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Posted at 08:50 AM ET, 01/19/2012

Jon Stewart tackles SOPA, turns on his own show (updated)


Comedian Jon Stewart during a taping of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" in New York, in November. (Brad Barket - AP)

Update 1/19/2012 8:50 a.m.: A week after “The Daily Show” host promised to bring the Internet on as a guest, Jon Stewart unleashed his comic hounds on the Stop Online Piracy Act, mocking the stakeholds, including lawmakers; his parent company, Viacom, and even his own show, as the Post’s Melissa Bell writes .

Stewart started by trying to find information about the bill, turning to Wikiepdia, which had gone dark for the day. This, in turn, forced him to go to what he called “a notably unreliable source.” At this point, Stewart paused, looking as if he would vomit before disclosing that source: “the news.”

“According to lawyers that have contacted us frequently all day,” continued Stewart, describing what SOPA would do, “it just makes it so that people cannot in any way access the Web site.” Here’s the video:

From “dramatic chipmunk” underlying the significance of the five-year jail sentence for violating music copyright, to a series of clips of lawmakers calling for “the nerds” to explain what the bill would do, Stewart applied his, unique brand of humor to an issue that online content consumers and creators as well as policy and business leaders have been debating heavily for months.

“Not enough is said about the damage this does to the artist’s parent companies, owner, masters, the Viacoms, the Times Warner, or the News Corp.s or Disney, who, besides their legal divisions, have no one to speak for them,” Stewart said.

“You know,”he continued while showing clips of his own show featuring copyrighted content, “when I see a free-loading stooge who steals from others and rationalizes it by claiming fair use, it makes me sick.”

Stewart’s take on SOPA and the underlying issue of copyright and intellectual property protection, was widely anticipated by opponents of the bill. The Reddit community, had a few comments regarding Stewart’s bit , once the site went live after spending the day dark in protest of the bill. While some were pleased to see the comedian address the bill, others didn’t feel he went far enought. Commenter “Mage 505” wrote:

Honestly. I know he’s got to gloss over a lot of things, but I feel he passed over the worst parts of SOPA and PIPA (he didn’t even address the lack of due process)
The whole thing just seems like a missed opportunity. ... I wonder if Viacom came in and adjusted his skits so it wouldn’t be so hard.

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Original post 1/12/2012 4:38 p.m.: If you caught “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” Wednesday night, you may remember he said the Thursday night “guest will be the Internet.” Tonight’s scheduled guest is, as of the writing of this post, Dolly Parton, but opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are eagerly awaiting the comedian’s take on the bill.

SOPA, a bill currently circulating through the House with a companion bill in the Senate, stands to significantly disrupt online content sharing. Stewart mentioned the legislation during the introduction to Wednesday night’s show. Proponents of the bill include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and traditional media companies and talent unions such as Comcast/NBC Universal and the Screen Actors Guild, among others. Opponents of the bill include online giants Google and Facebook among other Web-based companies.

“Tomorrow night of course our guest will be the Internet,” said Stewart to audience laughter.

“We’ll be all SOPA-what! And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” continued Stewart, pausing. “I have some reading to catch up on.”

Reddit user “place_ face” has claimed credit for getting Stewart to mention SOPA during the taping, saying they asked Stewart why he hadn’t mentioned the bill and “what his thoughts ... were.” The message board has since been the subject of news reports throughout the day Thursday, including The Next Web, TechDirt and our partners at VentureBeat. City University of New York associate professor Jeff Jarvis reported on his blog BuzzMachine, Wednesday, that he was at the Daily Show taping as well that night, and that Stewart was asked by an audience member why he hadn’t addressed the Stop Online Piracy Act on his show.

Stewart reportedly said, colorfully, that he and his staff had been occupied with the election. But his mention of SOPA in the show’s introduction, a time when Stewart often hints at conversations that occurred during the question-and-answer session prior to the show’s taping, has opponents of the bill hopeful that the comedian will skewer it as only he can, regardless of the fact that Comedy Central executives have spoken out in favor of SOPA and the show’s parent company, Viacom, is also among the bill’s supporters.

It will be interesting to see if Stewart’s commentary, assuming it happens, undercuts Viacom’s position, or is more in the style of this segment from March 2007 featuring comedian Demetri Martin. In the segment, Martin jokes about Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube parent company Google for copyright violation, recommending that kids to “make your clips untracable” to dodge potential prosecution or “make their own ‘Daily Show.’”

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By  |  08:50 AM ET, 01/19/2012

Categories:  Business, Technology, Video

 
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