Google, Wikipedia Among Sites "Going Dark" Today to Protest Proposed Anti-piracy Bills in Congress

Several popular Internet sites voluntarily shut down today to protest bills in Congress that would give the government, guided by businesses, power to shut down sites that are alleged to be violating U.S. copyright laws.

Wikipedia in the Dark

Wikipedia presented only this dark page today in protest of anti-piracy bills.

Among the sites that are “black” today for 12 to 24 hours are Wikipedia, Craigslist, Boing Boing,  and Reddit. Google had a black strip across its famous changing logo, and Amazon had a prominent link to reasons to oppose the legislation.

censored Google

The bills–SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate–are backed primarily by MPAA, the legislative arm of the movie industry. It has a $100 million budget for lobbying, which is in the hands of former members of Congress, such as former Sen. Chris Dodd, who is now CEO of MPAA at a $1.5 million base salary.

MPAA’s action is a repeat of its previous opposition to television, video recorders, cable TV, and other technical advances that movie companies said would destroy their business model.

During the MPAA’s battle against the VCR, according to ZDNet’s David Gewirtz, the then-head of the movie organization said during Congressional hearings: “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.”No Sale: Craig's List

If SOPA passes, copyright holders would be able to complain to law enforcement officials and get websites shut down. Search engines and other providers would have to block rogue sites when ordered to do so by a judge. Sites could be punished for hosting pirated content — and Internet companies are worried they could be held liable for users’ actions.

Boing Boing wrote: “Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.”

Google warned that the impact of such legislation would be far-reaching.

“YouTube would just go dark immediately,” Google public policy director Bob Boorstin said at a conference last month. “It couldn’t function.”

we dont know how to innovate

Up until now, Google has acted more or less as the censor board through its implementation of a DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice where copyright holders could request that Google pull copyright-infringing material from the Google search index – effectively pulling it from the Internet. The question is, is that good enough?

What do you think? Should the government get into the business of managing the Internet, or should we stick with the system already in place?



  1. Mat

    January 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    It comes down to these dinosaurs changing their business models, instead of holding onto the last shred of a dying plan. Evolve or die, or so the saying goes. They need to learn to stop trying to stifle innovation, and just go with it. I blame greed.

  2. Michael

    January 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

    It sounds not so much like a question of whether or not the government should manage the Internet but whether or not “five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits” should manage the Internet. They just need congress to OK it first.

    Interestingly, the main reason it seems congress is backing down is because of pressure by other giant companies like Google pressing back and using the leverage they have, which is a lot, to use black outs and so forth. At least Google, et al, are dong the right thing. In this case their interests line up with the people’s who are not in favor of having one of the last bastions where their voices can be heard being opened to censorship and being steered.

    Is it the battle of the corporations? Will Google really always stick to their motto of “Don’t be evil” if they were to become our benevolent leader/dictator? Or, are we just ‘useful idiots’?

  3. ms hanson

    January 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    At no time in history has the US government more efficiently managed those enterprises originating in the private sector. Witness Medicare, SSI, etc.
    SOPA is not the answer, & the US Govmint is not the best choice administrator.

    • Geoff Thomas

      January 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

      I agree with you totally!!
      As an Englishman I have always applauded the American “Land of the Free” Ethic!
      I hope this Greedy Bill does not pass, It will affect us all worldwide.
      Regards Geoff

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