January 19, 2012 – As well-trafficked websites like Wikipedia and Google faded to black in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), local organizations across the country voiced their opposition to the proposed legislation by joining the strike.

Members of the Media Action Grassroots Network led the way as thousands of local organizations blacked out their sites to raise awareness of the threat they say these two pieces of proposed legislation pose to free speech online.  Though the debate on these “anti-piracy” bills has pit Hollywood against Silicon Valley, local leaders say the communities they serve will be most affected if these bills become law. 
“It’s increasingly clear that the SOPA debate has become about those who want to control the Internet versus those of us who need to use it,” said Media Literacy Project Director Andrea Quijada.  Her organization in Albuquerque, New Mexico, posted a similar action and a humorous graphic about the issue on their website.  
Minnesota Senator Al Franken, a long-time supporter of Internet Freedom, was called upon by Danielle Mkali of Minneapolis’ Main Street Project to champion the fight against Internet censorship. “SOPA/PIPA would threaten the innovation, creativity and connection that Minnesota artists, organizers, small business owners have come to depend upon. We urge Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar to oppose this bill” 
While both anti-piracy bills claim to protect content creators rights, local leaders like Bryan Mercer of the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia are convinced that the bills threaten civil rights. 
"Enacting SOPA will cripple journalism, independent creative expression, and life saving services by making it possible to shut down a website for a single link,” adds Bryan Mercer of Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project. “Passing SOPA/PIPA means sacrificing millions of American's freedom to openly exchange information." 
In the Bay Area, Media Alliance Director Tracy Rosenberg agrees. "The Protect IP Act is over-reaching and threatens every web address with more liability and less freedom. You wouldn’t shut down the Internet because of one bad actor, and we shouldn’t shut down the whole Internet to protect copyright." 
These leaders were joined in their opposition by more than four million people who signed petitions asking Congress to kill these bills.

Additional Sources:

SOPA-PIPA Justice Talking Points

A Day of Censorship Protests, Online and Off 

What is SOPA Anyways? A Guide to Understanding the Online Piracy Bill

What is SOPA? Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know

Why Should Latinos Care About SOPA



The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) is a local-to-local advocacy network of over 100 grassroots community organizations working together for media change to end poverty, eliminate racism, and ensure human rights.


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