No SOPA: Yay! We can still play online :))))))))

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What would life online be like without your say? Or imagine not being able to cross-check a bit of pop trivia on Wikipedia at that dinner party turning into a bit of a debate? Or not being able to post a link on your Facebook wall to a great clip you’ve just discovered on Youtube? Recently, our democratic freedom to say what the fuck we want to say and see what we love to see online was being threatened by legislation from the US Congress via its SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) bills which, if passed, would have lead to all manner of new, stringent laws stopping us from cutting and pasting online, and making surfing the web as much fun as being caught in an actual giant spider trap.

The law would have expanded existing criminal laws to include penalties of up to five years in prison for simply streaming copyrighted material. And that would piss all of us intertextually-addicted, pop-referencing cyber bunnies off big-time. On a more serious note, it would threaten freedom of speech and innovation, enabling law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing material posted on a single blog.

At the end of last week, Wikipedia lead the anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA wave by shutting down its site for a full 24 hours. It was the only way, really, to get punters to take notice of the glibness of the situation: blacking out the very thing we love and have come accustomed to relying on for fluid information. Once online users globally began spreading the anti-legislation word, mostly via social networks, things really began to snowball, with petitions readily signed by the hundreds of thousands. Other sites began shutting down in protest, too, with Google even pasting a black bar across its search window temporarily. The site collected over 7 million signatures from people against the legislation. On a more radical note, hackers worldwide began disrupting the sites of lobbyist groups and businesses including shuttering those of the FBI, the US Copyright Office, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Pictures Association of America. And from out of all the chaos came the beauty of the SOPA and PIPA bills being thrown out.

This has been the biggest online protest in the internet’s short history so far, with over 115,000 sites altering their web pages, and 2.2million Twitter messages to the #sopa account alone demanding that US Congress and the multinationals leave our electronic playground alone.