Wikipedia and hundreds of other websites are blacked out today to protest legislation that would strictly regulate content on the internet (Annie Jenkins)

Some of the most popular websites are "going black" today to protest a bill that's up for a Senate vote on January 24. At issue is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and if it passes it will change the internet, and the way we all get information.

To begin with, this is all about pirated movies and music, which makes sense. It is and should be illegal to view movies and listen to and download music that you didn't pay for (anyone remember Napster?).


But the language of SOPA doesn't stop with just pirated movies and music and that's the problem. The language of the bill, (and a similar one currently working its way through congress called Protect IP Act {PIPA}) is too ambiguous, leaving entirely too much room for interpretation and abuse of the law.

In the simplest terms, if passed, SOPA, would allow absolutely anyone with copyrights to any image, in any form, to complain to any law enforcement agency that the image is being used on a website without its consent. The agency would be required by law to force whomever is using the image to shut down.

But the law doesn't stop there. Any site that has been linked to that same image would also be force by the same law to also shut down, essentially shutting down the internet.

In layman's terms, remember that picture of the kids you took at Holiday World in front of the entrance to the Pilgrim's Plunge sign last summer that you uploaded to your Facebook page so grandma could see it in Toledo, Ohio, could force Facebook to shut down along with a thousand other websites that copied the picture and cropped out the image of the Pilgrim's Plunge sign because it was a great picture of the entrance to the ride.

Your 10-second, Kodak moment in July just shut down the internet. Thanks a lot!

Leading the online protest against SOPA is the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. For the next 24 hours the English language version of the site will be offline, completely unreachable. Its founder, Jimmy Wales, explained to CNN's Erin Burnett why Wikipedia, which is used by 24-Million people per day, is stepping up to protest SOPA.


Even the White House has issued a statement about SOPA and the impact it would have on the global internet. Sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook would go offline immediately if SOPA or PIPA passes.

To stop SOPA and PIPA from passing, call your Senator today and tell them to vote 'NO' on January 24.