You may have gone to Google today and got a bit of a surprise, the site’s logo is blacked out. Wikipedia and many other sites also have their home pages altered.

What’s going on with this? It’s an online protest to two bills: Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House. You can find full text of these bills in PDF form here for SOPA and here for PIPA.

Both of these bills are designed to tackle the problem of websites that distribute pirated content like movies and music. The problem is that most of these sites are located outside the U.S. Because it’s tough to police sites outside the U.S. for this pirated content, these bills put the onus on sites like Google to make it hard for people to find these sites, and sites like YouTube to police what people post to their networks. The bills would effectively enable content owners (think movie studios and record labels) to shut down sites that they believe are violating copyright.

While these sites do agree with all content owners that pirated content is illegal, the main point that they’re trying to make with their online protest is that it’s impossible to enforce this legislation without promoting censorship and without completely changing the way their businesses run. Many of the protesting businesses do support legislation against piracy of some sort, but argue that SOPA and PIPA as written do not represent the best course of action. Even the White House has indicated that these specific bills are not the right solution.

How do you feel about these bills? Will they affect your business?

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