Several popular websites, including Wikipedia, plan to go “dark” on Wednesday to protest two bills pending in Congress that aim to stop the illegal sharing of music and movies on the Internet. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the bills, known as SOPA and PIPA, may need a little tweaking but the intent of the legislation is very well meaning.
Grassley says, “They may not be perfect the way they’re written and I’m going to be part of the process to try to perfect them so that we can find a balance between people stealing copyright, trademarks and inventions and I guess you’d call it the freedom of the Internet.”
Leaders at Wikipedia, the massive online encyclopedia, claim the bills would force websites into the impossible task of policing cyberspace. Several other major websites, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, will still be online Wednesday, but their chiefs are joining Wikipedia in opposing the two pieces of legislation.
“If these search engines, like Google, are taking the position that nothing needs to be done, they’re taking the position that stealing is okay,” according to Grassley. The bills are SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, which stands for Protect I-P or Internet Protocol.
Grassley says the Senate version of the bills should be out of committee next week and will go to the floor for debate. He’s hoping common ground can be reached. Grassley says, “If everybody takes the position that stealing of copyrights, trademarks are wrong or that theft just generally is wrong and we start from the premise of what can we do to stop the stealing, then I think we can meet a friendly consensus on this issue and get the job done.”
Other websites that will be joining Wiki with off-line protest on Wednesday include Reddit and BoingBoing. Their complaint focuses on how the bills would require Internet service providers to block websites that are involved in the illegal sharing of movies, music and other content.
Search engines would also be stopped from linking to those websites, which they say is in direct opposition to the concept of an open Internet.