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Manhattan Demonstrators Sound Off On Proposed Anti-Piracy Bills

Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand Seem To Soften Stances On SOPA & PIPA
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Wikipedia's website goes dark to protest two proposed anti-piracy bills on Jan. 18, 2012 (credit: Wikipedia/CBSNewYork)

Wikipedia’s website goes dark to protest two proposed anti-piracy bills on Jan. 18, 2012 (credit: Wikipedia/CBSNewYork)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Did you notice that big black box on Google’s homepage on Wednesday?

And what happened to Wikipedia?

They were part of an online protest that spilled into the streets of Manhattan, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

There was a hearty lunchtime cry from a crowd out to stop “SOPA” and “PIPA.”

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

If you don’t know what they mean, you’re not alone. Aiello met many folks on Wednesday that had no idea, short of seeming to understand they have something to do with the Internet. For the record, SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act” and PIPA the “Protect Intellectual Property Act.”

Wikipedia went dark and Google blacked out its logo to protest the legislation – two bills proposed to combat online piracy on sites like piratebay.com where you can illegally download copyrighted television shows, music and movies.

But critics say SOPA — in the U.S. House — and PIPA in the Senate give the government too much power to police the Internet.

“We respect the rights of content holders. We don’t respect pirates. But we also are opposed to the possibility of Internet censorship,” Internet entrepreneur Howard Greenstein said.

“This is a dangerous censorship, a dangerous legal framework for ‘net censorship,” added David Moore of opencongress.org.

Supporters say the “censorship” claim is bogus and nothing in the bill targets legitimate websites.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Reddit’s Chief Outside Sen. Gillibrand’s Office

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand signed up as co-sponsors of the bill last May, but as protests have grown, culminating in this one Aiello attended Wednesday, they’re giving signs of re-thinking their support, saying in a joint statement:

“There are two important issues in this debate: continued freedom of expression on the Internet and the ability to block online piracy. We believe that both sides can come together on a solution that satisfies their respective concerns.

“We’ve had many discussions and held many meetings with all parts of the Internet community – from users, to members of the NY Tech Meet-up, to start-ups, to big Internet firms like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo – to hear their concerns regarding this proposed legislation, and we’ll continue those discussions.

“After constructive dialogue with many in the technology community, we have worked to make an important change in the bill regarding DNS provisions. We will continue to work with our colleagues to ensure a proper balance between stopping the theft of intellectual property and copyright infringement, and doing so without the unintended consequence of stifling or censoring the internet, which we strongly oppose. We have worked to make sure there are due process protections to ensure that legal activity over the Internet is not disrupted and that the web continues to be a place of innovation, intellectual freedom, and an unrestricted platform for the free exchange of ideas — and we welcome additional suggestions. While the threat to tens of thousands of New York jobs due to online piracy is real and must be addressed, it must be done in a way that allows the Internet and our tech companies to continue to flourish.”

Protestors think their voices are being heard.

Support for the bills is slipping in Congress and at the White House. It looks like the bills will be rewritten, or even scrapped.

What do you think of the proposed legislation? Sound off in our comments section below…

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