Why is Wikipedia blacking out for 24 hours? So the internet won't be free? The web will be censored? Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on with the whole S.O.P.A, and after a little research, this is what I've come up with.
If the bill is passed, the government, and private companies will gain a lot of power over the internet. It'll be like a death penalty for websites. With a court order, the US Attorney General can force an internet provider to prevent access to the website of choice.
If you're still confused, CNN explained it best:
Let's say a YouTube user uploads a copyrighted song. Under the current law, that song's copyright holders could send a "takedown notice" to YouTube. YouTube is protected against liability as long as it removes the content within a reasonable timeframe.
When it gets a DMCA warning, YouTube has to notify the user who uploaded the content. That user has the right to file a counter-motion demonstrating that the content doesn't infringe on any copyrights. If the two sides keep disagreeing, the issue can go to court.
The problem with DMCA, critics say, is that it's useless against overseas sites.
SOPA tackles that by moving up the chain. If you can't force overseas sites to take down copyrighted work, you can at least stop U.S. companies from providing their services to those sites.
I agree that online piracy is a problem, but this S.O.P.A solution would mean sites would have to check through millions of links to avoid copyright infringement before posting the links, and in reality those pages who do get caught, and shut down, only have to change their address, and can continue their activities. I don't have the answer to online piracy, but I don't believe censoring the web, and giving all that power over the internet to private companies and the gov't is the way to go.
Fortunately the Obama administration is on our side, having recently issued a response:
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response,” said the note, “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”