If you attempted to confirm the capital of a Wyoming or how long WWI lasted by using the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, you were met with the following screen:
This is because today, Internet sites are protesting the following U.S. anti-piracy bills: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Both SOPA and PIPA were created in response to organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) who were concerned with the illegal downloading of their copyrighted content from foreign, “rogue”, sites such as Pirate Bay and other torrent sites.
This has been an understandable concern, as it costs people like the RIAA billions of dollars a year. Proponents of the bills say that, if put into law, these bills will allow copyright owners to take more control over their intellectual property rights by censoring content on any domain suspected of illegally having access to their content, thus preventing illegal downloaders from taking money away from the economy — this means disallowing access to its domain name, ads, search engine hits and other financing.
According to those protesting SOPA and PIPA, these two acts are too broad and will effectively censor the Internet. “Censoring the Internet” may sound dramatic, but as it currently stands, SOPA and PIPA do not contain any provisions to remove specific copyrighted content. Instead, as I mentioned before, they focus on the censorship of links to entire domains. Thus, entire domains can be shut down — hence the reason why websites such as Wikipedia have shut down in protest.
Wikipedia has an estimated 25 million average daily visitors globally and will likely cause a stir due to this downtime. Time to go tot he library.
Notable Websites Joining The Blackout
- ICanHasCheezBurger Network.
Notable Companies in Opposition to the Bills (Will Not Black Out)
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)
— Andrew Lander @andrewlander