Wikipedia will black out its English-version site today in protest of two anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the ProtectIP Act (PIPA), now under review in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate respectively. SOPA and PIPA are directed at websites involved in copyright infringement but they also include anti-circumvention provisions that will allow the government to target sites provide information that could assist users’ trying to circumvent these bills’ censorship mechanisms. Trevor Timm, writing for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that this provision “would not only amount to an unconstitutional prior restraint against protected speech, but would severely damage online innovation. And contrary to claims by SOPA’s supporters, this provision—at least what’s been proposed so far—applies to all websites, even those in the U.S.”
In addition to Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo and Facebook have expressed their opposition to SOPA and PIPA. In contrast, organizations and companies such as the Museum Picture Association of America (MPAA) to Pfizer Inc. and Harley-Davidson Motor Company defend the bills as a much needed attempt to control rogue websites trafficking in everything from stolen movies to prescription drugs.
To read more:
Wikipedia’s Press Release and their administrative statement — “SOPA initiative/Action”
H.R. 3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act
S. 968 – Protect IP Act
PCWorld, “SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts”
Trevor Timm (Electronic Frontier Foundation), “How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation”