Web sites protest SOPA by blacking out their pages

Emily Brown, Opinion Editor

This Wednesday, Wikipedia blacked out its Web pages in a global protest against the anti-piracy legalisation going through Congress. Google also blacked out the word “Google” on its home page.
The particular bills, Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] and Protect Intellectual Property Act, would attempt to shut down Web sites selling pirated or counterfeit goods. And according to the Washington Post, would impose restrictions forcing U.S. companies to stop selling online ads to suspected pirates and would refuse to list Web sites suspected of piracy in search-engine results.
The goal is to cut off sites that deliver American customers to potential pirates.
Sites like Google and Wikipedia are protesting these bills because they fear the added costs of the bill, and the new rules would stifle the success of current and up-and-coming sites.
According to the New York Times, the 24-hour shut down of Wikipedia, which garners almost 2.7 billion U.S. visitors per month, is a message to lawmakers that people who use the Internet daily are not happy with the potential effects of the bill.
“It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web,” said a statement signed by three of the free encyclopedia’s administrators. The actual decision to black out the website was decided in an online discussion with 1,800 users of Wikipedia.
Stay tuned to see if SOPA and the Protect Intellectual Property Act pass.