8 Million People Looked Up Their Elected Officials' Contact Info During Wikipedia Blackout

from the 4.5-million-signed-google-petition dept

Think the blackouts were just a “publicity stunt” that didn’t wake up the American people to a serious problem with the legislative process? Wikipedia has now revealed that an astounding eight million people used its tool to look up their elected officials’ contact info. It’s not yet clear how many actually called, but some information on calls is starting to come out, and it sure sounds like a lot of people called. We heard from multiple Senate staffers that the phones — both in DC and back home in the district offices — were ringing non-stop with complaints about the bill. Our own calling widget, care of Engine Advocacy, got a tremendous amount of usage — including over 2,000 phone calls per minute at peak calling times. Meanwhile, Google’s online petition scored 4.5 million signatures… and that’s the number that was reported earlier in the day. I’m sure it was higher by the end of the day. Anyone think this isn’t a mainstream issue yet? More importantly, can anyone explain why various Senators still want to move forward with this bill?

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Comments on “8 Million People Looked Up Their Elected Officials' Contact Info During Wikipedia Blackout”

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jakerome (profile) says:

Such a big story it merited 2 minutes on the news!

Watched NBC Nightly News. 2 minute segment about the blackout. All about how the bill aims to stop $135 Billion of piracy in the US each year, although opponents claim this could “somehow” lead to censorship. Absolutely no discussion of what the bill actually does.

Is the mainstream media biased? You betchya! Not sure I’d blame the corporate bias (#2) or the conflict bias (#3) and definitely not the liberal bias (#4). Nope, I’m going to go with the bias towards laziness, as it appeared the news segment producer couldn’t bother spending the couple hours it would have taken to learn about the issue before ill informing millions.

I wouldn’t expect anything more.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Such a big story it merited 2 minutes on the news!

You should see CNN’s reporting. Not only do they clearly spell out that their owners are PIPA/SOPA supports but then they go crazy and say if these bills pass hackers will release people’x “worst nightmare”. Say what???

They must win my award for the worst reporting on this subject ever done that barely scratched the surface of what happened. The wonders of biased reporting.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Such a big story it merited 2 minutes on the news!

It is nice you saw 2 min. My local Faux news never even mentioned it.

I am glad they didn’t. Just gives me fuel for the fire in trying to alert people to the corruption that has a strangle hold on our elected officials. When I explain SOPA to ppl their reaction has almost always been, well why haven’t I heard about it on the news. Because our “news” has become News Entertainment, and is part of the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

The difference a day makes

This morning this page had 80 congress critters for, 30 against. Look now:


Congressional aides and the media lobbyists were taken by surprise to:

In the Tea Party era of grassroots muscle, though, the old school was taken to school, Congressional aides and media lobbyists agree.

?The problem for the content industry is they just don?t know how to mobilize people,? said John P. Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide and executive at the motion picture lobby. ?They have a small group of content makers, a few unions, whereas the Internet word, the social media world especially, has a tremendous reach.”


The war is far from over, but today’s battle is won.

Loki says:

Re: The difference a day makes

?The problem for the content industry is they just don?t know how to mobilize people,?

There inability to mobilize people might have something to do with the fact they keep suing them, calling them criminals, limiting their options, cheating the artists, and trying to ram bad legislation down their throats.

Just saying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The difference a day makes

I was shocked – shocked – to see that SOPA supporters had, on average, received twice as much from Media corporations as SOPA opponents. And at the top of the pile it was much worse.

Interestingly, on average, it looks like both SOPA Supporters and Opponents received about the same amount of money from Internet groups.

Al Bert (profile) says:

Why stop

Now that awareness of this issue has spread to those who get their news from television, you can rest assured that the proponents of this legislation will spend all subsequent media coverage on downplaying or ignoring the existence of legitimate complaints and/or more overt attempts to villify the opposition. I have to then ask: Why do this blackout for one day? When the slower masses seek information on the bills, the existence and concerns of opposing party must still be more than evident. Whether or not petitions are worth anything, 4.5M is a lot for one day. How many could it be if awareness had more than one day to spread to those who don’t regularly use the internet? Yes, those people exist. The IP industry is perpetuated by insane unrelenting persistence and scorched-earth tactics. We’d be fools to not wage war with similar weapons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why stop

You mean, people who don’t regularly use the internet, watch TV, or talk with their family and friends. We don’t need Google to spread the word for us, we can do that on our own. I don’t think we’d see much of a benefit if Wikipedia went black for a whole week, versus going black to spike awareness and then being available when people come looking for more information. Et cetera.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why stop

Yea, yesterday was enough with the ‘please fix Craigslist’….”I can’t…”…..why not? You are the network admin…just fix it…

*head desk*

Having one day of blackouts was enough to stir even the most disconnected people….

There is only one group left that would really get the word out. The porn people.

Too bad most of them are probably pro-SOPA….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hopefully may not work

Even sneaking it through may not bring the desired result. When RIAA successfully managed to get Congress to change copyright law to make music “work for hire”, thereby stripping their signed artists from having copyrights over their works, the protest from academics and musicians was enough so that Congress retroactively erased that from the law books less than a year (or so) afterwards. And no one in the general public even knew about it, then.

Given the seeming success of this activism, I don’t see how it would be so hard to pull that off again (while trying to mete out punishment for those who voted for sneaking it through).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hopefully may not work

Until recently, copyrights didn’t affect Joe Sixpack. More and more these days they do. And SOPA has woken up many who were asleep to these kind of issues. Copyrights got where they are because it was a game played by an elite few that The Public didn’t really care about. That’s not so much the case any more.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hopefully may not work

Even if SOPA passed in its original form it would have not had the “desired result.” It would not have forced people to buy more from RIAA and MPAA companies. It would not have solved infringement problems. It would not have saved the content industry from the very bad decisions they have made regarding their relationship with the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hopefully may not work

“It would not have forced people to buy more from RIAA and MPAA companies. It would not have solved infringement problems.”

They know they can’t stop online infringement,


“But SOPA was unlikely to succeed at this either. And, as the content industries have told me in person for years, their antipiracy efforts aren’t about stopping piracy; they’re about curbing its excesses so legal efforts can flourish.”

Does that not expose Chris Dodd for being the pathetic tool we already know he is?

Anonymous Coward says:

More importantly, can anyone explain why various Senators still want to move forward with this bill?

Because the protest to it was based on lies? That’d be my guess.

These bills aren’t going to disappear, as they’ll give some politicians the chance to vote against them and use it as leverage in their upcoming elections.

But make no mistake, these congressfolk aren’t anti-copyright, they are aware the internet is being abused to accomplish rampant copyright infringement with impunity, and that they are going to have to deal with it very soon.

I think it’s great that piracy is now a national issue. Thrilled, actually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Idiots slave away for corporations already selling not only their work but the rights to it without getting anything really in return so I don’t see the difference with or without copyright, except for one thing, if there were no rights, there would be no way to stop anybody from selling anything and that includes the creator of something that could become big and he would get the benefits directly independently of whom is on the market already trying to sell the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My you are pathetic.

“Because the protest to it was based on lies?”

I don’t even know where to begin. The entire push for these laws was based on misinformation and lies.

“These bills aren’t going to disappear”

Tell us something we don’t know, but consider today a test run of what could possibly be to come. I read about 10,000 sites blacked out today. Next time could be doubled or tripled.

“But make no mistake, these congressfolk aren’t anti-copyright”

Many of today’s protesters were pro-copyright too. Copyright has it’s place, but needs to be balanced once again.

“I think it’s great that piracy is now a national issue. Thrilled, actually.”

Me too. Makes it easier to put the spotlight on the ANTI-PIRACY abuses and congressional corruption that has been taking place for far too long.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“””But make no mistake, these congressfolk aren’t anti-copyright, they are aware the internet is being abused to accomplish rampant copyright infringement with impunity, and that they are going to have to deal with it very soon.”””

Pssst… you might have missed it in your shill handbook, but you people don’t call it copyright infringement, you call it theft.

Because you neglected to enforce that mis-stereotype, your post is almost reasonable, except where you call half of the internet liars.

Hendrix says:

Re: Re:

What was a lie about why we don’t want these bills to pass? If these bills pass as is, it will give power to the MPAA and RIAA (which already abuse the DMCA) to shut down any domain they want. It will also give competitors to a business the ability to shut down all of the domains of the competition. All they have to do is claim copyright infringement and it is then on the little guys to prove that they did nothing wrong, all while losing money due to not being open so to speak.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think it’s great that piracy is becoming more of a national issue and out in the spotlight as well. Each new person that becomes aware of these issues will be one less person that will buy into the industry’s lies that there is an economic impact or job losses at stake. The bigger the issue becomes, the more truth will come out. The industry’s position has been 100% been based on misinformation and distorted statistics that cannot be backed up. The greater the awareness of the issue will be directly translated into less support for the industry and more outcry against not only the ridiculously poor legislation trying to get passed, but hopefully also against the existing draconian terms and provisions the industry has managed to purchase thus far. The MAFIAA is only helping to speed up their inevitable demise, and the sooner the better!

The Original Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Senatorial phone lines overloaded

I successfully called the office of my Congressman, who opposes the bills, and asked the staffer that answered the phone to encourage the Congressman to continue on that track.

I then tried to call the offices of my two Senators, both of whom are co-sponsors. The first one’s phone line was busy for most of the day. The second one’s phone line flipped immediately to voice mail. That system was full and no longer accepting messages. I never did get through to the senators by voice.

All in all, it sounds today was a good day…

mike allen (profile) says:

I recieved this in a email

The really crazy part? We might even win.

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.

But don’t trust predictions. The forces behind SOPA & PIPA (mostly movie companies) can make small changes to these bills until they know they have the votes to pass. Members of Congress know SOPA & PIPA are unpopular, but they don’t understand why–so they’re easily duped by superficial changes. The Senate returns next week, and the next few days are critical. Here are two things to think about:

1. Plan on calling your Senator every day next week. Pick up the phone each morning and call your Senators’ offices, until they vote “no” on cloture. If your site participated today, consider running a “Call the Senate” link all next week.

2. Tomorrow, drop in at your Senators’ district offices. We don’t have a cool map widget to show you the offices nearest you (we’re too exhausted! any takers?). So do it the old fashioned way: use Google, or the phonebook to find the address, and just walk in, say you oppose PIPA, and urge the Senator to vote “no” on cloture. These drop-in visits make our spectacular online protests more tangible and credible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sui Juris Law – The Self Governing
“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. ” Marbury vs Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803) “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda vs Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491. “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no right; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” Norton vs Shelby County118 US 425 p.442 “The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.” 16th American Jurisprudence 2d, Section 177, late 2nd, Section 256″

MattP says:

Re: Re:

RAS syndrome (redundant acronym syndrome syndrome) aka PNS syndrome (PIN number syndrome syndrome) strikes again.

For the children stop using RAP phrases (redundant acronym phrase phrases)!

This innocent act will be brought to bear when the senator goes to an ATM machine and enters their PIN number to view cash donations on the LCD display (LED diodes are still too new and expensive to be prevalent on ATM machines).

As soon as the ASDL line transmits the data and the GUI interface displays the transaction you’ll find it being broadcast on CNN news network.

Please RSVP for the P.R.O.T.E.C.T.T.H.E.C.H.I.L.D.R.E.N.A.N.D.S.A.V.E.A.M.E.R.I.C.A Act fundraiser.

rubberpants says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, either that or

Helping Children Through Research And Development

which stands for

Hi, Everyone. Let’s Pitch In ‘N’ Get Cracking Here In Louisiana Doing Right, Eh? Now Then. Hateful Rich Overbearing Ugly Guys Hurt Royally Every-time Someone Eats A Radish, Carrot, Hors d’oeuvre, And Never Does Dishes. Eventually, Victor Eats Lunch Over Peoria Mit Ein Neuesberger Tod.

(From MST3K #812)

Violated (profile) says:


Impressive numbers for just ONE DAY of action.

Well it has been reported that SOPA and PIPA are now official election topics. They will be asking voters their view and who knows if these parties will take sides.

You may care to note that the large majority of the Senators who switched sides yesterday were Republicans. Only a few Democrats did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Politics

Think about that.

The Democratic Senators see through this BS.

The Republicans threw their finger in the wind because this is an election year.

Whatever. The only thing this protest did was to really piss off creators/content producers, and reality check them into an awareness of how a greedy tech industry will go to the gutter to protect their parasitic business model.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Politics

Good, the more they get pissed the more dumb they become, if those people had any balls they would go out and protest on the streets against the pirates why they don’t do that?

Oh right they are afraid of the number of pirates that actually exist and that is every single human being on the planet according to the literal definition of what a pirate is and that is anyone who ever took anything without paying for it and that could be a photograph, a quote, a piece of video anything.

Thank God this nonsense can never ever be enforced or it would be the end of the human race.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Politics

Um, no. The literal definition of a pirate is this:

“Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator (e.g. one passenger stealing from others on the same vessel). The term has been used to refer to raids across land borders by non-state agents.”

Hey,look! Wiki’s back up:


wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Politics

No, the corporate content industries are the real pirates, going around using lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits to extract and extort money from everybody from infants to the dead for alleged infringements based on sometimes very flimsy evidence, and suing them back to the stone age if they don’t give in. (Remember Jammie Thomas-Rasset, $1.8 million for downloading a few tunes?) Now who’s the pirates?

As for their claims of massive losses, don’t believe it. Their “piracy” figures are grossly overstated, they use fuzzy math to inflate the number of alleged infringements and they count each and every song downloaded as an entire album lost. Fuzzy logic at its finest. And they whine about millions of jobs and $billions being lost on account of piracy. I seriously doubt if the actual loss is more than .01% of what they’re claiming. If PIPA/SOPA becomes law and is enforced, it has the potential to destroy the Internet as we know it today, and think of the millions of jobs and $$$billions of dollars that will be lost if that happens. This is burning your barn down with all your livestock in it to get rid of a few rats.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Politics

The only thing this protest did was to really piss off creators/content producers

Sorry, but I don’t consider a couple dozen kids “content creators/producers”.

All of the “content creators/producers” that I know (and yes, every single one of them, including me and both of my brothers – one of whom works for hollywood) is against SOPA.

MPAA shills are not ‘content creators/producers’, they’re leeches on people who really create or produce “content”.

Take your BS somewhere else, because nobody here is buying it.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Politics

The only thing this protest did was to really piss off creators/content producers, and reality check them into an awareness of how a greedy tech industry will go to the gutter to protect their parasitic business model.

The irony is strong with this one.

And is it really the “creators/content producers” who are pissed off? Or was more along the lines of the legacy gatekeepers for the creators/content producers who are pissed off?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Politics

Which creators/content producers? Citation please?

And who is parasitic? Didn’t like, every movie ever made come from a story someone else wrote? Possibly even hundreds of years before movies were ever dreamed of?

If you mean people used democracy for what they want instead of what some corporation wants, then yes, it was a reality check.

Get used it it.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Politics

Whatever. The only thing this protest did was to really piss off creators/content producers, and reality check them into an awareness of how a greedy tech industry will go to the gutter to protect their parasitic business model.

+1 Funny… You are making a joke, right?

Let me bring it back to reality for you…

Awesome! The main thing this protest did was to really piss off the American public/content consumers into an awareness of how greedy and entitled the content industry is will go to their wallets to pass draconian and unjustifiable legislation to protect their out of date and parasitic business model!


Butcherer79 (profile) says:

A good start?

From census records @ http://exploredia.com/population-of-us-states-2011/ the population of total US territory is just over 312M.
Although this blackout may have raised awareness, the total percentage of the 312M that contacted is about 2.5%.

Maybe a longer protest is needed to raise awareness further, also out of the users of the tool, how many were duplicate users, how many were under voting age, how many were already aware of the bill?

I’m not trying to say that the blackout was unsuccessful, just that perhaps there’s more successful ways of raising awareness, or perhaps the protest wasn’t big enough?

Nick (profile) says:

Re: A good start?

True, but the last time mid term elections generated a >40% turnout was 1970 (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html)and if we assume most people who signed those petitions intend to vote, that puts it closer to 6%. Then consider the number of people who didn’t sign the petition for one reason or another. Awareness is much higher then 2.5% there are many issues I’ve been aware of but I didn’t sign a petition about. I just used my vote… Many people are of that mind set.

MAJikMARCer (profile) says:

Re: A good start?

True that it’s a small percentage of the total population but don’t forget the large number of people who don’t use the Internet, or use it so infrequently as to not care about these things or be completely ignorant about them.

Additionally and unfortunately there is a lot of apathy regarding this issue. Wikipedia may have taken a controversial approach to educating people about SOPA/PIPA but for some people, unless you poke them with a stick, they aren’t going to wake up and do what they should.

Anonymous Coward says:

SOPA will become law one way or another because the truth is that most people don’t care one way or the other about the issue, they have more important things to worry about. In a nation of over 300 million, a mere 8 million is an entirely insignificant minority, and all of the big money media support SOPA. This is reality. Sadly, in the real world, David rarely beats Goliath.

melwin daniel (profile) says:

united we stand

The movement is growing ? close to 7,000 sites and counting have announced they will join the blackout. Google has announced a major protest on their homepage and Wikipedia is doing blackout. Will it work? Will it stop SOPA?

Opponents of controversial federal anti-piracy legislation known as SOPA seem to be picking up steam. Supporters of the legislation in both houses of Congress appear to have backed off, the Obama administration has expressed concerns with the legislation, and an Internet blackout slated for Wednesday is picking up supporters.

A House subcommittee was slated to prepare the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, for a vote later this month; the Senate had planned a vote on the companion bill, PIPA (The Protect IP Act,) even sooner. Now, it appears both votes will be delayed.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Give It A Week To Sink In.

In the first place, not everyone is “on deck” every day. Say that eight million people have signed petitions, who didn’t even know that there were petitions until yesterday. As they tell their friends and relatives, the number will rise to twenty or thirty million. Only about a hundred million people vote in American presidential elections, and the margin of victory is rarely more than eight million. Barrack Obama would literally kill for eight million votes, and so would Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul. No professional politician is going to leave eight million votes on the table. There is going to be a “bidding war,” with the different parties competing to offer more and better terms. That doesn’t just mean killing PIPA/SOPA, it means introducing new bills to revert the duration of copyright back to 14/28 years.

Not all of the Senators have changed sides overnight. So what. Even when a mayor, or a congress-critter, or a football coach gets caught diddling little boys, there is generally a week or so of rising publicity before the man resigns in disgrace. It takes that long for someone to grasp that the principles of a lifetime are no longer valid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Give It A Week To Sink In.

… it means introducing new bills to revert the duration of copyright back to 14/28 years.

Right now, a bill to revert copyright terms back those of the 1790 act, is a bill that will be referred to the comedy committe, and die there.

A bill to simply repeal the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) might have some chance of making it to a floor vote. For one, repealing CTEA wouldn’t mean a withdrawal from Berne.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Give It A Week To Sink In.

The obvious answer is that the United States was not a signatory to the Berne Convention until 1989. Publishers protected their rights by setting up national subsidiaries and publishing works simultaneously in New York and London, while simultaneously applying for American and English (Berne) copyrights. The system worked reasonably well. It would work even better now, given advances in electronics and computers. For example, I can envision a system of version control designed to allow a translator to start working from the author’s rough drafts, then later, being able to see at a glance what passages had been changed and needed their translations changed. The result might be that a book might be simultaneously published in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese.

darryl says:

Re: Give It A Week To Sink In.

yes, it takes a LOOOOOOOG time for you “Americans” to “get” most things, it appears that you usually “get it” many YEARS later, if at all.

How many of these 8 million people are registered voters ?

Why are US voters so apathetic ?

How many of the 8 Million, will base there vote on ONE issue only ?

It really does appear that few care, that those that do care, probably do not care enough to vote, or even enroll to vote on this issue.

again, 8 million is a very small number, you have over 3 times that amount of people in jail !!

darryl says:

virtually NO effect and no interest outside the US or inside !!!

seems like the protest was a major fizzer, did anyone actually notice anything ?

no.. and as predicted, when there is money involved, that will trump a real protest anytime, that is why google, (and most others) did not shut down (really) as stated.

The fact is only in the US does this seem to be an issue, and by the SMALL number of people complaining it is not really an issue in the US either.

how many of those 8 million were repeats from one person and how many were from different people ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: virtually NO effect and no interest outside the US or inside !!!

Incidentally, not all of the readers of Techdirt are from the US. And SOPA has been delayed, regardless of whether it reappears – so, no, it’s a little hard to say that no one noticed a thing. Matter of fact, the head honchos of the RIAA and MPAA have been bawwwwing over the whole thing.

How many of the shills here are repeats from one darryl?

The Luke Witnesser says:

Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.


The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

Can you say, do as I say so I can crush you under heel?

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