Google & Leading Tech Companies Protest SOPA

Today many leading tech and web companies are protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills in the house and senate, respectively. Wikipedia is probably the largest name among the sites that are actually going dark — showing no content at all on the sites except a note about the protest. Google is the biggest name among the sites publicly protesting.

Google’s protest is a large black box signifying the censorship that the current version of the SOPA and PIPA bills would bring across the web. If you click on the link below, or anywhere on the black box covering the logo, it takes you to Google’s page protesting the bills and filling in some very basic information about it.

In addition Google has said they are greatly slowing down the crawl rate of the Google bot for today only, so as to limit any negative impact from sites that are going dark for the day. Previously, however, Google did give instructions on how to take your site dark without harming your rankings (by returning a 503 error).

For those of you unaware of the SOPA / PIPA issue, here are the main points:

  • It’s backed by the music, movie, and publishing industries as a way to prevent foreign sites from profiting off their copyrights.
  • Whether or not it was the intent, the bills have provisions that would affect all US sites.
  • They allow for the removal of sites from the internet and from search engines without a warrant, if that site hosts, embeds, links to, or talks about how to get copyrighted content.
  • They call for the removal of sites in a way that would damage the architecture of the internet, and likely damage internet security.
  • They are worded such that just linking to a copyrighted work is an infringement, and your site is responsible for all links — meaning Facebook and Twitter are responsible for every link posted by every user, and they are encouraged to police their users. There is also a provision that indemnifies them for censoring too much or when it wasn’t necessary.
  • They are worded such that a prison term of up to 5 years could apply to violation from US web site owners.
  • Taken together, these bills literally make it possible for you to have a blog, and have someone post a comment with a link to themselves singing karaoke. Your site could get taken down and you could serve jail time because of that. This is clearly not the intent of the bills, but it is how they were written.

So it’s easy to see why a lot of big names are against it. All of the security groups are against it for its potential to damage the internet structure, the privacy groups are against it for the denial of freedom of speech, and of course the tech companies are against it because they have user-generated content that they can’t reasonably control. Can you imagine Facebook or Twitter trying to prevent any links to any videos that contain any snippet of song that may be copyrighted?

Comments 17

  • Here here — I really wish Google would have shut down entirely for the day though. That would really make a difference!

  • I think that Google probably is wise to not go dark. This way they direct a lot of attention to the bill without getting people pissed off and redirecting that anger toward those protesting these bills.

  • Reading about these bills is scary.

  • I agree that it’s probably smart of Google to not go dark. But just think of how many people are writing blog posts about SOPA and PIPA now because of Google’s actions.

  • SOPA and PIPA are just more unneeded, unwanted, unnecessary gov’t regulation–not thought out but rushed through because STEALING MUSIC IS THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO AMERICA! Good on Google for raising awareness among the general public. Hopefully a lot of people signed the petition they linked on their site.

  • The blackout isn’t going to change anything. They’ll just sit on the bills a few months and tweak a couple details and then next time people won’t bother to get worked up and pretty soon something really similar to these will pass.

  • I keep hearing how much money the music and movie industries are throwing at congress to get these pushed through… Google is richer than any movie or music studio, why don’t they start throwing some money around too.

    Heck, get Facebook and Google and Amazon together to fight this with money rather than just a web page about it and then maybe we’ll see a fair fight.

  • SOPA is nice if it impose its limits carefully. Privacy of people must still be protected even in the Internet.

  • That’s great info, thank you for the great Internet Marketing stuff..

  • Wow! This is some crazy stuff. Doesn’t the government have better things to work on than this? I mean like the economy, unemployment or the price of gas. I mean come on……

  • The blackout will not make any difference and neither will throwing money at it either. These bills are just the start but fair play to Google for not going dark what is that old saying “thou protesteth too much”. I think they’ve raised the profile of this unnecessary legislation

  • “The blackout will not make any difference and neither will throwing money at it either”

    Well, the blackout (largely Wikipedia’s actual blackout) did bring national attention to the bills and got them both shut down and shuttered. The war isn’t over, but those battles were won by sites blacking out.

  • I keep hearing just how much money the music and film industries are throwing at congress to obtain these pushed through… Google is richer than any film or music studio, why don’t they start out throwing some money about as well.

    Heck, get Facebook and Google and Amazon together to fight this with money instead of just a web page about it and after that perhaps we’ll see a fair fight.

  • I agree that Google has only changed in ways that prevent the spamming of the system. To this end they are now putting a lot of emphasis on Social Proof as a means of ranking a website

  • That’s what i call “great post”. Thank you so much.

  • I remember the day of SOPA. It was weird seeing the whole internet going black, especially wikipedia. It’s good to see an internet solidarity on issues in my opinion.

  • Thanks for the recent kind words on the blog!

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