January 18th is almost upon us, and it is going to be more than a typical Wednesday for many Internet users. While different sites are doing different things tomorrow, they are all abiding by a common theme; protesting SOPA and PIPA, the anti-piracy bills currently winding their way through the House and Senate. Several websites plan to "go dark" and blackout their sites’ pages in favor of a link to information on SOPA and how users can contact their congressmen. Other sites will be protesting the anti-piracy bills in a different way either by displaying links to SOPA informational websites on their home pages or by redirecting traffic to anti-SOPA pages.
Ever since popular social congregation and news site Reddit announced that it would blackout their website in protest, the list of companies and sites joining the protest has continued to grow. The companies and sites who plan to blackout their pages in protest include (in alphabetical order):
- 38 Sudios
- The Cheeseburger Network
- Epic Games
- Red 5 Studios
- Riot Games
- Wikipedia (the English version)
And in infomercial like enthusiasm; wait, there’s more! While Facebook and (especially) Twitter have been reluctant to act and join the protest (despite their entire sites business model depending on user generated content), two big names in the Internet world have decided to throw their weight around and protest. Both Google and Mozilla will be protesting SOPA and PIPA tomorrow by directing users to pages encouraging users to contact their congressmen. Google will be posting a link on their home page to a document stating why they are opposed to the two bills while Mozilla will redirect web traffic from Mozilla.com and Mozilla.org to a call to action page for 12 hours starting at 8 AM (Eastern Standard Time). Further, Mozilla will replace the default Firefox start page with a call to action message atop a blank, black background.
UPDATE: Twit.tv, the host for a number of popular web shows and podcasts will also be joining the protest tomorrow by displaying the site in black and white. Further, OpenSUSE and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are also joining the fight with a splash page and a prominent "Stop SOPA" graphical link to more information respectively.
It is unfortunate that Facebook and Twitter have no joined; however, the number of sites that have decided to take action is impressive and will hopefully encourage more people to contact their congressmen and implore them not to pass SOPA or PIPA. You may have noticed that even PC Perspective is joining the protest in our own way, with the ads on the left and right side of the page being replaced by an anti-SOPA graphic. We considered joining the blackout; however, we felt that our audience has likely already voiced their opposition and is aware of SOPA and PIPA. Therefore, we felt it would be more effective to keep the news on the protest rolling in and to keep the site and forums up for users to discuss the issues. SOPA may be stalled; however, it is far from dead and talks in Congress on the bill may resume as soon as next month. Keep the pressure on, and help spread the word about SOPA and PIPA by talking to your friends and family and explaining to them the implications of such a bill passing. Do you really want to be the one to explain to them after SOPA or PIPA passes why they can no longer get their Facebook fix!? (Scary!)