SOPA and PIPA: Everything you need to know


Today is SOPA Blackout Day to oppose the bills currently being proposed in Congress, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA). You may have noticed that there are several major websites that are down today, including Wikipedia, Reddit, and Mozilla. You may have noticed that you Google has a message on their homepage encouraging people to contact Congress.

What exactly is SOPA and PIPA?

In essence, these are attempts by the US government being fueled by the entertainment industry to fight online piracy. They are being positioned and publicized as anti-piracy acts by government entities that do not understand the consequences of what they are proposing. Hollywood donates large sums of money to politicians and that money is being threatened, in theory, by increases in online piracy. Thus, these bills were born.

First, let’s take a quick look at a video on SOPA Blackout that explains in layman’s terms what this is all about:


Now, let’s take a look at some of the perspectives on the internet right now that tell the story of the SOPA/PIPA opposition. If you’re thinking that this seems to be a one-sided piece, it is. There is only a sliver of gray area here. These bills offer an overwhelmingly obvious glimpse of censorship that takes us down a path which can only lead to one thing: a closed internet.

First and foremost, here’s an open letter to Washington signed by many founders of major tech companies:

An Open Letter to Washington

We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.

However we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act — which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online — will undermine that framework.

These two pieces of legislation threaten to:

  • Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
  • Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
  • Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and
  • Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.

We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square
Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch
David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo!
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post
Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and co-founder of Alexa Internet
Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal
Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay
Biz Stone, co-founder of Obvious and Twitter
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation
Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter
Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!

Now, let’s hear from Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as he discusses SOPA on CNN:


If you think that it’s just the internet elite trying to protect their meal ticket, think again. Here’s a great video depicting what SOPA and PIPA means to someone who doesn’t make millions of dollars of the internet:


Additional resources and articles:

So, who all is involved? Several major websites and a ton of smaller sites are expressing themselves:


Google is involved

Google Blackout

They aren’t participating in the blackout directly (and rightfully so, as people who do go to sites that tell them for the first time about SOPA or PIPA will go to Google to find out what it’s all about), but they blacked out their famous logo and linked from their homepage to a message about the bills. The also made a nice little infographic, but unfortunately (at the time of this writing) the link doesn’t work.


BoingBoing is involved

BoingBoing Blackout


Minecraft is involved

Minecraft Blackout


Vanilla Forums is involved

VanillaForums Blackout


WordPress is involved

Wordpress Blackout


The CTD is involved

CTD Blackout


Wikipedia is involved

Wikipedia Blackout


MichaelMoore is involved

MichaelMoore Blackout


The ECA is involved

ECA Blackout



Cryptocat is involved

Cryptocat Blackout


Errata Security is involved

Errata Security Blackout


Syracuse University is involved

Syracuse Blackout


Digibase is involved

Digibase Blackout


941 Media Project is involved

941 Media Project Blackout


Occupy Birmingham is involved

Occupy Birmingham Blackout


The Pirate Party is involved

Pirate Party Blackout


The Day the LOLcats Died

Last but not least, let’s watch this video that would be funny if it wasn’t so close to the truth.


SOPA and PIPA must be stopped. Do your part. Stay informed. Spread the word.

By Sal McCloskey

+Sal McCloskey is a tech blogger in Los Angeles who (sadly) falls into the stereotype associated with nerds. Yes, he's a Star Trek fan and writes about it on Uberly. His glasses are thick and his allergies are thicker. Despite all that, he's (somehow) married to a beautiful woman and has 4 kids. Find him on Twitter or Facebook,

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