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Today, January 18, marks a massive online protest against two bills before Congress which would censor the internet and threaten U.S. economic growth. In the Senate, the bill is known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA), while the House’s version is known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Although this legislation is intended to shut down websites that share movies and other forms of media that have been pirated, many internet companies opposing the legislation fear legitimate sites where users share content may be targeted in the future.

To show their support, many major internet sites, including Craigslist, have blackened their homepage screens. Some sites have even gone so far as to completely shut down, while Google has covered their logo with a black box and directed users to a petition they can add their names to in protest against the bills.

Most notably, Wikipedia has completely blacked out their site today, explaining that “Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet.”A post from Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel Geoff Brigham points out that “other programs like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have found better balances without the use of such a bludgeon.”

Google echoes this sentiment, saying “There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.” The Senate will begin voting for this bill on January 24.

The Newsome Law Firm supports these protests and believes this legislation would have a detrimental impact on us all. We feel taking down entire websites in order to block only a few pieces of infringing materials is both a violation of our rights and a governmental overreach of power that cannot be tolerated.