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Wikipedia and Reddit are fighting back against a bill making its way through Congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is cleverly cloaked as a method of protecting intellectual property by removing websites hosting unauthorized copyrighted material, has the potential to cripple the Internet.

In addition to potentially taking down large sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as collateral damage, this bill could put hundreds of thousands of small publishers out of business.

Other sites planning to participate in the blackout include the blog BoingBoing and the Cheezburger network.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted confirmation of Wednesday’s planned blackout, saying, “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday.! #sopa”

Wales also told CNNMoney that his site will feature “a letter from the community and a call to action — to call and write Congress. My goal is to melt switchboards!”

Sites chose Wednesday for the blackout to coincide with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing with industry experts, however, the hearing has been canceled.

One of Reddit’s founders, Alexis Ohanian, who was scheduled to testify at the hearing, says the cancellation won’t stop the blackouts.

The cancellation was likely triggered by a statement the White House released on Saturday, saying the Obama administration would not support legislation that mandates “tampering with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System. (DNS).”

While proponents of the bill, which is largely supported by those in Hollywood and the music industry, claim the legislation is meant to fix a broken system that doesn’t prevent criminal behavior, critics say the backers don’t understand the Internet, and the implications of this legislation.

“We could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits,” says BoingBoing.

Let me be clear, we at Bitten and Bound are all for online privacy, and we believe piracy is a real issue, however, this type of legislation has far-reaching repercussions that could destroy the Internet as we know it.

Bitten and Bound is active in lobbying against online censorship. Members of our team attended the Interactive Advertising Bureau Long Tail Alliance in Washington, D.C. last May, meeting with 37 House Districts and 12 Senate Offices, including members of the Senate Commerce Committee, making them aware of the important role an advertising-supported Internet plays in empowering small business growth in America.

For more information on the implications of SOPA, and the consequences to individuals and their freedoms, check out the video below.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.