SOPA Blackout List: On Jan. 18, Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and Other Websites Will Protest Controversial Bill

on January 17 2012 2:31 PM
SOPA is Dead
Many critics worry that the ACTA treaty would limit internet freedom and create an international censorship system. Reuters

The SOPA blackout list has grown to include some of the world's biggest web companies, including even Google, which will not go dark (what would we do?) but announced today that it will include a link on its homepage tomorrow explaining its opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act.

A Google spokeswoman told CNET today that it will indeed be posting such a link in solidarity with Wikipedia, Reddit and thousands of Twitter users, all of which plan to go dark tomorrow in protest of the internet freedom-limiting provisions of SOPA and it sister the Protect IP Act or PIPA.

Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet, the Google spokeswoman told CNET. So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.

Wikipedia plans to go dark in order to protest the bills, meaning that the English version of the site will be down all day tomorrow.

Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18, read a posting uploaded onto the online encyclopedia's website Jan. 16.

Twitter, whose CEO has said it will not go dark tomorrow because that would be a foolish move, is also abuzz with users who are undertaking their own form of protest against the bills. Many Twitter users are saying that they will not use the social media site tomorrow in order to voice their opposition to the controversial bills, and imploring others to follow their example.

If twitter does not go dark tomorrow, explained Twitter user SavageJen in a Tuesday Tweet. here's how to deactivate your account temporarily: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15358-how-to-deactivate-your-account #SOPA

A number of other websites, including BoingBoing.net, will also go dark Wednesday, the website announced on Jan. 14.

If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry's profits, I hope you'll join us, said Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing.

Reddit has been a leader in the charge to go dark, and it will also be down Wednesday.

The protests have set up a showdown between the web giants and Hollywood, big music and other industries who are seeking to combat internet piracy and to protect intellectual property rights as they continue to lose money to illegal downloading and streaming.

But opponents of SOPA and PIPA argue that the laws fight piracy in a way that does not preserve the freedom and openness of the internet, and that they provide the government with unfair tools to censor online speech.

PublicKnowledge.org Communications Director Art Brodsky told the IBTimes Tuesday that the fight over SOPA and PIPA has been framed incorrectly.

The problem is that the way the story has been written up until now has been Silicon Valley versus Hollywood, Google versus Rupert, Brodsky told IBTimes. There are people all over the country fighting for this, tens of thousands of people.

Brodsky noted that beyond just the giants getting the most press for planning to go dark, between 7,000 and 10,000 sites have committed to a blackout on Wednesday in a sign of solidarity against the legislation. 

It's little companies, it's start-ups. That's what your whole New York protest is about tomorrow [Wednesday]. This is really a grassroots movement,  he said.

On Wednesday in New York City, protesters organized by NY Tech Meetup will assemble outside the offices of New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to protest SOPA/PIPA.

Brodsky said he takes issue with the fact that the music and movie industrys cite job and revenue losses in their defense of anti-piracy acts without presenting any concrete evidence to back up such claims.

I was reading a study last week that said the people who download the most stuff, buy the most stuff. They're fans. People who download are more likely to go out and buy CDs and movies, he told IBTimes.  

The Obama administration dealt a crushing blow to the push to pass SOPA or PIPA on Saturday, when it released a critique of the bills stating that they must be changed drastically in order to respect web freedom. But the critique did go on to say that some sort of anti-piracy legislation is needed.

A wide range of companies and groups (many of which are entertainment-related) have come out in support of the bill, from CBS to the Council of State Governments. Here is a list of them.

More News from IBT MEDIA