Tomorrow (18th January) Mozilla, Reddit and a wealth of other websites are to turn their lights off for 12 hours in protest of the controversial 'Stop Online Piracy Act' (SOPA), whilst the English Wikipedia Site is set to be offline for a full 24 hours. This means that from 5.00am tomorrow you may find that you're unable to access certain websites from your Plusnet connection. You can read the official statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here.
What is SOPA?
The Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives late late last year as a measure to combat online piracy. It would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down sites they consider to be associated with piracy.
So why strike over it?
Not dissimilar to the UK's oft-criticised Digital Economy Act, the proposals have been met with furore by a significant proportion of the Internet community. The BBC quoted Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, as saying:
"Proponents of Sopa have characterised the opposition as being people who want to enable piracy or defend piracy.But that's not really the point. The point is the bill is so over broad and so badly written that it's going to impact all kinds of things that, you know, don't have anything to do with stopping piracy."
Whilst the proposals have been made state-side many recognise that, should it become law, the implications could stretch much, much farther.
Who's taking part?
A full list of the websites participating in tomorrow's strike can be seen here. If you happen to stumble across a website on the day that's been taken offline then you're likely to encounter a page like this: Fortunately our award winning Support Staff are familiar with what's happening which will undoubtedly help should any bemused students get in touch wondering why they can't do their homework For those of you on Twitter you can follow developments using the hashtag #SOPASTRIKE