Photo: Anirudh Koul
Alexis Ohanian is basically an Internet superhero already for creating Reddit, the insanely popular news-discussion website.Now he’s formed the Internet defence League, an organisation which aims to mobilize the audiences of popular websites against legislation which threatens their interests.
Ohanian described the IDL to Forbes as a “Bat-Signal for the Internet” that would alert website operators to anti-Internet actions.
Ohanian played a key role in organising Internet-wide protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act, a piece of legislation that would have made it easier for copyright holders to shut down websites they suspected of involvement with illegal file-sharing. (While he’s no longer involved day to day with Reddit, he serves on the site’s board of directors and is an influential voice in the Web community.)
Popular site operators like Cheezburger Network, Wikipedia, Google, and Wired participated in the SOPA blackout. But it took time to mobilize those supporters and persuade them to take joint action.
Unprepared for the populist revolt, the copyright lobby backed down on SOPA and a piece of related legislation, the Protect IP Act, or PIPA. But other legislation and trade agreements would similarly limit Internet freedom, Ohanian and his allies fear.
Fight for the Future, a nonprofit started around protests of SOPA and other pro-copyright legislation, is backing the IDL.
Ohanian is best known for the Internet mascots he’s created for Reddit, Hipmunk, Breadpig, and other Internet ventures he’s involved with.
But what we really want to know is whether he’s willing to don a spandex getup, mask, and cape when the IDL’s Bat-Signal goes on.
We’d vote for that.