Reddit will black itself out in protest of SOPA

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"If we do nothing, Congress will likely pass the Protect IP Act (in the Senate) or the Stop Online Piracy Act (in the House), and then the President will probably sign it into law," added the Reddit team. 

"There are powerful forces trying to censor the Internet, and a few months ago many people thought this legislation would surely pass. However, there’s a new hope that we can defeat this dangerous legislation."

An official with the website recently told The Hill that if passed SOPA would "kill Reddit." Users have pressured lawmakers that support SOPA and PROTECT IP, with their grassroots efforts credited in part for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) recent public opposition to the bill.

Reddit will be blacked out Jan. 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as part of the protest. The site will be displaced by a message explaining how the two online piracy bills would shut down the site and links to ways users can take action to protest.

The site will also showcase a link to the House Oversight Committee hearing on search engine and Domain Name Service blocking called by chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) after the Judiciary Committee refused requests by the technology industry to appear at the sole hearing on the bill before the markup.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who has been outspoken about his opposition to SOPA, is among the witnesses scheduled to appear at Tuesday's hearing.

He will be joined by a number of Web entrepreneurs and technology experts expected to argue the legislation would jeopardize the security and structure of the Internet.

Update: SOPA sponsor and Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent the following response: “It appears that no one at Reddit has read the bill. The Stop Online Piracy Act only targets foreign websites that are primarily dedicated to illegal and infringing activity. It does not grant the Justice Department the authority to seek a court order to shut down any website operated in the U.S.

“Under current law, the Justice Department already has the tools to pursue domestic websites that illegally provide counterfeit or pirated products to U.S. consumers. SOPA simply extends enforcement of property rights protections that apply to domestic websites to those that operate abroad. Why shouldn’t foreign websites that steal and sell American products and inventions be held to the same standards as those here in the U.S.?

“This bill will not censor Reddit, or any other website. But it will help protect American workers, inventors and job creators from foreign thieves that steal our products, technology and intellectual property. Reddit’s publicity stunt promotes fear not facts and does a disservice to its users.”

This post was updated Thursday, Jan. 12 at 12:48 p.m.