What We Talk About When We Talk About SOPA


SOPA, the Stop Internet Piracy Act, is the latest congressional move to put an end to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.

The basic idea of SOPA — now considered in the House of Representatives — and its Senate analog, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, purportedly aims at protecting intellectual property.

Critics — including sci-fi star William Gibson, who wrote cyberpunk classic Neuromancer and came up with the term “cyberspace” — say that the proposed laws are so poorly written, however, that they threaten freedom of speech, according to the Wall Street Journal. They say that websites could get in trouble simply for featuring links to other websites containing copyrighted media.

Though lawmakers seem less enthused about SOPA and PIPA than before — MSNBC reports that supporters have eased up, that the Obama administration has voiced uncertainty about the bill, and that votes on both legislations have been delayed — internet giants have planned a “blackout” tomorrow to protest the proposed laws. Their basic plan: to go dark for a day and “display a message of protest on a black background.”

Among them?

Wikipedia has decided to shut down its site for 24 hours Wednesday, reports the Atlantic. Reddit will go offline from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., MSNBC notes. Hacker group Anonymous has tried to get more to join the demonstration via Twitter with the hashtag #BlackoutSOPA, according to the MSNBC.

Even Google will participate by featuring a link to SOPA info on its homepage.

Occupy Wall Street plans on shutting down its Twitter feed for this first time since OWS began. Alternet will also go on temporary hiatus, as will Reporters Without Borders’ English-language site.

Check back to Runnin’ Scared for breaking info on the blackout.