For 24-hours on Wednesday, Wikipedia was in the dark. Wikipedia is a popular online encyclopedia, made up of users’ contributions.
The site was “Blacked Out” in protest of two pieces of legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
For Aaron Lindsay — who is an RCC student — Wikipedia’s blackout meant he was without his research tool.
“Is it gonna go Is it gonna go There it goes,” said Lindsay while he tried to pull up Wikipedia’s main page, “And it shuts you down,” he continued.
The two bills many websites are protesting, are aimed at curbing pirated content online. Wikipedia was only one of many sites that protested.
“The thing these websites are afraid of is the added authority. It’ll give government the ability to edit the internet […] this runs counter to the idea of the internet being free open exchange of information,” said Michael Betzina who works as Tech Support at Ashland Home Net.
If SOPA and PIPA pass, they would allow rights holders to essentially shut down sites believed to be distributing pirated content…even if they aren’t aware the information is pirated.
This would put increased pressure on sites like Google, Facebook and many other websites to police content users post on their sites.
“If for instance I like a certain artist’s music and I put a photo of them on my website […] that artist could take my site down,” said Betzina.
The bills are backed by media companies trying to protect copyrighted movies, music and other material.
“I think the bills need to be incredibly carefully written,” started Betzina. He continued, “this could be at the very best a good start and at the worst be something that could have unforeseen ramifications for the whole industry and the whole internet as we know it.”
If the bills pass, opponents will be left asking…where will the censorship stop
Currently SOPA, in the House of Representatives, is still being worked on. But PIPA, is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on January 24th.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has said when the bill gets to him in the Senate, he’ll filibuster it.
For a list of websites participating in the Web-wide protest, visit www.sopastrike.com.
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