Wikipedia, Reddit and others shut down to protest SOPA and PIPA

Popular websites blackout their homepages to protest Congress’ proposed Internet piracy legislation

Today, websites across the Internet are tapping into their Twisted Sister personas, telling Congress that, when it comes to proposed online piracy legislation, they’re not gonna take it.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the social news website Reddit have blackedout their homepages to protest the House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which aim to crack down on foreign websites that sell counterfeit goods by requiring U.S. ISPs to block access to infringing sites, and online advertising networks to stop ads and search engines from linking to them. While Hollywood and major media companies support SOPA and PIPA, opponents say the legislation is too severe and could harm free speech while making legitimate Internet businesses vulnerable to litigation.

“This bill is poorly constructed, quite dangerous and won’t actually address the real problem of piracy,” Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales told the Wall Street Journal. Wales said the shutdowns across the Internet are designed to make Congress hear a different point of view on its proposed legislation. “To date, they’ve only really heard from professional lobbyists and Hollywood, and haven’t heard from people about how they use the Internet and why it should remain the way it is.”

The protest comes just days after the White House announced that it wouldn’t support SOPA.

Other websites also are supporting the online protest. Craigslist blackedout its homepage and replaced it with information about the proposed legislation. Google didn’t blackout its homepage, but it did blackout its logo and added a link with more information about the legislation and a form that allows visitors to fill out a petition. Still, other major sites—including Facebook and Twitter—declined to participate in the movement.

Read the Wall Street Journal for more information about the websites’ virtual protest.

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