While SOPA (StopOnline Piracy Act)
and PIPA (Protect IP Act)
are not new topics,
much of the general public was newly introduced to these terms Wednesday,
January 18th 2012, as thousands of websites took a stand against the
SOPA / PIPA Overview
At a high level SOPA
and PIPA are proposed legislation, in the U.S. House of Representatives and
Senate respectively, that would require search engines, advertisers, ISPs and
other internet entities to regulate content and be responsible to remove
allegedly infringing content. In theory,
the ideas behind both bills are important and are recognized by many to be
necessary in the fight against piracy, but the current versions are very broad.
Wednesday, many major
sites went dark to protest the anti-piracy bills and get the attention of the
public, showing what could happen to some of the web’s favorite sites, if these
bills are passed. Google blacked out their logo and linked to an information
page that encouraged users to sign a petition
Other sites like
Wikipedia, Craigslist, Wordpress, Flickr, and Reddit.com took similar stands
and provided information on how to contact your local congressman or
woman. Social media sites like Facebook
and Twitter were flooded with the SOPA/PIPA related posts and were likely large
contributing factors to the widespread movement that took place Wednesday.
Was the Protest a Success?
SOPA and PIPA related searches trended very high on Google all day. Below is the list of the top 20 trending searches from Wednesday, January 18th, and 6 of the top 20 relate to online piracy. If users did not immediately sign the petitions, at the very least, it sparked some interest to educate them about the proposed legislation.
Google says more than 7 million people signed the anti-SOPA petition
, while Twitter reported 2.4+ million SOPA-related Tweets in a 4 hour span. More than 162 million people saw the Wikipedia blackout page
. It’s evident that the protest had a positive influence on the online and social media communities, but did the ‘decision makers’ get the message?
According to an email from fightforthefuture.org to its supporters, Wednesday's actions made an impact.
"Approaching Monday's crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA. Last week there were 5. And it just takes just 41 solid "no" votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate. What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach.”
For a summary on where various representatives stand on the two bills, ProPublica has put together a page
to easily keep track. The next Senate vote for PIPA is scheduled for January 24th
and while many things can change in the next couple of days, it seems that Wednesday’s message had some initial effects in Washington.
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