Major websites including Google
are protesting the "Stop Online Piracy Act
" (SOPA) and the "Protect IP Act
" (PIPA) by blocking elements of their home pages.
The protests are to highlight the kind of blocks that US users might see if the SOPA bill is passed into law.
SOPA proposes a system where websites like the Pirate Bay
will be blocked in an effort to combat illegal downloads.
Backers of the bill say that sales of counterfeit goods over the internet reached $135 billion last year - a figure which is finding favour in congress.
Opponents of the bill say it sets the building blocks for a "Great American Firewall," which could cost jobs and stifle freedom of speech.
Further, the bill would make criminals of any user who covers or remixes media without explicit permission from the owner. Any user breaking this law could be subject to a five-year jail sentence, which includes Justin Bieber
who made his fame covering other artists on YouTube.
Despite the risks it proposes, SOPA would not stop pirates from hacking their way around the firewalls. Some argue that the move will push these activities further underground, which could lead to the formation of a "new
" internet with its own black market. Such an internet, which would function with an alternative to the 'www.' prefix, could make it harder to combat more serious forms of online crime.
The Wikipedia protest has helped the anti-SOPA campaign gain media coverage today, and Google are expected to block their logo in support of the movement.
What do UG readers think of the bill? Will it solve piracy and give the music economy a boost, or is it one step too close to the Chinese internet? Share your reaction in the comments.
PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.