Staff Editorial

SOPA threatens to shut down the Internet

Students who tried to log on to Wikipedia on Wednesday should have noticed something curious — it was blacked out. Those who tried to log onto WordPress, TwitPic, Reditt or Mozilla would have noticed a similar phenomenon — even Google had a curious black bar over its icon.

Websites that participated in the 24-hour Internet blackout described it as a political statement. It was a way for them to indicate their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, a piece of legislation working its way through Capitol Hill that would radically reshape the Internet.

SOPA is a bill that is designed to crack down on Internet copyright infringement. It would give the US government the right to shutter sites that contain or contribute to the trading of pirated material.

Cracking down on pirated material is not necessarily a bad thing, but surely there is a way for Congress to accomplish that goal that does not include crippling the Internet.

Individuals who went to sites that were blacked out yesterday got a glimpse of what could happen if the SOPA becomes law and users are blocked from infringing sites — sites that could be shut down without a trial or a traditional court ruling under SOPA.

Wikipedia commented on SOPA in an ominously written message on their English homepage: “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

Contact your local representative and let him or her know how you feel about SOPA. Together our voices will count.


  • Instead of taking precautions and trying to prevent it, they should just make illegal all together. We know it's going on, many ages from middle school to adulthood still try to get away with it. Stop waiting for something else to happen or it's going to get worse.

    • That's what SOPA and PIPA will do. The problem is that it allows for any website to be taken because of a single link, even if the link is in the comment section. There would be no trial, no hearing, no semblance of justice. If you wanted to take a website off air for good, all's you'd have to do is post a pirated link in the comments section. And it's not just movies or music either. ANYTHING copyrighted, even a background image, would be subject to the law. The fanfiction and parody communities would disappear. Music made by sampling other artists would get censored. In short, by trying to crack down so hard on pirates, the government is destroying the internet and smothering creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and the freedom of speech. It's prohibition all over again.

      • It hasn't passed and MegaUpload has been taken down. Millions of people have lost their valid and legal work.

        This is exactly the point: You cannot attack the tool for "enabling" piracy. Ships enabled piracy during the times of pirateering. But no one sunk all the ships to stop it. That would be moronic.

        Like in this case. People use MegaUpload as a general purpose tool. NOT just pirating. This is exactly the whole point. The DNS is no different. It's just a tool.

        Would you hire a team of government workers to erase all the names in the phone book to prevent potential buyers from drug purchase? No, obviously you want to only erase the bad guy's names. But you cannot know that up front. Not with the phone book, and most certainly NOT with DNS.

        • And Matt, what the crap. How is passing a law that allows one to sink all the ships any less frightening that just doing it?

          If they just did it, we wouldn't be HAVING this conversation, wouldn't we? We'd be hysterical. It demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the issue to say they're only going after the rogue and Chinese sites. And now, an I told you so moment.

          I don't use MegaUpload. I decided not to for exactly this reason. Now YOU need to be concerned with your SHARED hosting accounts.

          I'm not fucking with you. You seriously need to be backing up this shit properly.

          • And you should be designing trackbacks and pingbacks, not throwing them away.

            Either THAT, or you should be talking about turning off comments NOW. Don't let it become a surprise that yr "free press" turns into collateral damage.

  • You didn't even mention PIPA, while storms of tweets are mentioning "SOFA."

    Irresponsible writing. Poor research. Zero opinion where opinion and guidance is needed most.

    You did not take this topic seriously.

  • we are so unfortunate to have so called laws that bind…..seatbelts,carseats for kids,cant cell phone in school zones, cant cell phone while driving, aah ooh cant cell phone while walking we might run into someone or something ha! we cant even have a choice of light bulbs in our homes our government says we have have to buy the more expensive ones to save the environment ….WHAT PROPAGANDA. now congress wants to control our nations internet so we can no longer have free access to open internet.we no longer have freedom of the press, or freedom of speech in America someone will likely kill you for it. America is now embracing a socialistic idealism.not democracy.

    • ▲▲▲▲ And what is this?

      That's a form of protest. On your site. It obviously doesn't meet comment policy. And it is obviously hostile to the goals that the U.S. government has made clear.

      Do you protect @Bigs by taking down the comment? It's easy to find it: " Fuck u sopa"

  • 1. "Anonymous downs government, music industry sites in largest attack ever".
    2. "SOPA and PIPA".

    Matt, you know my opinion here. It is IRRESPONSIBLE for these articles not to have links. More people need to be reading this on a large scale. They don't need to be sheltered or whatever whacky ethical principle you're working from.

    We don't need news reporting protests that happened yesterday. We need news telling us when the next one will be.

    Stop being like the Chron. Stop being like Fox. Stop being like the Wall Street Journal.

    HELP people.

  • And that's the most puzzling thing.

    You HAVE a content category that is valid in your publishing schema which allows for just sharing links in the articles. You have "Web only" articles.

    Yet you publish _this_. How often, truly, are you going to use the "SOPA" tag? It must've seemed pointless at the time of adding that tag.

    This should have been published as a "Web Exclusive" and it should've directed people to valid information that will inform and protect them.

  • Don't we already have plenty of laws prohibiting the bad things the'net is blamed for: theft of intellectual property, copyright infringment, fraud, child pornography,etc? Perhaps some of the backers of SOPA & PIPA mean well; but surely there's a better way to do it. U.S. courts have no jurisdiction in the areas where most pirating occurs. I'm not an attorney, but does anyone expect help from the World Court or the U.N? If so I have bridge to sell them. The internet is the last frontier of free speech, thought, and the exchange of ideas & knowlege. I graduated from U of H in 1974. Back then, colleges and universities were the bastions of the aforementioned. Now even they are constrained by "political correctness". When the cure is worse than the disease; don't use it! My wife, my son (U of H 2008) and I have all conveyed these opinions to our elected officials. I hope all of you will do the same. You don't know what you got 'til it's gone! Love & Peace…..Duck

  • Just for reference, the percentage of users pirating music (as estimated by the industry themselves) has fallen from 16% two years ago to 9% last year. And yet PIPA and SOPA haven't passed. Interesting. It seems like they're not necessary to get significant declines in the piracy rate.

  • Look, would you people start reading more? Tons of people in China have described the FACT that their draconian laws haven't resolved piracy.

    Stop calling it "piracy" for one. Kids downloading their favorite MP3s ain't piracy.

    What the fuck are we going to do? You're (yes, YOU) still inquiring into statistics and they've already passed OPEN Act. Now the EU is about to pass ACTA.

    While stuff like this is happening in the UK:

    They just shut down MegaUpload. You can see for your fucking selves.

    Goddammit. Get your head out of your asses, get the hell off Facebook and protect yoiur goddamn country. Fuck.

  • WOW!!! That is some strict language @filesofnerds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cut it off younger people might wind up reading this. Man you need to find another hobby

Leave a Comment