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Startups, programmers rally against SOPA in SF (photos)

Hundreds gather in front of City Hall in San Francisco to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.

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James Martin
200 people gather in front of SF's City Hall
1 of 9 James Martin/CNET

200 people gather in front of SF's City Hall

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."

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Decrying restrictions

A few of the signs seen at SF Civic Center Plaza's rally Wednesday.

Ron Conway speaks
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Ron Conway speaks

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.

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4 of 9 James Martin/CNET

Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake speaks

Hunch and Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake spoke Wednesday at the anti-SOPA rally in San Francisco.

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Anti-SOPA activists rally

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.

MC Hammer energizes the crowd
6 of 9 James Martin/CNET

MC Hammer energizes the crowd

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.

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Rally organizer Jonathan Nelson

Jonathan Nelson organized the rally against SOPA and PIPA that was held Wednesday in San Francisco and featured notable figures of the tech industry.

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Harvey Anderson

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.

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'SOPA will break the Internet'

A sign at Wednesday's anti-SOPA rally in San Francisco.

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