Important Update: SOPA is DEAD! The bill has been pulled "until there is wider agreement on a solution." Read more
This Wednesday, January 18th 2012, hundreds of websites will blackout as part of a strike against the proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are bills currently being considered by legislation that many have opposing views on.
On one hand, SOPA and PIPA supporters, including those in the music and movie industries, see the bills as a way to crack down on online content theft.
On the other hand, SOPA and PIPA critics, including Internet companies Google, Facebook and Wikipedia, believe the bills will encourage censorship of online content and harm technological innovation.
If enacted, SOPA/PIPA could have disastrous consequences for the basic infrastructure of the Internet. It would afford the Federal government and copyright holders excessive and far-reaching powers to take down sites they deem to be hosting protected content with little regard for the definition of "hosting." -Mashable
Even more frightening: If enacted, SOPA would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a criminal offense, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison if a user gets caught streaming this content 10 times within six months
Wikipedia, Wordpress, Reddit, Twitpic, Mozilla and 1,500+ other websites plan to take part in a blackout tomorrow, January 18th, in which participating sites will either be unavailable from 8am to 8pm or for a full 24 hours in protest.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, recognizes that the decision to shut down Wikipedia is an "extraordinary" action, however, he feels it necessary in response to the proposed bills, which, "if passed, will harm the free, secure, and open Internet. These bills endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, setting a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."
How does President Obama feel about SOPA and PIPA?
According to Bloomberg.com, "The Obama administration won't back legislation to combat online piracy if it encourages censorship, undermines cybersecurity or disrupts the structure of the Internet, three White House technology officials said Jan. 14. The statement marks the administration's most significant foray into a fight between content creators and Web companies that has been playing out in Congress. The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Jan. 24 on starting debate on an anti-piracy bill."
Are you for or against the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills? Those against the bills can join the strike now!