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Google, Mozilla, Wikipedia Fight SOPA Piracy Bill

Blacked-out websites and calls-to-action appear across the Web to protest proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills.
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Google has blacked out its logo on its homepage to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). In so doing, it joins with a handful of well-known websites and dozens of less well-known sites engaged in similar acts of protest.

"Like many businesses, entrepreneurs, and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Wikipedia has taken similar steps, replacing its English website with a terse warning about the threat that SOPA and PIPA pose to the Internet .

[ Support for SOPA and PIPA appears to be diminishing in Congress. Read SOPA Stalling As Opposition Grows. ]

On Wednesday, Google published a post from chief legal officer David Drummond that argues against the two bills and asks visitors to petition Congress not to pass the legislation.

Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has begun redirecting traffic from its main and English websites for 12 hours to a black page with a call-to-action message to make visitors aware of the problems posed by PIPA/SOPA.

"We hope the blackout of our US sites will help bring attention to this important issue and encourage users to educate themselves about PIPA and SOPA," the company said in an emailed statement, noting that Firefox users will not be affected.

SOPA and PIPA, drafted to provide intellectual property owners with more power to shut down websites, would drastically curtail free speech, magnify cybersecurity risks, and undermine the functioning of the Internet, according to critics.

Drummond argues that the two bills would limit due process, block access to tools used to circumvent censorship, and make it easier to sue law-abiding U.S. companies.

Legal experts Laurence Tribe and Marvin Ammori have contend that the two bills violate the Constitution.

Over the weekend, the White House published an online post on its website stating that it would not support the legislation, though it continues to support efforts to reduce abuse of intellectual property.

About this time, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch began tweeting broadsides--if Twitter can be forced to serve in a cannon metaphor--at Google for its public opposition to the bills. He called Google a "piracy leader." He has continued with this line of criticism, saying that the "blogosphere has succeeded in terrorizing many senators and congressmen who [were] previously committed [to SOPA and PIPA]."

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