Heard of SOPA and PIPA? If Not, You Will Tomorrow as some of the Internet’s largest Sites Close in ProtestDale Wright
You may find that a fair few of your favourite internet sites are offline from 5am UK time tomorrow. Some of the biggest and most popular sites on the internet, including Boing Boing, Reddit and Wikipedia, will be deliberately taking their web content offline to protest against the SOPA act.
SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is an act being debated by Congress in the US tomorrow. Its aim is to prevent online piracy along with a secondary act, PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property Act).
However, many people say that SOPA is poorly written and gives the US government too much control over the internet, both inside the US and internationally. SOPA would allow the US government to close down any internet site which they felt was infringing copyright. They could also potentially stop payments to certain websites or force advertisers to stop advertising on the offending site. This could expose sites like Wikipedia which contain a huge amount of user-contributed content, but it could also affect tiny internet sites which unwittingly use a picture from another source. At the moment, all the site has to do is remove the content and they cannot be sued, but this could change if SOPA was passed.
Supporters of SOPA include Rupert Murdoch who has long been a fan of a more controlled and commercial internet. He has regularly criticised Google for ‘giving away’ news content from other sites. Earlier this month, Godaddy attracted controversy by stating that they would support the act, but they retracted their statement later the same day when several high-profile clients threatened to move their sites and domain names elsewhere.
SOPA has been opposed by everyone from Twitter to the White House. Spokespeople from Wikipedia said that they would be publicly protesting against the act which they say could prevent the web from being “free and open” in the future.