'Research in the wild' in online communities: Reddit's resistance to SOPA
First Monday

'Research in the wild' in online communities: Reddit's resistance to SOPA by Melissa Loudon



Abstract
This paper uses Callon, et al.’s (2009) hybrid forums model to analyze the development of a campaign of resistance against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Despite broad Congressional support, the bill was defeated by the collective efforts of Internet users, online communities, Web companies and digital rights advocacy groups. Using data from the social news Web site Reddit, I describe the introduction of uncertainty into the narrow economic risk frame favored by proponents of SOPA, and the deployment of a programme of collective evidence–building that Callon, et al. describe as “research in the wild”. The article concludes with a discussion on the implications of Internet activism for the democratic process.

Contents

Introduction
The global IP battleground
Reddit
The digital IP debate as a hybrid forum
‘Research in the wild’ on Reddit
Conclusion

 


 

Introduction

 

Reddit.com blacked out in protest against SOPA/PIPA, 18 January 2012
 
Figure 1: Reddit.com blacked out in protest against SOPA/PIPA, 18 January 2012.

 

On 18 January 2012, the world awoke to the “largest online protest in history” — 115 000 Web sites went dark (Fight the Future, 2012). Their target was legislation on intellectual property (IP) enforcement under consideration by the U.S. Congress — SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, passing through the House, and PIPA, PROTECT IP or the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act in the Senate. Google blacked out their logo in protest. Reddit, English language Wikipedia and thousands of others replaced their content with a message about the threat of SOPA and PIPA to their continued operation, and to the future of innovative online services.

The resistance to SOPA was both novel and historically continuous in its construction of a risk frame, combining “cultural materials” (Castells, 2009) from previous digital IP struggles with a much expanded understanding of the role of the Internet in social and political life. In this paper I trace the emergence of the resistance on Reddit, an online community with limited formal involvement in digital IP advocacy prior to the SOPA blackouts. In addition to a day–long blackout to protest SOPA, Reddit was involved in a campaign to convince systems administrators to switch hosted sites away from GoDaddy, one of the early supporters of the bill, and in various direct lobbying actions to convince lawmakers to withdraw support. Conceptualizing the battle over SOPA as a “hybrid forum” (Callon, et al., 2009), I present Reddit as engaged in a process of “research in the wild” in the development of a coherent resistance. Considering the hybrid forum as a space in which “secluded research” (or later [Callon, 2003] “confined research”) is forced into collaboration/confrontation with “research in the wild” conducted by interested and affected non–specialists, I explore the progression of “research in the wild” in discussions and activities undertaken through the site. The primary method of analysis is digital ethnography, supplemented by a close reading of a complete set of submissions and associated comment threads containing the search term “SOPA”. The 766 submissions cover the period from 7 November 2011 to 18 January 2012, the day of the blackouts.

 

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The global IP battleground

The SOPA blackouts were the dramatic in scale and without precedent in their success at bringing to public attention the technically and legally complex issue of digital IP regulation. At the same time, they are part of a much longer tradition of resistance against what Sell (2010) refers to as “the global upward IP ratchet”. The late 1990s saw the rise of a globalized resistance against strong IP provisions imposed through multilateral trade agreements such as the Agreement on the Trade–Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Anti–Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). TRIPS, for example, gained notoriety for restricting access to life–saving anti–retroviral drugs in developing countries that bore the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The global resistance was bolstered by association with the increasingly vocal counter–globalization movement. Their anger at the “Faustian bargain” (Halbert, 2005) offered to developing countries entering the WTO was easily transferable to TRIPS. A decade later, ACTA was negotiated in secret between a small group of developed countries. When the EU ratified the treaty, protesters took to the streets.

 

Anti-ACTA protests in Germany
 
Figure 2: Anti–ACTA protests in Germany (Engström, 2012).

 

In the U.S., the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 ignited a series of digital IP battles. Internet service providers, legal academics and advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) mobilized to protect the ‘safe harbor’ provision for service providers, which absolves providers of responsibility for copyright infringement by service users provided certain conditions are met. One of these conditions is responding promptly to takedown notices from rights holders, which request that specific infringing content be removed. The misuse of takedown notices has been a bone of contention since their advent, with a study of takedowns received by Google (requesting removal of sites from search results) finding that 57 percent apparently targeted the issuer’s competitors (Urban and Quilter, 2006).

The other DMCA issue taken up by digital right activists was the ban on creating or making available technologies to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) limitations. DRM is used by content providers to restrict the ways their customers can use purchased content, by limiting them to certain devices (books bought on Amazon are restricted to Kindle devices), services (multiplayer Blizzard games such as World of Warcraft can only be played through the company’s Battle.net servers) or uses (copy prevention on optical disks). Coleman (2009) recounts the response of the open source community to lawsuits brought by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) against community members involved with one such circumvention technology, DeCSS:

“here’s why they’re doing it: Scare tactic [...] This is a full–fledged war now against the Open Source movement.” [1]

“I’ve been really mad about the recent spate of horrible witch hunts by the MPAA against people who use, distribute, or even LINK TO sites that distribute DeCSS, a piece of software used for playing DVDs on Linux. The MPAA has got a bee in their bonnet about this DeCSS. They think it’s good for COPYING DVDs, which, in fact, it’s totally useless for. But they’re suing everybody ANYWAYS, the bastardos!” [2]

In a similar incident in 2011, Sony sued software developer George Hotz and several others for their role in ‘jailbreaking’ the PlayStation 3 to allow unauthorized software to run on the device. This time, the response was less civil — having drawn the ire of irreverent, loosely organized hacker movement Anonymous, Sony was subject to a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that took down several of its sites. Anonymous made their grievances clear in a this excerpt, from a message to Sony posted on AnonNews.org after the attack:

“Your recent legal action against our fellow hackers, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo, has not only alarmed us, it has been deemed wholly unforgivable. You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information on how your products work. You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target every person who seeks this information [...] information you wish to suppress for the sake of corporate greed and complete control of users.” — (Anonymous, 2011)

The anger directed at the MPAA (and music industry compatriots RIAA) is based on perceived abuse of legal provisions enacted in the DMCA. As with the spurious takedown notices sent to Google, the risk perceived by digital IP reformers is that deliberate misinterpretation of the law will go unpunished, and that unfortunate and blameless individuals will suffer as a result. In contrast with the global resistance to TRIPS, there is no implied critique of the global capitalist system in the risk frame constructed in the context of the DMCA.

 

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Reddit

Reddit (a play on words — ‘I read it’) is an online community self–described as the ‘front page of the Internet’. Users submit links or short text pieces to the main page or to myriad sub–communities (‘subreddits’), which are voted and commented on by other users. A submission’s vote score and how recently it was posted determine its rank on the front page of the main site or subreddit. In this way, new and popular submissions rise to the top of the list of posts. Users whose submissions or comments are voted up or commented on receive ‘karma’ points, which are displayed next to their username in posts or comments. This incentive that provides a rough measure of community standing as a byproduct of the ranking system. From a research perspective, rankings provide a useful quantitative indicator of relevance for comments and posts.

According to Alexa, Reddit currently ranks 156th in terms of total traffic globally, and 50th in the U.S. (Alexa.com, 2012). For comparison, Facebook ranks second globally, Wikipedia sixth and Myspace 137th. Nearly half of Reddit’s audience is U.S.–based, with India, Canada, the U.K. and Japan completing the top five. Most users are young, with 75 percent in the 18–44 age range. Males outnumber females nearly 2:1, and over 80 percent of users have at least some college education (DoubleClick Ad Planner by Google, 2012).

While significant diversity exits within interest–based communities (‘subreddits’), Reddit’s demographics are consistent with a predominance of users with either a leftist or libertarian political stance (Ohanian, 2010). Prior to the SOPA blackouts, the Reddit community had participated in various acts of individual and collective altruism, including mass donations following the earthquake in Haiti, the ongoing operation of an online suicide prevention service, and various acts of personal assistance (Doctorow, 2010). The site’s management team had also had a brush with political notoriety in late 2010, when parent company Condé Nast required that banner ads promoting marijuana legislation be removed. The site’s users responded with uproar, and Reddit ultimately defied the ban and ran the ads for free. It was not until SOPA, however, that the site’s users and management came together in a sustained campaign.

Reddit and SOPA

Reddit’s involvement with SOPA began in early November 2011. On 7 November, a link to an EFF blog post about SOPA appeared in the technology subreddit. This was followed over the next week by links to articles about both the bill itself and the various corporate and political figures opposing or supporting it. On 16 November, a rare announcement on the Reddit blog stated that the site was joining the EFF and others in observing “American Censorship Day” in protest against SOPA and PIPA. The announcement explained the key issues in the bill as follows:

“Part of this act would undermine the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act which would make sites like reddit and YouTube liable for hosting user content that may be infringing. This act would also force search engines, DNS providers, and payment processors to cease all activities with allegedly infringing sites, in effect, walling off users from them.

This bill sets a chilling precedent that endangers everyone’s right to freely express themselves and the future of the Internet.”

Concurrently with this announcement, Reddit co–founder Alexis Ohanian posted that he was attending congressional hearings about the bill the following day, and asked users to help formulate his position. His point of departure was the personal story of the origins of Reddit. An aggregator of user–generated content that is not formally moderated prior to publication, the site’s model was fundamentally threatened by the bill, which would have allowed site owners to be held responsible for infringing content uploaded by users.

Unlike the DMCA, SOPA/PIPA didn’t just invite questionable legal proceedings and place individuals at risk. The bills threatened business models, free speech, and communities like Reddit. The resulting mobilization involved enrolling new actors, forging new alliances, and developing new tactics.

 

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The digital IP debate as a hybrid forum

As proposed by Callon, et al. (2009), the hybrid forum is a response to a situation of techno–scientific uncertainty. Local residents opposed to the site of a proposed nuclear waste dump, families of children with neuromuscular disease and townspeople with suspicions about a link between incidences of childhood cancers and industrial contamination in the water supply confront such uncertainties through a process of “research in the wild”. Through the development of a socio–technical controversy, “research in the wild” confronts and ultimately enriches the “secluded research” of the scientific and technical professions. The result is a “democratization of democracy” [3] that partially mitigates the limits of representation.

For Callon, et al., uncertainty is distinct from risk, and since hybrid forums arise in the case of the former rather than the latter, the distinction is important. Risk refers to a known event or series of events, which may happen with some probability (sometimes statistically quantifiable) and about which decisions can be made with a relatively complete knowledge of the range of possible options and the implications of each. Where this knowledge is not available or indeed attainable, the situation is one of uncertainty.

The proponents of SOPA and PIPA frame the digital IP debate as a situation of risk. All the components of the decision space — the entertainment industry, the Internet and the Internet industry, rights holders and content users, local and global economic conditions — are man–made and theoretically knowable. The proponents of SOPA and other strong IP laws cite statistical estimates of job losses as a result of piracy — 750,000 jobs lost a year, and US$200 billion in revenue — attributed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission or U.S. Customs and Border Protection [4]. By enacting the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, it is implied, lawmakers can mitigate these known risks.

For the resistance, these implied certainties are inaccurate at best, malicious at worst. The statistics are contested (with good evidence, the cited report by the U.S. General Accountability Office having found no record of the data or methodology used to obtain them), as is the efficacy of the proposed legal remedy. Cases illustrating the unintended consequences of ill–considered legislation are cited in place of numerical evidence, such as the RIAA’s successful case against Jammie Thomas, a single mother successfully sued for nearly US$2 million for making 24 songs available on a file–sharing service (Kravets, 2009), or the arrest of cryptography researcher Dmitri Skylarov for work that uncovered an important vulnerability in PDF documents (Coleman, 2009). Unpredictable technological innovation is claimed to introduce further uncertainty, as in the argument that SOPA would have prevented the development of user–generated content models underlying much of ‘Web 2.0’.

As Moriera [5] points out, framing a decision in terms of uncertainty is an active process — a “collective achievement” in which interested parties work to “reveal uncertainties in knowledge claims”. The resistance succeeded in mobilizing against SOPA because they were able to introduce specific uncertainties into the public conversation about the bill. In so doing, they called into question the neat economic/legal risk frame of proponents in the entertainment industry, as well as the motives of Congressional representatives who supported SOPA.

In addition to uncertainty/risk, the hybrid forums model reveals a further re–framing. Callon, et al. [6] state that “to declare that an issue is technical is effectively to remove it from the influence of public debate; on the other hand, to recognize its social dimension restores its chance of being discussed in political arenas”. The resistance to SOPA created controversy by challenging the technical claims of the bill and highlighting the democratic shortcomings of its passage as much as by re–introducing the social dimension. Taken together, these re–framings achieved the development of a hybrid forum around digital IP issues, and the resurrection of uncertainty in the face of attempts to sanitize a highly self–interested piece of legislation.

 

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‘Research in the wild’ on Reddit

For Callon, et al., there are four key activities undertaken during “research in the wild”, organized into two groups. In the exploration group, work is done to explore the problem space and potential solutions, and to identify concerned actors. The learning group includes the development of tactics as well as the construction of adoption of a collective, oppositional identity. All these activities are evident on Reddit in the lead–up to the 18 January blackout, and together provide a useful framework for analysis.

Exploring the problem space

Reddit’s exploration of the problem space for SOPA and other digital IP legislation begins with the historical legacy of the DMCA, and the alliances formed as a result. Accordingly, the first links submitted about the bill came from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF, https://www.eff.org/). Founded in the height of Internet utopianism by Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow, the EFF’s current mission is nevertheless pragmatic, focused on deflecting what it perceives to be an improper imposition of an outdated legal framework in online space.

The EFF story about SOPA is subtitled “A blacklist by any other name is still a blacklist”, expressing concern that SOPA would provide for the creation of a list of sites to be blocked by order of the U.S. Attorney General:

“the new law would allow the Attorney General to cut off sites from the Internet, essentially ‘blacklisting’ companies from doing business on the web. Under section 102, the Attorney General can seek a court order that would force search engines, DNS providers, servers, payment processors, and advertisers to stop doing business with allegedly infringing websites.” (Timm, 2011)

On Reddit, the association of SOPA ‘blacklisting’ with Internet censorship practiced under repressive governments was unavoidable. Referring to the Chinese government’s “great firewall of China” that restricts Web searches based on keywords, filters traffic and blocks certain politically sensitive sites altogether, the top comment on the article (from user TheHoboHarvester) is “Looks like the Great Firewall of China has some competition.” In a year that saw tactical Internet filtering and blocking during the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, Internet censorship by governments for political ends was (and remains) a timely issue.

While censorship continued to be an important concern, particularly for the EFF, it was not Reddit’s main rallying cry. The possible economic consequences of the legislation were judged more plausible than its unintended potential for political suppression. Economic consequences were also key to the personal testimony of Reddit’s founders. In a comment thread prior to Alexis Ohanian (reddit username kn0thing)’s testimony before Congress, the rationale for this strategic framing is explained by site user abrahamsen:

abrahamsen: “You are there as an entrepreneur, and they might respect your views on entrepreneurship, and the economic impact on the bill for your sector. They have no reason to believe you have any special authority on the moral and legal aspects of the bill. If you bring it up, it might reduce your credibility on the economic aspects.”

kn0thing: ”Thank you! Very good point. It’s a pain point for me, but I don’t have any special authority at all on the moral & legal aspects — there are people in this crew who’ll be in DC who are authorities, though. Better off just not muddying their great points”

In a country still struggling to recover from 2007–08 financial crisis, adverse economic consequences are a powerful threat. Job losses, in particular, represent the personal horror of a distressed economy. Despite being stated with a liberal dose of Reddit’s endemic cynicism, the potential for job losses in the Internet industries is considered likely enough to make a convincing argument. As ns44chan comments:

“This is easy. SOPA kills innovation. It is job killing. That is all we need to harp. Forget techno babble and censorship and copyright and stuff. JOBS JOBS ECONOMY MONEY TERRORISM BLAH.”

The warning that “SOPA kills innovation” is particularly pointed in light of the financial crisis and subsequent focus on innovation. In a vision shared by politicians and CEOs alike, and enshrined in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, innovation is presented as “the best — and maybe the only — way the U.S. can get out of its economic hole.” [7]

A final component of the problem space on Reddit is addressed by Callon, et al. directly: the shortcomings of representative democracy. The dataset contains 39 separate submissions that link to news articles on TechDirt (http://www.techdirt.com), a technology blog with a particular fondness for copyright–related muckraking. Headlines of the linked articles include:

  • “NBC to their Suppliers: [If you don’t support SOPA] it’s not too strong to say that this threat could adversely affect our business relationship with you.”
  • “Questionable ‘Consumer’ Group Releases Most Misleading Report Imaginable, Falsely Claiming People Support SOPA and PIPA”
  • “Shockingly Unshocking: Two Congressional Staffers Who Helped Write SOPA/PIPA Become Entertainment Industry Lobbyists”
  • “Rupert Murdoch Personally Lobbies Congress For SOPA And PROTECT IP”
  • “Chris Dodd Resorting To Outright Lying In A Desperate Attempt To Get SOPA Passed”

As with the innovation and censorship arguments, the timing of this frame is important. In early November 2011, the Occupy movement was in full force in thousands of U.S. cities. With it came widespread dissatisfaction about representatives’ incompetence, hidden agendas and funding streams, and the perceived corporate capture of Congress. User Cant_remember_pw explains:

“Here’s the narrative: Congress’ approval rating is at an all–time low of just 9%. From the bank bailouts to partisan grandstanding nearly forcing a government shutdown, Americans of every political persuasion have had enough of Washington D.C. corruption. The attempt to pass SOPA is just one more example of Congress putting the interests of lobbyists and multi–national corporations ahead of those of the people they are supposed to represent. Instead of working on behalf of Americans to help stimulate the economy and create jobs, Congress is working on behalf of a few dozen billionaires ...

That’s a narrative middle America can understand.”

 

 A user-created rage comic expresses Reddit's dissatisfaction with the decision-making process of Congressional representatives
 
Figure 3: A user–created ‘rage comic’ expresses Reddit’s dissatisfaction with the decision–making process of Congressional representatives.

 

Identifying actors

Identifying actors in the controversy goes hand in hand with exploring the problem space. As well as enumerating the potential consequences of SOPA for sites like Reddit, for the economy and and for political speech online, discussions highlighted the bill’s provisions for individual users accused of infringing copyright. A submission on 16 November links to a tweet by Google staffer Sam Shillace:

“Under SOPA, you could get 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song, one year more than the doctor who killed him.”

In the submission’s comment thread, users jesusapproves and TheGodofWar express the belief that individuals are being unfairly targeted for enforcement:

jesusapproves: “So, banks and corporations can steal millions and billions of dollars right out from under our noses through illegal practices and they get fined for a fraction of the profit they made while a person who shares a music file can get 5 years for something worth a dollar or two?”

TheGodOfWar: “Yes but if you kill jackson you didn’t hurt the short term bottom line of a major corporation.”

In the above remarks, as in the exploration of the problem space, victims are identified alongside villians — major corporations and the lawmakers that enable their nefarious activities. As part of the inventory of actors, Reddit made informal statements and formal lists recording allegiances for both groups. Users encouraged each other to write to their Congressional representatives, and developed a list of contact methods for each representative alongside their and expected voting stance on the bill. In a parallel action emphasizing the dual role of Reddit users as both citizens and and consumers of media content, a list of companies supporting the bill was created with the intention of encouraging people to boycott their products and services. While Reddit wasn't the only place these lists appeared — both Wikipedia and the New York Times published similar inventories — the speed with which were made available by a self–organized online community was notable.

Inventory of actors was also used as a direct tactic. When Alexis Ohanian went to testify in Washington, users provided him with a collaboratively developed list of representatives whose own Web sites contained potentially infringing content (primary news clips). As a large and technically proficient community, Reddit is extremely efficient at this kind of investigation, and at aggregating the results. Prominent technology news site Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/) later picked up the story (Lee, 2011), demonstrating the effectiveness of knowledge claims made on the basis of this kind of evidence.

Development of tactics

As Jasanoff (2005) describes, hybrid forums arise within, and are shaped by, a specific institutional context. In the battle over SOPA, the political tradition of Congressional representatives being petitioned directly by their constituency loomed large, as did Americans’ free market embracing of their role as consumers. Both traditions follow the law of large numbers. The Internet in general, and online communities such as Reddit in particular, offer an ideal way to mobilize large groups of people quickly, at low cost and across geographical distance, and this was used to full advantage by the resistance. Reddit submissions gleefully reposted reports of over 80,000 calls made by users of blogging service Tumblr over the course of a single day on 16 November. A petition started on Reddit had over a million signatures by 6 December.

In addition to petitioning representatives directly, Reddit used media pressure to force public awareness of the issue. Media contacts were inventoried, and talking points carefully crafted. Several Reddit users working in media also contributed to the development of a media strategy. As a result, the resistance to SOPA managed the rare feat of moving a technical discussion about digital IP into the mainstream. The magnitude of this effect can be seen in Google Trends data about SOPA, shown in Figure 4.

 

 Google Trends data for search terms SOPA (blue) and copyright (red), May 2011-May 2012
 
Figure 4: Google Trends data for search terms ‘SOPA’ (blue) and ‘copyright’ (red), May 2011–May 2012.

 

Two other tactics were particularly notable. First, Reddit started a campaign to encourage systems administrators using domain registrar and hosting provider GoDaddy to host personal or employer Web sites to move elsewhere. To do this, they exploited their relatively technical user base, many of whom are employed as, or socially connected to, professional systems administrators. Fight the Future, who took on the campaign following its genesis on Reddit, collected the names of 22,000 people who pledged to move some 88,000 domains from GoDaddy. The day of the proposed move saw GoDaddy withdraw support for SOPA entirely.

The other tactic employed by Reddit was less successful but similarly technically involved. The “Darknet plan” proposed the development of a decentralized wireless mesh network, bypassing traditional ISPs and rendering the network immune to filtering and blocking. Although technically complex and probably implausible, the Darknet plan illustrates Reddit’s perception that the root of their power is their superior technical ability. This aspect is key to the construction of their oppositional identity as Internet users.

Construction of identity

The construction of Internet users as citizens of some supra–national ‘cyberspace’ is as old as the Internet itself (for a fascinating history, see Goldsmith and Wu, 2006). Most recently, Internet movement Anonymous has become known for ominous video releases addressing (and often speaking on behalf of) “Citizens of the Internet”. Reddit users, a close–knit international community, are culturally continuous in their construction of an oppositional identity.

“I don’t know how SOPA is still being argued against. SOPA would be like if the government invaded a country for no purpose other than cracking down on those guys who sell bootleg DVDs on the streets.” — Reddit user Injustpotato

“Make the Internet an unalienable right.” — Reddit user guttersnipe098

Reddit users adopt this identity without cynicism, emphasizing both their allegiance to an online community threatened by the legislation, and the role of the Internet as a public space. They mobilize partly as a group that would be directly affected by the bill, and partly in a self–assumed role as defenders of the Internet. As illustrated by the banner graphic below, Reddit users state that their actions “work for the Internet” and against dangerously ill–considered legislation.

 

Banner graphic created by Reddit users for posting on Facebook
 
Figure 5: Banner graphic created by Reddit users for posting on Facebook.

 

By employing tactics that exploit their technical skill and ability to organize, collect information and mobilize rapidly online, Reddit users became what Kelty [8] described as a “recursive public” — “a public that is constituted by a shared concern for maintaining the means of association through which they come together as a public”. In the resistance to SOPA the construction of an Internet user identity became a mark of opposition to attacks on freedom online. Speaking in May 2012, Alexis Ohanian describes the battle for Internet freedom as a battle for freedom:

“the Internet is not going away, and we need to do everything we can in order to preserve the equality [...] the freedom we enjoy offline, we need to preserve that online.”

 

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Conclusion

The conceptual framework of hybrid forums offers a useful structure to explain the development of the resistance to SOPA, both in the construction of the initial controversy and the process of “research in the wild”. This process, which ultimately lead to the bill being disarmed, involved extensive inventory work, problem space exploration and problem framing, and tactics of mobilization available to online communities working in a highly networked movement space. The digital IP battle is not over, but the experience of mobilization has forced new actors, new identities and new problems to the fore. Subsequent attempts to introduce strong IP legislation will be confronted with the key problem expressed by Callon, et al. [9]: “who has sinned against democracy may pay with an increase in democracy.” End of article

 

About the author

Melissa Loudon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She is interested in digital activism, ICTs for development (ICT4D) and ICTs in the global South.
E–mail: melissa [dot] loudon [at] gmail [dot] com

 

Notes

1. Slashdot user Signal 11, in Coleman (2009), p. 437.

2. Evan Prodromou, in Coleman (2009), p. 438.

3. Callon, et al., 2009, p. 119.

4. U.S. General Accountability Office, 2010, p. 19.

5. Moreira, 2011, p. 1,355.

6. Callon, et al., 2009, p. 25.

7. Nederveen Pieterse, 2010, p. 410.

8. Kelty, 2008, p. 28.

9. Callon, et al., 2009, p. 168.

 

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Editorial history

Received 7 February 2013; revised August 24 2013; accepted 16 January 2014.


Creative Commons License
This paper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

‘Research in the wild’ in online communities: Reddit’s resistance to SOPA
by Melissa Loudon.
First Monday, Volume 19, Number 2 - 3 February 2014
http://www.firstmonday.dk/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4365/3824
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i2.4365.





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