Assuming Google wants to take a significant stance against this bill, they're in a unique position to raise people's awareness of its awfulness. They could put some text on the Google homepage and/or a link to a protest page informing Americans about this threat. (Google might need to set up their own page, to avoid overwhelming an external site with traffic.) Other creative possibilities come to mind:
- Changing the "I'm feeling lucky" button to "I'm feeling very unlucky" and linking to the protest page
- Posting a terrifying, yet appealing Google Doodle that links and lures users to the protest page
- Announcing and then holding a scheduled, minute-long search outage, where all search traffic is redirected to the protest page (which would include an explanation of why searches were temporarily redirected)
Technically savvy users might be aware of SOPA and the threat it poses, yet the "average" American is probably unaware of what their elected representatives are doing to their digital future. They need to know, and hold their representatives accountable.
Disclaimer: I am not an American, but feel a need to speak up, given the huge effect U.S. law has on the whole Internet.
Not least among my reasons being that I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Google to act.
Unless I'm wrong about the relative strength of these opposing lobbies, it hardly makes sense that SOPA seems to have so much traction among legislators.
The article on agilepanda is well written but the site at http://americancensorship.org/ focuses on website blocking, jail time if you "stream a copyrighted work" and the very general threat of "Chaos for the Internet". It's the wrong approach IMO.
The decision makers, or our target market for this if you'd prefer, are congress, the senate and the president. There's an election coming up and we have real power we can wield. So here's my suggestion:
1. Make it crystal clear that replacing the DMCA with SOPA will kill many of the job creation machines coming out of Silicon Valley and the rest of the USA. It will prevent the creation of new businesses like Facebook that can only exist through user generated content and who generate billions in tax revenue and jobs for the US economy. If a representative supports this bill they are making it clear they don't support job creation in the USA.
2. Make it clear that this is not about online piracy, but about government control of a free communications medium. It is tantamount to the US government taking control of the country's newspapers and having the ability to selectively block the publication of editions they don't approve of.
3. Call your local congressman and senator and let them know that if they support SOPA, they don't support job creation in the USA and they oppose freedom of communication. Let them know two things: If they support SOPA you will not vote for them and you will encourage everyone you know to do the same. Secondly, let them know you will contact every major political donor in the area and make them aware of the representatives stance on the issue and how it endangers American business and innovation.
If we simply "protest" by shutting down our websites or sitting in the street, we risk getting lumped with the Occupy movement. However you may feel about that, what our politicians are most afraid of is losing their jobs and losing their funding. So lets hit them where it really hurts and take the power back.
This open letter to congress, cosigned by Paul Vixie, Jim Gettys, Gene Spafford, Dan Kaminsky, David Ulevitch, John Gilmore, and many other big names, also seems to be striking the right note. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/open-letter
Edit: I posted a direct link to the page: http://news.ycombinator.com/newest
Silicon Valley hasn't been doing all that good in creating jobs this century.
"But between 2000 and 2008, as Chart 3 indicates, California’s two big metro areas produced fewer than 70,000 new jobs - a nearly 95 percent drop and a mere 6 percent of job creation in the state."
In Germany the law is pushed under the pretense of fighting child pornography. Some people who are against it are now being described in media as people who are against fighting child pornography - even by tech magazines that should have a better understanding.
And by definition, they have deeper pockets than us -- they can afford to push it farther than we can, because in the end, they control the guys with the guns who can come and take everything away from us.
A few years back I was involved in a local controversy. The local authorities made three tries to pass a referendum, being rejected each time. Finally, on the fourth try, they were victorious. There was no difference between what was proposed in #3 and #4, except:
1. They changed voting hours, so that polls were only open in the afternoon; and
2. They sent postcards to the entire town (paid for by us, of course) containing information that was objectively false. 
 Not relevant to this discussion, but the referendum was for school construction. The proposal contained a bunch of frills such as expanding the cafeteria. The false mailing I mentioned explicitly stated that the proposal was for classroom space only, which was patently false. But the mailing was timed to arrive the afternoon before the vote, when it was too late to do anything about it. And they knew we couldn't afford a lawyer, and the amount that could be done ex post facto was limited anyway. No one ever held them to account.
That's true in one sense. However, pretending that everything would work out fine were it not for a few bad apples will certainly hamper attempts to keep the system running properly.
It would be far better to acknowledge that much of the behavior of a democracy results from Public Choice Theory, and so it's going to work out this way even if your favored politicians are lucky enough to win the election. With that out of the way, we can start to shore up the places where the system is vulnerable to malfeasance.
So, 2 steps:
1) Call congressmen to directly remedy problem in this particular case (I haven't done this but should, they do listen).
2) Address the problem of lobbying generally, that's a bigger discussion and every idea I have to fix it could have unintended consequences.
The media is GREAT at shaping perspective.
But are any of the big corporations fighting it? Google / YouTube? Microsoft? Apple? Come on guys! Step up! (or am I just missing their statements on this bad bill?)
I think a "Stop Censorship" black banner across the Google logo tomorrow would go a long way toward defeating this.
And then we might have to do something about it.
Another name might be corporate welfarism.
They all add up to the same thing: elites running the country as their private playground.
Most of the Tea Party and Occupy * folks have absolutely no idea what's going on, nor any idea of how to fix it, but they do know something's horribly wrong, and are taking to the streets to demonstrate at least that fact.
If you want to learn more, read http://lewrockwell.com/ over a period of months--some of the best libertarian / Austrian school writers on the planet, and others with a similar bent.
We were warned before then by Eisenhower in his final Presidential address, but the tail end of the 60s was likely when Americans started to realize that we could not stop the rush. Endless money and inscrutable power will be forever intertwined, from the Medici's silent rule of Italy to now, where a few million dollars donated to the policeman's union by JP Morgan can buy the emptying of Zuccotti park and put the kibosh on the months-long Occupy movement.
It's certainly not hard to imagine this (all you need are a few Valchek characters at some important desks), but do you have a citation for this?
These focus on the Republican party but much of the same can be said of the Democrats as well.
Specific orgs supporting the bill:
Microsoft, CBS, MLB, NBA, NFL, Disney, Bose, Nike, etc, etc.
Specific orgs opposed to the bill:
Google, Yahoo, VISA, AmEx, and some foundations, groups, non-profits...but that's it.
Also, perhaps more cynically, it stands to do very serious harm to Google.
Interesting progression of events in the last 15 years, given that anti-piracy legislation was originally written to protect software companies.
That said - I feel like we've been here before. Bills that blindly support control of ideas and technologies seem to waft their way into Washington on a regular basis, and each time we're angry and afraid and annoyed.
What can we do to stop this happening again?
Good luck getting politicians to bite the hand that feeds them.
Protesting is fine. Donating money to the EFF is fine. But truly angry phone calls by constituents are extremely powerful.
Pretty much a censorship worldwide effort going on.
Mmm, no. That may be the ultimate result (or maybe privacy died long ago) but SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, not Privacy...
On a slightly related note, does anyone know how to fix the e-mail subscription widget in WordPress? I'm getting complaints that it is giving 'invalid e-mail' errors when people are adding valid e-mails.
This bill will severely affect the very last growth engine in the US (that is internet) and the US (and the rest of the world) will sunk into even deeper recession. In other words, this bill will slow down or even prevent "paradigm shift in the economy" which is needed to start recovery of the global economy.
And this prolonged deep recession will fuel occupy WallStreet and similar movements and eventually, after a lot bad things (wars, riots, etc.), the new version of democracy will arise: the democracy were the constituents are people and not corporations.
This is my pessimistic view but history seems to be on my side :(
Some would say "that's why we elect people, to do this for us" don't you get it? Politicians aren't out to help you. They have their own agenda. Unless your padding their campaign coiffer, your falling on def ears.
In addition to the real problems with this act, try reading "Three Felonies A Day" by Harvey Silverglate (EFF and ACLU veterine, co-founder of FIRE)
I'm against SOPA, but the idea that it would permit the U.S. government, should it so desire, to set up Chinese-style censorship of the internet is nonsense on stilts. You can take any power of the government and theorize about what could happen if it ran unchecked: "What if they define talking about Occupy Wall Street to be piracy‽" "What if President Obama declared you an enemy combatant‽"
Our laws don't work that way. For one, when it ends up in the courts, they're going to read it as narrowly as needed to accomplish its purpose (obviously, in this case, copyright enforcement). If the law is stupidly written in such an over-broad way that it can't be balanced against other rights and interests, it will be thrown out. For another, we don't live in a one-party autocracy: We have deep cultural norms favoring rights and freedoms. That permeates not just the electorate, but the people elected and appointed to execute the laws. Obviously we disagree from time to time about the trade-offs to be made, but those very disagreements make it harder for some rogue executive to go off the rails; there's always someone else ready to take his place after the next election.
This is a long way of saying that hyperbole like this is never going to win you a policy argument.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that this is a huge shift in the balance of power which makes it end up sounding like hyperbole.
I can confidently predict this legislation will not be stopped.