Locals React To Internet Blackout Over Anti-Piracy Bills

Wikipedia, Craigslist Among Websites Dark To Protest Against SOPA, PIPA

Millions of computer users around the world who tried to use Wikipedia, Craigslist and hundreds of other websites on Wednesday instead found they had gone dark.

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The action was to protest two proposed laws which would dramatically change how the Internet works.

At LeStat's internet café and coffeehouse in University Heights, everyone there was in favor of what Wikipedia and other sites were doing.

Supporters of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act being considered in the House and PIPA, the Protect Internet Property Act in the Senate claimed they will give intellectual property owners the right to protect their property.

However, opponents said the laws as they are written are problematic.

An example is the case of Wikipedia.

"They have a lot of people posting stuff on Wikipedia and this law would hold Wikipedia responsible if somebody inadvertently posted say a copyrighted photo," said Dr. Murray Jennex, San Diego State University computer science professor

Jennex said even postings such as children singing hit songs on YouTube could cause problems for them and for the website if the laws were passed.

At LeStat's, computer programmer Jason Wieland said he was completely against SOPA and PIPA.

"It fundamentally changes the way the Internet works today and that's going to be disastrous," said Wieland.

Even Google is participating in the protest. Users who go to the site will see a black banner over the familiar logo. The website still works, but Google said the black banner was to show their solidarity with the online protest.

"Giving a central entity the power to tell you what and what not you can look for or search for is dangerous," said Guillermo Sanz, a customer at LeStat's. "It's a slippery slope."

Jennex said the recording industry and other intellectual property rights owners have every reason to be concerned about the theft of that property. However, he also said SOPA and PIPA are not the answer.

"The law as written is too broad," he said. "I agree with the goal, but I don't agree with the way it's been written."

It appears the protest by Wikipedia and others is having an effect. At least three members of Congress who originally supported SOPA and PIPA have now said they will not support the laws as currently proposed.

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