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. CassetteRecorder

    Since most of this is about digital and other media rights, it is the media that is sold. Once you have bought a CD, you can make copies, create personal "mix" CDs, and generally copy it for your personal use which extends to sharing it with friends and family. They know this and do not fight this even though there may be some infringement and loss of potential revenue.
    But if it is never realized, then it never really existed except as a possibility.
    They can't claim future profits they never get. That's just ridiculous.

    When you buy a CD or DVD, it is just the same as buying one of those old LP records.

    Just because it is easier to make copies and share the copies with friends in these modern times should not change the way we view media rights.

    It is up to the media people to find a way to market these things in a profitable way.

    They cannot violate everyone’s rights in a bid to maximize their profits just because the market has changed.

    This is just another “bail-out” attempt, only this time the legislation is going to give them the undeserved bailout money by destroying the civil rights of all people in the process and warp the natural advancement of our personal relationships with everyone else just so they can get a few more bucks.

    And these claims of “losing money” are bogus.

    You cannot lose money you never had in the first place.
    If they tried to enforce these laws, people would just refuse to buy their stuff.
    Then they would still have a low revenue stream with nothing but oppression and crimes against humanity to show for all the trouble they went to.

    That’s just stupid and bad business.
    You shouldn’t go all fascist on people if you want their money, which many don’t have anyway.

    People in poverty cannot afford to buy that stuff in the first place, or else they would have bought their own CDs and DVDs in the first place!

    If they can borrow a copy from a friend who did pay for the media, then where is the difference between two cousins in two different countries mailing the media back and forth whenever needed?

    SOPA is bogus and unworkable and unconstltutional.

    It is bad legislation and was written to give copyright owners an unfair advantage and subsidy when they are the ones who cannot keep up with changing market conditions. Their lack of business sense is not our fault.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Arlene K

    Will stop watching CNN, HLN or any of the NNN's rather than loose Wikipedia.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gary

    I welcome any new technoligy.Where would we be without it? Still using candles?

    January 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. TORI©

    I wish Wikipedia would go away for good. It causes people to have lazy minds and is truly comtributing to the dumbing down in today's society.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      It is certainly not reducing the knowledge of the average person who has access to it – which is what I think you're arguing.

      While Wikipedia can often have incorrect information, popular articles have some of the most accurate and non-biased material on the web.

      Also – Wikipedia provides its sources for every article, and is a great tool to do introductory research with as the links usually provide more detailed articles and journals from higher quality sources.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim

    TORI©, you must not be a student. Wikipedia is a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource to have available when researching a topic.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • TORI ©

      @Tiim, you would be incorrect. I am in college at a major university, maintain a 4.0 average, and have a scholarship from a huge organization for academic excellence.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdubbs

      TORI, stop trolling the internet and get back to the books. You have a lot to learn.

      Every dumb college kid thinks they know everything after their freshman year.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. asdf

    The bringing down of sites will catch certain peoples attention, who are not aware, and is likely to bring this topic to their attention. With google also on board, this will get a huge reaction, and soon it shall be spread from word to mouth. Facebook and twitter if they do not want to shut down should just put a huge banner on the sides or on top to get their users attention.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. T.Michael

    What we have here ladies and gentlemen is the solution of special interest groups contexting for dominion over our law-makers. And once again, Congress steps up to show its inability to deal with the world beyond the walls of their offices. When you have a problem in need of a solution, turn to those smart political leaders that you chose to handle the country's problems. Unfortunately, they are as prepared to deal with issues like on-line piracy as they are to deal with all our other issues – not at all.
    Look solving internet piracy is not really difficult, it just that you need someone who can explain it to Congress in simole words and short sentences. To get COngress to care, of course, you wolud have to give them lots of money; it's not the solution that they are looking for, its the contributions.
    You can't blame Congress for not knowing what to do, the special interests are being particularly smart about it either. This is what comes from business leaders who just want things to b done their way, but lack imagination.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Rain

    I think they should leave well enough alone. Everytime they say there going to make the internet safer they just wind up screwing something up, and I do happen to like WIkipedia not only is it someplace where people can put there own opinions with out having to hear all the negitive bull. But thats just my opinion

    January 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    @ TORI©:
    Hello.
    I was waiting for your response regarding your studies.
    Hope you are well.
    Just 4.0?

    January 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • TORI ©

      Hi @jif, I haven't ignored you. Just disgusted with the trolls which have been following us around. Studies are going very well but am worried that my GPA is going to slip this semester as Trigonometry and Chemistry are not my forte. My Mom spent the weekend with me and suggested that I have a double major. Journalism is #1 and I haven't decided on a second. She just earned her doctorate at 49, so I guess she knows best.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michael

    I am in disbelief at the moment.... I cannot believe the government is censoring anything on the net..... what in the hell has this all come down to???? Furthermore, I cannot believe people actually support this type of censoreship...... just like a big baby taking his ball home when things don't go his way..... big sucks......

    January 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RillyKewl

    SOPA, and to a lesser extent PIPA, are designed to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    Essentially, if somebody puts a nefarious link on any site, ie, wikipedia, boing boing, google, craigslist, etc., they can be blocked, taken down and sued.
    So really its about creating lawsuits that big businesses will use to destroy anybody who, even unwittingly, gets in their way. Its the same behind-the-curve thinking they had back in the Napster days. Lawyers are not known for their creativity.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Allen va

    The fact is Wikipedia is doing the exact same thing as what Wikipedia founder said soap tries to do.
    Control the Internet.

    Wikipedia can just decide to close it's site because it editors do not like some thing?
    Who is shutting down whose free speech right?
    Regardless of where Wikipedia funds come from, ads, donations or what so ever, they are all the same good money as if they charge users. Wikipedia makes money out of it's business, it does not what they their business is, charity, free Internet or what. Once again, Wikipedia just tries to control the government, even opposes an anti-piracy law? I guess Wikipedia does not care about copyright at all because it does not have any. If Wikipedia can not survive because a law tries to protect copyright, just let it go bankrupt, thou I like and use Wikipedia a lot

    January 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Allie

      Have you ever used Wikipedia? It sounds like you don't know anything about it.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • mdubbs

      Wow, are you really that dumb or are you just trying to troll? I can't tell...

      January 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kyle788

    Rofl@the first comment. But seriously the internet and the concept of Network Neutrality has always been under assault by those whose pockets are deep and lawyers are many, and whose motives are ulterior.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RobotHero

    Hopefully this bill will silence the internet and Youtube "critics" that steal an hour of movie footage, add a commentary track over it, and then claim "Fair Use", so that the content isn't taken down. Corporates don't have the time to take these people to court. The need a more efficient means of taken down the potentially infringing content.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. bigwilliestyles

    One thing Wikipedia does with all articles is that they allow for correction. If you know better, put it up; if you don't, shut it up.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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