The recent Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are perfect examples of how common interest can prevail despite huge organizations throwing millions of dollars at a cause.
Giants like Time Warner, Viacom, MasterCard, American Express, Visa, and countless other’s from the entertainment industry all threw money in support of the bills.
On the opposition’s side, great amounts of money were spent too, though not nearly as much. The opposition had an even more valuable currency than cash on their side: public interest and support.
Thousands rallied in opposition to SOPA and PIPA and in most cases, it didn’t cost a thing. Internet Giants like Google and Wikipedia organized against the bills and made user’s stance on the legislation heard. Their infrastructure could spread the message and was poised to do so.
Michael Beckel, an analyst at the Center for Responsive Politics sums it up best by saying:
“The Internet really flexed their muscles during this fight, and their infrastructure helped them advocate their positions that others don’t have at their disposal.”
Lee Drutman, a data fellow at the Sunlight Foundation also commented on the efforts of the opposition:
“When you have an issue that is salient, and the public cares about it, the money matters less, money matters more when it’s a behind-closed-doors issue that hasn’t faced much public scrutiny.”
although the money thrown by those huge organizations in support of SOPA and PIPA represents a huge waste now, the fight for internet freedom is not over. The opposition has only just won the first battle. The public will have to protect their interests and stay on top of lawmaker’s.