In protest of the two anti-piracy bills making their way through the U.S. Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), major websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit voluntarily blacked themselves out today. The sites hope that the blackouts will raise awareness about the potentially devastating effects the proposed legislation could have on the Internet, and drive users to urge their Congressional representatives to vote against the bills. Here's what an Internet blackout looks like.
Google writes on its web site: "Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA. The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late."
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The EFF, or Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes on its web site: "The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!"
Reddit writes on its web site: "Today, for 12 hours, reddit.com goes dark to raise awareness of two bills in congress: H.R.3261 "Stop Online Piracy Act" and S.968 "PROTECT IP", which could radically change the landscape of the Internet. These bills provide overly broad mechanisms for enforcement of copyright which would restrict innovation and threaten the existence of websites with user-submitted content, such as reddit. Please take today as a day of focus and action to learn about these destructive bills and do what you can to prevent them from becoming reality."
Wikipedia writes on its web site: "For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."
Flickr writes on its official blog: "Two bills are currently being considered in the U.S. Congress: PIPA the “Protect IP Act” and SOPA the “Stop Online Piracy Act” Both are designed to address a legitimate problem – foreign-based websites that are engaging in digital piracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods. Unfortunately, we and many others believe that these bills miss the mark. These bills have the potential to stifle innovation, require censorship of search results, impose monitoring obligations, and change the way information is distributed on the web. Government regulation of online activities is a slippery slope and these proposed bills fall down that slope without truly addressing the issues that ignited this debate."
Mozilla writes on its web site: "Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts. The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities. Your favorite websites, both inside and outside the US, could be blocked based on a single infringement claim, without any due process of law. The US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria. Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity — or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet."
Mozilla writes on its web site: "The Greenpeace International website has gone dark today in protest of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA). The U.S. Congress is about to censor the Internet. If SOPA/PIPA become law, sites like Greenpeace.org could go dark simply because one of our corporate targets files a claim that its intellectual property rights have been violated. No proof required, no court hearing. Don't let corporate interests censor the internet."
Wordpress writes on its web site: "Many websites are blacked out today to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). From personal blogs to Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. Please watch the video below to learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom, then scroll down to take action."
The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive writes on its web site: "The Internet Archive believes that it is critical to protest and raise awareness of pending legislation in the United States: House Bill 3261, The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and S.968, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). We are going dark from 6am to 6pm PST on Wednesday, January 18 (14:00 - 02:00 UTC) to drive a message to Washington. We need your help to do this. Legislation such as this directly affects libraries (pdf) such as the Internet Archive, which collects, preserves, and offers access to cultural materials. Furthermore, these laws can negatively affect the ecosystem of web publishing that led to the emergence of the Internet Archive."
Boing Boing writes on its web site: "Boing Boing is offline today, because the US Senate is considering legislation that would certainly kill us forever. The legislation is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and would put us in legal jeopardy if we linked to a site anywhere online that had any links to copyright infringement. This would unmake the Web, just as proposed in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). We don't want that world. If you don't want it either, visit AmericanCensorship.org for instructions on contacting your Senator. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has more information on this and other issues central to your freedom online."
Imgur writes on its web site: "We have blacked out Imgur today from 8am to 8pm, EST, to raise awareness about the danger that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) pose to a free and vibrant Internet. It is important that our users understand the far-reaching and potentially disastrous repercussions that this legislation could have."
Destructoid writes on its web site: "Like many of our friends, The ModernMethod Network (Destructoid, Flixist, Tomopop, and Japanator) have blacked out sites in protest of legislation that would allow DNS and Search Engine Blocking. If you think today is an inconvenience and a punishment to "the wrong people", wait until you and the rest of our readers can't reach our sites at all because you won't have the power to decide what websites you can and cannot reach, as that will be decided by the media companies that pay the lobbyists to decide for you. We're fighting for us just as much as we are fighting for you, so we only ask that you support our decision and help us spread the word."
Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Rock, Paper, Shotgun writes on its web site: "We're sorry if this frustrates or angers you. Really. But it's nothing compared to what could happen were the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act to succeed in the US. Under those new rules, a single errant comment left by a reader could see RPS invisible in the United States, removed from search engines, ad revenue frozen, and thus destroyed. Despite Monday's news that SOPA was shelved, it's now back on the table, and PIPA is just as dangerous."
The Oatmeal writes on its web site: "For the next 24 hours I am blacking out TheOatmeal.com in protest of SOPA and PIPA. If one of these bills were to pass, this page is what many sites on the internet would look like. As someone who creates content for the web, earns a living from it, and has had his content pirated, I do feel that we need better legislation against online piracy. I do not, however, think that SOPA or PIPA are the legislation we need."
Mojang writes on Minecraft's site: "SOPA & PIPA? How about NOPA? We are joining the internet-wide protest against SOPA/PIPA today on JAN 18th by shutting down our websites."