While the MPAA decried yesterday's SOPA/PIPA protests as a "publicity stunt," it seems clear that the protests did have their intended effect, with at least 18 Senators having withdrawn support for SOPA. ProPublica is keeping a running tally
, and the numbers aren't going in the RIAA/MPAA's desired direction. Some, like Congressman Bruce Braley, did so in amusing fashion
. Many politicians tried to placate the roaring hordes yesterday by using vague language saying they heard constituent concerns, but stopping short of actually saying they'll vote no when the bill(s) come up for a vote.
Google says their petition against SOPA netted 4.5 million signatures
. According to Wikipedia eight million people
looked up their elected representatives' contact information via the Wikipedia tool, and 162 million people viewed the blackout landing page. 75,000 websites are believed to have shuttered all or some of their functionality.
While PIPA and SOPA are still moving forward, support has certainly taken a hit. As the year moves on and election season heats up both bills are going to start becoming more toxic given uniform public outrage. The entertainment industry is going to do their best to salvage these bills with a lot of empty rhetoric about job creation, but it seems likely that the damage has already been done.
The lesson for lawmakers here appears to be that you don't piss off the Internet. Another lesson appears to be that allowing corporations to write awful laws in exchange for campaign contributions doesn't work quite as well when the public is informed and paying attention. Just-as-awful technology legislation is passed on a daily basis that doesn't get the same level of scruity PIPA and SOPA have received. Then again, there's few organizations that have cultivated quite the volume of public disgust as the RIAA and MPAA, and there's nothing confusing about the dangers of letting both irresponsible, incompetent and aggressive organizations dictate legal process, network security and website censorship.