Good luck using Wikipedia or Craigslist today, as they have been blacked out in protest of the Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act.
You can find a PDF of the act in our photo gallery.
Google, Mozilla, Wired and Reddit have also censored their sites in protest of the acts.
According to an article on the L.A. Times, lawmakers want the acts passed in order to protect the property rights of music, movie and TV studios.
This means giving the power to censor the Internet to the entertainment industry.
Copyright holders and the U.S. Department of Justice can seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. This could include barring online advertising networks from doing business with infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to such sites and blocking providers from giving access to such sites.
Furthermore, even unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content would be a crime.
There is a law passed in 1998 called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that provided safety for websites that host such content. Copyright owners are now required to request the site to remove the infringing material in a certain period of time.
SOPA would in effect eliminate that act, making the site itself the responsible party and making judges the ones to block access to websites.
Those against the anti-piracy bills say the laws would alter the Web forever and what people can say, do and publish.
According to the site Fight for the Future, private corporations want to shut down unauthorized sites where people can download movies, TV shows and music.
Since most of these sites are outside U.S. jurisdiction, the laws have some loopholes.
The two main solutions: Make Internet providers block access to infringing domain names, as well as sue search engines, blogs and forums to have the links removed; and make corporations and the government cut off funds to infringing sites.
While you could still access blocked sites by entering an IP address, Fight for the Future states in a video that it could cripple startups because the corporations and government can sue sites that are not doing a good job of filtering.
In addition, piracy judges may mistake legitimate sites like Tumblr, Soundcloud and YouTube as piracy websites.
The acts are getting pushed through Congress, and the most updated acts will now allow government and corporations to block any site, foreign or domestic, for one infringing link. According to Fight for the Future, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook would have to censor their users or get shut down, since are liable for everything users post.
So, if the law passes, this means if you post a video of your friend singing the new T.I. hit, or you have a video of someone rocking out to a Justin Bieber hit at karaoke, then you face the possibility of going to jail for five years because you posted a copyrighted work.
SOPA, as its known, is House Bill 3261, introduced on Oct. 26, 2011. It is the brainchild of House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Lamar S. Smith, R-TX, and 12 bipartisan co-sponsors: Howard Berman, D-CA; Marsha Blackburn, R-TN; Mary Bono Mack, R-CA; Steve Chabot, R-OH; John Conyers, D-MI; Ted Deutch, D-FL; Elton Gallegly, R-CA; Bob Goodlatte, R-VA; Timothy Griffin, R-AR; Dennis Ross, R-FL; Adam Schiff, D-CA; and Lee Terry, R-NE.
As of Jan. 16, there were 31 co-sponsors of the bill.
Of these co-sponsors, two are Pennsylvania representatives: Tim Holden, R-17; and Thomas Marino, R-10.
Here are the additional sponsors: Mark Amodei, R-NV; Joe Baca, D-CA; John Barrow, D-GA; Karen Bass, D-CA; John Carter, R-TX; Judy Chu, D-CA; Jim Cooper, D-TN; Tim Holden, D-PA; Peter King, R-NY; John Larson, D-CT; Ben Lujan, D-NM; Thomas Marino, R-PA; Alan Nunnelee, R-MS; Bill Owens, D-NY; Ben Quayle, R-AZ; Steve Scalise, R-LA; Brad Sherman, D-CA; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL; Melvin Watt, D-NC
The AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the SOPA bill.
You can sign a petition and view a video on more details on PIPA/SOPA at fightforthefuture.org/pipa
You can also contact our local legislators.
It has been publicized that Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is a supporter of both acts.
- Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-13
- Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6
- Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-PA
- Sen. Robert Casey, D-PA