In case you're just now hearing about this whole SOPA/PIPA dust-up, Wesnesday January 18 is the day that Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, BoingBoing, and several other websites have made changes to their homepages in protest of the Draconian (and unconstitutional) measures represented in the two pieces of legislations, known as SOPA (Stop Internet Privacy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), currently being deliberated in the halls of Congress.
Wikipedia, BoingBoing, and Reddit have "gone black," while Google has posted one of its distinctive graphics -- a black box over the Google logo -- illustrating what SOPA/PIPA would mean and why it has to be stopped.
For the record, Vator is also against SOPA.
But if you really want to get on Wikipedia, you can. As was posted on C.K. Sample's Twitter Wednesday morning, and reported by TechCrunch, users need only hit the escape button as the Wikipedia blackout page is loading to access the regular site. It may take a few tries, but it works. If you still can't get it to work, Wikipedia also still works on the site's mobile platform.
Interestingly, while Twitter has come out against SOPA/PIPA, the company's CEO Dick Costolo stated via his Twitter account yesterday that Wikipedia's blackout was "silly." "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," said Costolo, in his Tweet.
It would be nice if the anti-SOPA/PIPA faction closed ranks, but then again freedom of expression is what this is all about.
As a brief sum-up, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) would grant sweeping powers to the US government in the enforcement of copyright law. The most notable of these powers would involve giving the government or privately held companies the right to file lawsuits against any site that infringes copyright, which would in turn create a scarily streamlined process whereby the domain names of sites could be blocked.
Most people in the tech community are up in arms about how this would drastically change the Internet as we know it. More detailed accounts of the implications of SOPA/PIPA can be found on the Reddit blog, on Engadget, and this Google infographic.
The White House has come out against both SOPA and PIPA, causing the bill's proponents to regroup and even to amend the DNS provision that has been the biggest bone of contention with opponents. But the bills still aren't dead. Just Tuesday, Rep. Lamarr Smith, who is the author of SOPA, said in a statement that "the markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February."
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property," said Smith, in his statement.
To show solidarity with the SOPA/PIPA protest, VatorNews will report only minimal news Wednesday.
[Image Credit: Google Infographic]