SOPA blackout: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and others

Sites consider "nuclear option" in protest of internet legislation

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Sites consider "nuclear option" in protest of internet legislation

With the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on the table for debate on January 24, some of the most well known websites, like Wikipedia, Ebay, Yahoo and more are considering a “nuclear option” or simultaneous blackout, to protest the legislation that many feel will destroy the Internet.

Image via Wiki Commons

SOPA, or  H.R. 3261, would permit the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders the ability to “seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.” The bill would also make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months.”  The bill has broad support in Congress, “This is a bipartisan piece of legislation which is extremely important,” Henry Reid said in December. “I repeat, it is bipartisan. I hope we can have a productive couple of days, pass this bill, and move on to other matters.”

The bill has been compared to China’s system of national censorship and blocking content for its citizens. According to many industry experts will be detrimental to web-related businesses, open source software such as add-ons for Firefox and Google, and has the potential for a serious invasion of privacy. If passed it could target “an entire website even if only a small portion hosts or links to some infringing content.”

Supporters of SOPA include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Viacom, and other tv, movie and music unions. Trademarked companies like Nike and L’Oreal and Go Daddy have also publicly supported the bill. In late 2011, Go Daddy reversed its stance, but not after some 37,000 domain holders jumped ship to Namecheap. The boycott of Go Daddy was in large part due to Wikipedia pulling its domains and a Reddit-led outcry.


The decision to black out sites is not without some risk, but as Joel Hruska of ExtremeTech points out, “a few simple sentences identifying why the blackout is in place will ensure that the majority of the rage flows in the proper direction.”

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  • VK

    Leave it to a few hundred 50-70 year old men to make the vote, not the hundreds of millions of 10-30 year old YouTube users reliant on the site to access music on a daily basis.

    Surely these congressmen have no idea of the repercussions that would follow the passage of the bill. The music industry is reliant on YouTube users. I wouldn’t even know of 90% of the artists I know today. I certainly wouldn’t have spent over $800 on concert tickets in 2011 if it weren’t for the streaming of their music on YouTube.

    I’m not a huge Obama supporter, but I trust that he will veto the bill (being the huge internet supporter that he is).

    If this bill passes, we’re going to see some very interesting repercussions and hundreds of court cases putting teenagers in prison for listening to music just as they always have.

  • Paqo

    SOPA and PROTECT IP alike need to go down in flames. I agree there needs to be something stronger than the DMCA takedown that carries very little physical punishment behind it, but that can easily be fixed. There is no reason to castrate everyone because companies that want to own everyone pay off some uneducated old farts that know nothing at all about how the internet works to pass a piece of paper around and vote yes on it.

  • John Corexu

    That’s Harry Reid.

  • Kevin S

    The spin of these twin bills is very telling given the shortlist of supporters. RIAA, MPAA, any and all television networks, production studios, and video game publishers. All the “giants” of their industries. Never the independents, because they know the power of essentially free advertisement. The level of piracy that occurs online simply reflects these corporations inability to provide content in a means that consumers are willing to accept. What about a DVD or Blu-Ray movie actually justifies the $20 – $40 people pay to own them? The packaging consists of a $0.50 plastic case, some $0.30 of paper and ink, and a $0.30 – $0.50 plastic disc. The rest is pure markup for the sake of it. If they manage to make back the production costs in theater ticket sales the rest is greed. and that’s another thing; if you don’t make your money back in ticket sales, it means you’ve made a shit film. Suck it up.

    These bills would effectively put sites hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people use every day on the proverbial chopping block. That would mean that what I do, as an artist, on would have earned me multiple life sentences by now. I host a channel where I give tutorials, but no voice-over, so I play whatever music it is that I am currently listening to, so my viewers have something else. The stream includes software which I have purchased and is fully licensed; the use of hardware, which I have purchased; and music which I have also purchased in either digital or disc format. They have lost no money and no potential sales because I am not distributing, and they are possibly GAINING sales they never would have had because people can now see what can be done with the software, or maybe they’ve heard a song they’ve fallen in love with.

    the phrase “shooting oneself in one’s own foot” comes to mind. They will lose support, they’ll make enemies of their customer base, and they’ll lose some of the largest outlets they have for their OWN content because, really, how many of us flock to the company’s main website to watch their trailers. Usually, we’ll just look it up on YouTube. I hope that, as a content provider myself, as many people openly protest this as possible. Site blackouts by facebook and youtube should be a “Nuclear Option” but if they make their denied users aware of what they’re protesting, maybe by printing something in the vein of “Denied by SOPA/PIPA” and a link to the bill, these bills and (crossed fingers) bought-out politician scum will go down in glorious flames.