The SOPA Saga

At the ripe old age of 43, it appeared that the Internet had died.

Day of death: January 18, 2012.

Only ten days ago, Internet brain-child Wikipedia announced the Internet’s death with a morbid headstone plastered across its homepage. It read simply, “Internet: 1969-2012.”

Published on Wikipedia's homepage on Jan. 18, the headstone was one of many images symbolizing the web-based protest of SOPA and PIPA.

No epitaph was necessary.

The image was part of a larger protest that drew an estimated 7,000 websites together against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill originating in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate bill equivalent, Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

In an effort to raise awareness, sites across the web coordinated a service blackout on Jan. 18 and demonstrated their angst by posting links and images in protest against SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia’s R.I.P. icon played an essential role.

Provisions in SOPA would have expanded the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proponents of the bill said it protected the intellectual property market and bolstered enforcement of copyright laws, while opponents held that the legislation threatened free speech and innovation by essentially censoring the web and its content.

Countless petitions, constituent outcries, and web-based objections killed both SOPA and PIPA.

The headstone has since taken up new residence on Wikipedia’s “Protest Art” page as an example of activist art.

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