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Online protest to fight piracy bills involved 115,000 websites

Some 115,000 websites and more than 13 million Internet users participated in yesterday’s Web protest against anti-piracy legislation, according to the Worcester advocacy group Fight for the Future.

The group said today that 50,000 websites blocked out all or part of their sites as part of the demonstration, from small personal blogs to major sites like Wikipedia, one of the Web’s most popular destinations. Other websites, such as Google and Wired.com, symbolically blocked parts of their sites and included information for users to reach their Congressional representatives.

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“People are really taking on this issue,” said Tiffiniy Cheng , cofounder of Fight for the Future. “These bills really cover what people care about, like sharing of content online.”

Cheng said the group was able to tally the amount of online activity by determining how many Internet users signed petitions on the Web, or had sent messages to Congress from participating websites.

The group said that 10 million people signed petitions against the legislation, 3 million emailed Congress, and 2.2 million tweets were posted on Twitter that mentioned SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act that is pending in the House of Representatives.

SOPA and another Senate bill, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, are supported by entertainment trade organizations, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, who say they would create much needed tools to fight the growth in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted music, TV shows, and movies on the web.

But the Internet companies that took part in yesterday’s demonstration maintain that the bills go too far and amount to government censorship of the Web. Many Internet companies ran banners across their homepages directing visitors to sites where they can call their congressional representative, or learn more about the bills.

Fight for the Future said that 36 senators have publicly opposed the bill, including 5 who were former cosponsors of the legislation.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.farrell@globe.com.
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