TV News Coverage of SOPA/PIPA Web Piracy Bills (Finally)

Yesterday morning, the founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, was on Up with Chris on MSNBC debating SOPA/PIPA with the NBC General Counsel. Kudos to Chris Hayes for having the courage to have a segment on a bill that his bosses at NBC oppose, and kudos to NBC for sending their head lawyer onto the segment to present the NBC viewpoint. Brian Stelter of the New York Times has a short piece about the segment and embeds the segment here. It’s worth watching.

Yesterday night, I jumped on Al Jazeera English. Here is the clip, and I embed it below.

Other than a brief mention on CNN, MSNBC’s was surprisingly the first mainstream coverage of this issue.

Alexis was excellent and my mother tells me I did a fine job too.

Afterwards, I wished that Alexis and I had been able to have a mind meld into one magical person, like the superhero Firestorm.  He did a great job of discussing how these bills would make anti-censorship tools illegal. He noted that the State Department funds and encourages anti-censorship tools and these bills would make those tools illegal. I wish I had had the time to discuss that issue on Al Jazeera English. Considering Al Jazeera’s role in the Arab Spring and role of anti-censorship tools in autocratic regimes, I wish I could have conveyed that point on Al Jazeera’s English channel.

Over at MSNBC, the NBC General Counsel kept claiming that, based on his read of the bills, they only affected foreign websites. Alexis and Chris Hayes aren’t lawyers so it was hard for them to disagree with an experienced lawyer on statutory analysis. But I’m also an experienced lawyer, and I’ve  evaluated the statute and have detailed the exact sections of the bill that severely burden American sites. After the show, Chris retweeted my post on the issue. Alexis also linked to my post in his Google Plus posting about the show.

Glad that we have seen at least some coverage of these really important bills that could dramatically change the Internet for the worse–suppressing free speech, harming security, threatening innovators and start-ups.

Also, even if two of us can’t meld into one superhero, SOPA and PIPA have caused a firestorm online, as millions speak with a unified voice, and it won’t let up soon, even if that voice is silence.

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