SOPA 'Blackout Sites' Include Google, Wikipedia, WordPress
SOPA 'Blackout Sites' Include Google, Wikipedia, WordPress

Protest Against Anti-Piracy Bills Goes Viral

You know the protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has gone mainstream when the headline of the Drudge Report on Wednesday morning reads, "Hands Off the Internet!"

Numerous Internet companies engaged in a "blackout" protest Wednesday against two anti-piracy bills, SOPA and its counterpart in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills are supported by the RIAA, MPAA and countless other creative and business organizations.

A handful of leading Internet sites are showing that fear is a great motivator. The logo on Google's home page is covered by a black rectangle. Following the link takes the reader to an "End Piracy, Not Liberty" page with information on the bills and an online petition.

At Wikipedia, a black welcome screen asks the visitor to "Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge" and warns that Congress is "considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet." The page offers a zip code-lookup that returns the contact information of a visitor's local representatives.

Craigslist's home page contains the questionable warning that "News Corp, RIAA, MPAA, Nike, Sony, Comcast, VISA & others" want a world without Craigslist, Wikipedia and Google. A page with information about SOPA contains the dubious charge that neither SOPA nor PIPA contain provisions for judicial oversight or due process.

Other companies taking part in Wednesday's protest are WordPress, Reddit and Mozilla. Some of the bills' opponents - such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and LinkedIn - decided not to disturb their users' experiences for the sake of the protest.

The one-day protest is likely to rally even more opposition to the anti-piracy bills that had previously enjoyed widespread support in both houses of Congress. That support has started to erode, and House and Senate leaders have indicated they will pull from the bills provisions that would give content creators the ability to obtain a court order to require ISPs and search engines to block access to foreign-operated websites found to engage in piracy.