SOPA Protestors Hit the Streets in New York; Other Cities May Follow

Over 1,000 people RSVP to rally to protest anti-piracy legislation

Protestors took to the New York City streets on Wednesday in protest of Congress' pending anti-piracy legislation.

The demonstration started at 12:30 p.m. ET, with protestors decrying the influence of the entertainment industry's money and lobbying on pushing the controversial legislation forward.

More than 1,000 people were expected to attend.  

Also read: Washington Post, NPR, the Guardian Replace Wikipedia for a Day

New York Tech Meetup, a trade organization, instructed people to meet outside the offices of two senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, with Wikipedia, Reddit and other companies shutting down their websites in protest as well.

The gathering is the latest act of public defiance in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate sister the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). 

The modest crowd drew developers and workers from tech companies such as Tumblr, policy organizations such as Free Press, and the venture capital world. The group periodically chanted "stop SOPA, stop PIPA" and "this is what democracy looks like."

Also read: Hollywood's Anti-Piracy Campaign Runs Aground

“It breaks the internet," David Solomonoff, president of the Internet Society of New York, said. "These bills are like a monster in a grade Z horror movie that keeps coming back and we’ve got to put a stake through its heart.” Clay Shirky, a well-respected new media advocate, was one of the speakers and encouraged people to attend on Twitter.

"Awe-inspiring crowd at anti-#PIPA protest in front of Senator Schumer and Gillibrand's offices. #SOPA," Shirky tweeted.

The exact number of protestors is unclear, but the organization told the New York Times on Tuesday that more than 1,100 people had responded to the invite on the organization's website. 

It said, "Everyone who cares about the New York tech industry and the future of the web" will be there. 

Similar rallies are planned for San Francisco and Seattle. 

A live stream of the rally can be found here. 

  • Ron Merk

    The bills, as I understand them, restrict the right of free speech.  Unfettered use of copyrighted material violates the copyright laws and makes it difficult to justify the costs of the creation of a new work.  This is an issue which is extremely complicated, especially since the law has not kept up with technology.  I have always thought that fair use, which is a defense under the law, not a right, should have limits.  It was originally used by academics to quote brief passages from copyrighted work.  At least the the context in which I first encountered fair use.  But to move the goal post to the extend that it's been moved, and suggestion that fair use means anything if fair game, is just pushing it too far.  So, what is the simple answer:  Change the law.  Make fair use a right (and keep the lawyers out of it) but define the amount of material that can be used (a certain number of words from a written work, a certain number of seconds from a sound recording or motion picture, strict limits on commercial uses of copyrighted and trademarked images, etc.  This can all be done with revision of the copyright law, instead of turning it into an “occupy the copyright office” movement.  I have been beating this drum for years, but the two camps in this disagreement have always been so far apart, and both think they're in the right, that legislators just have not addressed the fundamental flaw in the copyright  law.  It's time to do that.  Limited free speech by closing down websites is NOT the answer.  The internet is the only media outlet not yet controlled by big business and media companies.  These two laws are an attempt by those parties to do the same thing they did with cable TV, pay TV, TV and radio—to control it and keep out dissent.  Without dissent and free speech, a democracy cannot exist.  So, how about both sides sitting down at the table with members of Congress, and hammering out some changes to the law regarding fair use????!!!!

    • Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

      If President Obama signs this bill into law, he can forget about being re-elected! //Free Speech (First Amendment IS at stake!)

  • Star Jonestown

    David Solomonoff is, apparently, a buffoon.  It's funny though, that he 1) Uses a film reference as his metaphor  2) Is “President of the Internet Society of New York”  3) Has morphed Chicken Little-ism from ‘the sky is falling!’ to ‘the monster is coming!’
    The WH statement promises a signature for a compromise bill.  Apple and Amazon are the best middlemen in this conversation just as they are the best middlemen for digital transactions in the market.  They are legitimate and have interest in expanding their legitimate media sales.