As you may have noticed today, high-profile websites such as Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and Tumblr have posted blackout notices of some kind—or even gone dark entirely—in response to the upcoming anti-piracy bills the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA). Anthony Green, AP’s current cover star, has also blocked out his website for the day in solidarity with the anti-censorship movement.
If you don’t know what the bills are, they essentially give power to the federal government to block access to domains that contain content that infringes on copyright. Under current legislation, it is up to the copyright holder of the content—such as a record label, film company or photographer—to notify a website to take down illegal content. However, under SOPA/PIPA, this scenario would be flipped: Websites would be forced to monitor all user-submitted content to make sure it does not violate copyright, and the burden is on them to remove it—or risk being blacklisted without due process and/or fined by the federal government. Here are several informative links to help explain these bills more in-depth:
Since the inception of Protect IP in May 2011 (and SOPA’s genesis in October 2011), Congressmen and companies have continually changed positions on the bills. Most notably, after facing pressure from Internet communities, web host GoDaddy backpedaled their support for the bills in late December, while Congressmen Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Lee Terry (R-NE) all pulled their support earlier today. (As if to underscore how quickly the support for this bill is changing, senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and John Boozman (R-AR) have both withdrawn support in the time this article was first written and edited.)
If this is a movement you are interested in, many websites are linking to sopastrike.com, which contains instructions on how you can get involved. Be sure to stay tuned to Altpress.com, as we will update you throughout the day and coming weeks on SOPA and PIPA’s status
UPDATE (5:28 p.m. EST): Check out a full list of companies lobbying for and against SOPA here
SOPA's lead backer, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), is not backing down and "expects to move forward next month."
According to the Wall Street Journal, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says SOPA and PIPA "aren't ready for a vote" and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says the bills are "simply not for prime time."
See a letter to Washington signed by the likes of Kevin Devine, OK Go and Trent Reznor among many others here.
UPDATE (8:01 p.m. EST): Support for PIPA dwindled with 13 congressmen removing support. The complete list is below:
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
James Inhofe (R-OK)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Google is reporting 4.5 million signatures for their anti-SOPA petition today.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports one million e-mails to Congress.
Twitter reports 2.4 million SOPA related tweets from 12 a.m. - 4 p.m. EST today.
Meanwhile, protestors have taken to the streets in New York.
The Senate is still scheduled to vote on PIPA January 24th and House discussions are still set to resume in February.