Google, Wikipedia black out over SOPA

Even though the widespread and unconfirmed Internet shutdown scheduled for today has not yet happened, major websites are using their own typical strategies to spread the word about SOPA. SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (H.R. 3261) currently in process in the US House of Representatives, was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) on December 16, 2011. It has received loud protests from many in the social media industry including noteworthy sites such as Wikipedia and Google.

Under the bill, copyright holders and law enforcement agencies would have greater ability to fight cases of online copyright infringement.

Proponents of the bill say that it would better protect intellectual property and the rights of content creators, including artists, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, and writers. Opponents of the bill suggest that it could violate first amendment protections of freedom of speech.

One of the more controversial components of the bill surrounds the ability of courts to order injunctions that could effectively shut down offending websites. Websites that allow users to post user-generated content (like YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia) could be concerned that a single user could post copyrighted information to YouTube, for example, and a court could order that the YouTube website be temporarily shut down. As a result of this concern, several websites discussed having a choreographed Internet blackout today. But, after the House Judiciary Committee indicated work would continue on SOPA, not today, but rather in February, talk of the blackout fizzled.

Nevertheless, Google took the opportunity to give a voice to SOPA opposition. Using its now traditional method of changing the logo, here’s what appeared on Google’s website today:

Screen shot of http://www.google.com, January 18, 2011

And Wikipedia’s blackout looks like this:

Screen shot of Wikipedia black out, January 18, 2012

Find out more about the various viewpoints:

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