By: Rebecca Woolard
Some USC students got an unpleasant surprise when they tried to log on to Wikipedia last week. Instead of the usual format, students found the Internet encyclopedia was blacked out, only a proste announcement showed up.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill that would expand U.S. law enforcement's ability to fight online trafficking of pirated goods, software and entertainment shows on the Internet by giving the government the power to order the sites blocked.
The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA) would give the US government and copyright holders additional tools to access Web sites dedicated to selling counterfeit goods.
The goal of Wikipedia blacking out its page was to make viewers aware of the bills' consequences. USC students heard Wikipedia's message loud and clear.
"I was working on a homework assignment for a class...I was obviously frustrated by the fact that it was out," said USC student Christian Aldridge.
Aldridge wasn't the only one trying to use the site. Wikipedia reported 162 million visits during the blackout. Four million of them used link provided to express their opinions to congress.
Google supported the protest by blacking out part of its homepage as well.