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Websites go dark in protest at SOPA, PIPA

Websites go dark in protest at SOPA, PIPA

The anti-piracy SOPA and PIPA bills are, it is claimed, putting the freedom of the internet at risk.

If you're wondering why large chunks of the internet appear to be broken, do not adjust your set: today marks a day of website shut-downs in protest over a pair of proposed anti-piracy bills in the US, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA.)

The two acts have a single goal in mind: to provide US-based intellectual property owners such as film studios and music producers to take down sites anywhere in the world with a single unsubstantiated claim of piracy.

The two acts are simply tools, their proponents claim, to help stem the damaging tide of wide-scale internet-based piracy; without which it will be impossible for the US to protect its valuable intellectual property rights both at home and abroad.

That's an argument which isn't going down well with those on the outside: hundreds of websites, including high-profile sites like Wikipedia, WordPress, Boing Boing and Reddit, have chosen today to begin a twenty-four hour blackout period to protest what they claim is a serious threat to free speech on the internet. Even Google is getting in on the act, blacking out its logo on Google.com in protest at the censorship aspects of SOPA and PIPA. Others are taking to the streets to protest the bills.

The complaint comes from the redress provided under SOPA and PIPA to rightsholders: in the event of alleged piracy, rightsholders would be allowed to effectively remove a website from the internet by demanding that the site be de-listed from search engines, that advertising and payment partners withdraw their services and even that ISPs add the site to a blacklist of verboten destinations altogether.

It seems ridiculous that lawmakers could be looking to hand such control to a cartel of privately held businesses, but as a write-up of the legislation on Gizmodo shows, it's worryingly real.

Those arguing for SOPA and PIPA are adamant that today's blackout is little more than bullying. 'It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services,' Chris Dodd, chair of the Motion Picture Association of America and former senator, claimed in a statement to press earlier this week. 'It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.'

The MPAA - and other pro-IP groups, including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) - are running out of support, however. Even Microsoft, which has never been averse to a copyright lawsuit or twelve, has announced that it opposes the SOPA bill 'as currently drafted,' while a statement from the White House has put paid to the upcoming SOPA reading and put pressure on those lobbying for PIPA ahead of its own reading later this month.

Lobby groups are unlikely to give up the fight, however, and as they renew their efforts to get SOPA, PIPA and similar acts passed it's likely we'll be seeing more protests like those taking place today.

Are you in full support of those sites that chose to go 'dark' to protest SOPA/PIPA, or do you think there are better ways to make your displeasure heard? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

31 Comments

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ajfsound 18th January 2012, 11:17 Quote
"It seems ridiculous that lawmakers could be looking to hand such control..."

If it seems so ridiculous to you Bit-Tech why haven't you taken action?
Flibblebot 18th January 2012, 11:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MPAA Chairman
It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.
This is a rather massive case of the pot calling the kettle black - what are SOPA & PIPA if not lobby-based legislation from the RIAA & MPAA to further their own members' corporate interests?

Besides, what, exactly, are the EFF's or Wikipedia's corporate interests? From Google's standpoint, they could run a very real risk of being blacklisted because their automated systems crawl a site containing link to copyrighted information? I'd say that's worth fighting for.

Is it ironic that the US, a country which spent decades fighting this kind of censorship and information control in the Communist countries, is now considering exactly the thing they were rallying against for so long?
The_Beast 18th January 2012, 11:28 Quote
Great, a law that screws over the people so that big business can reign supreme
von_stylon 18th January 2012, 11:42 Quote
hold on why is this site still running today then?
ajfsound 18th January 2012, 11:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by von_stylon
hold on why is this site still running today then?

My thoughts exactly...
l3v1ck 18th January 2012, 12:09 Quote
SOPA is a stupid idea. It basically lets people with vested interests be judge, jury and exicutioner. A truely terrible idea.
l3v1ck 18th January 2012, 12:16 Quote
If you disable JavaScript, Wikipedia works as normal.
Nexxo 18th January 2012, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajfsound
"It seems ridiculous that lawmakers could be looking to hand such control..."

If it seems so ridiculous to you Bit-Tech why haven't you taken action?
Quote:
Originally Posted by von_stylon
hold on why is this site still running today then?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajfsound
My thoughts exactly...

Because this site is for geeks like us. If it went down, Ordinary Joe Public wouldn't be any the wiser, and couldn't care less.

The only way the voting public will sit up and take notice is to deprive them of something that they value: to make them realise it is under threat and give them a taste of what it would be like to have to do without. So you black out the sites visited by the larger public: Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, stuff like that.
ajfsound 18th January 2012, 13:43 Quote
@ Nexxo

I bet there are a tonne of readers who don't know about SOPA & Protect IP and a load more who don't understand the wider consequences. Shutting the site would educate these people and the more people that understand what's going on, the better.

Also there are voting public that read and value this site, and a whole lot more that can prod friends the other side of the Atlantic.

Finally I think it would have benefited Bit-Tech's publicly perceived persona, showing they value journalistic responsibility and would have boosted site traffic longer-term.

And who you calling a geek!? :p
GeorgeStorm 18th January 2012, 13:48 Quote
I've personally been slightly disappointed by they way almost all of the sites I know of who have taken part in the 'blackout' seem to being doing it via javascript, and so all you have to do is disable it to access the site without issue :/
And while some people may say only tech savy people will know that etc, and that's not who the blackout is for, it's all over facebook etc, so the less tech savy people already know a way to get round it.

Tis a good idea though, and hopefully it actually has an affect.
steveo_mcg 18th January 2012, 13:52 Quote
Or you could use Google's cache for wiki... Buts thats not the point its a symbolic gesture.
Stewb 18th January 2012, 13:56 Quote
People that don't know about SOPA in the first place probably don't know how to disable javascript ;)

EDIT: Clearly a massive, sweeping and false generalisation but you get the idea...
Silver51 18th January 2012, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Because this site is for geeks like us..

"Won't you gentlemen have a Pepsi?"
Waynio 18th January 2012, 17:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajfsound
"It seems ridiculous that lawmakers could be looking to hand such control..."

If it seems so ridiculous to you Bit-Tech why haven't you taken action?

:) Yeah I thought the same :D.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Because this site is for geeks like us. If it went down, Ordinary Joe Public wouldn't be any the wiser, and couldn't care less.

The only way the voting public will sit up and take notice is to deprive them of something that they value: to make them realise it is under threat and give them a taste of what it would be like to have to do without. So you black out the sites visited by the larger public: Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, stuff like that.

Ah yep makes sense :D.
Res 18th January 2012, 20:14 Quote
I have the up most respect for the PC gaming site http://www.rockpapershotgun.com for doing so today, seemingly the only site I frequent other then Wikipedia that took part, which is a shame.
Tynecider 18th January 2012, 20:14 Quote
This has got everything toi do with censorship and very little (financially profitable) to do with anti piracy.

If it is indeed all about piracy and lost revenue.....Here's my answer:

If corporations with vested interests are pushing for this bill, Let it be passed and protest with your wallet.

DO NOT GO TO MOVIES OR CONCERTS - DO NOT RENT OR BUY MOVIES AND MUSIC - DO NOT SHOP OR VISIT ANYWHERE THAT PROMOTES THE INTERESTS - CHANGE THE TV CHANNEL WHEN AN ADVERT FOR THE INTERESTS COMES ON.


You get my drift, Remember folks it our money that put these greedy self serving ***** where they are., and its lack of our money that will remove them.

It stinks no matter what and we should all be concerned. That's you too bit-tech!!!!!
Farfalho 18th January 2012, 20:17 Quote
I'm against PIPA and SOPA and don't mind not using google or other website, when the internet wasn't so developed as it is now, people would do research and business the way it has been done for years, libraries, telephones, mail (not electronic).

Although BT staff may have PIPA and SOPA protesters, don't forget this is a company and it's up to Dennis Publishing executives to decide wether a BT blackout is in order or not.
zatanna 18th January 2012, 20:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Because this site is for geeks like us. If it went down, Ordinary Joe Public wouldn't be any the wiser, and couldn't care less.

The only way the voting public will sit up and take notice is to deprive them of something that they value: to make them realise it is under threat and give them a taste of what it would be like to have to do without. So you black out the sites visited by the larger public: Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, stuff like that.

agreed, and unfortunately, with the exception of wikipedia, major site deprivation is not happening. google, to its credit, has its homepage doodle blacked out in protest, along with appropriate links, but you can still search. facebook, youtube, twitter, no interruption. too much revenue would be lost. i know twitter, at least, has spoken out against both.
kzinti1 18th January 2012, 21:07 Quote
I've been on-line way too long today. I've yet to run across any site, whatsoever, that was down for anything. I really have no idea what protest you're referring to.
The bulk of this article is quite valid, save the so-called protest that has yet to be witnessed by me.
Since bit tech is still going strong today, I can only come to the conclusion that they do not agree with this "protest", and is all for SOPA/PIPA. Unless, of course, you think bit tech is above such things.
yougotkicked 18th January 2012, 21:24 Quote
i think wikipedias blackout is gonna have some major impact. taking away the common repository for all human knowledge is quite the statement. with wikipedia down many people will be unable to understand why everything is down to begin with. I had my first day of classes today, and several of my professors cited wikipedia's blackout as an obstacle in preparing notes for today's lecture. It will be quite difficult for SOPA proponents to talk down this one.

BTW, I apologize on behalf of my country for this whole ordeal. The US government is kind of like that friend who is a bit of an ass, but you stick with him because you've known him for so long. Nowadays senate and congress members spend 40% of their time doing whatever the lobbyists ask them to, 20% trying to get re-elected, 5% spending taxpayers money of stupid things (both for their own private use and various wars to avoid spending it on our educational system), and the other 35% sleeping (we all need our 8 hours).
eternum 18th January 2012, 21:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Since bit tech is still going strong today, I can only come to the conclusion that they do not agree with this "protest", and is all for SOPA/PIPA. Unless, of course, you think bit tech is above such things.

So, because this site's parent company has opted to remain in operation today (a decision that Bit-Tech has no authority to make), you automatically assume that the site itself disagrees with the protest and is in full support of the proposed legislation, or is too arrogant to participate? Your lack of consideration or comprehension is staggering.
Dwarfer 18th January 2012, 21:47 Quote
USA - Land of the Free

More like Soviet Russia!
yougotkicked 18th January 2012, 22:43 Quote
Ugh, just read the whole whitehouse post. Are these really the people advising the president on technological issues?
Quote:
Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders

Do they even understand what piracy is? I doubt the pirate bay makes a lot of money off of it's 4 banner ads, usually leased out to troll ad's.

Or do they think that people are actually downloading money straight from the corporate bank accounts. "You know, these magical internet tubes could carry some scary stuff, like drugs, guns, communism, illegal aliens, weaponized homosexuality pathogens, terrorism, and censored media. Oh wait, we were trying to add that last one to the list weren't we?"
knuck 18th January 2012, 23:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yougotkicked
Ugh, just read the whole whitehouse post. Are these really the people advising the president on technological issues?



Do they even understand what piracy is? I doubt the pirate bay makes a lot of money off of it's 4 banner ads, usually leased out to troll ad's.

Or do they think that people are actually downloading money straight from the corporate bank accounts. "You know, these magical internet tubes could carry some scary stuff, like drugs, guns, communism, illegal aliens, weaponized homosexuality pathogens, terrorism, and censored media. Oh wait, we were trying to add that last one to the list weren't we?"

rep ;)
Omnituens 19th January 2012, 09:02 Quote
What pisses me off the most about this is how a law past in a country that has, what, 10% of the the worlds population affects 100% of the people with a net connection. And there is nothing we non-US people can actively do to stop them.
Fizzban 19th January 2012, 16:06 Quote
"Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late."


https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

Anyone want to loan me a zip code so I can vote too? ehehe
GaryP 20th January 2012, 11:17 Quote
Eventually, slowly, the 'centre' (for want of a better word) of the internet will move away from the US, out of its jusridiction and sites, search engines etc will thrive elsewhere. Someone with a bit of vision could make a killing here.
Sloth 20th January 2012, 19:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzban
"Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late."


https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

Anyone want to loan me a zip code so I can vote too? ehehe
Five random digits should eventually get you something, but if you want I know 98366, 98367, 98315 and 98377 all work.

+rep for posting that, by the way.
Fizzban 21st January 2012, 00:30 Quote
Seems it has been pulled for the time being. I'm sure it will be back before we know it though..

http://mashable.com/2012/01/20/sopa-is-dead-smith-pulls-bill/
CoffeeTwoSugars 21st January 2012, 03:12 Quote
Pretty cool game, about SOPA

http://www.awkwardsilence.co.uk/SOPA.html
Howdy 26th January 2012, 13:53 Quote
Back in the day (during the times of knights and thing) we had staves entertain us, which live drama acts and music now it's the entertainers with all the money and it's not like they haven't been able to pay there mortgage or anything, more like they couldn't get the extra car or spend silly amounts on there 5yr old birthday (there 5 they wont remember you spent 100k on there birthday). The only reason why they aren't getting as much is cos movies have gone downhill as there's only one movie a year i would say is worth going to the cinema and the rest we wait for on dvd or blu-ray. I've never bough a album and though that all the songs are good.


Back to the issue - how can they try and be in control of something used world wide,
I don't remember putting them in charge of the internet.
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