You may have noticed lots of Twitter and Facebook avatars with “Stop SOPA” popping up over the past while.
If SOPA hasn’t crossed your radar so far, then it is likely to tomorrow.
Many high profile websites are having a “blackout” day tomorrow to show their opposition to the SOPA bill in the US.
SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill which was put to the US House of Representatives last year – which, if it becomes law, will give increased powers to copy right holders (including the US Dept. of Justice) to pursue websites and content providers for infringement of their copyright online.
This is really, really big.
For example, this could stop service providers from doing business with sites accused of copyright infringement (for example, not allowing the sites to use Paypal). It could also stop search engines from linking to these sites (no Google or Bing listings), and internet service providers from accessing these sites (no access, fullstop).
You can see why this is causing such a stir in the online community and beyond.
Not only will it make a lot of what happens online pretty much impossible (not to mention possibly making the internet itself unstable), but morally it feels like ten steps back from the era of unfettered access to information and opinions that we enjoy online.
So, to gain greater awareness of this issue and to show their opposition, the whole of Wikipedia English will go black tomorrow (Jan 18th 2012). According to Jimmy Wales, that’s 25 million users that won’t be able to access the site that day (and that includes users from outside the US).
More sites (big and small) are considering joining Wikipedia, while Reddit have also come out and confirmed that they will be participating also. Media tycon Rupert Murdoch has been using his new Twitter account to voice his opposition too, tweeting “So Obama has thrown in his lot withSilicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.”
Are you planning on taking part? Tell us how