Manhattan SOPA/PIPA Protest Blankets Block Fronting NY Senators' Offices
New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have taken their phones off the hook, according to David Segal from Demand Progress and others from the New York Tech community who held the emergency NY Tech Meet Up on 780 Third Avenue between 12:30 and 2:00 pm. Both senators are co-sponsors of the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) s.968 (Wikipedia allowed entry into this information). The House version of the bill is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
The Meet Up/action was in effect a protest effort by tech companies from all over. Representatives from New York Tech companies and companies from as far away as Colorado were joined joined by executives from MoveOn.org, Demand Progress, Personal Democracy Forum, Access Now, Tumblr, as well as entrepreneurs like Brad Feld, an entrepreneur and investor from Colorado, and others (I'm sorry if I missed you. For a time couldn't get past police barricade.)
Members of the NY Tech community were well prepared with flyers to distribute, and platform speakers on board moderated by Andrew Rasiej of Personal Democracy Media producer of the Personal Democracy Forum who encouraged techies, the press, protesters from the Occupy crowd, citizens and onlookers with the phrase that has become a hallmark of national Occupy groups in every city, "What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like."
Tim Carver from MoveOn.org characterized the two bills as a lobbying effort by legacy media companies who have spent $95 million dollars on lobbyists and lawyers to get senators like Schumer and Gillibrand to promote a law which will in effect curtail the innovation, freedom and entrepreneurial methods through which new Internet and technology companies thrive. He adjured that tech enterprises depend on heavy interactions with their users, unlike old media companies who became complacent about their clients, expecting them to take what was dished out and like it. He reiterated that there are "two million" and counting who have protested online about PIPA and that democracy cannot survive in the Internet age without upholding democratic principles which SOPA and PIPA decry.
David Smirnoff from the Internet Society commented that this was the biggest tech protest in the history of tech in NYC. But Aaron Schwartz from Demand Progress was the most encouraging, reminding protesters that they were making a difference and would continue to do so. He outlined that he had read about these two bills about a year ago. They had most probably originated in the back rooms of traditional media companies as they a looked for a way to shore up their mega profits, hiring lawyers and lobbyists to remind senators and congressmen how much they contributed to their campaigns and how much they would continue to contribute to their campaigns if they railroaded the legislation quickly and quietly through the senate and congress with as little fanfare as possible.Continued on the next page