Wikipedia and several other websites went dark for as long as 24 hours starting on Tuesday, January 17 to protest against the proposed online anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). Many Hollywood celebrities have since reacted on Twitter. Some voiced their supports, while others shared their opposing views.
Among those spreading awareness for the anti-SOPA/PIPA bills were the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian and Kevin Smith. Kutcher tweeted, "Please don't ignore what's happening here. IMPORTANT MOMENT IN HISTORY! #StopSOPA," Kardashian wrote, "We must stop SOPA/PIPA to keep the web open & free," and Smith said, "Tell Congress: Don't censor the web!"
Omar Epps, however, was among those who seemed to be unaffected by the protest. In response to Wikipedia's blackout, he wrote on his account, "Dear Wikipedia, Until you legitimize your sources and hold yourself accountable for falsities and misinformation, you really won't be missed at all."
The Dr. Eric Foreman of "House M.D." went on to explain his ground. "Of course I believe in freedom of speech BUT I also believe that websites that don't research their 'sources' and distinguish the truth from lies or opinions, ought to be held accountable for spreading misinformation," so he noted.
Some others, meanwhile, addressed the protest with jokes. TV host Stephen Colbert tweeted, "Wikipedia will go dark in protest of SOPA. Now where am I supposed to find inaccurate information about SOPA?", while actress Marlee Matlin wrote, "All this talk about #SOPA. With my limited Spanish I thought 'why is everyone talking about soup?' I love sopa de albondigas! :)"
Both SOPA and PIPA propose to stop the spread of pirated copies of movies and other content by "rogue'' websites. They would allow the government to shut down websites that use copyrighted materials and sell counterfeit goods. Those who oppose the bills complained that the bills could easily be abused.
Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing's managing editor in particular, told CNN, "The problem is, this legislation won't stop piracy. In years of new laws and aggressive litigation, none of it has had the slightest impact on piracy. Even if [bill supporters] get everything they want, there's no reason to think that pirates won't find a way around it."
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales also told the news agency, "Within our community we're very strong defenders of copyright. ... The other side will try to paint this as anybody who's opposed to this must be making money off of piracy or be in favor of piracy. That isn't true. The issue here is that this law is very badly written, very broadly overreaching."
Hours after the websites went dark in protest, it seemed that the rally against the anti-piracy legislation started to get its intended effect. According to USA Today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were flooded with calls and some key lawmakers who've supported or co-sponsored the bills are backing off.