If you’ve tried to write a research paper or look up a piece of trivia today, you may have been met with a black screen or some sort of censorship bar. Many websites have altered themselves today to bring attention to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261, and its counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), also known as Senate Bill 968. Supporters of these bills say they will protect the interests of Americans whose copyrights are being infringed over the Internet, but people opposing the bill say it impinges on the right to free speech, encourages censorship, and won’t have its intended effect of fighting copyright infringement.
Wikipedia and Reddit are among the sites that are completely blacked out. Google has a black censor bar placed over its usual logo. We even found a local site, StateCollege.com, that got in on the act, by sporting a black background today.
According to a Huffington Post article, some nonprofit organizations have also come out against the bill, saying that it would be, at best, ineffective, and at worst, a tool for censorship. There are also fears that the bill would make websites that accept donations online more susceptible to cyber attacks.
Some nonprofits are even going so far as to join the blackout movement, such as Global Voices, an international volunteer community of citizen journalists, which has a big black banner at the top of its site that explains why it’s speaking out against SOPA.
Click here for a more extensive overview of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and let us know what you think of today’s blackouts and of SOPA. Know of any other local sites that are getting in on the blackout act?