Watch Aaron Swartz Explain ‘How We Stopped SOPA’

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Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old digital luminary who took his life Friday, played an instrumental part in organizing the technology community’s opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act early last year.

SOPA was designed to combat online piracy, but many Internet advocates — Swartz included — believed it would have a disastrous effect on Internet freedom.

In a keynote delivered to the 2012 F2C: Freedom to Connect conference, Swartz explained in depth how the technology community was able to quickly organize and ultimately cause SOPA’s author to shelve the bill.

“The Internet really is out of control,” said Swartz. “But if we forget that, if we let Hollywood rewrite the story so it was just big company Google who stopped the bill, if we let them persuade us we didn’t actually make a difference, if we start seeing it as someone else’s responsibility to do this work, and it’s just our job to go home and curl up on the couch, pop some popcorn and watch Transformers, well then next time, they might just win. Let’s not let that happen.”

To help defeat SOPA, Swartz founded Demand Progress, an advocacy group focused on Internet legislation. Demand Progress continues its work today.

“We will be in touch with our members and the general public in the near future to offer suggestions about ways to move forward,” said the group in a statement on Swartz’s death. “Tragically, we’ll have to continue to stifle the visceral impulse to run our half-formed ideas by Aaron, to help us make them better ones.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr, selfagency

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