Media  
comments_image Comments

Major Media Blackout to Protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Here's what you need to know about two controversial internet anti-piracy bills moving through Congress and the massive backlash against them.
 
 
Share
 
 
 
 

Editor's Note: From 8am to 8pm today, AlterNet will be participating in the media blackout. Our front page visitors will be met not with our usual blend of content, but with links to information about SOPA and ways you can take action against it.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and sixth most visited site in the world, will join websites like the content aggregator Reddit to "go dark" today in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act ( SOPA) and its companion bill, the Protect IP Act ( PIPA), which are currently being debated in Congress. "What these bills propose are new powers for the government and also for private actors to create, effectively, blacklists of sites that allegedly are engaging in some form of online infringement and then force service providers to block access to those sites," says Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "What we would have is a situation where the government and private actors could censor the net." Chief technology officials in the Obama administration have expressed concern about any "legislation that...undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet." But the bills’ main backers—Hollywood movie studios and music publishers—want to stop the theft of their creative content, and the bills have widespread bipartisan support. A vote on  SOPA is on hold in the House now, as the Senate is still scheduled vote on  PIPA next Tuesday.

AMY GOODMAN: If you want to know more about two controversial internet anti-piracy bills moving through Congress, you won’t be able to consult Wikipedia on Wednesday. The online encyclopedia and sixth most visited site in the world will join websites like the content aggregator Reddit to "go dark" for 12 to 24 hours in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy, or  SOPA, Act and its companion bill, the Protect IP Act. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales announced the decision to bring down his website last night on Twitter, writing, quote, "Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!"

The White House responded over the weekend to two petitions opposing the bills. The administration’s chief technology officials wrote on White House  blog Saturday, quote, "We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

While the White House did not take a definite position on  SOPA and the Protect IP Act, it has called for legislation to combat online piracy that has hurt the legislation’s main backers: Hollywood movie studios and music publishers who want to stop the theft of their creative content. Now a vote on  SOPA is on hold in the House. The Senate is still scheduled to vote on the piracy issue next Tuesday, a week from today.

Well, to talk more about the Stop Online Piracy Act, or  SOPA, and the Protect IP Act, we go to San Francisco to talk Corynne McSherry, who is the intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

We welcome you to  Democracy Now! Please explain both of these bills. It’s very tough, I think, for most people to understand the technical aspects of this legislation.

CORYNNE McSHERRY: Sure. In a nutshell, what these bills propose are new powers for the government and also for private actors to create, effectively, blacklists of sites that allegedly are engaging in some form of online infringement and then force service providers to block access to those sites. And that’s why we call these the censorship bills, because effectively what we would have is a situation where the government and private actors could censor the net. So, U.S. citizens would basically get a different version of the internet, different from what you might get in, say, Italy or even China.

 
See more stories tagged with: