We’ve already heard the rallying cry against SOPA/PIPA, urging us not to let the LOLcats die, so we thought we’d ask the king of the LOLcats himself, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh, to weigh in on SOPA. He explains why his sites are standing against SOPA today and how these potential laws would threaten the Internet as we know it.
Consumerist: Cheezburger is all about entertaining content and not piracy — how would SOPA/PIPA affect sites like yours?
Ben Huh: While we would be less impacted by these bills, a censored internet, anywhere in the world makes all of us that much poorer and more ignorant. Companies like us that rely on user-generated content and expression require that we stand up for one another no matter where they are.
Consumerist: How did the Cheezburger network come to the decision to stand against SOPA/PIPA on Jan. 18?
BH: It was a hard decision, but if we are not about protecting our users freedom to access content on the Web, where would we be? Based on user feedback we decided to allow users to bypass the blackout screen if they so chose, but we hope to bring attention to this issue to millions.
Consumerist: Should the typical consumer care about SOPA passing?
BH: This is yet another ratcheting up of the criminalization of access to content. Big media companies are suffering from piracy, however the road to ending piracy is not to legislate their business model into profitability. The road to ending piracy is to provide what consumers want, when they want it and where they want it. Big media has fought every technological revolution from radio, to VCRs, and now the Internet. However, they have actually benefited from the technology in the long term once they learned how to use it. Passing these legislations will only serve to slow the progress in favor of consumers.
Consumerist: Why do you think the bill enjoys so much support in Congress, when it seems unpopular with the educated consumer?
BH: I believe that Congress still has not gotten the message that the American public is unhappy with how they represent us. Congress has an 11% approval rating and bills like this — pushed by big corporate lobbyists with little to no debate, written under the cover of darkness and over the holidays — is why they are so disliked. The bi-partisan support of these bills smack of money. The bi-partisan opposition of these bills is a grassroots revolt.
Former Senator Chris Dodd, who is now the CEO of the MPAA, called what we’re doing “abuse of power.” If exercising my First Amendment right to free speech is an abuse of power, I am going to abuse it until my voice is heard. This shows you how badly money and influence has infected our politics.