Today is the day of Internet blackout; a day where many websites and Social Media channels decided to become unavailable to users in protest of the pending SOPA / PIPA (Stop Online Piracy Act / Protect Intellectual Property Act) bills being discussed in Congress. Wikipedia is one of the most vocal of these sites, but the list is impressive when you consider how visited the sites are that stand in protest: Reddit, Word Press, Google, Mozilla and more (http://huff.to/AuFNjP).
Most of these sites are disabled and instead have posted a black screen with information on how to voice your opposition to SOPA/PIPA and links to follow. One of the more creative of these sites is Demonoid, which features some beautiful simply coded flashlight effect over a blacked-out site with information on how to join the protest.
So what do the battle lines of this fight look like?
Well, there are over 350 companies, people and organizations that support SOPA/PIPA, but well over 1,000 that oppose it. Those that support it are doing so under the belief that this bill will thwart the piracy of content, mainly for foreign distribution sites that are making money off of pirated content. However, the companies and organizations that are supporting the bills, like the Americans for Tax Reform or the International Union of Police Associations, don’t immediately appear to have any business relevance to the problem they purportedly want fixed: foreign piracy. Regardless, there is also plenty of theories being passed about special interests, lobbying and potential monopoly interests for many involved.
The opposition is also a very diverse group of online companies and web services, legal professionals advocacy groups, non-profits, venture capitalists and more. There are most major Social Media networks involved in the opposition as well, like Google and YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter and so many more. Also amongst the opposition are companies that exist solely to share files that tend to be in violation of copyright and licensing, like The Pirate Bay and TorrentFreak. It makes perfect sense why torrent and peer-to-peer networks would oppose this, as it will effectively shut them down in hopes to stem the flow of stolen materials and content through their service. But why would Social Networks be so opposed, along with human rights advocates, investors and gaming sites like Zynga?
In Part II, learn who has the most to lose in this battle.