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There’s a great big online war being waged, and we’re not talking the Twitter fight between Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (this time, anyways). In a rare collusion between Washington folks and Internet folks (yes, the two ARE mutually exclusive), sites such as Wikipedia have shut down in a “Wednesday Blackout” to fight some very controversial legislation in the US.

So, what’s the scoop? An act currently in the House named The Stop Online Piracy Act (commonly called SOPA) and the Protect IP Act in the Senate (PIPA). Both would allow U.S. attorneys general and copyright holders to shut down websites that display or link to copyrighted intellectual property or counterfeit goods. Yes, this would include sites like Google—hitching websites with never before seen scrutiny, and providing the government with the authority to intervene on the Internet, web hosts, and search engines themselves.

Whether you’re for or against, we have to take a look at Wednesday’s protest and ask: do online efforts translate into action in the real world? The short answer here is a resounding ‘yes’. Many key legislators are already backing down from the bill, and representatives across the nation report telephones that had been ringing off the hook all of Wednesday. As a movement, online initiatives can have big effects. Something to keep in mind!

Until next time,