You may have gone on Wikipedia today, January 18, 2012 and noticed that it’s all blacked out. You can’t search for anything, and it prompts you to enter your zip code. What’s going on? Wikipedia and other websites are protesting two pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would cut off pirating movies, music, and other web content by limiting search engines like Yahoo and Google, online payment sites such as PayPal, and other sites that allow pirating sites to work. While stealing another’s work is definitely not okay, these online giants– including Wikipedia– claim that the two bills limit open access to information.
The House bill is called the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate bill is called the Protecting IP Act, or SOPA and PIPA. This article from the New York Times gives more details on what would actually happen if the bills were passed. Here’s an example: Since that link I just posted goes to the New York Times website, and the article is under copyright, this blog could be blocked even though I credit the newspaper.
What can you do? Head on over to Wikipedia today, enter your ZIP code, and you can get the names and contact info for your local representatives. Whether you support the bills or don’t support them, you can let your voice be heard.