Wednesday’s wide-spread online protest of the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) drew quite a bit of attention on Twitter, but @herpderpedia was there to capture it all.

Many websites, including Reddit, Wikipedia and Mozilla, blacked out their sites to protest SOPA and PIPA and @herpderpedia kept us all in the loop with Tweeters’ frustrations. Most of the rage on Twitter was directed at Wikipedia for being down. Some people voiced their confusion, “What’s up with this Wikipedia blackout bullsh*t? #confused” but others were a little more intense. This tweet, “OMG WIKIPEDIA YOUR KILLING ME YOU COMMUNIST F*CKS!!!!!!!!” is a good example of how most people seemed to feel.

But what many people didn’t realize is that their sights should have been pointed their senator or congressperson, not the online encyclopedia. What Wikipedia and other sites were doing were voicing their opposition against these bills, which according to Reddit, “Introduce regulation and enforce censorship on what should be a free and open internet.” They wanted to bring awareness to two proposed bills that have the potential to censor much of the internet.

The New York Daily News published an article explaining why Wikipedia and other sites went black on Jan. 18:

Simply put, they would give copyright holders new ways to punish websites that host pirated content.

That means that users within the U.S. would essentially see an error message when they try to visit that website, though users in other countries would still be able to visit it. This provision has been removed from SOPA pending “further examination,” though it’s still included in PIPA.

SOPA also requires search engines to delete links to offending websites from their search results, while PIPA does not.

Both bills require advertisers and payment services not to do business with sites accused of piracy. They also allow internet service providers to pre-emptively block websites they believe are dedicated to piracy.

It seems that the online protest against these bills has been effective. According to Mashable several co-sponsors and supporters of both SOPA and PIPA abandoned the bills after Wednesday. Those who revoked their support were PIPA co-sponsor  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and SOPA co-sponsor Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ). This, along with the White House’s opposition to the bills, is a big hit to the legislation. But, as Mashable notes, it’s not over. The tech blog states, “Even though co-sponsors of SOPA and PIPA pulled their support for the bills on Wednesday, SOPA’s lead backer says he’s not backing down and “expects to move forward” with the bill next month.”

If you didn’t contact your US Representative or Senator, it’s imperative that you still do so. The bills, while struggling, are not completely dead. You can contact your representative or Senators here.

What do you think the greater ramifications of SOPA and PIPA are? Let us know in the comments. And if you need some background info, check out this video to learn why SOPA and PIPA are bad for the internet:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

UPDATE Friday Jan. 20, 2:05 p.m.

SOPA and PIPA are both effectively dead in the water. Re. Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced that he has pulled the bill off the table and earlier today Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the vote for PIPA has been postponed.

Rep. Smith told Reuters, “I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”

He also said that Congress will be working with “copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.”

And while this is a huge victory for freedom of speech on the Web, this won’t be the last we hear of bills like this. Stay tuned to this space for more information as it comes.

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