Search Engine Wikipedia Down, Midland College Students Voice Out

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- Wikipedia went dark on Wednesday in protest of twin anti-piracy house bills. Joining them were several other mainstream Internet search engines, like Google and Craigslist. Click on those pages, and you'd be directed to sites explaining their grievances with the proposed bills, along with ways to fight them. Even the Winkler Post, and online local news source, went black on Wednesday.

SOPA, or the "Stop Online Piracy Act", and PIPA, the "Protect Intellectual Property Act", would expand copyright holders and U.S. law enforcement's ability to shutdown the illegal online sharing of copyrighted material.

Midland College's Austin Rodriguez thinks this is a form of censorship.

He tells us, "We use the Internet in our everyday lives like i-Pads and i-Phones. My phone has the Internet. That's what I do for school. That's what I do if I want to find something out. So, it's kind of like the government's telling us, 'we're going to limit that.'"

Student Stefan Ozuna says copyright infringement shouldn't be allowed, even in this down economy where people are pinching pennies.

"People that are creating masterpieces like movies and music and people that are creating stuff for their benefit and profit shouldn't have to suffer because we say we're too poor," he says.

Stephanie Avelar says limiting major search-engines would really impede on her studies.

She adds, "I'm taking five classes here at Midland College. Google and Wikipedia would really help me out on a lot of different papers that I have to write and looking up different things on the Internet. If it were down for 24 hours, it would really get me frustrated."

Gabriela Martinez says taking away all the free information only hurts people.

"I understand that they're going to tell us to resource our library, but our library is only restricted to so much information. Google has so much to access worldwide that some of the instructors are looking for," Martinez said.

Lesley Isaacs says she understands the purpose of the anti-piracy crusade, but thinks there's a happy medium out there and we just haven't found it yet.

"With technology growing so quickly, there has to be some kind of way to go into there in the system so that pictures and things can't be taken without credit," Isaacs said.

If the bills pass, copyright holders and the government could get court orders against websites involved in violations. The main targets are foreign website that have gone rogue, hosting an array of illegal material, like songs and movies.

Those court orders could halt a few things, like advertising revenue those websites get. They could also stop search engines, like Google, from putting up links to those questionable sites.