Protest SOPA and PIPA

Today Wikipedia Blacked out their site in protest of SOPA and PIPA, which stand for the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act”. SOPA is a bill which allows judges the right to block IP addresses of websites they deem to be stealing property whether it be by the movie industry or simply criticizing themselves. It would also put more emphasis on blocking torrent sites and prosecuting those who host blogs or personal websites which is deemed to have copyrighted material on it. In fact, my website may be among the list to be blocked since it often references things that happened in the news which were originally covered by other news agencies. I can see very clearly how SOPA is a danger to freedom of expression and a clear step towards the stance of other more totalitarian governments on the internet. PIPA will be a tool used by large corporations to block IP addresses they choose based on whether they determine these websites host their material and may in fact redirect IP addresses to their own! Below is Wikipedia’s explanation of why it is blacking out it’s site:

About the action

The Wikipedia community has blacked out the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours on January 18th to raise awareness about legislation being proposed by the U.S. Congress — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate — and to encourage readers to speak out against it. This legislation, if passed, will harm the free and open Internet. If you are in the United States, let your congressional representative know what you think of the proposed legislation by clicking here.

The blackout will last 24 hours – from midnight to midnight EST (05:00 UTC Wed to 05:00 UTC Thu).

This decision was made by Wikipedia’s global community of editors — the people who built Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, also opposes SOPA and PIPA, and supports the editors’ blackout.

SOPA and PIPA are real threats to the free and open Internet. Although recent media reports have suggested that the bills are losing support, they are not dead. On January 17th, SOPA’s sponsor said the bill will be discussed and pushed forward in early February. PIPA could be debated in the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. There is a need to send a strong message that bills like SOPA and PIPA must not move forward: they will cause too much damage.

Although the bills have been amended since their introduction, they are still deeply problematic. Among other serious problems in the current draft of the bills, the requirement exists for US-based sites to actively police links to purported infringing sites. These kinds of self-policing activities are non-sustainable for large, global sites – including ones like Wikipedia. The legislative language is ambiguous and overly broad, even though it touches on protected speech. Congress says it’s trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the “cure” that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease.

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