Internet Blackout Day: Jan. 18, 2012
The Web goes dark(ish) to protest proposed legislation
2:10PM, Wed. Jan. 18, 2012
If you're a regular visitor to the Chronicle site, you may have noticed the colorful faces of our featured stories are missing from the home page today. If you're a student, you may have spotted a massive Wikipedia outage. (Or, depending on your studiousness, it may be more appropriate to swap "Wikipedia" for "Reddit." Either way.)
We're making this gesture to raise awareness of (and encourage opposition to) two measures currently in Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
SOPA, introduced in the House by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would give the Department of Justice policing power against websites hosting copyright-infringing content. It's expected to be discussed more in February. PIPA, meanwhile, is a bill in the Senate that could be up for a cloture vote as early as next week; it would include the court system as a mediator between websites and their industry or DOJ accusers, but is otherwise remarkably similar to SOPA.
As a company that makes its living off of original content, we recognize the importance of intellectual property rights, but as an institution founded on the principles of the freedom of the press, we have an allegiance to those other First Amendment rights, too. We encourage our readers to learn more about this proposed legislation today – somewhere other than Wikipedia, sorry – and to call their representatives in Congress to voice opposition to SOPA and PIPA.