Websites protest anti-piracy laws


By Shelby Devitt

Parts of the Internet went on strike and instituted a blackout as a form of protest of SOPA and PIPA Wednesday.

The passage of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) in Congress would intend to stop online piracy. Many illegal download sites operate overseas, and the United States government can’t shut them down. It can, however, force U.S. advertisers to pull off the sites, sue U.S. companies that support these sites and make it harder for users to get to content by blocking URLs.

Opponents of these bills have pointed out the futility of blocking URLs to sites where users can download content. IP addresses of these same sites would still work, and users could still illegally download media.

Steven Polak, junior actuarial science major said he’s been keeping up with the status of SOPA and PIPA for some time.

“I’ve been reading about the goals of these, and it doesn’t seem like a very effective way to target piracy and copyright infringement,” he said. “All it’s really doing is making it more difficult to access sites and giving censorship power.”

Polak signed a petition against the passing of the bill, and said he is considering calling Illinois Rep. Pete Roskam.

Popular sites like Reddit, Wikipedia, and Minecraft shut their sites down completely during the strike while other sites like Google, Tumblr, Imgur, Twitpic, Craigslist and the I Can Haz Cheeseburger network (which includes Fail Blog and Know Your Meme) retained access, but opened to a page encouraging users to email their senators before entering the site.

Some students knew very little about the online protests until they went to use their favorite sites Wednesday.

“I think [the blackout] will draw attention,” Polak said. “I have half a dozen friends who didn’t even know about this until today. It was a good move on Wikipedia’s part.”

Kishwaukee Community College nursing student Jay Reed said he heard about the legislation on the news and saw his friends posting on Facebook about it.

“They should target the individuals rather than shutting down an entire site,” he said. “YouTube always takes down stolen content, so why punish the site if they’re following the laws?”