Websites protest against SOPA

The infamous US bill that could change the internet.

English-language websites including our friends Rock, Paper, Shotgun and a site we definitely never look at called "Wikipedia" will be taken offline for one day tomorrow in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its friend PIPA (the PROTECT IP Act).

SOPA is designed to allow movie companies, music labels and video game makers to actively protect their creations from piracy online.

However, opponents have argued that it goes too far, allowing courts to issue orders more or less banning any websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement - by removing them from internet search results and instructing ISPs and payment companies like Paypal to bar access to them - without hearing or defence. The bill would also make unauthorised streaming of copyrighted material a crime punishable by jail time.

While the bill would only affect US access to websites, the global ramifications would be considerable.

PIPA, the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) is a similar law being proposed to the US Senate. (It is also one of the most stupid bacronyms ever invented.)

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the owner and organiser of game show E3 and representative of nearly all major video game publishers, publicly supports SOPA, although opposition has now spread to some of its member companies. The likes of Bungie, GOG.com, Mojang, Runic and Riot Games have all come out against the bill.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Joystiq have pooled resources in an effort to doorstep all members of the ESA and find out where they stand on SOPA. The list of SOPA supporters can be viewed online, although few video game companies are present.

Back in the US, the White House opposes SOPA in its current form, although PIPA alone could alter the internet as we know it. A test vote for PIPA will be held in the US Senate on 24th January.

You can declare your opposition to it via a PIPA petition website.

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