Web & communication software

Kickstarter Project Seeks to Flush SOPA and PIPA

Did the recent contentious debate over two controversial copyright enforcement bills leave you feeling soiled? An entrepreneur Kickstarter.com wants to help -- by printing the texts of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act on toilet paper.

A project at Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced business-funding site, seeks to allow opponents of SOPA and PIPA to show just how much disgust they had for the legislation, said the project's founder.

The two bills are on hold after massive online protests in January, but Craig, the entrepreneur, believes there's some residual outrage over the legislation.

The toilet paper would be a "gag outrage item that offers users a chance to express themselves regarding these two proposed bills in untold new ways," wrote Craig, who asked to not be fully identified because of possible repercussions at his day job. "Let SOPA PIPA finally have some practical use for once. Share it with your friends. Share it with your family. Or share it with your local representative!"

The idea for the project came from all the videos on YouTube explaining the impact of SOPA and PIPA, Craig said.

The bills would "put web creators on a night watch by the entertainment industry," he said in an email. "I asked myself, how could they capture their feelings about this? Is there something that they can exchange that represents their emotions, like a seal or even a cereal box decoder ring? It's difficult because the situation is very abstract."

Toilet paper seemed to be a good way for people to express their feelings, he said. The Kickstarter donations will fund a custom toilet-paper printer and a warehouse, Craig said.

The authors of the two bills declined to comment.

"I can say with certainty that I will not have a comment for you," said a spokeswoman for Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and lead sponsor of PIPA.

So far, response on Kickstarter has been slow. As of Thursday afternoon, Craig had received just US$188 from 12 people, well short of his goal of $2,000, with the funding deadline five days away. One backer suggested Craig has "missed the buzz" over SOPA and PIPA, with outrage over the two bills wasting away after January.

The project may need help from some advanced users of Kickstarter, he said. "It's a fun little idea that brings people together in a low-brow, rabble-rouser way," Craig added. "Or it could be reincarnated as a performance art tool."

People who commit to funding the project can have their comments added to the tissue roll, allowing buyers of the toilet paper to see their views on SOPA and PIPA. "I really want to see the amusing comments," he said.

Craig said he's convinced that the toilet paper will sell if he gets the funding. If the project makes money, he may use it to fund a "cryptozoology and alien" indie movie, he said.

"My philosophy is: Let's take this one roll of paper at a time," he added.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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