves that out into the light of day, where anybody can see it, is better.


About Paul Vebber

"If you read about something, you have learned about it. If you can teach something, you have mastered it. Designing a useful game about something however, requires developing a deep understanding of how it relates to other things."

Posted on January 19, 2012, in innovation, Tech Policy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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