Today sites around the internet are either shutting down for 24 hours, or have altered their logos in some way to draw attention to two bills pending in the U.S. Legislature this year.
In the U.S. House is the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, (Read more: Govtrack.us / Wikipedia) and in the Senate is its companion bill, Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA (Read more: Govtrack.us / Wikipedia). These bills aim to curb online copyright infringement, but opponents claim they are written in a way that will impede free access to information on the Internet.
Wikipedia claims the policing burden placed on websites such as itself by the bills would force these websites to cease operation rather than continue.
The Motion Picture Association of America is sponsoring the bills as a way to prevent piracy of American movies by foreign countries.
Before the Internet, if you wanted to know something, you called a library and asked a "Reference Question." Many people still do, and not just the technology holdouts. Even those who are Internet savvy are sometimes not research savvy.
Teachers are now having to drill into children, sources other than Wikipedia.
Free access to information is something we have come to rely on in the modern age.
The idea that it might no longer be available, or severely curtailed, even for one day, is certainly scary.
We invite you to read up on the issue for yourself.
Some sites that are protesting:
Some articles about the blackout: