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SOPA: What’s Black Wednesday Really About?

If you’re one of the estimated 75 million people trying to visit Wikipedia.com today, try again tomorrow.

U.S. House Bill 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has internet moguls like Google, Wikipedia, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Boing Boing, and the Twitter community up in arms — and blacked out. The bill, which seeks to police online copyright infringements, was introduced in October 2011 with the support of media giants Time Warner and the Motion Picture Association of America.

The bill, written in reaction to copyright infringements affecting the movie, TV and music industries, hit a rather larger, rather loud social wall over the past month, coming to a climax this week when Wikipedia announced their intention to force a complete blackout of their website today. Their website says it all.

The aptly named “Black Wednesday” took on a life of its own, with Google’s censored logo, Reddit’s “Today We Fight Back” homepage message and Boing Boing’s “Service Intentionally Unavailable” error message. And in the active online social community, the Twitter hashtags #SOPA and #PIPA — SOPA’s near-sister bill, the Protect IP Act — lit up the popular social network with “Imagine a world without free knowledge,” “Not Liberty,” and “End Piracy” trending.

Despite the social uproar and even two of the bill’s co-sponsors removing support of the bill, lead backer Lamar Smith (R-Texas) maintained his dedication to SOPA, saying in a Wall Street Journal interview, “It’s not censorship to want to stop illegal activity.”

While the original intent of bill was to protect U.S. interests from overseas Internet pirates, the tech community is concerned that the bill’s “broad language” could force websites, like YouTube, to shut down merely because of the potential to run afoul of the legislation. And this potential creates concerns that Internet censorship — and loss of web freedom of speech — will be the result.

In a post on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, “The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development.”

With the powerful role that the Internet currently plays in the business and personal worlds — from in-the-cloud corporate services to wildly popularly social media — we will all watch on the edge of our seats to learn how Congress votes January 24.

Do you support Congress’ SOPA bill — or Congress’ intention to control piracy online? Or do you agree with Wikipedia, Boing Boing and the online Twitter community? Share your thoughts here — what’s really going on with the SOPA movement?

About Blakely Thomas-Aguilar

Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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