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."

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. MyCousinVinny

    "It's almost written by people who don't understand the Internet."
    That's actually incorrect. It absolutely IS written by people who don't understand the Internet. I affirm this being someone who operates a multihomed national autonomous system on the Internet and being familiar with network security and the myriad of protocols that make the Internet what it is. The requirement to make this work forces us to completely unravel DNSSEC and just throw it in the garbage... thereby making it easier once again to poison the DNS cache of resolvers everywhere. And guess what? The U.S. can't enforce this law to break DNSSEC globally. These law makers have no business in dictating the architecture of the Internet. If they wish to pass a bill, they need to bring in the engineers who build all of these carrier grade networks and the people who have written the RFC's. A good place to start would be to gather together all of the technical people who have written congress in opposition to the bill outlining a vast number of reasons this should not pass. If stopping piracy is the desire, these people should be the ones who are consulted and compensated for their time to design a proper solution for the problem. And I'm not even mentioning the violation of free speech... I hope they quickly get the message that they're going about this completely wrong.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aki

      Oh, they're good at breaking things, there's no time to get it done right in DC. Oh, and Hollywood, I hate you now, going to big daddy Congress to solve your problems. I suppose it doesn't matter too much to me, I don't watch movies except for the TV, and even that should be gotten rid of... darn $60 cable bill. I also don't listen to music... hm, I guess boycotting them is natural for me.

      If they break the Internet, I bet approval ratings will drop to 5% for Congress.

      January 18, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. iwonderhowlonguntil

    I just wonder how long American will keep putting up with all this anti-freedom legislation?
    Perhaps in my lifetime there will be a change in government 😦
    Dark times ahead indeed.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unknown


      January 18, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • JMissal

      Time for a Restoration.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. ???

    Are you freakin' kidding me? I just went to google and they're complaining about SOPA censoring the internet. Exactly where does it say in the bill that they will "censor the internet" like they do on TV? Where does it say in the bill that a DNS system will be introduced? Hey, we can't throw down every site due to copyright infringement since there are so many of them, but we can at least regulate the internet to prevent such things from happeneing, even moreso to make sure people are not posting 'illegal' things, if you know what I mean.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • cykill

      this is the cerimonial"foot through the door" once they get this passed 1 or two years down the road they will bring more legislation, that they will say is despiratly needed for _________ reasons. this process, which i like to call "baby steps" had been used for years not only in our country but others as well. They know that the citizens wouldn't tolorate tthe internet being censored, so they will try to do it little baby bites at a time. i will view whatever i want on the internet thank you.

      ...just what i need, a bunch of 65 year old dudes deciding what we do with our computers they don't even know how to turn on.

      ...i don't understand how anyone outside of hollywood supports either of these bills, totally illogical for people to vote against thier own interest.

      ...although, there are poor and middle class people who vote republican which defies all logic since those are the same people the the GOP would love to stomp out of existance(sorry, had to get that in there)

      rant now finished

      January 18, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      "Sorry Mr. So and So, but I cannot grade your paper because someone else is selling it on the internet."
      "Sorry Mrs. So and So, but we cannot give you new instruments for your band because you lack the proper funding since there are many websites that are selling pirated versions of your songs."
      "Sorry Mr. So and So, but we the FBI have to arrest you because we caught you following those Al-Quada videos and the fact that you were making bombs in your own home thanks to an undisclosed tip."
      There's gotta be a reason for everything, right?

      January 18, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Alex

    Sopa is awful

    January 18, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    @ TORI:
    You may be psychic: I was going to ask about your major and your goals.
    You ARE a 4.0. You can do anything you want.

    January 18, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Unknown


    January 18, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. FromPhilippines

    If this legislation is in effect, it will not only affect the Internet community in US, but also in the Philippines and other countries. I guess the so-called "New World Order" is in action! Instead of tinkering useless , why dont we concentrate on PEACE, HEALTH, GLOBAL WARMING, TERRORISM.. these subjects are expensive, but they are good investment for your future great great great grand children. Make a good place for them before we leave this world.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. ???

    The very paradox of people ranting one thing over another on some bill:
    Yeah it took congress almost a month to raise the debt ceiling.
    It took congress almost a year to debate on Obama's health care bill.
    Two political parties made two versions of payroll tax cut bill that were both biased.
    And now, ordinary U.S. citizens are worryiing about SOPA like it is the end of the world or something.
    Hey, I'm not attacking anyone, but...
    Can we just get this legislation done and over with so people would understand the importance of how we need to protect people from plagarism or to reduce the number of people who plagarize.
    There is a very good reason why one cannot use Wikipedia as a source on a thesis paper.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • gyrogearloose

      "Can we just get this legislation done and over with "

      Sure. Dump it in the trash can and it is done and over with.
      Neither SOPA nor PIPA deserve to be passed.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Then so be it. But wait and see what happens to the integrity of online news media and the authenitcy of facts in online articles/reports in the next twenty years. I studied news literacy and I can definity tell it won't end well.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • mdubbs

      Something tells me you should have studied harder, because you're spelling and grammar is terrible...

      January 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JMissal




    On goes the efforts to remove our Freedom and Liberties.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rustydog

    Whenever people get out of hand, it doesn't take the legislature long to pass regulations to prohibit or control such actions. In its current form, SOPA could easily lead to censorship of the internet. For example, if I attach a link to a story written by a newspaper, but forgot to ask permission, then I would be in violation of SOPA. You Tube would be diminshed to such an extent that no one would want to post something out of fear of reprisals.
    The answer is, as it always has been, for users to be responsible for what the post on the web. A site to self report illegal use of copy right material is a start. Having a government watchdog to monitor all sites is a bad idea.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      I have to laugh. People complain so much about how government is taking away their freedom and liberties, that they demand less government. But when government lessens its influence by let's say deregulating banks, yeah you have a boost in the economy, but only for a short period of time. In the late 80's to early 90's, we were in a recession. Then you have people and places like Madoff and Enron who get away (or almost got away) with murder (figuratively speaking) and were partially responsible for causing the ecomony going out of whack. Then you had banks and businesses in Manhatten that weren't doing so well in the late 2000's for instance, and the economy once again fell to its knees. Obama had to give that stimulus package to the banks (which probably continued doing what they shouldn't be doing) to prevent another depression or worse. Don't tell me that we need less government to keep our freedoms because now we have websites and unauthentic businesses that are selling pirated or plagarised work, we have Al-Quada who are still brainwashing people to do their bidding, and now people are saying that we can't regulate the internet. Go ahead, don't. Sure, we can't elimate piracy and plagarism, but we can sure reduce it to safe leves. I'm not for big government. but I am for a government that is modest enough to watch it's own back, especially when the Watergate scandal happened. Businesses are free to make its own decisions, people can post whatever they want on the internet: But beware of those who speak of dirt and darkness.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. hippediva

    SOPA was written to start censorship. If anyone is dumb enough to think otherwise, they are either republicans or Murdoch and they're lying.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. An Internet User

    SOPA and PIPA is the end of freedom in the States.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Christian Jedlowski

    If either of these Bills, SOPA or PIPA, are passed, it is the beginning of a corporately controlled Internet. Once we open the flood gates for big business', they will surely act on their needs and wants. We do not need a select group of companies overseeing what should be a public domain.

    January 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David D

    CNN, where were you during the end of October up until Jan 12 when it came to SOPA?

    According to this graphic, y'all talk more about Tim Tebow and the Royal Family more than congressional matters like SOPA. This disappointing. During 2007, as a high school senior, I figured it was time for me to be a little more responsible when it came to local, US, and world news. I took the time to devote an hour or two a day to listen to CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. While I liked a few segments, I was MOST OFTEN bombarded by stories about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Why is this?

    During that time, I felt as if I wasn't getting enough of the "good stuff," I yearned and instead, got mostly rubbish like how long Lindsay Lohan is going to stay in jail. Along with that came the disappointment of figuring out that this young lady (or Paris Hilton, I may be mixing the two stories up) got LESS jail time somehow. Of course, my deduction was because of $$$.

    Moving back on point here, I didn't get the information I wanted. I didn't learn much of anything. I got pop stories and gossip. I was most excited for segments like Anderson Cooper's. But coming home from school around 3-4:30, I almost always got stories about celebrities and their mistakes. How sad.

    Honestly, I felt the only places where I could get reliable, consistent information on other issues was Comedy Central. How sad is that? I trust Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart more than CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. It really is sad. They make a laughing stock out of your news agencies and our politicians and it forces us to pay attention. It forces us to laugh at the lack of participation our "watchdogs" are supposed to be doing.

    Thank God for sources like TYT, Reddit, and sadly, comedians.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • chlamchowder

      Unfortunately, I have to agree with David D. Mainstream news outlets should devote more coverage to issues that directly affect readers, including proposed legislation. If people want celebrity gossip, they can go to other sites dedicated to that. In my opinion, news sites have an obligation to keep readers well informed, and should make better decisions about which issues deserve more attention.

      But the good thing about the internet is that determined individuals can search for news that is important to them if they know what they're looking for. Even if mainstream news outlets decide that celebrity gossip is more important than overly broad and badly written legislation, you can still look up the text of SOPA or PIPA elsewhere and read what other people write about about them.

      The bad thing is that SOPA and PIPA can make it harder for you to do that. If a small, independent news site publishes info about a record company engaging in illegal activity, I bet it won't take long for the RIAA or MPAA to accuse the site of copyright infringement and get it blocked. Without a large cache of full time lawyers, that little site won't know what hit it.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • mdubbs

      I know where they were, in the background supporting this legislation.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kyle788

    David D, no one could have said it better.

    January 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
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