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SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Legislation Triggers Global Protest — Wikipedia and Other Major Websites Plan Shutdown

Updated on January 18, 2012

Characterizing it as outrageous and sinister, an array of the Internet's top websites plan a massive protest on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 against the so-called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), created by the U.S. House of Representatives, and its Senate version, PIPA (Protect IP Act). The protest, originating with Wikipedia (which will basically shut down its English-language webpages), Boing Boing, and Reditt, has now spread to include other huge Web players such as Google, Scribd (widely used document hosting site), Wordpress, TwitPic, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (protest will take various forms, depending on the site.)

An actual human street protest is also planned in San Francisco.

"Imagine a world in which any intellectual property holder can, without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom, shut down any website's online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments" writes Nate Anderson on the Ars Technica website.

"The credit card processors and the advertising networks would be required to take quick action against the named website; only the filing of a 'counter notification' by the website could get service restored" he warns.

Advanced by the entertainment industry to further control access to copyrighted material, SOPA basically puts the onus on your Internet Service Provider (ISP), as well as the host website (your own site, or one you blog on or post to), to determine if posted content or material (such as music or videos) is obtained through "piracy". The ISP, website, etc. — which means platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, Blogspot, Yahoo Groups and other forums and groups, Google, and so on — all become liable for the content of others. The result, say SOPA opponents, will be to force ISPs and websites to err on the side of "caution" — to censor and restrict content. After all, they simply don't have the resources to police all that content and material flowing through their systems, so they will have to impose sweeping, draconian prohibitions against broad categories of content — or face severe penalties.

"As bad as this is, it gets worse..." warns Cory Doctorow in a legal analysis posted at Publishers Weekly.

SOPA would also expand the definition of copyright infringement to include hosting a single link to a site that is alleged to contain infringing material. Thus, if an author’s blog, or a book discussion group, attracts a single post that contains a single link that goes to a site that someone accuses of copyright infringement, that site becomes one with the alleged infringer, and faces all the same sanctions — without any proof required, or due process.

The SOPA bill, originally introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, has gained significant bipartisan support, from both liberal Democrats and the Tea Party-allied GOP. It appears to be the most repressive measure affecting the Internet ever proposed, basically capable of devastating the Internet and eliminating it as the relatively free medium of expression that exists today. In the context of serious economic crisis, widespread unemployment, and other looming indications of social distress, Washington's focus on what is essentially major legislative assistance for the entertainment industry seems peculiar indeed.

A thorough, comprehensive analysis of the SOPA bill, The Problem with SOPA (And How to Stop It) can be found on the Copyblogger website.

IBNLive also has excellent coverage of this topic, titled Wikipedia blackout on January 18. Here's what you can do. This analysis includes both an infographic and an informative video on "how PROTECT IP/SOPA Act breaks the Internet".

See also:

The Stop SOPA Campaign

SOPA Supporters Blackout is Set for Jan 18th

Lyndon Henry is a writer, editor, and consultant. His blog is:



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    • profile image

      huges net internet 5 years ago

      I absolutely respect and appreciate your point on each and every object.

    • LHwritings profile image

      Lyndon Henry 5 years ago from Central Texas

      The protest was successful in stopping the immediate momentum. It merits a glass of champagne, but I wouldn't hold the big victory celebration yet. The supporters are regrouping and seem to be planning a kind of Son of SOPA that may have softer edges but is intended to accomplish the same thing. I'm writing a followup article on this.

    • LHwritings profile image

      Lyndon Henry 5 years ago from Central Texas

      wheelinallover, it's hard to predict precisely how drastic the impact of SOPA would be, but it's a good bet that it would provoke widespread prohibition of anything faintly having a possibility of replicating copyrighted material, even if it fell within Fair Use or had the copyright owner's permission.

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 5 years ago

      Guess SOPA failed

    • usenetreviewz profile image

      usenetreviewz 5 years ago from Washington DC

      Looks like the momentum behind SOPA has slowed down a bit.

      Thanks for your informative article

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 5 years ago from Central United States

      How is this going to affect sites that are almost duplicated with permission of the owner of the information?

      My site would be different if it was totally my choice but it is not. I can see places like facebook banning it because it is partially duplicated content. We will have to see how it plays out.

    • OLYHOOCH profile image

      OLYHOOCH 5 years ago from Thompson Falls, Montana

      Well, here is what I found.

      Also found this,

      Does anyone know what bill H.R.3261 is about?


    • rob_allen profile image

      rob_allen 5 years ago from MNL, PH

      now i'm informed. Thank you for sharing this.

    • LHwritings profile image

      Lyndon Henry 5 years ago from Central Texas

      I suspect that big players like Facebook wouldn't be shut down by SOPA, they'd just become ridiculously bland, perhaps prohibiting music and videos, and screening content to ban any hint of duplicative content. Especially with ISPs screening content, the Internet would degenerate into a big bowl of vanilla pudding. I think SOPA, if it goes through, would probably just be the "camel's nose under the tent" — leading to more widespread censorship, especially of "offensive" political, literary, sexual, etc. content.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      ps... wiki has already gone dark but the form still works.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      if you log into wiki... they will provide you with the contract forms for all of your representatives (american) It made it very easy to contact everyone I needed to.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      Here is a link where you can sign a petition:

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      That sounds like it means Facebook will be shutdown, because users share videos etc that are probably covered by copyright. Hubpages could too if just one user shares a video or a link to a site that violates copyright. And the list goes on and on.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      I forgot to say--voted up and I'll share this with others.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 5 years ago from Illinois

      That just makes me so mad--I don't even see how that is logical. This can change the Internet world as we know it--and NOT for the better! I wonder if a bill will come out to shut down educational institutions if I talk about the ideas and philosophies I've learned from my professors without putting my words in quotation marks and providing a verbal "Works Cited" after every pause? LOL. Why can't individuals be culpable for their own actions? Out of all the things I read on HP nothing has managed to really stir up anger in me but when I read this--anger. Not anger at you, of course, anger at the ways in which freedoms are being hijacked one after the other. People say you get angry about that which you are most passionate--I guess I'm passionate about freedom! Thanks for writing.

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 5 years ago from Seattle

      I was just talking to a friend about SOPA, PIPA and the FMSA. Crazy that our "leaders" are even trying bs like that.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you for explaining this so thouroughly! I was looking for good information.