ABC NEWS: Do not try to look up “Internet Censorship” or “SOPA” or “PIPA” on Wikipedia, the giant online encyclopedia, on Wednesday. SOPA and PIPA are two bills in Congress meant to stop the illegal copying and sharing of movies and music on the Internet, but major Internet companies say the bills would put them in the impossible position of policing the online world. Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, says his site will go dark for the day on Wednesday, joining a budding movement to protest the two bills. “This is going to be wow,” Wales said on Twitter. “I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!” Other sites, such as Reddit and Boing Boing, have already said they would go dark on Wednesday. And some of the biggest names online, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, have vocally opposed the proposed legislation, though they have not said they are joining the online blackout. PIPA, the Protect IP Act in the Senate, and SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, have been presented as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others. Supporters range from the Country Music Association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the Internet giants say the bills could require your Internet provider to block websites that are involved in digital file sharing. And search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing could be stopped from linking to them — antithetical, they say, to the ideal of an open Internet. “If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry’s profits, I hope you’ll join us,” said Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing. Wikipedia, the sixth most visited site in the world, said its English version will be dark for 24 hours Wednesday, urging users to contact Congress. Other joiners of the movement include Mozilla, which offers the Firefox Web browser; the WordPress blogging site; and TwitPic, which allows Twitter users to post images online. MORE
BOING BOING: Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits. If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada, our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor. MORE
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phawker will be joining Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing and 7,000 other web sites in going ‘dark’ tomorrow in protest of SOPA, which, as of this writing, poses an existential threat the Internet as we now know it. Please plan accordingly.
RELATED: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was supposed to hold a hearing with industry experts on Wednesday, which is why sites targeted that day for a blackout. But Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California who opposes SOPA, postponed the hearing on Friday after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the bill won’t move in its current form. Cantor’s comments sparked some news reports claiming that SOPA is dead, but an aide in Issa’s office said “that’s probably a little premature.” The White House released its first statement about the bill on Saturday. The Obama administration wrote that it would not support legislation that mandates “tamper[ing] with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS).” As originally written, SOPA would have required Internet access providers and other companies to block access to targeted sites in ways that were rife with potential unintended consequences. The White House said its analysis of the original legislation’s technical provisions “suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity.” The White House’s statement came shortly after one of SOPA’s lead sponsors, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, agreed to remove SOPA’s DNS blocking provisions. Issa’s aide says that isn’t enough: “Merely taking out the DNS-blocking provisions doesn’t not rectify a bill that’s fundamentally flawed.” The controversial bill, once expected to sail quickly through committee approval in the House, is now being extensively reworked before it comes up for a commitee vote. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp. ( ), voiced his frustration with the White House’s stance in a series of tweets over the weekend. “Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery,” Murdoch wrote on Twitter. MORE