In an attempt to curtail online piracy, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate each proposed a bill in 2011 that would target copyright infringement, primarily committed by foreign websites. The bills - the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) - have divided the US digital and entertainment industries. While entertainment businesses, such as the Motion Picture Association of America, advocate that these bills would crack down on the US $58 billion allegedly lost to piracy every year, founders of some of the largest information and social media websites have slammed the bills as poorly written and a threat to online freedom of expression.
The likes of Google, Firefox, Facebook, Twitter and eBay have all publicly denounced the bills. On Wednesday, January 18, at 12:00 a.m. Wikipedia took its opposition to the bills a step further and declared a 24-hour blackout of its English-language website to raise public awareness before the January 24th voting date for PIPA in the US Senate.
To learn more about SOPA and PIPA, and their implications in our digital age, read Jenna Wortham's New York Times article, "A Political Coming of Age for the Tech Industry". The article also cites Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu, who will be giving a talk at McGill University on March 22, 2012, co-sponsored by Media@McGill, the Art History and Communication Studies Speaker Series, and the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy.