The Day After the Blackout

This morning, Fight For The Future, the non-profit organization behind the anti-SOPA/PIPA blackout, sent out an email to all participants. Within the body text is the following summarizing statement:

Approaching Monday's crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA.  Last week there were 5.   And it just takes just 41 solid "no" votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate.  What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach. 

Although it was fantastic to witness such unilateral, reasoned, and thoughtful dissent, the fight is clearly not yet over.

Continue to write to your representatives and stay abreast with the latest developments. A blackout alone will not stop the proposed legislation -- active response is required from the community all the way up until the vote and beyond.

Further, while many may have abandoned the SOPA and PIPA bills, it is clear that there is a swelling desire within the media industry to pursue aggressive copyright reform. SOPA and PIPA may both collapse, but their provisions are likely to be survived by altered iterations in other pieces of legislation. As long as media conglomerates feel threatened and confused by Internet piracy and media distribution, there will be a threat to the well-being and integrity of the Internet.

Seeing such a large quantity of people acting so passionately is wonderful, but the fight certainly did not end yesterday, nor will it end when the bills enter the Senate. Until large media corporations become comfortable with the rapidly modernizing industry they find themselves in, knee jerk reactions and ill-reasoned bills are to be expected.

What was demonstrated yesterday is that the Internet, and its audience, can make a measured and astounding impact upon the political landscape. With well over 4.5 million signatures on Google's petition alone, the blackout initiative clearly attracted, educated, and swayed an enormous number of people.

It would be easy to feel pessimistic about the inevitability of overzealous copyright reform, but the passionate response of such a large quantity of people is justification for hope. Politicians around the world were shown the dangers of tampering with an entity that exists outside of the bounds of politics and media agendas, and that is certainly no small achievement.

The message and sentiment of the Internet has been heard, now it is up to the individual to remain active. Write and call your representatives, schedule meetings with them, write and Tweet about censorship -- simply do whatever you can to make sure the message of the blackout remains permanent rather than fleeting.

The Internet has often been viewed as capricious, but if yesterday's tone of concern is sustained, it will contribute greatly to the underlying significance of the signatures on all petitions and letters. Underlining and embossing the seriousness of the Internet is no small task, but yesterday's events certainly highlighted the potential.

The rising popularity of Spotify, Rdio, Netflix, and Hulu are all testament to the potential for minimizing copyright infringement, and stifling such advances for the sake of short-term gains is ill-advised. Such advances coupled with viable grassroots political recourse creates a formidable hurdle for fearful politicians and media conglomerates to surmount, particularly considering the latter's propensity for illogical and inflammatory opinions.

So while pessimism is easy to embrace and the fickle users of the Internet are certainly easy to dismiss, I choose to feel optimistic. Yesterday's blackout was impressive, the gains were significant, and awareness is at an all time high. The integrity of the Internet is in all of our best interests, and I choose to believe that people are capable of recognizing and remaining firm on such a fact.