After months of discussion between and among 1,800 contributors to Wikipedia, the online information source, it decided to “go black" on Wednesday to protest the dangers in two bills that threaten the freedom of the Internet. Many other websites are also participating in today's protest.
The bills are the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
According to Wikipedia, the proposed legislation would put "the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted which means they won’t show up in major search engines. And SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression."
Ostensibly to reduce piracy, the bills overreach greatly. A single perceived violation, for instance, could get an entire website shut down or starved to death through forced cessation of payment processing or delivery of advertising to the website. How this might work if the bills become law is expalained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
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