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The Day SOPA and PIPA Forced the Internet into Darkness

Posted on January 18, 2012 AT 08:41am

THE BUZZ: If you’ve surfed the Internet at all today then you have probably noticed a lot of your favorite sites mentioning the SOPA and PIPA bills which are designed to remove websites that infringe on copyrights.

Opponents to the bill are Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, Roblox, Reddit, the Wikimedia Foundation, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch. Many of these sites are carrying messages informing you about the bills, and a few have actually shut down for the day, including Wikipedia, Reddit, N4G and many top Youtube channels.

EGM’s TAKE: The major reason for opposition of this bill is the removal of the safe haven rule, which currently prevents sites like YouTube from being responsible for the content placed on them. The problem is, if this bill is passed then this haven will be removed and the Government will have the power to simply shut the entire site down for copyright infringement. SOPA proposes to block any infringing DNS’ in order to protect the copyrighted material, and could easily be used as a form of censorship, but that’s not the entire issue here. The issue is how it will affect smaller start-ups such as indie companies and Internet businesses. Word of mouth only takes a small company with an equally small budget so far, but look at how much social networking and YouTube helps these companies. A simple trailer or gameplay video for an indie title on YouTube can amass thousands of views and sales, something that was impossible before, and something that may become impossible again if this bill is passed.

The other bill PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property) is designed to give copyright owners more tools with which to prevent the access of websites infringing or supplying copyright material. The main issue with both bills is how it affects freedom of speech, and could one day lead to the government being able to physically control what can and can’t be accessed via the Internet, similar to how China operates.

It should be noted that one of the key components with these bills is that action can be taken without due process, making it even easier to abuse this power.

If you live in the U.S and are opposed to these bills then please contact your State representative and inform them. The more that speak out the more likely it is that they will listen and vote against them.

The video below will help explain the bills in more detail and help you to better understand the potential consequences.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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