For many web users Wednesday, all you could see of some of the internet's most popular sites, such as Wikipedia and Reddit, was a black screen with a message explaining that they were blacking out their sites in protest.
Websites and web users alike took a stand against SOPA and PIPA. These acronyms stand for U.S House bills that target websites with pirated content.
Stephen Tepp, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the bills, "These rogue sites are hurting American jobs, stealing American jobs. They're harming American consumers and they have no business being on the Internet."
Others like Jimmy Wales, Co-Founder of Wikipedia, worry that the the bills could go too far. "In the worst versions of the bill, Wikipedia would be defined as a search engine and we would not be able to even link to something like the Pirate Bay even in our encyclopedic description of what piratebay is. I think that's a real problem. That raises really serious First Amendment issues," said Wales.
If he's right, this could affect links in our own website as well. U. S. Senator Mark Kirk has spoken out on the issue, "I oppose the SOPA legislation. Your right, as an American, under the First Amendment, is to say or do whatever you would like, and that has been announced on the internet. You should be able to use Google or any other search engine and not have the government interfering with the search results that you have."
Under SOPA, websites that contain pirated material would be more or less be blacklisted by search engines and internet service providers.
(Quotes provided by CNN.)
Some say it started with Napster, but the truth is, sharing of information has been going on since the word "internet" was used for the first time in 1982.
Now Congress wants a closer watch on that sharing and not everyone likes the idea.
Wednesday is the largest online protest in history. Activists are calling it the SOPA Strike .
A non-profit called "Fight for the Future" posted at sopastrike.com , "On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill - PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House - to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity."
Essentially, under these two bills, one could be looking at prison time, fines and website shut down if copyright infringement is suspected.
We want to hear from you ... take our poll below and join the conversation on our Facebook page here . We want to know what you think of copyright infringement and online piracy.