"Readers might recall a campaign earlier this year which triggered ‘blackouts’ on sites such as Google, Reddit and Wikipedia in objection to two proposed pieces of legislation in the United States: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). In short, that proposed legislation, had it been enacted, would have allowed rights owners to obtain injunctions requiring search engines to block results linked to unauthorised copyright material.
Some of the blackout advocates (Fight for the Future) later established IDL, a watch brigade with a mandate to raise awareness of legislation that poses a threat to the freedom of the internet. IDL’s most recent initiative is an ‘emergency broadcast system’ which aims to mobilise supporting non-partisan forces if an imminent threat presents. What, you cry, could this be that will rouse us from our lethargy? A bird? A plane? Sorry, wrong cultural reference. The IDL are instead taking inspiration from that ever-elusive character, Batman (no not, the Scarlet Pimpernel). On Thursday evening, to coincide with the release of the much anticipated conclusion to a notable film trilogy, they launched the ‘cat signal’ in New York, San Francisco, Washington, London and Ulaanbaatar (Outer) Mongolia, naturally.
The League’s site explains that webmasters can embed IDL’s code into their own so that a banner appears on the member’s site when a campaign is in action. As Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian noted to Wired, it is up to the web owner whether the alerts appear automatically. Interested parties can also contribute to the cat sign appeal via PayPal: $2,000 buys a spotlight (and gobo). And I thought ‘buy a goat’ an innovative and motivating fundraising campaign ...
Sadly, the launch was overshadowed by the appalling incident in Colorado the following day.
The IDL is unlikely to be resting on its laurels in the foreseeable future. Although the European Parliament rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) earlier this month, the legislation remains international in scope. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is under consideration by the US Senate, having been approved by the House of Representatives in April. Both pieces of legislation are likely targets of IDL’s future campaigns. Better get your hands on one of those spotlights, before they run out."