Why O'Reilly went dark

A protest against SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act.

On January 18, 2012, O’Reilly went dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act. The following notice was posted across oreilly.com.

Screenshot of message on O'Reilly websites on Jan 18 2012
Screenshot of oreilly.com from January 18, 2012.

Today, we’re going dark to show the world that O’Reilly Media does not support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives or the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate.

We believe going dark is the principled action to take.

We’re in one of the greatest periods of social and business transformation since the Industrial Revolution, a transformation driven by the open architecture of the Internet. New technologies, new companies, and new business models appear every day, creating benefits to society and the economy. But now, fundamental elements of that Internet architecture are under attack.

These legislative attacks are not motivated by clear thinking about the future of the Internet or the global economy, but instead seek to protect entrenched companies with outdated business models. Rather than adapting and competing with new and better services, these organizations are asking Congress for cover.

Any forward-looking country must encourage its emerging industries, not protect its laggards. Yet, in a time when the American economy needs to catalyze domestic innovation to succeed in a hyper-competitive global marketplace, members of the United States Congress have advanced legislation that could damage the industries of the future.

Over the weekend, President Obama’s technology officials told the American people that they do not support SOPA or PROTECT IP as drafted. The White House’s response to a "We The People" e-petition included a strong rebuttal against the DNS provisions in the bills. While it is heartening to hear from the White House that it "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," we believe these bills must be abandoned, not amended.

We urge you to keep the pressure on today and in the weeks to come.

Here’s what you can do:

1) Learn if your U.S. Representative or Senators support SOPA or PROTECT IP through SOPAOpera.org.

2) Use the tools at AmericanCensorship.org, Engine Advocacy and POPVOX to tell Congress where you stand.

3) Call or meet with your representatives in Congress. The single most effective action any concerned citizen who wants to talk to Congress can take is to see your Senator or Representative in person. Failing that, call them. Write them a letter. Make sure your voice is heard.

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  • Mark Fuqua

    Would you mind if I started a blog tomorrow and called it O’Reilly Radar…or maybe started publishing books as O’Reilly Media?

  • B Jay

    Somehow I doubt they would worry too much unless you directly copied their work Mark… Your statements indicate they certainly wouldn’t have to worry about you being any real competition or threat (unless you actually claimed what crap you produced was representative of what O’Reilly does).

  • DJR

    A good question Mark when put like that – I believe many of those who are anti SOPA and PIPA (etc) believe there is enough protection in the existing trademark and copyright laws.

  • Zachary Kessin


    This is not about if there should be copywrite and trademark (of course there should be) its about weather or not we give
    hollywood the ability to blow up the internet to enforce it. There are already methods for taking down illegally copied works off of the internet, and they are not going to go anywhere.

    SOPA and PIPA are not the right way to enforce that. Just providing a link on a search engine should not be a copyright violation.

  • Peter Kelley

    Of course going dark globally doesn’t leave those of us outside the US (the majority of internet users) anything to do. WE don’t have a congressional representative so we just have to suffer and hope that the US Government can come to its senses in time. A better protest might be if simple filter code could be established that redirects to a blacked out site for ranges of IP addresses that belong to representatives. That way the protest is hurting only those who can do something about it.

  • bob


    You’re getting at the problem with O’Reilly’s very politically astute stance. It’s easy to wave one’s hands and say that piracy isn’t much of a problem– when we’ve got a fair amount of enforcement already thanks to the MPAA and the RIAA. But if the pirate sites lose their grungy, illegal sheen and go mainstream, his business is toast.

    I already see plenty of pirated versions of O’Reilly books around the web. Would these readers buy? Certainly not all of them, but even if 10% purchased a copy O’Reilly and his authors would have more money to invest in bigger and better books.

    This is how economies collapse.

  • Mike

    @Mark Fuqua, and any others who cant get your head around this one fact:


    We do NOT need any further stacking of laws on top of laws. THAT is a problem.

    If you feel like someone is stealing your work then sue them. The existing system is already in place and working and if you say its not then adding MORE laws to it doesnt fix it.

    Think health care reform. The government shoved MORE laws down our throats to fix an already busted system and it wont do one damn thing to it.

    If these sites are in China and India and elsewhere then have your ISP block the offending IP address from you being able to see it.

    But this new generation of want it now, give me give me give me, I am entitled to whatever thinks we should just stack laws on top of laws on top of laws.

    We have laws against illicit drug use yet when I get an allergy problem every spring I have to BY LAW NOW give the government my name, address and driver license number and a photo ID. This is the sort of BS that we do not need more of.