The lights fade at Flickr in site-wide SOPA protest

Flickr is letting the people of the web suck the life and beauty out of its site today.

The Yahoo-owned photo-sharing service is encouraging members to darken photos for a 24-hour period with a “Darken this photo” call-to-action on each and every photo hosted across the popular service.

The drastic measure is meant to be symbolic of the dark implications of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two controversial pieces of legislation making their way through the House and the Senate.

Flickr members can darken up to 10 photos — either their own photos or the photos of others — to show their solidarity and support the anti-SOPA movement. Members can also choose to opt-out from the site-wide campaign by clicking the “Do not darken my photos” option on any photo.

With the gesture, Flickr has joined a growing list of tech companies in an all-out Internet blackout attempt designed to spread awareness of the censorship dangers associated with SOPA and PIPA.

Why is Flickr willing to tamper with its most-prized possession in such a bold fashion? In a nutshell, the SOPA and PIPA bills would give the U.S. government and copyright holders the authority to seek court orders against foreign-operated websites associated with pirating intellectual property. Most of the companies participating in Wednesday’s blackout, including Flickr, believe that Internet piracy is a very real problem, but see these bills as granting excessive authority to the government and threatening the web as we know it.

“These bills have the potential to stifle innovation, require censorship of search results, impose monitoring obligations, and change the way information is distributed on the web,” Flickr senior community manager Zack Sheppard said. “Government regulation of online activities is a slippery slope, and these proposed bills fall down that slope without truly addressing the issues that ignited this debate.

Update: “As of 2 pm PT today Flickr members have darkened 219,644 photos and these blacked-out photos have already received up to 1,034,896 views,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat.


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