As many university students noticed today, Wikipedia went dark to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act, both pieces of legislation being debated in the United States' Senate.
But the online encyclopedia is far from the only place up in arms over the potential damage to the Internet the could result from these bills. Many sites have put up some form of protest today (a day that was originally scheduled for hearings on the House bill, which have since been canceled). The diversity of responses -- some snarky, some angry, some elegant -- is itself a testament to what these bills threaten: the creativity that makes the Internet great.
The above quote is from The Atlantic's Rebecca J. Rosen, complete with a gallery of screenshots of the sites that participated in the protest.
Meanwhile, The New York Times' Jenna Wortham calls this a political coming of age for the tech industry:
"This is the first real test of the political strength of the Web, and regardless of how things go, they are no longer a pushover," said Professor Wu, who is the author of "The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires." He added, "The Web taking a stand against one of the most powerful lobbyers and seeming to get somewhere is definitely a first."
Under the proposed legislation, if a copyright holder like Warner Brothers discovers that a foreign site is focused on offering illegal copies of songs or movies, it could seek a court order that would require search engines like Google to remove links to the site and require advertising companies to cut off payments to it.
Internet companies fear that because the definitions of terms like "search engine" are so broad in the legislation, Web sites big and small could be responsible for monitoring all material on their pages for potential violations -- an expensive and complex challenge.
And if you think SOPA has no impact on Canada, you my want to think that bit again.
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