The Night the Lights Went Out for SOPA

At 12am EST this morning, some of the Internet’s highest-traffic sites went black for twenty-four hours. This intentional blackout is in protest of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a piece of legislation representing an attempt by the U.S. Congress to curb Internet piracy. We wrote about the bill previously, in regard to some previous attention-getting methods by sites like Tumblr, but this type of wide-scale Internet protest is unprecedented.

You can read an interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales here, detailing the decision for Wikipedia to shut down for the day – which like most things on the site was informed by a democratic process. Though the bill’s authors have rebuffed the protest as a publicity stunt, Wales’ position is one that many Internet users share:

The issue here is that this law is very badly written, very broadly overreaching and, in at least the Senate version, would include the creation of a DNS (domain name system) blocking regime that’s technically identical to the one that’s used by China. I don’t think that’s the right way the U.S. needs to go in taking a leadership role on the Internet.

Reddit will be joining the blackout as well, and a blog post there gives a good technical examination of the proposed legislation, making some conclusions about what it could do, and why it probably won’t do what it’s supposed to do. Though Google will not be joining the blackout, they will provide information on the homepage about why they oppose the bill.

The good news for the bill’s detractors is that the White House has come out strongly against it – which is definitely a black mark, if not making it dead in the water. And the blackout today should at the very least have the effect of drawing more people’s attention to the issue.

Here’s a picture gallery of various sites that went black today (or did something special) to spread awareness on the issue: Wikipedia, Google, Torrentfreak, Nedroid, WordPress.org, Reddit, Explosm, The Oatmeal.

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16 Responses to The Night the Lights Went Out for SOPA

  1. It's a real shame that Facebook didn't do a black out. Can you imagine the reaction from that group of users? Hell I bet the congress men and women would even change their mind if they can't participate in social media (especially during an election year).

  2. I'm really thrilled to see this issue rising to the top and catching people's attention, even those who are not generally very political. I can't imagine Facebook caring very much about promoting anything other than Facebook but it would cause some rioting in the streets if it go black for a day.

  3. Sad that I can't get to my Dinosaur Comics today but pleased to see that qwantz.com has joined the blackout.

  4. Not only did they do something about it.

    But so did, http://www.xda-developers.com/sopa/ which has over 3million registered users, of which im one.

    Shame that facebook didnt join in or at least do the same as google with a link (which by the way dosnt show in the UK so dont know if they have ), but the advertising Profit they would have lost might have had something to do with that choice.

    Which is something that SOPA wouldnt give us.

  5. SOPA/PIPA need to be crushed. And the ACTA trade agreement needs to be repudiated by the administration which negotiated it in secrecy, signed it in obscurity, and has been trying to ram it down the throats of our allies ever since.

  6. Well in Europe the feeling is more 'let us start our own Europedia to replace Wikipedia here, how dare the United States of Crusades black us out on matters of their own internal politics'.

  7. it is a down right shame that we have internet and cant do anything on it…… shame on our government for letting issues like this one take president over having no jobs and government bailouts…. I WANT MY MONEY BACK AND MY INTERNET LEFT ALONE OR AT LEAST MY RIGHTS TO THE INTERNET LEFT ALONE