5 Changes Libertarians Should Embrace After Yesterday’s Anti-SOPA/PIPA Protests

Although many people of differing political persuasions were involved in yesterday’s anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, the overwhelming public response marked a coming of age moment for libertarianism. It looks as though libertarianism is an idea whose time has come. Americans are fed up with centralization of power in Washington, expansion of executive power, collusion between government and some corporations, and erosion of civil liberties. Polls indicate that they are also fed up with the Democratic and Republican politicians who have pursued these policies. But if libertarians are going to provide a viable political alternative to the two-party status quo, yesterday’s protests indicate that we’re going to have to embrace at least five major changes.

1. Libertarians should shift focus to attacking corporatism. As proponents of free market economics libertarians rightly oppose socialism, which we will define very simplistically as management of the market by a labor-controlled government. Whatever the evils of socialism — and there are many — it has not been the principal opposition to free market economics in the United States. Instead, for the better part of a century we have endured a corporatist economy. Corporatism, again defined very simplistically, is management of the market by a corporate-controlled government.

SOPA/PIPA opponents score a victory

While former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and other supporters of SOPA and PIPA have lashed out at companies and websites that participated in yesterday’s “blackout,” it certainly seems as though opponents of the two bills carried the day:

Members of the Senate are rushing for the exits in the wake of the Internet’s unprecedented protest of the Protect IP Act (PIPA). At least 13 members of the upper chamber announced their opposition on Wednesday. In a particularly severe blow from Hollywood, at least five of the newly-opposed Senators were previously sponsors of the Protect IP Act.

The newly-opposed Senators are skewed strongly to the Republican side of the aisle. An Ars Technica survey of Senators’ positions on PIPA turned up only two Democrats, Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who announced their opposition on Wednesday. The other 11 Senators who announced their opposition on Wednesday were all Republicans. These 13 join a handful of others, including Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), who have already announced their opposition.

Marco Rubio, a freshman Republican Senator from Florida who some consider to be a rising star, withdrew his sponsorship of the bill, citing “legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet.” He urged the Senate to “avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”

Perry to drop out, endorse Gingrich

CNN is reporting that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will drop out of the race for the Republican nomination today, just a couple of days ahead of the South Carolina primary, and endorse Newt Gingrich:

Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination, two sources familiar with his plans told CNN.

The Texas governor will make the announcement before the CNN debate in South Carolina, the sources said.

It was incredibly unlikely, given his poor debate performances and gaffes, that Perry would be able to make a comeback in the race. Perry had hoped for a decent showing in South Carolina, but polls there had showed him at the bottom of the pack.

Many influential conservatives had been calling on Perry to drop out of the race so the anti-Romney vote could coalesce behind Gingrich, who has been surging in South Carolina in recent days (I’ll have more on that later today).

Given Perry’s numbers may not be significant, but it could be just enough to put Gingrich over the top on Saturday.

DIY Satellites and Filesharing Religions: SOPA’s new enemies

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jeremy Kolassa, originally published on January 12, 2012.

Going off of my colleague Ron Davis’ post about technological reasons to oppose that monstrosity known as SOPA (and it’s Senate twin, PIPA), here are a couple of news stories from earlier in the month to share with you. I am a bit late on these, I admit, but I want to place them here just to show how ineffectual SOPA will actually be.

The first “solution” will probably fail and end in misery and a fireball, but you have to give some credit to these guys: a group of hackers want to send up a satellite that will act as an independent file-sharing server, a sort of space age Sealand:

The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.

Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.

Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit - usually only for brief periods of time - but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.

The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project.

Companies backing SOPA have created piracy

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jason Pye, originally posted by  on December 27, 2011.

We’ve been posting a lot about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) lately. You’re going to continue to hear about it online over the next few weeks. SOPA is touted by supporters as legislation that would prevent copyright infringement and secure intellectual property rights, but it would actually promote internet censorship and ignore due process. In fact, SOPA isn’t likely to stop piracy.

If you want to learn more about the law and its implications, you should watch this video that explains how many of the companies supporting SOPA are in fact guilty of distributing software that promotes piracy:

8 Political Reasons to Stop SOPA and PIPA

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Ron Davis, originally posted on January 11, 2012.

My post from earlier today, 8 Technological Reasons to Stop SOPA and PIPA, discussed the legitimate technological problems with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). These bills are supposed to be an attempt at stopping online piracy, but as I mentioned yesterday, they will not work but will instead cause harm to the speed, reliability, security, and safety of the Internet.

There are also political reasons this legislation should not be supported. Here are eight of them:

SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy. It’s even a stretch to argue that they would impact it at all. I explained how earlier, but the technical details aren’t important to today’s point. If proposed legislation will obviously not accomplish its stated purpose, it should never pass. This one point alone should be enough for your congressman and senators to oppose it. In case it’s not enough, keep reading; I have seven more reasons.

SOPA and PIPA mandate censorship compliance. When a domain name is seized by the government, ISPs are forced to comply with the censorship. There is no option of appeal for the ISPs; they must comply.

List of Pols against SOPA Blows My Mind

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jeremy Kolassa, originally posted on November 21, 2011.

I’ve been following the progress of the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA, also known as the “Internet Blacklist Bill,” for some time now, but haven’t posted about it because I feel that other websites cover it far better. Recently, though, I’ve seen some news I feel I have to share to United Liberty readers, because it comes straight from the “Holy Crap I Never Saw THAT Coming!” department.

For a good summary of why SOPA is a bad law, you should read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s explanation. You can also grab the actual text of the law here. In effect, the bill would criminalize “casual piracy”—linking a music video on Facebook would land you some stiff penalties, as well as penalties for Facebook. Goodbye Youtube, as well. For that reason, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Google, and a host of other Internet giants have come out against the bill, in addition to groups like EFF, DemandProgress, CreativeCommons, and Mozilla.

SOPA Delayed, But It Should Be Dead

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jeremy Kolassa, originally published on December 21, 2011.

In one of the few instances of “good news,” or at least “not that terrible news,” the Stop Online Piracy Act has been delayed until after the winter recess:

WASHINGTON POST - The House Judiciary Committee confirmed Tuesday that it will delay continuing debate on the Stop Online Piracy Act until after Congress returns from its winter recess.

Committee spokeswoman Kim Smith said in an e-mailed statement that the hearing is expected to be scheduled for “early next year.”

Well, that is certainly good news on one front. It at least means they won’t be shoving it down our throat today.

But they’re going to try again. It always happens.

There was widespread outrage when TARP was first proposed, and under that public onslaught, the House of Representatives bucked its campaign contributors and shot the plan down. There was much rejoicing—until they passed it, with even more pork, four days later.

SOPA supporters face a mountain of opposition

In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Jason Pye, originally posted on January 3, 2012.

With President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law last week, it should serve as a reminder that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the next battle that civil liberties and privacy advocates should turn our attention to. Some are already taking the fight over this issue straight to SOPA supporters. For example, Reddit users launched a campaign against GoDaddy, which caused the Internet hosting firm to switch its position to opposition of SOPA. Similarly, they also went after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a popular figure in the conservative movement, causing problems for his staff and, potentially, his re-election campaign.

Why is there such a backlash against this legislation? Because it promotes Internet censorship and elimates due process for website owners and operators. Jerry Brito explained the problems with SOPA at Time back in November:

#VotefortheNet, and Vote for What’s Right

Demand Progress has been the organization behind a lot of the SOPA Strike. They encouraged Wikipedia to join the blackout, and they’re receiving a lot of grassroots support.

They’re also working on the next phase of operations, called “Vote for the Net.” This is a campaign for people to pledge that they will not vote for politicians who try to restrict liberties on the Internet.

This is a great thing. 56,000 have already pledged to Vote for the Net (yours truly included.) This is what it comes down to, people. What these senators and representatives care about are votes. If they don’t have the votes, they don’t have their jobs, plain and simple. The campaign money is only to guarantee those votes, that is all. If we can send a message to them that we won’t vote because of SOPA and PIPA, they won’t support SOPA and PIPA. That’s it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how democracy works. So if Chris Dodd ever comes back and complains about it, you will simply know that he is against democracy, plain and simple.

So Vote for the Net, and vote for our freedoms (and a more sensible IP protection policy.)


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