When I mentioned this in class today, most students didn’t know about it.
Since many people will be Googling PIPA and SOPA trying to figure out what is going on tomorrow, and Wikipedia ironically won’t be there to explain it to them, I thought I would say just a little about what is happening (since a far as I know, Patheos will still be working).
The “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect IP Act” are both aimed at curbing copyright infringement – which may make them seem like a good thing. But the way they go about it is to allow for measures such as the government preventing Americans from connecting to a site that is said to have posted material that violates copyright law. That is the same technology that is used by totalitarian states to prevent access to information that they don’t want the people living under their regimes to see.
It is that possibility of access to information being stopped without due process that makes many concerned. And this is just one of the issues that has been raised.
So if you have ended up here because you were searching for information about why Wikipedia wasn’t working, and were disappointed that you couldn’t just get more information from Wikipedia to answer your question, hopefully this will help explain what is going on, at least a little.
The blackout of websites is an attempt to show what actual websites might look like if these bills become laws.