Go click on the English version of Wikipedia and try and search for... anything.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
Great. Now that you're back...
Today, Jan. 18, several powerful, oft-used sites have gone dark (or have a black bar). Why, you may ask?
According to a New York Times article, several of the largest searchable sites on the Internet are protesting two pieces of legislation (the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate) that would allow media companies to seek a court order to make search engines remove links to a site found to have illegal or copyrighted information. The bills could also force advertisers to pull out of such sites.
Tech firms are objecting to the broad legislation, which could affect everything from a personal blog that uses a photo or clip of a movie to huge sites like Facebook where millions of people share links to outside sources. They also object to the lack of tech industry involvement in crafting the legislation.
Concerns have also been raised that personal sites and small web companies shouldn't be punished for a small infraction by having their sites pulled "off the air" entirely.
Legislators sponsoring the bill claim that the companies are attempting to "stoke fear" in the public, and state that the bill is aimed at sites that host illegal downloads and pirate information. Currently, if those sites are not in the United States, U.S. laws don't apply. These bills would change that by going after search engines as well as the sites themselves.
Patch wants to know, what do you think? Should we go after illegal downloads and copyright pirates through search engines as well as sites?