Google protests SOPA by blacking out logo on its homepage Source: Google.com, Jan. 18, 2012
Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, Wordpress, and an estimated 10,000 other websites shut down on Jan. 18, 2012 to protest two congressional anti-piracy bills. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the US Senate would give the federal government power to shut down websites believed to be associated with piracy.
SOPA and PIPA supporters argue that content creators need better tools to stop websites which engage in copyright theft and patent infringement. Opponents argue that the bills would allow Internet censorship and limit free speech.
Popular blog Boing Boing shut down in protest and explains the reason for their blackout, "Boing Boing is offline today, because the US Senate is considering legislation that would certainly kill us forever. The legislation is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and would put us in legal jeopardy if we linked to a site anywhere online that had any links to copyright infringement.”
Many of the websites participating in the blackout are asking visitors to contact their congressional representatives. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) withdrew as a co-sponsor of PIPA on Jan. 18, 2012 and Reps. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Ben Quayle (R-AZ) removed their names from SOPA. "Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences," Rubio said on Jan. 18, 2012 when announcing his withdrawal of support.
Supporters of SOPA and PIPA argue that the companies participating in the blackout are not sharing the whole story and not acknowledging that the bills have undergone significant changes since being introduced. "It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users and arm them with misinformation,” said Jonathan Lamy of the Recording Industry Association of America. "It's time for the stunts to end and those who claim to care about rogue website theft to back up their rhetoric and work with us on meaningful solutions.”
Steve Tapp of the US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement, "The PROTECT IP Act and SOPA have been modified by their sponsors to address concerns by removing entirely the provision that would have required blocking of criminal sites. Strangely, those who demanded that change are now shutting themselves down, although it is not clear why they are still protesting after they got what they wanted."
PIPA is currently scheduled for a procedural vote on Jan. 24, 2012.
Jaikumar Vijayan, "Supporters of SOPA, PIPA Stick to Their Guns," www.computerworld.com, Jan. 18, 2012
Jennifer Martinez and Tony Romm, "SOPA Blackout Leads Co-sponsors to Defect," www.politico.com, Jan. 18, 2012
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