Reddit Cofounder Warns Of SOPA Legislation
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Ohanian said the bill was the result of massive lobbying by the entertainment industry, hoping to protect their copyright interests on films, music, and books, among other forms of media. Compared to the lobbying budgets of the technology sector, the entertainment spending looks even more vast. The more popular Internet media becomes, the more entertainment companies lose profits. Ohanian gave the example of Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari, two comedians who released specials on the Internet for $5 with the full knowledge that their product could be easily pirated. “[The artists] now have an opportunity to circumvent massive entertainment companies and connect directly with the people who actually love their creative work—the fans,” Ohanian said.
Ohanian said the introduction of SOPA wasn’t all bad, however, “This legislation brought us to a very important and I think watershed moment in the short history of the world wide web,” Ohanian said. “All of the sudden, a bunch of geeks built websites to fight this thing together.”
In response, Reddit blacked out its pages on Jan. 18 in protest of the legislation, and Wikipedia did the same a few weeks later. “When Wikipedia went down, everyone said ‘Holy sh—,’ something’s going on here,” Ohanian said.
Reflecting again on the power of the Internet, Ohanian found comfort in the fact that a group of people so diverse and so far apart could at the same time be so connected in a cause.
The presentation came full circle as Ohanian returned again to the power of Internet startups. Giving advice for the young entrepreneurs in attendance, Ohanian stressed one concept: giving a damn. “Everything comes down to giving a damn,” he said. “You can really build something that people love. This new economy that’s being created is one that is awe-inspiring. Do it all like you give a damn.”