The coordinated, voluntary blackout of thousands of websites protesting online piracy legislation took Washington by storm on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to reconsider their support and giving a momentum-changing boost to a technology sector battling to kill the business-, labor-, and Hollywood-backed bills.The unprecedented full and partial blackouts of such name-brand sites as Wikipedia, Craigslist, and Google were fueled by a stew of grassroots activists, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and corporate lobbyists desperate to derail legislation backed by an entertainment industry lobby that had gotten a huge head start and had already helped push legislation to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week.But perhaps more than anything, the blackouts threw into stark relief the old school-versus-new line approaches each side brings to what has become a massive lobbying battle. ...The blackouts gave the tech industry a new and untested lever to flex their lobbying muscle. And while it marked a leap forward for an industry still learning its way around Washington, it remained unclear if, and how effectively, it could be replicated. ...But the blackouts may have changed the balance of power."Before this happened, the perception around here was that those who are in favor of ever-increasing copyright protections always won," said a senior Democratic congressional staffer familiar with the issue. "This may shift people's expectations. It's hard to say how much, but I think in a way that we haven't seen in a long time. Folks on the Hill are realizing that there are a lot of people out there, and not just tech companies, that care about copyright issues."
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