Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and General Manager Erik Martin decided to launch the Internet 2012 Bus Tour in order to travel over a thousand miles across the center of the country to open a dialogue about the internet and its importance and relevance to our lifestyle as well as the economy of the United States.

The Internet 2012 Bus Is Painted a Bipartisan Half-Red Half-Blue

The bus tour was devised as a channel to discuss with college students, startup entrepreneurs, political candidates and the media exactly what the internet means to our nation and why it must be protected at all costs. Ohanian is proud that more than 20 million Americans were mobilized to kill SOPA and PIPA and the movement has gone on to establish the Internet Defense League and draft a Declaration of Internet Freedom. There has also been a concerted effort to work with both political parties to insert Open Internet concepts into their campaign platforms.

In order to drive home the bipartisan onus behind the Open Internet movement the Internet 2012 bus is painted half blue and half red. Interestingly, the bus is the exact same one that was once dubbed the Straight Talk Express when it served as John McCain’s presidential campaign vehicle. In a striking real world example of the power of the Open Internet, the bus is accompanied on its trek by a Rally Fighter, the first automobile to have its designs openly available on the web through a Creative Commons license.

IP Defenders Inflicting a Death of a Thousand Cuts

Ohanian and Martin are firm in their belief that the internet may hold the key to resolve some of the greater economic difficulties currently facing the United States. They believe that the open internet is a platform for innovation by providing American business access to global markets and allowing governments at all levels to achieve higher levels of efficiency with their resources. However, all of this innovation and progress can be stopped dead in its tracks if the internet and its participants are shackled by unreasonable regulations and restrictions. Ohanian is especially critical of the corporate defenders of specific intellectual property, such as the movie and recording industries, that have an inordinate amount of influence on Capitol Hill and are in the process of inflicting, as he claims a “sort of death by a thousand cuts.”

Ohanian Believes SOPA Would Have Crushed Startups

Ohanian sees the necessity to inform the American public to this threat and to evoke a response to stand up for internet rights on an ongoing basis as the core reason for the Internet 2012 Bus Tour. He told MSNBC that “SOPA would have crushed startups, as they would have had to sign on all kinds of legal costs and had lawyers at the ready.” If the values of a free and open internet are not promoted, Ohanian fears that the promising entrepreneurs who would otherwise be ready to launch the next huge internet phenomenon along the lines of Facebook, Twitter or Reddit itself would have backed off due to the restrictions which would have been placed by SOPA and PIPA. He doesn’t want to see any of the genius, brilliance and innovation that is destined to make the internet better for all its participants scared away by legislation that shackles rather than facilitates.

Of course there is the opposite view that intellectual property should be protected and prevented from being distributed illegally, but the Internet 2012 Bus Tour opens a dialogue across the nation on this important subject and on that point definitely deserves plaudits.