With contributions from Virginia Cairns, Chapel Cowden, Jason Griffey, and Colleen Harris
Starting at midnight on Wednesday, January 18 you may notice that many websites (notably Wikipedia) have gone dark or otherwise altered their appearance in protest of proposed U.S. legislations known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Pro IP Act (PIPA).
In a very broad sense, these bills concern liability for illegal online content and control over websites. Supporters such as the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) contend that the bills will protect consumers from so-called rogue websites that peddle counterfeit goods and also protect jobs in industries that produce intellectual property. Detractors of the bills include some of the internet’s largest players: Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo!, and more. Opponents argue that the bills extend too much power to the federal government and powerful content-producers to shut down entire websites for just one instance of copyright infringement or even an unproven claim of infringement which, in turn, will stifle tech companies that make up the infrastructure of the internet.
If you’re interested in learning more about the debate, we are including links to selected websites of SOPA/PIPA opponents and supporters below. For those of you that simply want to continue using Wikipedia during its blackout, check out this guide to accessing a cached version of the site.
Fight for the Future at AmericanCensorship.org. View the video “PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks the Internet”
Electronic Frontier Foundation: with information directed to students here
Library Copyright Alliance: including a letter to the House of Representatives