Tumblr, Firefox and Reddit drew broad black lines on their websites Wednesday to protest a proposed U.S. law that Internet companies have dubbed "censorship" and entertainment companies "piracy protection."
Their symbolic design tweaks coincide with what several open Internet advocacy organizations have declared American Censorship Day -- a day some of the Internet's biggest web companies have dedicated to encouraging users to speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act (called the Protect IP Act in the Senate). The bill strengthens the U.S. Justice Department's power to go after websites that host disputed copyright material and makes sites such as YouTube and Tumblr that host such user-generated content liable for copyright violations.
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Tumblr has blacked out all user-generated content you see when you first log in. When you click on the gray lines to investigate, you're told: "Congress is holding hearings today and will soon pass a bill empowering corporations to censor the Internet unless you tell them no," and then have an option to leave a phone number to be connected to your elected representative.
If you do so, you'll receive a phone call from Tumblr CEO David Karp (or at least a recording of his voice) in which he suggests talking points before saying "thank you for doing your part to protect the Internet" and dialing the appropriate phone number.
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Mozilla and Reddit are also participating in the so-called American Censorship Day, by censoring their logos, which click through to instructions for contacting representatives.
"If, say, someone found a single instance of copyright infringement on Kickstarter, all of Kickstarter — every project — could be taken down until it's removed," the post says, "As you can imagine, this would be disastrous for everyone involved, and it would punish an entire community for the bad behavior (or honest mistake) of one person."
AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga delivered a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that argues SOPA "pose[s] a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity." On Wednesday, they ran the letter as a full-page ad in the New York Times.
"The solutions are draconian,'' Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said during an appearance at the MIT Sloan School of Management, according to The Christian Science Monitor. "There's a bill that would require (Internet service providers) to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.''
Have the various protests around the web caused you to get involved in supporting or opposing SOPA? What do you think of proposed legislation?
This story originally published on Mashable here.