Websites Go Dark to Protest SOPA

Stop Online Piracy ActMedia IndustryPROTECT IP ActWikimedia Foundation, Inc.YouTubeFreedom of the Press

Dozens of websites are going dark Wednesday, including popular sites like Wikipedia in protest of a bill called SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act, an Internet legislation some say goes too far.

Among the sites going dark for 24 hours Wednesday includes: Reddit, Boing Boing, Twitpic and Wikipedia, which says the legislation will, “Harm the free and open Internet.”

The act, which has been making its way through the House of Representatives, has become a hotly debated issue.

Supporter like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who drafted the bill, say “providing new an effective tools to combat the thief of intellectual property online will... promote the interest of all stakeholders.”

Los Angeles Times writer James Rainey agrees the issue hits closer to home in Los Angeles.

“People out here think it’s outrageous that you can just make something that they produced and profit yourself by selling ads on that content,” Rainey said.

Media companies love the bill since it can help them easily take down pirated material, but others say it kills freedom of speech online.

Under the new law, even sites like Twitter and YouTube could be penalized.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says the approach in fighting piracy with legislation like SOPA and the Protect IP Act comes at a hefty cost.

“Both of them essentially use the bunker-buster bomb when what you need is a laser beam.” Wyden said on CSPAN. “Basically you’d have websites trying to monitor enormous amounts of data. YouTube alone gets like 24 hours of content every second.”

Online heavyweights including Google, Facebook and AOL oppose the bill and the Internet growing with grassroots efforts against it.

Sites like BlackoutSOPA.org change user profile pictures on popular social networks in protest. And, SOPAtrack.com lets users know if elected officials receive money from Pro-SOPA groups.

The bill still has a quite a bit to go before it solidifies according to L.A. Times writer Rainey.

“I think we’re a lot further from it coming actually to its final form, then some of the Internet providers fear, “Rainey said. ”I really don’t think this will resolve in a bill in the next week or two as they’re fearing and that’s why we’re seeing these protests right now.”

There is a similar bill in the Senate called PIPA, but it hasn't reached the same level of notoriety. Additionaly, the Obama administration says it does not support censorship of the web.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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