Internet Blackout

As many as 7,000 websites are participating today in protests of some form or another against the U.S. House Of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act and the U.S. Senate’s companion Protect IP Act. Some are going dark. Others are calling attention to the issue in less dramatic ways. Among the more prominent are Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, WordPress, TwitPic, Cheezburger, BoingBoing, several gaming companies including Minecraft, and Mozilla, source of the Firefox web browser. Wikipedia, BoingBoing and Minecraft have gone dark. Others, like Google, are displaying home page illustrations or visual statements about censorship and urging visitors to contact their elected representatives.

MPAA CEO Chris Dodd criticized the protesters for “resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), sponsor of SOPA, responded to Wikipedia going black: “It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.” Smith also said the House Judiciary Committee would go forward with a mark-up of the legislation in February.

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