Wikipedia Shuts Down in Protest of Anti-Piracy Bill
Several major websites, including Wikipedia.org, will shut down all day today (Wednesday, January 18th) to raise awareness about new legislation for a proposed anti-piracy bill. Wikipedia on its website says that the new bill, if passed, will "fatally damage the free and open Internet." (Source: wikipedia.org)
Anti-Piracy Bill Could Block Internet Connections
The anti-piracy bill is now expected to face considerable delay or a serious makeover. The change comes after a flood of negative criticism from a huge array of websites, most notably saying there is no penalty for falsely accusing a web site of copyright infringement.
The legislation, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate, is intended to shut down American's access to overseas websites that offer stolen digital media or counterfeit goods.
The targets of SOPA and PIPA are primarily European-based torrents sites (such as the Pirate Bay), which have been the focus of copyright-centered debates for years. If the bill passes, both general traffic and advertising revenue from the U.S. to such sites would cease. (Source: reuters.com)
Entertainment companies -- such as movie and music studios -- support the pending legislation. They believe it's a critical step in making sure artists get paid when people experience their work online.
However, some Internet advocates have criticized SOPA / PIPA, saying it would curtail online innovation and compromise U.S. free speech rights. (Source: usatoday.com)
White House Concerned About Internet Freedoms, Cyber-Security
Concerns emanating from the White House, however, could prove the largest problem for advocates of SOPA and PIPA.
In a recent statement, the White House announced it would not support "legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
For any SOPA/PIPA proposals to become U.S. law, President Barack Obama must affix his signature. Right now, that doesn't appear likely.
Thus, the SOPA/PIPA bill will probably receive a major re-tooling before it ever comes up for final approval in the U.S. Congress. That notion has been disappointing to some supporters of SOPA and PIPA, most notably News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, who recently blasted Obama for "[throwing] in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery." (Source: reuters.com)
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