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Guest blogger: Sunlight got it wrong

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A Sunlight analysis of the fight on Capitol Hill over SOPA is generating some pushback in the online community from activists who think we overstated the role of money and corporate lobbying in the debate. In the interest of broadening and deepening the conversation, we asked one of our critics, Mike Godwin, a former counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Wikimedia, for permission to print his counterpoint: I believe that Sunlight (and one of its primary sources, OpenSecrets.org) missed the story. Just as I would not write an Occupy movement story grounded in how much money was spent for food, medical care, and tents, I wouldn't write about a "net-roots" popular movement focusing on the convenient fact that money was spent inside the Beltway during the time that the popular movement seems, temporarily, to have given some tech companies some traction on one issue. It's well-established that Google's estimable DC presence -- their many dollars and their top-notch personnel -- had little effect on the ETAs of the SOPA and PIPA legislation before the holiday break. What changed the debate was not "politics as usual" or an infusion of cash, but the participation of the online community, including Wikipedia, Reddit, and others, to let policymakers know about their unhappiness with the direction and process of the legislation. This response was not organized by Google or any tech money at all (except perhaps the meager salaries that tech-policy writers tend to receive).

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