If you're reading this, chances are that you regularly consume media online. And if you regularly consume media online, you're almost certainly seeing and reading more today than you know what to do with about the federal Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
SOPA and PIPA are the respective House and Senate versions of legislation designed to police websites, many of them based abroad, that sell stolen media content — movies, music, and more — to U.S. consumers. Silicon Valley's tech giants, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are fighting ferociously to stop the bills from going through. Most conventional media companies, particularly in Hollywood, support the bills.
In an ad you've probably seen pop up in your Facebook feed, Google says the bills would “censor the Internet.” Wikipedia has gone dark for the day to protest the legislation. Searches on the widely used Internet encyclopedia redirect to a shadowy page that ominously declares, “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.”
Critics of SOPA and PIPA have good points. But a routine round of fact-checking shows that the depiction of the bills by the tech industry is misleading.