Wikipedia, Reddit, and Boing Boing and many other sites are staging global blackouts tomorrow to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. Specifically, Wikipedia, which has been a very vocal opponent of the restrictive set of bills, polled 1800 users and with their support has chosen to take down its English pages all day on January 18. What are they protesting exactly? SOPA and PIPA have very restrictive language with a broad reach that will basically change the internet and freedom of expression as we know it:

From the Washington Post:

At a basic level, SOPA — and its Senate analogue, the Protect IP Act — would enable copyright holders and the Justice Department to get court orders against sites that “engage in, enable, or facilitate” copyright infringement. That could include, say, sites that host illegal mp3s or sites that link to such sites (the revised House bill focuses primarily on foreign sites like, oh, Pirate Bay). Courts could bar advertisers and payment companies such as PayPal from doing business with the offending sites in question, order search engines to stop listing the accused infringers, or even require Internet service providers to block access entirely. The bills contain other provisions, too, like making it a felony to stream unauthorized content online.

While those in favor of these restrictions, namely copyright holders like record companies and Hollywood studios, continue to push the bills, it appears that protests from various tech providers have been working: the White House released a statement on Friday saying it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” More broad language, but at least it’s a start.

If you are interested in adding your voice to protesting these dangerous laws, revisit this CLUTCH post for ideas on how to get involved!

What do you think of the SOPA controversy and the blackout protests?

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