January 19, 2012
After a day of online protest by several groups Wednesday, college students shared their attitudes toward two anti-online piracy bills currently before Congress, and they weren't favorable.
Wikipedia, Wired.com, Reddit and other organizations with an Internet presence protested the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261), or SOPA, being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives, and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (S 968), or PIPA, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Many in the technology industry--as well as free speech advocates--are concerned these bills would make it possible to shut down sites that link to unauthorized content, which could lead to abuse, censorship and stifled expression and creativity.
Protests took on many forms. Wikipedia's English language site went dark for 24 hours. Google censored its doodle with a black bar. Boing Boing posted a "503: Service Unavailable" page.
Higher education sites also protested and provided information about SOPA and PIPA. The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University blacked out its website and blog for the day. The MIT admissions site also went dark. MediaCommons, an online academic network, went offline for 24 hours "in protest against legislation that threatens our ability to explore new forms of scholarly communication," it said. The CUNY Academic Commons posted a notice that read, "These bills, intended to curb online piracy but excessively overbroad, threaten the existence of sites like the CUNY Academic Commons that allow people to share information on the Internet." The homepage for Baruch College's blog network contained information about the controversial bills.
Many students were shocked and outraged they couldn't access Wikipedia, many questioning it and complaining on Twitter that they couldn't complete their homework, Hack Education noted.
According to The Pan American, students at the University of Texas-Pan American weighed in on the proposed legislation and the protest. Sophomore David Wright called SOPA "un-American" and said it would give the federal government too much control.
"(If SOPA passed), personally I would get upset," he told The Pan American. "This protest is a good idea. It will teach people not to change how it is."
Sophomore Alex Ramirez agreed that many students would be angry if the bills passed but felt the 24-hour protest wasn't enough to make an impact.
"(The protest) is showy but maybe not effective," he said. "Sure these sites are blacked and people noticed, but in 24 hours they are going to be back up."
Currently, Congress is hearing testimony about the potential effects of SOPA. A vote is scheduled for January 24.
Compiled by Doresa Banning
"Internet Sites Go Dark to Protest Anti-Piracy Bills," chronicle.com, January 18, 2012, Jennifer Howard
"The Internet's Reactions to Students' Reactions to Wikipedia's Blackout," hackeducation.com, January 18, 2012, Audrey Watters
"UTPA Students React To SOPA/PIPA Internet Blackout," panamericanonline.com, January 18, 2012, Karen Antonacci