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SOPA blackout: Protests hits streets of NYC, SF, Seattle, Las Vegas

Photo: Poeple meetup in an event organized by the group New York Tech Meetup to protest against proposed laws to curb Internet piracy outside the offices of U.S. Democratic Senators from New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Schumer and Gillibrand are co-sponsors of the Senate bill PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the US House version. Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

The protests against the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) spread from the Web into the streets of New York on Wednesday.

According to the New York Times, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Cnet and Mashable, hundreds (and maybe thousands) of people organized by the group New York Tech Meetup protested in person and with signs against SOPA and PIPA outside of the offices of New York Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats.

The group, which reportedly has about 20,000 members, targeted Schumer and Gillibrand for the protest because the two are co-sponsors of PIPA. The protesters, which police corralled into metal barriers on a sidewalk in front of the senators' Manhattan offices, called for Schumer and Gillibrand to withdraw their support for PIPA -- a move a few politicians took on Wednesday amid the widespread online actions against the proposed laws.

Similar protests were also planned Wednesday in San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.

While lawmakers in support of SOPA and PIPA have said that the bills are written to protect against online piracy and theft of American-made films, TV shows, music and other digital goods, those against the bills say the legislation would open the door to online censorship that would essentially ruin the free flow of information on the Web.

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Andrew Rasiej, chairman of the New York Tech Meetup, told the New York Daily News that not only would SOPA and PIPA open the door to censorship of the Internet, but the laws would also have negative effects on the ability of the U.S. to remain a leader in the global tech industry.

"Because a new innovation by a start-up could be interpreted by a judge unfamiliar with how the technology works as infringing on copyright, investors and entrepreneurs would be discouraged from moving forward with a start-up due to a significantly increased risk of legal entanglement," Rasiej told the New York Daily News. "This in turn would dampen job creation and future opportunities for New Yorkers and Americans as a whole."

RELATED:

More opponents of PIPA and SOPA emerge on the right

SOPA blackout: Bills lose three co-sponsors amid protests

SOPA blackout: Who’s gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills?

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: People gather outside the offices of two U.S. senators from New York, including Sen. Charles "Chuck" Schumer,  to protest against proposed laws to curb Internet piracy. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images

 
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