My homework has given me a lot of trouble tonight. Not because it's a difficult assignment, but because my chief resource for information, Wikipedia, is making my life difficult by blacking themselves out. Sure, they left a little loophole, but it's the same command key as my Panicbutton on google chrome, which means I can load a page and then lose all my tabs to MSN.com- in the end, accomplishing nothing.
So why are they and every other website going "black" for today? Two bills going through Washington right now known as the SOPA/PIPA acts, which deal with copyright infringement and online piracy.
The internet is the greatest current frontier right now where copyright means almost nothing. It's very easy to download movies, music, tv shows, and even books to your computer without paying a dime. In some cases, the line between what is legal and what is not is blurred beyond recognition. A frequent example of this is covers of music on youtube (many accounts have been taken down for this reason).
Piracy is a large problem on the internet as a whole, but in the US alone it is not as much of an epidemic as retailers would have you think. However the ease at which a user could gain access to material is incredible. I stick with the legal route when I wish to download something, but I know, without even trying, that I have the programs needed to obtain whatever material I wish with the click of a few buttons. The programs themselves are perfectly legal (one such program was downloaded free from Microsoft) and their intentions may have been good, but in reality I could use the capabilities of the software to obtain whatever I wanted.
Some opposition to the bills (including every website) say that the bills would extend too far and, like the microsoft program, be used for purposes outside their intentions, such as monitoring lawful, everyday activity. Others still argue that piracy will never be stopped, and that a little illegal downloading here and there is actually economically advantageous. For example, Joe Shmoe orders pizza to eat while watching a pirated "Transformers" with his girlfriend. While the makers of the movie may have lost as little as a few cents, the pizza place gained about $10.
So, are you for or against SOPA/PIPA? Why?