For Internet Freedom Day, Watch Aaron Swartz Explain How SOPA Was Stopped

from the internet-freedom-day dept

For many who knew Aaron Swartz, this Internet Freedom Day — the anniversary of last year’s January 18th blackouts that led to the end of SOPA/PIPA — is a bit bittersweet. Aaron played a very large role in helping stop SOPA last year — to the point that I’m not sure the bills would have been stopped without his help. Thus, many are using today as both a celebration of what happened last year, as well as a memorial for Swartz. And what better way to combine the two than to watch Swartz’s excellent keynote speech at F2C: Freedom to Connect last year about “How we stopped SOPA.” It gives a good history of the bill, combined with Aaron’s own accomplishments during the fight.

Oh, and for those who still insist that SOPA was stopped by Google, remember that Aaron was no fan of Google.

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Comments on “For Internet Freedom Day, Watch Aaron Swartz Explain How SOPA Was Stopped”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

With the rate of mental health issues in the world, these IP types should be really scared.

Statistically speaking, one of these days, someone that was tormented the way Aaron Swartz was, will realize where the torment is coming from. They will then walk into the Oscars, ASCAP, MPAA, or RIAA and nuke the fuckers.

After which, in an ideal world, this bullying by prosecutors will be made illegal. With the way US Govt works, more than likely, laws will be enacted against targeting content types instead.

Rikuo (profile) says:


New rule in effect, effective immediately. If you want to comment, say something that doesn’t agree with the general view of Techdirt’s regulars…do not write ad homs or insults, and also, expand your comments. Post links and sources to say why what you say is the truth. Don’t be the idiot up above who just said “Indoctrinated” and left it at that. That accomplishes nothing at all.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: Rikuo on Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:51am

I could be childish and say “That’s what I told your mom to do last night”…but I won’t. Before his suicide, I honestly had never heard of Aaron Swartz (or if I had, he just didn’t make enough of an impact on me that I remembered his name). I do find it especially sickening to read how much of an impact he had on the Internet, and then for people to just go (post-death) “Eh, he was indoctrinated”. With no thought or logic put into.
Please, if you have an alternative view-point, discuss it with us! Cite sources, explain it, expand it! Do not throw out one liners that literally accomplish nothing besides increasing the contempt I and others have for your ilk.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: Rikuo on Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:51am

I do find it especially sickening to read how much of an impact he had on the Internet, and then for people to just go (post-death) “Eh, he was indoctrinated”. With no thought or logic put into.

Anyone who knew Aaron knows that he was immune to “indoctrination.” Kid thought for himself to a fault. He regularly argued with people over ideas where he felt strongly in a manner that differed from his friends.

Anyone claiming that he was “indoctrinated” merely proves that they don’t know what they’re talking about… at all.

Prokofy Neva (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: Rikuo on Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:51am

I’m happy to. I don’t believe in the notion of “troll” which is merely a technocommunist means of silencing dissent, engineered by very controlling people who want to take away our Internet freedoms. This entire “disappearance” of comments that the readers here don’t like is like Stalin erasing people out of photographs. It’s despicable.

Lawrence Lessig began mentoring Swartz when he was a mere 14 years old — a teenage genius. He spent a lot of quality time with him and was frequently in touch with him; he had just saw him at a Christmas party before he died.

But Lessig, as much as he animated Swartz and indeed lured Swartz into the whole copyleftist doctrine, did not go to the mat for his protege. He was happy to push the doctrine of copyleftism and nod and wink about hacking and rail against the targets of the hack, like JSTOR, but he then said Aaron “crossed a line” and wouldn’t defend him. He sits in his cushy job and piously talks about conflicts of interest at Harvard — nonsense. If he cared about the issues he claims to (and I don’t share his convictions), he should have been willing to put up websites and write letters and stump for Aaron BEFORE he committed suicide, not AFTER.

I write this here, and there is plenty of other material on the Internet to draw from.

That a 14-year-old boy genius willingly embraces the hacker set doesn’t mean anything; these grown-ups are responsible for instilling in him also a notion of the rule of law. But oh, they don’t have one, like Mike Masnick, so they are happy to send him off on a suicide bombing mission the way rich Saudi princes pay for Palestinian suicide bombers. And yes, I will use exactly those terms and not budge from my heartfelt conviction because some anonymous script kiddie like yourself with a fake name tells me I’m a “troll”. BTW, my Internet name is solidly linked with my RL name on my blog.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: Rikuo on Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:51am

Okay well, that’s a good start I guess, but you loaded down your response with so much emotional baggage that it is actually quite easy to dismiss most if not all of what you say.
You’re comparing Lessig and Swartz to Saudi suicide bombers? Really? So wait…are you saying that somehow the overzealous government prosecution was actually orchestrated by Lessig and Swartz?
Reporting comments here (to quote precisely what you said) “like Stalin erasing people out of photographs” (which of course it isn’t). When Stalin erased people out of photographs, 99% of the time, the originals were no-where to be found, and as such, no-one could view them. Here people only have to click to see the comments. If you still want to call it censorship, fine, go ahead, but at least do a better job when you’re trying to compare it to real life censorship and propaganda.

I also don’t even have to read the article you linked to: the title is enough “They were only doing their jobs!” Yes, so said the Nazi concentration camp guard. If that’s the best argument you can link to, then you sir, have failed.

Also, I’m not a script kiddie. Yes, you had to result to an ad hom. I don’t know how to program code, I’m more interested in the hardware side of computers. Yes, its a “fake name”, its called an online handle, its what I go by online because I don’t want my online activities to be traced to my real name. I enjoy the protection of anonymous blogging.

So all in all…I do have to say you FAILED. You presented your viewpoint, yes, but you threw in ad homs, you threw in weak arguments, you threw in emotive language.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Saddened

It’s fun to disrespect people who are harassing you, but make no mistake – the people in Congress are not fools. They do not lack sense.

Remember how two or three times Aaron mentioned whoever was behind this was good….

They’re good. Damned good. And they got him, even though I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind… they got him.

Fight, but fight smart and know your enemy. They are not fools.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Financial Reform!

I’ve been reading the site for over a year….

Specifically, I am talking about bank financing, which I repeat I do not see a lot here. The idea here seems to be to get artists to go out and use the technology that exists to just go out and entertain, and that’s all well and good. I like it. But for big budget art it has been repeatedly pointed out that this model does not seem to work.

The reason is that private capital is always going to be more expensive than bank capital, because banks are allowed to create new capital for lending, whereas private citizens and other organizations cannot.

I do not see this issue being addressed much here. I also wonder what the weird pull is among people here to try to accuse anyone who posts something they don’t like of not reading the site often….. That’s just weird. Really, who cares if I have been reading the site long? I just asked a question.

Got any handy links to go with that attitude?

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Financial Reform!

Very well, I apologize for my rudeness. In my defense, from the way it was written, I thought you were one of the trolls going “Well, why don’t you write about XYZ!!!”

As for ” But for big budget art it has been repeatedly pointed out that this model does not seem to work.” I have to counter with…that hasn’t been proven to be true yet. As far as I can recall, no one has yet to attempt a blockbuster movie using Kickstarter for example. The key word there is yet. The first dozen attempts can fail for all I care, but what I care about is that they are allowed an attempt (and by that, we need a free and open internet).
Also, so what about a big budget? Are they somehow more “art” than something that has a lower budget? If the death of copyright also happens to herald the death of big budget movies, then great. People will then be forced to try and innovate so that they can accomplish more or less the same things as a big budget movie, but on a smaller budget.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Financial Reform!

Sorry for the little personal run in. I see where you were coming from now.

I tend, like you, to be somewhat nonplussed about the death of big budget art; but sadly, artists are not quite as apathetic.

There is also this thing that artists, like pretty much all other professionals, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And their work is important. In the past, massive structures were the art that interested the wealthy and powerful the most, but these days blockbuster entertainment, preferably with a subtle, pro-powerful message, is all the rage, and make no mistake about it, part of the reason for these huge budgets is to get the best and brightest minds in entertainment supporting THEIR causes.

Because our monetary system currently allows banks, and only banks (not even the government), to introduce new money into the economy, and because that money is introduced in the form of loans, it is exceedingly important that any new business model for artists somehow protect the artists themselves while simultaneously prying them free of distributors.

The bank angle is key. If it were merely a matter of there needing to be rich patrons, well… the best artists would most likely be hired by the wealthiest patrons. But the issue here is that funding is best obtained from banks, and banks do not fund for reasons of message. They fund for interest. And if you cannot provide a reasonable argument that you can make money on the money you borrow, they not only don’t want to loan it to you, but really they just can’t. Too many bad loans risk a collapse of the system, and we’ve seen time and time again what happens when that starts up.

So to summarize, IP allows bank financing by protecting the people doing an artistic project so that they can have a reasonable expectation of profit on certain types of big budget art. That, in turn, allows them to attract the best talent.

Artists are thus drawn into the orbit of such a business model.

That’s my perception.

Prokofy Neva (profile) says:

SOPA was indeed stopped by Google, and the Google-connected long-time crusaders like Mitch Kapor who formed and — most importantly — funded the organizations that sustained Swartz and others:

Masnick repeatedly tries to pretend this was a “grass roots” campaign when it was conceived, executed, funded and fueled by the usual cadres. That they use mob psychology and get millions of kids on Tumblr scarified into thinking their blogs are going to be deleted by the police doesn’t make it “grass roots” any more than anything of this nature in the 1930s was really “grass roots”.

Masnick saying Swartz was “no fan” of Google is like people who say Larry Lessig isn’t really on the left because he once clerked for a Republican judge. It’s a dodge and a subterfuge that evades the very real role Google played in using their huge bully pulpit on their own website to get 7 million clicks. Not to mention their more subtle lobbying.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Pfft

I’m 44. I’m concerned by anything, anywhere at all, that allows the government to take something without any sort of trial.

Google helped Aaron? And you and yours in the entertainment industry want to destroy my rights on the internet?

Well, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, my friend.

Thanks for coming out to gin up fear and loathing for your cause.

shane (profile) says:


I do like this –

“Oh, please. Do you take us all for children?! Let me explain to you “how the Internet works”. The “Internet works” the same way everything else works: a) influence b) money.”

Cool link, but it hardly matters. Even if you’re right, and I am not sure your take is entirely accurate, you still make a crappy case for copyright by demonizing the interests of the people Kapor may have been able to agitate with his deep pockets.

I notice the term “echo chamber” gets used a lot in the link, and by people who criticize Tech Dirt. What exactly is the fascination with this term, “echo chamber”? As if nowhere other than in the tech industry do people sometimes get caught up in their own press releases?


shane (profile) says:

Re: On Wikipedia

From your link.

“Then Wikipedia came in — the final elephant stampeded (I’ve always pointed out that they are a walled garden, not part of the open Internet because no link every takes you outside of their servers, and they do not have social media devices like “like” or “tweet” on their site).”

At the bottom of every Wikipedia page are the citations, many of which are linked to outside sources.

Here’s one it took me all of 15 seconds to snag at random.

commenter8 (profile) says:

Sign these White House petitions!

White House petition to Fire US Attorney Carmen Ortiz (41,903 now)

White House petition to Fire Assistant US Attorney Steve Heymann (8,074 now)

White House petition to Reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (3,151 now)

White House petition to Limit Copyrights to a Maximum of 10 Years (2,438 now)

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