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In the Phoenix: Web Piracy

I've got a cover story in today's Phoenix about the suddenly white hot debate over Internet piracy - a debate that has fired up the netroots and split Rhode Island's Congressional delegation.

The opposition to a pair of anti-piracy bills in Congress, aimed at blocking the illegal distribution of music, film, and pharmaceuticals, was already bubbling. And then web sites like Wikipedia and reddit went dark yesterday in protest and the Internet went bonkers, pushing many a politician into the "opposed" column - including Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline - and putting legislation that seemed inevitable only a few weeks ago in serious jeopardy.

As I write in the piece, some of the most prominent arguments against the bills don't really stand up to scrutiny, even if there are a few legitimate concerns about the legislation. But that doesn't seem to matter. Hollywood, the music industry, and the US Chamber of Commerce, which pushed the legislation, went the traditional route: hiring influential lobbyists, buttonholing members of Congress. But all that seems to have crumbled before the mighty wave of the web.

Indeed, yesterday's flood of opposition, in many ways, heralds the rise of the Internet in Washington politics.

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