January 18th Blackout – SOPA, PIPA, What’s It All Mean?

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If you haven’t heard yet, some major, major sites are taking action to protest two major acts that are being run through congress. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House and PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the Senate are both set up to change the internet in a huge way if they pass. Essentially – the freedom we enjoy to express ourselves and communicate freely online may be in jeopardy.

SOPA has also been titled “The Great Firewall of America” and would allow the DoJ or related copyright holders to have sites blocked by search engines, advertisers, and even internet service providers to effectively shut down any sites that are deemed a threat to national copyright in any way.

The biggest issue with this posed by most opponents is that it will essentially cripple the Net as we know it. And some of these opponents are rather… well known.

As a response, several of these opponents will be taking action tomorrow, January 18th, 2012, in an online “blackout” to help educate many of what a real threat this could pose. Some of these organizations are as follows (all links below go to relevant pages regarding each site):

  • Reddit.com – Will be completely shut down from 8 AM to 8 PM EST, instead displaying links to educational resources.
  • Wikipedia.com – Will be blacked out for 24 hours starting at 5:00 UTC.
  • Google.com – Will not black out, but will post a link on the front page to help educate users.
  • Imgur.com – Will black out their gallery from 8 AM to 8 PM EST with a message about the acts.
There are other sites that will show some sort of support of this blackout, but these four are some of the top used sites that will have a fairly profound impact. Go ahead and visit any of these links (while they’re still up, heh) to learn more about this and how each of the companies feel on their actions. For more details on what exactly this act is, you can visit this excellent article on CNET about how SOPA would affect you.
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