Wikipedia, the popular free encyclopedia, is protesting against proposed legislation in the United States that it says "would seriously damage the free and open Internet."
Here's a closer look at the legislation's timeline:
Dec. 5, 2007 - The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (Pro IP Act) is introduced in the House
The Pro IP Act is introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan. It was co-sponsored by 19 other members of the House, including Republican Rep. Lamar Smith from Texas who would eventually introduced SOPA in the House. Pro IP is designed to change intellectual property protection in the United States and provide law enforcement with more tools to fight intellectual property theft.
September 26, 2008 - Pro IP passes the Senate and the House
Pro IP passes unanimously in the Senate, breezes through the House again, and then moves on to the president's desk to be signed into law.
October 13, 2008 - Pro IP is signed into law
George W. Bush signs the Pro IP Act into law creating the new Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. The new law is heavily supported by business leaders as well as the music and film industries. Meanwhile digital rights groups like Public Knowledge disapprove. This sets the stage for the introduction of both PIPA and SOPA in Congress.
September 20, 2010 -- Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is introduced
Pro IP champion Patrick Leahy introduces COICA into the Senate. The bill unanimously passes its committee. But it is blocked from going to vote by fellow Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon who says that "deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile."
May 12, 2011 -- PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is introduced in the Senate
Sen. Leahy rewrites COICA and introduces the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate with 40 cosponsors.
October 26, 2011 - The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is introduced in the House
January 13, 2012 - Rep. Smith agrees to remove Domain Name System (DNS) blocking from bill
Following an uproar from critics, Rep. Smith agrees to remove the controversial DNS blocking provision from the bill designed to give the federal government the right to remove any offending website from the DNS system. Critics of the proposal maintain that it could cause catastrophic damage to the entire structure of the internet.
January 16, 2012 - Opponent Darrell Issa says SOPA will not go to the House floor without consensus
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California says that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has assured him that prior to a vote on SOPA, there would be consensus in the House.