No, it's sadly not a day for shopping. Today, some of the most visited websites are dark to raise awareness of two bills now making their way through the U.S. Congress. The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), pose such a great threat to all of us who use, enjoy, and make a living on the Internet that they have united a formidable front from the likes of internet giants such as Google and Wikipedia. Social sites like Reddit that would be devastated by this sort of legislation are getting in on the black out, as well as those who help build the software that powers the Internet like WordPress.
Anyone who values the Internet as we know it, as a place that is open and free to share ideas and creativity, should oppose this legislation, as it would provide a disturbing amount of broad and far-reaching power to censor and ultimately cripple the Internet.
While I do value the rights of the entertainment industry to make a living, I do not believe these bills do anything to help the average entertainment industry employee. And frankly, I value my own ability to make a living more. I see a definite threat to my own viability in these bills, and that is no joke. At all. There is a world where the Internet and the entertainment industry can both thrive, and I hope that the Motion Picture Association of America, one of SOPA's major supporters, will come to understand that it will be far more beneficial to work with us over here on the Internet side of things than to accuse us crazy, free-thinking geeks of "abuse of power."
If you vote in the U.S., Please visit Wikipedia or Google today and find out who your representatives are, and let them know that these bills could have devastating economic effects as well as threaten the freedoms we are all promised as Americans. If you are outside the U.S., consider joining in the efforts by blacking out your site, and visiting http://sopastrike.com/.
Please go educate yourselves about SOPA/PIPA, and please watch this video I borrowed from WordPress.org (see, borrowing and sharing are great things you can do on the Internet, for now):
And then you might want to look at this one too. Because it's no laughing matter. LOLCats may in fact die along with the rest of user-generated content, and that would be very sad.