So January 18th is the Great Blackout, when sites all over will do everything from displaying a banner to blacking out their sites in protest of the Stop Internet Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, a pair of proposed bills that will give private companies the power to shut off websites because they allegedly have copyrighted material on their page- allegedly, mind, it doesn't need to be proven.
It'll also make a blogger responsible, not only for their content, but the content of those commenting- so, no avatars with copyrighted images, no logos, no illustrating your posts with any images that you don't own the copyright to. Accusations of violations will be enough to cut off payment to your site, effectively shutting you down. Singing a popular song on Youtube could create pressure to block your profile, or Youtube could risk being blacklisted as a place where copyright infringements could happen. Many innovations we take for granted- Twitter, Wikipedia, Facebook, Tumblr especially- would not have been able to exist.
And who is backing this? Companies who make their money in music and movies, naturally, who feel like this is a method to prevent their content being stolen.
It's interesting to point out that porn companies, meanwhile, are AGAINST SOPA. Their content can be stolen too, of course, but porn understands what SOPA could lead to- private companies being given rein to censor the internet as they see fit. Sure, some of their content might be stolen, but they make enough of it to not be too fussed, plus they keep offering more extras on dvds that are hard to find- and niche porn tends to not find its way to torrent sites, so if you want, say, queer porn, you'll probably have to buy it anyway.
Also, it's possible that sites can be censored for "promoting" illegal behaviour- so this blog, for example, would be shut down because I talk openly about being a sex worker, and Erowid would be at risk for being a place for harm reduction drug taking practices. I worry that other sexual material could become easy to censor, particularly if you add this bill to some "think of the children" censorship campaign.
I'm also amused that Irish bookies are apparently taking bets on which sites will join the protest.
(no one can censor my ponies!)