And there was a chance you hadn't heard of them at all, until prominent sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit, Twitpic, and ...icanhazcheeseburger decided to bring the topic front and center with a day of protest. Wikipedia shuttered all English-language content today, and Google placed a prominent link on their main page instructing users to lobby their elected officials.
Why? SOPA and PIPA attempt to go after people who offer pirated copyrighted material in order to protect the profits of movie and music producers. Unfortunately for them, the most egregious pirates operate outside of the U.S. jurisdictions.
To get around this, the two bills place burdens on service providers who do so much as to link to forbidden content. If a 14-year-old in Texas uploaded a copyrighted photo or video to Facebook or Youtube, the companies themselves would be held accountable.
Even worse, in an attempt to prevent Internet users from reaching foreign sites, the bill changes the way DNS, or Domain Name Servers translate I.P. addresses, which screws up the way the Internet itself works. Obama has recently come out against the bill and pledged to veto it over the potential cyber security threats.
So what can you do? Concerned Internet users are encouraged to contact their Senators and Representatives to indicate opposition to the bills.
--Article by Devin Glaser