Technology TEDTalks

What we’re doing about PIPA/SOPA: Talking about it

Posted by: Tedstaff

Today, several of our favorite websites are going dark or blacking out their homepages to raise awareness of two bills, in the US House and Senate, that threaten people’s ability to share on the web. In the past week, we’ve pondered what should be doing to help raise awareness of the PIPA and SOPA bills, and concluded that our best option was to do what we do best: share knowledge.

So we’ve lined up two TEDTalks today, to cover two important facets of this issue.

This morning, we’re posting a powerful TEDx talk from Mikko Hypponen. Last summer, Mikko talked to us about cybercrime. Now, at TEDxBrussels, he takes on a broader topic: threats to the web as we know it — threats to our privacy, our data, our ability to network. Some of those threats come from criminals, and some from government. But the takeaway is: The web is ours to defend.

And we are premiering a brand-new talk from Clay Shirky. Yesterday, Clay came in to the TED office to share his thoughts about what PIPA/SOPA means to our shareable world. And he delivered a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume. The video is being edited right this minute, and we’ll post it as soon as we can.

Let us know what you think.

UPDATE: See the comments below for more great suggestions of TEDTalks and TEDxTalks that touch on this issue.

Comments (19)

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  • duke moreau commented on Feb 14 2012

    can somebody please give me a simple version of what sopa is so teens can understand as well. thank you.

  • Nick Hague commented on Jan 25 2012

    SOPA is a prime example of how big companies (especially within the music and film industry) are trying to do everything they can to stop innovation (so say the technology companies). Is this a modern day example of David Vs Goliath where the larger ‘Goliath’ companies are unwilling to accept change whilst the innovative companies and start-ups are encompassing change?

    Larger companies typically innovate around business processes to take cost out of the system. However, innovation aligned with technological change that could involve turning the way a company carries out its business on its head is often rebuffed by large companies due to upheaval and uneasiness (with shareholder apprehension another reason)
    Conversely think of the most successful modern day companies and most of these are technology companies eg Microsoft, Apple, Facebook & Google. These companies have rewritten industry rules in which they play, doing things differently to deliver value to the end customer. It is therefore no surprise that technology companies oppose SOPA as their roots are in start-ups where innovation is the main driving force behind their business success.
    Innovation comes from experimentation and needs creativity and destruction in equal measure – in order to create you need to destroy what has gone before. So what if the Internet was censored – would this limit innovation? I think the answer is a resounding Yes! Technology has created a third state that allows us as individuals to work alone as well as together. The company of the future will be narrow (focused on one particular specialism), hollow (use partners instead of reliant on in-house skills), flatter (not as many levels of management), creative driven and international (borders don’t get in the way of business any more). Therefore, if the internet and social media are suppressed then so is the power of smaller businesses.

    Thinking about what impact this might have on our economy, if we take the UK as an example and think back to The Big Society,which was the flagship policy idea of the 2010 Conservative Party’s general election manifesto, SMEs were identified as playing a fundamental role in getting the UK economy back on track. If SME growth is hampered in any way, this will impact greatly on the growth engine of the UK and result in slow progress in climbing out of the current downturn. Also, taking the land of the free (USA) as another example, innovation is at the heart of how they came to dominate the world. However, times are a-changing and China, with all their cost advantages, will quickly supersede them as the global superpower (if they haven’t already done so). Therefore, you could argue that the only advantage the US has over China is innovation and if legislation starts to hamper SMEs then growth will slowly grind to a halt.

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  • Abelardo Medenilla commented on Jan 19 2012

    I wondered what TED would be doing to broadcast its stand. It seems to me it went gray.

  • commented on Jan 19 2012

    I agree that sometimes silence says more. Clay and Mikko’s talks are very important. I would have been even more impressed to see darkness.

  • Louie Bernstein commented on Jan 18 2012

    Recently, when I donated money to Wikipedia, I gave the following reason: “Knowledge takes us out of the darkness, into the light. It’s humanity’s best hope for perfectibility and a sustainable future… and Wikipedia is free knowledge for everyone!” Ignorance is NOT bliss – it’s dangerous! PIPA/SOPA are disguised attempts to restrict the free communication of ideas and knowledge. If passed, in their present form, these laws will foster a dark day for democracy and freedom in the U.S. I say: “Better to go dark for a day than dark for good.”

  • verita nuda commented on Jan 18 2012

    I think this talk by Joanna Blakely hit the nail on the head with her graph about the revenues generated by non copyright bound industry and the copyright/IP/patent bunch.

    Makes me smile :)

  • Megan DaGata commented on Jan 18 2012

    I had wondered how TED would approach today. I think this is actually the best course of action. Get people all over the world talking about censorship, SOPA, and PIPA. So many people are not informed as to the details of this bill that a conversation should be ongoing. We need to educate ourselves and inform as many people as possible. We need to talk to everyone we see and meet about the effects of this bill. Today my blog as well as many others are censored and I deactivated my facebook page to show my friends what it would be like to be deleted from their virtual lives. Piracy will not end, like prostitution it is one of the oldest occupations, it will simply take a new form. Freedom of sharing. Freedom of information. Freedom of ideas. Those are what will die. How would you feel about that?

  • cristene gonzalez-wertz commented on Jan 18 2012

    Also – don’t forget about Johanna Blakley’s talk on fashions free culture – an idustry devoid of copyright infringement restrictions and law. Also – Margaret Gould on Youtube and how they protect copyright is exceedingly worthwhile

  • Theresa Willingham commented on Jan 18 2012

    I believe TED should have gone dark. There is a time to talk, and there is a time to act. Sometimes silence says more.

  • Kevin Parcell commented on Jan 18 2012

    Ted Community discussion/debate begun yesterday:

  • Kevin Parcell commented on Jan 18 2012

    Honk if you hate noise pollution. ~Author unknown, as seen on a bumper sticker

    I “borrowed” above quote from

    Sometimes silence is the loudest statement, and this might be one of those times. On the other hand, when you really have something worth putting into words, as TED always does, then your silence might be like honking to protest noise pollution. Hmm..perhaps a blackout today followed by these Talks tomorrow?

  • Benedikt Heinen commented on Jan 18 2012

    Another pertinent talk would be:

    Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity

    …just note, when you watch it, by how far this predates SOPA, i.e. how much worse the situation has become that we’re discussing this…

  • James McBennett commented on Jan 18 2012

    Another TEDx Talk worth looking at today is ‘Copyright in the Digital Age’ by Lettie Ransley

  • Mikko Hypponen commented on Jan 18 2012

    Thank You TED. Network censorship will not stand. End Piracy, Not Liberty.

  • Benjamin Toubol commented on Jan 18 2012

    What the US Senate is freaking about ?
    What’s the problem with Wikipedia or even TED and sharing knowledge ?
    Make bills against the facebook against non-respect of public privacy but not that!

  • James McBennett commented on Jan 18 2012

    the other obvious thing to do would be a 24h (or longer) TED blackout of which I am sure you have considered.

    In one sense wikipedia has never had so much publicity on my facebook wall and if one was ever to imagine how less off the world would be without TED, opportunity knocks… It would be interesting for everybody to share their favourite talk during a potential TED blackout so that nobody could watch them.