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The Internet Strikes Back

On Wednesday, we witnessed an unprecedented collaboration on the Internet as people throughout the country contributed in their own way to the SOPA and PIPA protest. People contributed through blacking out websites, tweeting or posting links and calls to action on Facebook, signing petitions and setting up tools online to easily call Congress – a whole country sent an unmistakable and nearly unanimous message to the Hill.

Ironically, while this is the biggest online protest in history, it is also the type of action that the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) would restrict. These two bills claim they would stop piracy and would implement harsher penalties on companies or individuals violating copyright laws online, but in effect, the outcome would put legitimate websites at risk with its vague use of language. If these bills pass, user-generated websites, the most well known being Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia, would have to monitor everything going through their sites, risking being shut down if something slips through the cracks.

But because we have the freedom we do, those who use the Internet everyday, who maintain the sites we all rely on (how many times do you read Wikipedia a day? Be honest), who are responsible for cultivating the inner webs, ran an innovative, groundbreaking, and most importantly, successful protest.

Our lives revolve around the Internet, our phones and any other way we can find to digitally connect. So while people may criticize all the work being done behind a computer and deem it passive, yesterday’s example is living proof that an online movement inspired millions of people to take action and make sure their voice was heard. We are becoming a more interactive society and the Internet is a main supporting force in that, encouraging people to become involved and engaged.

This protest was yet another turning point for using the Internet to drive offline action. Seattle Against SOPA took the time to write, record and produce a video in opposition to the bills by covering Don Mclean’s “American Pie.” This offline action then came full circle as it became viral online and was a solid example of how, if SOPA and PIPA were passed, we would no longer have the ability to express our opinions and messages through creative means. It is work like this that the legislation could go after and those who produced this video could find themselves in jail for up to five years.

The protest was truly a team effort. The Revolution joined the strike by blacking out our website and urging people to call Congress in opposition of PIPA.

(There’s still time! Call 866-279-7472 to tell your senator to oppose PIPA!)

Along with Revolution Messaging, other big names that participated included Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and even Congressmen and women, such as Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. The reaction was exceptional; Google alone saw over 4 million people sign their petition by 3pm on Wednesday.

The worldwide blackout is beginning to see success as co-sponsors of both SOPA and PIPA begin to “drop like flies.” Wednesday’s victory included a total of 18 senators coming out in opposition to PIPA, including 7 former co-sponsors dropping off.

These two bills are losing support from both the left and right, each acknowledging the threat it poses: removing our right to freedom of speech. The power of the Internet and online organizingcame together for a successful campaign, and the potential for censoring our online activity is slowly eroding.

Post Secret put it best: Under SOPA, you could get 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song, one year more than the doctor who killed him.

101 Days Later

Today is Day 101 of the fight for hardworking Americans standing up for their rights in Wisconsin and, now, all across the country. Where were you 101 days ago, February 14, 2011, when the first pro-labor protests began? Were you one of the hundreds of UW students and supporters that marched up to the Capitol to deliver Valentine’s Day cards to Governor Scott Walker in response to his union-busting bill? Were you at work, reading about the march on blogs or Twitter? Were you looking for ways to support Wisconsin workers remotely – whether through donations, media coverage, or just general encouragement?

No matter where you were, we’re all here, on Day 101, together and still fighting. We’ve come a long way, with some successes and some setbacks, but the fire is still ignited, the people are still empowered.

Wisconsinites have successfully gathered enough signatures to recall nine GOP state senators, with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board clearing the way for three of them to go to a special election on July 12 – those three are state Senators Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.  With these recalls, there is the opportunity for the state Senate to switch hands and finally have people in office who truly listen to their community.

And of course we all remember when Wisconsin was shut out of their own Capitol, locked out and denied entry into a public space. Today, entrances are still limited and visitors are made to walk through metal detectors at the only two doors open. Even though Scott Walker continues to defy laws, Wisconsinites are still fighting and showing up to the Capitol.

Progress is still being made and will continue to be made in the struggle for unions. The countdown for a Scott Walker recall is 223 days away – so let the fight continue.


Submit Your Protest Songs to PDPS!

Our friend Adam McKay, co-founder of Funny or Die, launched a website for all who would like to make, hear or cover protest music. Public Domain Protest Song, available today, offers protest music that is absolutely free. McKay wants you to send in your original protest music or cover music on the website.

The idea originated when he and some friends from a band, English Teeth, joined forces to create much longed for protest music. Their songs focus on national issues, and McKay and English Teeth are asking you to send in your own protest songs too.

“The songs can be about anything: local issues, national, international, whatever. We don’t care. We just want music about what’s going on,” said McKay in a Huffington Post article.

The music available on PDPS is free to everyone and is owned by no one. McKay wants you to cover or re-create these songs, change lyrics and melodies, and send them in. For those of you who do not have a creative bone in you, but want to be part of this project, just play the music and spread the word. The point of this project is to express your thoughts on government issues through music and have the message heard.

The music industry rarely focuses on issues such as the Midwest bills limiting collective bargaining rights, so this project really gives us all a chance to speak out. The best part is that, once again, it’s free! The music is free to download, free to share, and free to re-construct.

Already, PDPS has received hundreds of submissions from local bands and soloists. Many of them are using tunes from other famous songs as melodies for their protest music.

“Submissions will go up tomorrow. It’s moving a bit faster than we thought it would!” said McKay, on the PDPS Facebook page. Looks like McKay’s idea is already successful – get in on the action today!