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May 2013 28

by Blogbot

We killed the bill dead. So dead that when members of Congress propose something that even touches the Internet, they give a long speech beforehand about how it is definitely not at all like SOPA. So dead that when you ask Congressional staffers about it, they groan and shake their heads, like it’s all a bad dream they’re trying hard to forget. So dead, that it’s hard to believe this story. Hard to remember how close it all came to actually passing. Hard to remember how it could have been any other way.

But it wasn’t a dream, or a nightmare. It was all very real. And it will happen again. Sure, it will have a different name, and maybe a different excuse, and probably do its damage in a different way. But make no mistake. The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. The fire in those politicians’ eyes has not been put out.

There are a lot of powerful people who want to clamp down on the Internet. And, to be honest, there aren’t a whole lot who have a vested interest in protecting it. Even some of the biggest Internet companies, to put it frankly, would benefit from a world in which their little competitors could be censored.

We can’t let that happen.

– Aaron Swartz, Hacking Politics

Hacking Politics is a newly released book that chronicles the extraordinary fight against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), which culminated in the unprecedented Internet Blackout of January 18th, 2012.

Edited by David Segal and David Moon of Demand Progress, and Patrick Ruffini of Engage and Don’t Censor the Net, the book features essays from those who were on the frontlines of the battle against these draconian pieces of legislation that threatened not only online liberty but the very fabric of the web.

Included in the book are first-hand accounts from Lawrence Lessig (of Harvard Law School), Cory Doctorow (author and editor of BoingBoing), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (a Democratic Congress member since 1995), Mike Masnick (CEO and founder of Techdirt), Kim Dotcom (founder of Megaupload and Mega), Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), and Derek Slater ( a Policy Manager on Google’s public policy team), among others. The book also includes two chapters by SG Editor Nicole Powers: an account of SuicideGirls’ involvement in the online protests, and an interview with Julie O’Dwyer, the mother of Richard O’Dwyer, the British student who faced extradition to the US on charges related to copyright infringement. Poignantly, the book also contains essays penned by online activist and Demand Progress co-founder Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide earlier this year after being charged with offenses under the outdated and overbroad CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

Though Swartz couldn’t see a way through his own fight, he and an unlikely coalition of left-leaning progressives, right-leaning tea partiers, non-partisan occupiers, blue chip corporations, underground activists, mainstream press outlets and fringe techno radicals successfully fought the Goliath RIAA and MPAA-funded political machine to defeat PIPA and SOPA.

Hacking Politics was put together to ensure that this epic battle is never forgotten, and to provide a greater understanding of the delicate and extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations that are required to mount such a successful grassroots campaign. Though seemingly spontaneous, the fight against PIPA and SOPA was far from unplanned. Hopefully Hacking Politics will provide not only the blueprint, but the inspiration for similar future online offensives against the onslaught of SOPA and PIPA-like legislation that threatens the freedom of the internet.

Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, the Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed Up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet is available in paperback and as an eBook. For a limited time the eBook edition is available as a pay-what-you-wish download.

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