New 'Firewall' song protests SOPA copyright bill (Q&A)

The songwriter behind the 2007 Internet hit "I Got a Crush on Obama" is now taking aim at SOPA in a new music video titled "Firewall."

Obama Girl songwriter Leah Kauffman says if Obama signs SOPA or Protect IP, it would break her heart.
Obama Girl songwriter Leah Kauffman says if Obama signs SOPA or Protect IP, it would break her heart. Leah Kauffman

The songwriter behind the 2007 Internet hit " I Got a Crush on Obama " is now taking aim at the Stop Online Piracy Act .

Leah Kauffman, a Philadelphia-based singer and songwriter, has released "Firewall" to protest the Hollywood-backed copyright bill, which a House of Representatives committee had been scheduled to debate tomorrow. Earlier today, the committee debate was postponed until 2012.

In addition, Dan Bull, a U.K. singer, has released "SOPA Cabana," a none-too-flattering rap taking aim against SOPA. (SOPA can "ban" you--get it?)

Opposition from the two musicians is notable because the Recording Industry Association of America has been one of the leading supporters of SOPA and a Senate version called Protect IP.

The RIAA has highlighted opposition from allied groups including the American Federation of Musicians and National Music Publishers Association. And Eagles songwriter Don Henley published an op-ed in August, before SOPA was introduced, calling on Congress to enact Protect IP, which is probably less controversial.

(Kauffmann didn't star in the Obama Girl YouTube hit: she hired Amber Lee Ettinger, who lip-synced during the video and went on to a measure of fame and a followup video with Ralph Nader and Jesse Ventura. "Obama Girl" was named by Newsweek as one of the top Internet memes of the decade.)

CNET interviewed Kauffman, who edits a Philadelphia music and nightlife Web site titled Phrequency, today via e-mail.


Q: Why did you write Firewall?

Kauffman: I wrote "Firewall" in response to the threat that the SOPA and PIPA pose to the health of the technology industry, free speech, and democracy.

What response have you had so far?

Kauffman: I've had overwhelming support from the Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube communities as well as kind words from AmericanCensorship.org.

Why SOPA? Why not target Protect IP , which was reported out of a Senate committee half a year ago--what changed?

Kauffman: I put the song out on YouTube last Friday as a reaction to the SOPA markup in Congress. The song actually mentions Protect IP in the chorus (Say no to Protect IP, you won't stop piracy). They're equally atrocious bills.

Is Barack Obama's presidency still as crushworthy as you thought it was in 2007 and 2008?

Kauffman: Not quite as crushworthy, but he's still better than any alternative at this point.

If he signs SOPA--and his administration has already indicated support for it--do you still have a crush on him? Or is Ron Paul looking good?

If Obama signs SOPA or PIPA in its current state, I would no longer have a crush on him. In fact, I would have a broken heart.

 

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