Five major websites will go dark on Wednesday protesting two Congressional bills, which critics argue could curtail Internet and free speech.
If passed, The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act or PIPA, would allow the US government to seek a court order and even shut down websites that contain content or links to unauthorized copyrighted content. Moreover, advertisers and Internet service providers would be banned from doing business with transgressors.
Proponents of the legislation include companies that are trying to protect their copyrights, such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the NBA, Pfizer, Nike, L’Oreal, as well as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the US Conference of Mayors.
However, voices of opposition include Internet giants Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, eBay,Mozilla, and Wikipedia – who say that the proposed laws constitute a First Amendment violation, promote censorship, and harm the democratic flow of information.
People upset with the Stop Online Piracy Act have a small reason to cheer this morning. The anti-piracy bill, which many Internet users feel could have a chilling effect on the Web, got tabled until early next year, giving a brief respite and an opportunity for alternative bills (such as Rep. Darrell Issa’s OPEN act) to gain footing. Being a creative bunch, many users have taken to design tricks, boycotts, even music to protest what they feel is a dangerous bill. Here are just a few examples of SOPA protests online:
- one Scribd, taking a bit of a cue from Tumblr but even more ambitiously, made the articles on their site disappear yesterday, word by word.
- two A number of Reddit users have begun a movement to move domains away from GoDaddy en masse, in protest of their support of SOPA.
- three Leah Kauffman, the songwriter who wrote “I Got a Crush on Obama,” just released an anti-SOPA protest song titled “Firewall.”