Friday, January 20, 2012

SOPA Blackouts, Cole Stryker Speaks Out

Where were you during the great internet blackout of 2012? Without the aid of everyone’s favorite fact-checking resource, were you busy inventing #FactsWithoutWikipedia? Left without Reddit or BoingBoing to keep us distracted, Overlookers actually got some work done around the office. Cole Stryker, author of Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web, used last Wednesday’s anti-SOPA protests as an opportunity to share some relevant research from his forthcoming follow up to Epic Win. This quote is from Phil Zimmerman, inventor of Pretty Good Privacy:

“I think that there’s something grotesque about having the internet turned upside down just for the entertainment industry. When you look at how much economic activity is driven by the internet and compare it to that of the entertainment industry—the entertainment industry is not that big! It’s a small part of it.

For the entertainment industry to have this control over the internet…it’s like if auto industry was assembling cars at the command of companies who manufacture FM radios. Imagine if the people who make FM radios had absolute control over where highways can be built, and dictate crashworthiness. It’s perverse. This is an example of powerful lobbies purchasing legislation.”

Cole followed up, stating:

“The problem here isn’t the copyright issue. One could go on forever about how this will smother entrepreneurship in the tech industry because big companies like Google, let alone web startups, won’t be able to afford to hire moderators to continuously monitor their user content, let alone a team of lawyers to fight copyright claims. Recent statistics show that 48 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube alone every minute. Can you imagine what it would cost to monitor that volume? This blunderbuss approach puts the U.S. government in a position of editorial control that we previously would have criticized China for allowing, only to support broken business models and expand the perpetual game of whac-a-mole that is online piracy.

Meanwhile, the potential for collateral damage of free speech is real and opens up the possibility of bad actors only needing to accuse a site of some minor copyright infringement in order to silence free expression that might be happening there.”

Praise for Epic Win for Anonymous:

“A primer on why the Internet works the way it does today, thanks in large part to 4chan. That includes, but isn't limited to, the emergence of Anonymous.” –

“Sharp, witty, and well-researched.” – The Rumpus

“One of the few accounts—along with Julian Dibbell’s work—of 4chan by someone who gets it. ... It’s pretty good for amateur cultural history, and it illustrates the centrality of the lulz to the internet.”— MetaViews

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