As you have probably noticed throughout the day yesterday, a variety of websites went “dark” or “blacked out” in order to protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws that are being considered by the United States’ Congress.
If you’re unfamiliar or are unsure of what SOPA (Sop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are, they are acts or laws that are being considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States, respectively, which would allow the government to essentially “censor the Internet”, in order to prevent piracy and to protect copyrighted content that can be found online.
This means, for example, that if a social networking website had a lot of users and some of them were posting material or links that contained copywritten material, these websites could potentially be shut down or censored by the government.
However, many web companies and services decided that this should not be something that happens, and because of this, chose to protest the SOPA and PIPA bills by “blacking out”, or essentially “going offline” on January 18, 2012, for a day.
One company that decided to “black out” their website in protest of these two acts included Wikipedia, which displayed a large banner over the content of articles, preventing users from reading them, but letting them know what these acts are, why they can be considered bad for the Internet and its users, as well as what users can do to help protest and prevent these acts from becoming law, which included providing contact information for various state legislators.
Reddit.com, a popular news sharing website, also “blacked out” their website for a majority of the day, and like Wikipedia, informed users of what these proposed pieces of legislation are and what would happen if they were to come into effect in the United States. Additionally, Reddit also provided users with information about protesting and contacting law-makers.
Many other companies and websites also participated in the “black out” day, including Google, WordPress.org and Quora. Though, not all of these companies decided to shut down completely, and especially in the case of Google, would probably not have proved logical, as it is such as large company with many people depending on its services.
However, Google did “black out” their logo, covering most of it with a black box and linking to this page, which provided information about the proposed anti-piracy acts and how to go about protesting and preventing them.
For images of what some websites looked like when they “blacked out”, you should check out this thread on the Helifreak.com forums, which I found while searching for SOPA images on Google Images.
Quora.com, like many other websites, chose to display a banner at the top of their website, which said “Stop SOPA” and linked to a question on the website about what the company’s stance on SOPA and PIPA is.
The AmericanCensorship.org website has created a great infographic, which describes what SOPA is, what the effects of this bill can have on the Internet, as well as what you can do to help prevent this bill from becoming law.
As you can see, SOPA and PIPA are bills which much of the Internet community is strongly against and is protesting. For more more information about these proposed acts, as well as how you can contact a legislator in your state, you should visit the above websites, which provide great information regarding this topic.