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Google plans to use home page to protest SOPA

The tech sector is pulling out the big guns now.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

Google, the Web's top search company and one of technology's most influential powers in Washington, will post a link on the company's home page tomorrow to notify users of the company's opposition to controversial antipiracy bills being debated in Congress.

Google confirmed in a statement that it will join Wikipedia, Reddit and other influential tech firms in staging protests of varying kinds against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which are backed by big entertainment and media interests.

"Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet," a Google spokeswoman said. "So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page."

In response to questions about how the protest link would appear, Google said it would not replace the company logo.

None of the protests are as dramatic as the one planned by Wikipedia. The English version of the Web encyclopedia is scheduled to go dark for 24 hours to protest the legislation.

The past weekend will likely long be remembered as a turning point in the debate over how to fight online piracy in the United States. Supporters of SOPA and PIPA once could boast of wide bipartisan support but suffered a series of blows starting on Thursday to eliminate an important provision in PIPA.

By Friday, both houses of Congress had eliminated a requirement in each bill that would have required U.S. Internet service providers to cut off access to foreign sites accused of piracy.

Following that, a group of Senators--some who once supported PIPA--requested that a vote on the bill be delayed. It was denied but things kept getting worse for antipiracy proponents. The White House, which was considered an ally of the music and film industries, suggested in a statement that the president would not support several cornerstone provisions of the bills.

It all culminated on what may come to be known in the entertainment sector as Black Sunday. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. and one of the world's preeminent media tycoons, displayed a rare public tantrum via Twitter. In his posts he accused the president of taking his marching orders from "Silicon Valley paymasters." He suggested Google was whipping up the opposition and was a "piracy leader."

Murdoch's posts were startling. There was no hiding it anymore; copyright owners were alarmed. The tide of the legislation battle had changed and the opposition appeared to have the upper hand.

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