To call attention to two bills that would result in massive web censorship and hurt American businesses, Google today has carried through on its promise to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) by blacking out its logo and urging a call to action.
The typical primary colors you’re used to seeing on Google are gone today. Instead, Google users are greeted with the above image and a message: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!”
Whether you click on the blacked out image or the link beneath it, you’ll end up at a Google website, End Piracy, Not Liberty, where Google lays out the numerous reasons millions of Americans oppose the controversial bills and you can sign a petition opposing SOPA/PIPA.
“Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA,” the site reads in part. “The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.”
Google says fighting piracy is important, but “the most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.”
The only other search engine joining with a visual protest is DuckDuckGo, which puts a black bar over the face of their trademark duck with a link for users: STOP PIPA/SOPA, which leads to Grassroutes and tells you, based on your IP address, how to contact representatives via email, Facebook, and Twitter.
Bing’s homepage hasn’t done anything special today to show opposition to SOPA, though Microsoft said the company opposes SOPA in a statement:
“We oppose the passage of the SOPA bill as currently drafted, but hundreds of millions of customers rely on our services every day so we don’t plan to shut those down to express our view. This is an important issue and we think the recent White House statement points in a constructive way to problems with the current legislation, the need to fix them, and the opportunity for people on all sides to talk together about a better path forward.”
Yahoo also isn’t among those protesting, though Yahoo-owned Flickr is allowing users to black out their own photos in symbolic protest.
Google yesterday announced they would dedicate their homepage to the cause. In fact, if you Google “SOPA,” you’ll find a million different reasons SOPA supporters want time to let things cool off, as the online reaction against their bill has been overwhelming.
SOPA Becomes a Waiting Game - Markup to Continue in February
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced late Tuesday that he expects committee markup on the controversial SOPA to continue in February, citing political party retreats as the reason for the delay.
The move bought Smith a comfortable cushion between the Internet blackout planned for today by major sites including Wikipedia, Reddit, WordPress, Mozilla, BoingBoing, and Cheezburger, and the next round of debating a bill condemned by pretty much everyone outside of the entertainment industry.
In a White House press release, Smith said:
"To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy.
“Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property."
For an easily digestible, comprehensive SOPA overview, check out Mashable’s "Why SOPA is Dangerous". Visit Stop American Censorship to sign their petition and find out what else you can do to protest SOPA/PIPA or whatever the great minds in Hollywood Washington come up with next.
Enjoy the retreat, guys, the Internet will still be here when you deign to return and debate the bill you’re determined to pass, come hell or high water.
Miranda Miller also contributed to this report.
UPDATE: For more on this topic, see our in-depth post, "SOPA Explained: Why It’s Bad for the Web & How to #StopSOPA".