Several web sites plan to go dark tomorrow as part of an online protest against two bills designed to prevent internet piracy.
Supporters say the bills are necessary to protect copyrights.
But opponents say they go too far.
These bills carry stiff penalties, not just for people caught illegally downloading content like movies and music online--
But also for the web sites who host the material.
Opponents say the bills are too vague, and would eliminate free speech on the internet.
If you try to use the Wikipedia or Reddit web sites tomorrow, they might look like this--
They, along with a group of sites, will go dark in protest of two federal bills that opponents say could kill free speech online.
The stop online piracy act, or SOPA, in the house, and protect intellectual property act, or PIPA, in the senate, are designed to fight the stealing of copyrighted material online.
"in a lot of ways, this bill is shoot first, ask questions later," says IPFW social media expert John Kaufeld.
Proponents of the bills range from media companies to trade organizations.
They say either would stop internet users from stealing music, movies and images online, and also punishes web sites that host copyrighted content.
"It would empower the DOJ, or the copyright owners themselves, to forego due process and say, 'you have infringing data, or something that violates any copyright and I'm going to have it taken down," says internet marketing expert Kevin Mullett.
Under SOPA and PIPA, users who post protected content can be arrested.
But web sites that -- knowingly or unknowingly-- have links to that material, would face criminal action.
Sites can be shut down, blacklisted from search results, banned from using online pay systems... Even banned from the internet by internet service providers... All before a case even goes to trial.
"The operative thing here is that it changes from a system where you are innocent until proven guilty to where you do not have an opportunity before a court to make your case that you did not break copyright," Mullett says.
Indiana's senators Daniel Coats and dick luger have no official stance on PIPA, and Congressman Marlin Stutzman has been quiet about SOPA.
Wfft contacted all three.
They were unavailable for comment today.
Yesterday President Obama said he would not support each bill as they are written, and House bill creators have shelved SOPA temporarily.
"With some modification, this could still go through," Mullett says.
The senate will discuss, and could vote on PIPA, when it reconvenes later this month.
Opposing web sites hope tomorrow's black out protest could lead to a shelving of that bill as well.