This Wednesday, you may have noticed the internet got a little weird: Google’s logo on its homepage was censored, Wikipedia went black, even LOLcats were asking you to contact your members of Congress. The cause of all the uproar? The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two bills currently in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively.
Both SOPA and PIPA were created to allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders greater capacity to combat online sharing of copyrighted intellectual property and goods – i.e., to make it harder to pirate music, movies, and other media online. Proponents of the bills, the most vocal being the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, estimate that internet piracy results in some $100 million in lost profits annually for U.S. companies and the loss of thousands of jobs.