On a day of protest that saw Web sites around the world go dark in opposition to the restrictions Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) bill would enact, more than 200 people gathered in San Francisco to rally against the legislation.
Dozens of hands went up when organizer Jonathan Nelson asked the crowd who would rather be coding. Start-up founders, programmers, and those just starting fledgling business are worried the legislation might cramp the creativity and growth of the Internet.
Tech celebrities like Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, and representatives from Mozilla were on hand, along with MC Hammer, who urged lawmakers not to stifle artists and hinder creativity, but instead to "solve problems with technology, not against technology."
Ron Conway, a well know angel investor who has advised and helped build the web infrastructure alongside companies like Google, Twitter, Digg, Ask Jeeves, Paypal, and Facebook, speaks at the anti-SOPA rally in San Francisco on Wednesday.
An eye chart-like sign reading "Censorship causes blindness," (with Flickr and Creative Commons attribute footnotes), is seen among the crowd of about 200 people who gathered at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza this afternoon.
Hammer urged lawmakers to review other potential solutions to Web piracy, saying restricting free speech is not the answer, nor is it a good idea to attempt to legislate creativity, undermining the Internet. "Solve problems with technology, not against technology," he said. The former entertainer launched a search engine last year called WIREDoo.
Mozilla's Harvey Anderson spoke at Wednesday afternoon's rally, saying SOPA employs dangerously powerful remedies to piracy problems based upon unproven assertions and little due process, and on top of that, no one thinks it will do any good to actually stop the piracy.