On 18th January 2012, a large group of technology companies with high profile websites such as Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, WordPress, Mozilla and many more censored their websites with black bars and black-out pages. They showed their unhappiness in the form of protest messages against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), the two online anti-piracy bills. There are millions of people from all over the world speaking in defense of a free and open Internet.
Supporters or lawmakers who support the bills say that SOPA and PIPA will protect the intellectual property rights of music, movies, videos, content. These proposed bills, SOPA and PIPA aim to crack down copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that facilitate the pirated content. This is because from many years, foreign sites have been illegally importing the content of U.S companies. This battle against piracy is being continued for years by the content writers in order to stop access to foreign websites that are profiting off with the stolen content.
Also, the sites like The Pirate Bay, became trove for illegal downloads. These torrent sites use links to download videos, music, TV shows etc. for free. If the bill PIPA would have passed, The pirate bay and other torrent sites may be the first to be blocked by ISPs, censored by search engines, and it also seems that they may even lose their domain names.
If SOPA would have passed, The Justice Department would have shut down almost any blog or website at will, and there will be nothing to stop those pirate movies or music. The millions of Wikipedia and other content related website users would lack freedom of Internet. The posting, editing, and adding content by millions of Wikipedia users may not be copyrighted. The cost of monitoring such sites would be overwhelming, and may lead to create daunting burdens for Internet companies with limited resources.
But the opponent websites and tech companies taking part in the blackout argue that these two bills would impose huge regulatory costs, hampers the innovative global Internet, reduce the freedom of speech and destroy the freewheeling soul of Internet.
There are more than 134 websites that went on protest against SOPA and PIPA by shutting down their websites with blackout pages to go dark for 24 hours. However, this protest led to eight US lawmakers withdrawing their support for the proposed bills. Both the House and the Senate of U.S.A, on Friday January 20, backed away from a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills – SOPA and PIPA, tossing them into throwing doubt on their future viability.