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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Online Community Rallies Against the SOPA & PIPA Proposals

Here are some of our favourite online reactions to the world's most controversial bills.

By Christopher Kevin Au
January 19, 2012
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By Christopher Kevin Au
January 19, 2012
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SOPA and PIPA are two bold acronyms have been flashed consistently over media channels for the past few days, and yet many of us have little to no idea what they actually mean for us as global citizens.

The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act are two bills that are currently being discussed in Congress in the United States. As their names suggest, these bills attempt to prevent piracy by granting Intellectual Property owners greater powers against copyright-infringing websites. It does this by attacking a website's appearance on search engines and hyperlinking through other websites, as well as its advertising and payment methods, which largely fall within the country's jurisdiction. This is an attempt by the US government to gain some substantial control on foreign websites which have transgressed legal boundaries rapidly.

Piracy and online media sharing have completely overturned traditional revenue streams within the music and film industry, and this is why such legislation is receiving so much support from major labels and companies within these arenas. However, many argue that these bills are a great threat to free speech and innovation, as the Internet has become the greatest forum for global communication and access to information. Therefore, they are seen as a direct threat to the democratic ideals which underpin our society. Indeed, how are larger websites going to ensure that none of their content is hyperlinked to another website that supposedly breaches the bills?

Unsurprisingly, many of the world's largest and most influential websites have expressed concern over the SOPA and PIPA propositions. Here are some of our favourite online reactions to the world's most controversial bills.

Wikipedia Blackout

The world's most useful website shocked users when it underwent a blackout for 24 hours. A link on Wikipedia has highlighted the mammoth effect of this relatively short shutdown, as it became the subject of 7,200 articles on Google News. Furthermore, SOPA has accounted for 250,000 tweets every hour after the blackout began. Indeed, Wikipedia have highlighted how this United States legislation will have an enormous global effect. It is estimated that a further 7,000 to 10,000 websites also jumped in on the blackout bandwagon.

Buzzfeed's "25 Angry Kids Who Can't Do Their Homework Because of the Wikipedia Blackout"

Wikipedia has become a mandatory initial source of information for pretty much any topic in life, and nothing highlights this more than this great compilation from the guys over at Buzzfeed. Collecting the tweets of numerous pissed off primary schoolers and teens, this is a nice summary of how we all felt when we couldn't extract some basic facts from our favourite online encyclopedia. Highlights include a tweet from @JetSetAmbee_, which reads "I'm tryna tell y'all if they take away Wikipedia, I'm gonna fail hella classes. No bullshit."

Google's Censored Logo

By now we're all used to Google's themed banners, but this time it wasn't as cute as the Christmas cartoons we usually see wrapped around the logo every year. In support of the claims that these bills would effectively amount to a censorship of the World Wide Web, the logo's familiar colourful letters were hidden behind a black bar that had been slapped on top. They say a picture tells a thousand words, and this definitely made its point. David Drummond of Google explained the dangers of SOPA and PIPA in this blog post.

Free Bieber

This website is actually about S. 978, another bill concerning copyright, but it has gained further attention in wake of the SOPA and PIPA bills. It argues that if it is passed, someone as harmless as Justin Bieber could go to jail because he initially gained fame through uploading YouTube videos of himself singing copyrighted tracks. A banner of the website proclaims that "Justin faces 5 brutal years in prison." You can even purchase Free Bieber t-shirts and stickers, and also fake tattoos that should be applied on your face and/or neck for that true inmate feel. Behind all the laughs there is an online petition for you to stop these bills.

CloudFare's Stop Censorship App

This app is to be added to your own personal website, and censors every word that is longer than five letters upon initial visit from a browser. As you can probably imagine, this makes for a very frustrating experience. When you click on a censored word a pop-up box appears which tells you about the effects of SOPA and PIPA. From there, the box allows you to tweet about it or even get the contact details of your local Senator to lodge a complaint. Furthermore, this app only takes under a minute to take effect on your site.

Update: SOPA shelved

Published on January 19, 2012 by Christopher Kevin Au

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