January 17th, 2012
07:01 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: SOPA stokes some readers' ire, plus tech talk from CES

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Share  your thoughts about the technology world on CNN iReport's Tech Talk assignment.

"I used to surf the web freely, then I took SOPA to the knee."
–Kaew

As the clock strikes midnight, late-night hyperlinked romps through Wikipedia's user-edited annals of culture and science will pause. The encyclopedia "wiki" site will have a 24-hour blackout Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Several other tech companies have stated opposition to the proposed legislation, while many media companies embrace it.

Why Wikipedia is going down at midnight

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the website might not be able to operate if it is passed. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation. Readers wrote in with varying opinions on SOPA, and quite a few were vehemently opposed. We mentioned it yesterday, and we're exploring the issue today. Many different perspectives have surfaced.

Terryshilo: "I use Wikipedia many times a day. I contribute financially. I actually believe I'm a Wikipedia addict. I don't disagree with them making this statement, if it brings enough momentum to the SOPA issue so much the better. This is what's become all too frequent, big business actually running our government. Wikipedia is something we can contribute to individually, the federal government ... not so much."

Guest: "Most people tend to forget that the vast majority of the piracy taking place is outside the United States and so outside the laws of the U.S. The creation of a secure DNS system would not only stop this piracy but allow the U.S. to track it, and help the US track cyber attacks originating outside the U.S. On the downside it will help cut off the U.S. from the rest of the world and make it difficult for other countries to access U.S. sites."

Some commenters said it's not as bad as it looks.

sielingfan: "Interestingly enough, I read the SOPA bill in its original text (it was linked on Wikipedia), and there's not a whole lot of censorship involved. It's pretty specific about what can be shut down under the law, and it's all intellectual property right, all at the behest of the owner and not the government ... but don't take my word for it, go read the bill for yourself. You know, before midnight I guess."

DSBsky: "That's exactly what they want you to think, like the Patriot Act. Call it one thing, get the bill in the door. Then shoot the bill so full of legal holes that it lets you do anything you want. Next thing you know, they'll be bashing down your door because you clicked onto a site once on accident."

Jalek: "The same lobbyists pushed to get something similar in Russia, and it's been widely reported to have been used to take down political opponent sites, something like the Patriot Act has been used to spy on people not suspected of anything."

sielingfan: "But what it says - what the bill actually says, not what people say about it - is tame and toothless, to everybody in the world who isn't hosting thousands of dollars worth of illegally pirated intellectual property. Seriously. Go read the bill. Quick."

There were a few who said we should be careful legislating issues around the Internet. John Becker of Coral Gables, Florida, submitted a pointed iReport video commentary predicting a "hacker rebellion" from an angered Internet community if SOPA passes. He said he fears unforeseeable repercussions and theorized that any possible gains in content protection would be outweighed by negatives.

"You need to find a better way to stop the piracy because that's not the answer," Becker said. "On the note of piracy, are you telling me that Oprah and Tom Cruise and Kim Kardashian and Beyonce need more money than they already have?"

He works with software and says spam is the bigger battle left to fight.

"If we fight battles according to what is causing the most damage, then yes, spammers are definitely higher-ranking than pirates. My neighbor's kid might be downloading the Smurfs movie and that might not be a good thing, but he isn't sending penis spam out to thousands of computers, overtaking those computers, then using them to hack websites or even disabling those computers and preventing them from being used for what they're intended for."
–See also: Becker's iReport, 'SOPA = DOPA'

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, also made a video and called the act a "corporate power grab" expedited through the government.

Meanwhile, back in the story comments, the fate of the music industry was a hot topic.

DavidTPro: "If you think piracy is not a problem, look at how it has destroyed the music industry."

xxBEERxx: "I actually think it revolutionized it, put the power back in the hands of the artist, created a true independent culture of artists, i personally know several artists who are using downloads to their advantage. The 'little guy' can compete with the big guys now."

Some people weren't sure a blackout would do any good, but others felt it would help. Some simply thought Wikipedia wasn't a reliable source of information.

personalpod: "Who cares about Wikipedia anyway? Shut down for good, for all I care. I am constantly laughing myself silly at people who use Wikipedia as a reference guide. 'I know it's true because I saw it in Wikipedia.' Ha! Ha!"

AGoodwin: "It's a huge misconception that Wikipedia is not accurate. At the bottom of every page you will find the source/cite for the information. Click on the links and you will have your source!"

This user said the blackout was about more than the encyclopedia:

zomnombie: "This is not about Wikipedia shutting down for a day, it's about bringing attention to big corporations slinging their weight around Washington. This bill, witch is supposed to fight piracy, is so broadly written it opens the door to corporations performing wich hunts on any website they like. Take this seriously. It will define the future of technology and what you are aloud to do on the internet. In time this will also show how out-of-touch Washington is and how it can be bought with corporate greed."

Several readers were quite angry about SOPA and vowed to fight it or take action. The following commenter presented an alternative solution.

CaptainDork: "I think some (not all) of the problems could be solved very quickly in the following manner: For YouTube, for example, if a Gordon Lightfoot song is on the site and has 3,500,025 views, the owner of that property should simply determine a fair per/piece price and send YouTube the bill. Same for other sites, even those overseas. If international law does not support it, then make a new law. That was easy."

There are a lot of angles with this story. What do you think? Should SOPA be enacted? Let's move on to some other stories in the tech world.

A new breed of 4G phones emerges

CNN is busy covering the Consumer Electronics Show, and some very interesting conversations are popping up in a piece about 4G LTE service, which is faster than existing 4G service.

spockmonster: "The phone companies distort the meaning of standards such as '4G' and 'LTE' and '3G.' In competing with each other, they lie in their marketing. They achieve 4G speed for a few milliseconds on one tower in a city and then claim having 4G. The rest of the computer industry is honest, but the phone companies are dishonest."

How does service in the United States compare to international service?

AtheistHuman: "U.S. is so so behind in this stuff. Sweden's phones can do 80+ Megabits, while the U.S. phones are tapping out around 10. Pathetic."

Liqmaticus: "Yes, Sweden is definitely ahead, but I'd like for Sweden do that kind of speed coverage in a country the size of the U.S. geographically and population. A little more challenging than their country."

A lot of our commenters have been expressing some frustration about these evolving devices.

andrewj: "I find all of this quite hilarious, actually. I love new technology and I'm all for higher mobile Internet speeds....but let's get real for a second. Does it REALLY matter if mobile download speeds are being doubled or tripled if the greedy carriers are now insisting on capping the amount of data you can download per month?"

Px4: "Quite true. As the speeds go up, the data cap keeps going down. By the time we reach 5g we'll be capped at 300 MB. But you'll be able to blow through that in 14 seconds for only $35."

Moving on, we take a look at another CES product. This time, it's a Polaroid camera with a touchscreen and Android operating system, complete with access to the Android Market.

Polaroid goes digital with Android camera

Some of the commenters on this CNNMoney story panned the camera, saying photo quality takes a backseat to flashy features. They also joked about Lady Gaga. But others kind of liked it.

Sinator: "Well, if Lady Gaga put her name on it, it must be a phenomenal camera, what with her years of experience and expertise in the photography industry."

Firetalker: "I'm definitely buying a 16 megapixel Polaroid camera running Android endorsed by Lady Gaga ... I've been a fan of all three for a few years. Thank You Polaroid! I still remember or 1980ish camera that could instantly print pictures. I caused some trouble as a child with that camera. If those pics ever surface my father is innocent I set him up. Sorry dad *grins* –calmchessplayer"

Idiodcracy: "Lets put a touchscreen with apps onto everything! Hey did you see my Android belt buckle? No, but did you see my Android water bottle? Did you see my Android laptop battery? The battery of my laptop has a touch screen and apps on it."

A portion of the readers said the device would make a better phone than a camera.

Rob Dinsmore: "How can we even evaluate this product's potential without a price point? It's an interesting idea, but it looks like a smartphone without the phone, and that means it doesn't have any contract 'subsidy' to decrease the cost. Things that could help it if it has them: Offline GPS support with full navigation, decent battery life for Android/gaming. Things that defeat the purpose: No direct 3G support so it doesn't really share instantly, could be expensive compared to other Point and Shoots."

KCPhil: "I'm amazed by the number of people who feel no need whatsoever to have a camera. So many times I hear, 'Eh, I have one on my phone.' I have one on my phone, but rarely use it. It may be 5 megapixel, but the quality is not that great. And transferring it to my hard drive, so I can archive or print it is not that easy, either. I have both a DSLR and a little point and shoot. Either beats the camera on my phone and, if I know I will want to take photos, I make sure to bring one or the other along. I do agree that having Android-based OS on it makes little sense, IMHO. But it's a great marketing tool. People will clamor for one, simply because it says Android (much the way they do if it says Apple)."

But some said this is what the industry needs.

jojointhemo: "Good. This is the different kind of thinking and innovation that Polaroid needs after coming back from bankruptcy. Kodak, please take note."

Finally, there's another story popping up in the tech and business world.

Yahoo co-founder Yang resigns

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang has resigned from the board of directors and all other positions at the company. Readers read the story and tried to figure out what was going on that might have caused this. These folks wondered what was going on in Yang's mind.

Solitairedog: "Oh, that's gotta hurt; you quit and the stock goes up 5%."

Jack Tarasar: "LOL! True, but the billions that he will get in the sale will save his ego some torment."

This reader said he should have sold to Microsoft instead of going on.

Amegioa71: "Not selling to Microsoft for $47 billion was a huge mistake. The company has no real assets and no real business plan. Getting $47 billion for it would have been robbing Microsoft, haha ... and he turned it down! lol"

Some readers said this move has been a long time coming.

BankerGolfer: Well, it's about time. However, it's too little, too late. Yang should have left Yahoo years ago."

What do you think now? Post your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or share your thoughts on tech news via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Brett

    SOPA and PIPA are guises to do with media. Energy companies want the ability to shutdown any website before they release water fuel cell tech to the world. And the first domino goes....

    February 13, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
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