Search engine giant Google has announced a change in its home page in support of the Anti-SOPA and Anti-PIPA campaigns. An estimated 7,000 websites are expected to back the cause globally by blacking out for a day.

Besides Wikipedia and Reddit, big tech companies like Mozilla and WordPress are also planning to join the war against the threat to a free internet. Facebook has voiced its opposition to the bill.

Riding on its founder and CEO Mark Kern's support for the anti-SOPA campaign, Red 5 Studios intends to follow in the footsteps of Wikipedia.

Google has ruled out a blackout but supports the protests by temporarily changing its home page which carries a one-liner: "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!".

"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 wrote in a statement quoted by Huffington Post.

Wikipedia's shutdown has reportedly hit an estimated 100 million surfers who are dependent on the site's extensive knowledge base.

Twitter has kept away from the protests with its CEO Dick Costolo saying that applying single-nation politics to a worldwide service was "foolish".

But Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey chose to support the anti-SOPA stance of other tech companies and wrote an open letter to Congress last month, warning of the impending dangers that SOPA could bring to business and innovation.

In a related development, a UK court has charged a British student, Richard O'Dwyer, on grounds of online piracy. The 23-year old could face a jail term of up to ten years for allegedly promoting pirated downloads of films and TV soaps with links on the TVShack website.

As an aside, an Irish Bookmaker, Paddy Power is reportedly placing bets on which websites would follow Reddit, Wikipedia and others in the blackout. The betting meter places the shortest odds on Wikileaks, wherein the bidder could win a fiver against every 1 pound bet.

The odds for Myspace are at 7/1, Flicker 8/1 and YouTube 14/1. The odds go higher as the probability of the site going down on January 18 gets minimal.

Accordingly, Amazon is pitted at 40/1, Yahoo takes 50/1, Facebook 66/1 and Twitter an improbable 100/1. Sony, BBC and Disney are at extreme odds with stakes at 200/1, 250/1 and 250/1 respectively.

Surprise picks are Google and Fox at 500/1. While Google has thrown its lot with the campaign, Fox is on the opposite pole.

As for the fate of the anti-piracy legislation, President Barack Obama's intentions of watering down the proposals could mean an early end to the battle. PIPA will be decided on January 24.

Besides, the Obama administration has hinted that Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and other social-networking sites would be spared of the consequences of the new SOPA/PIPA amendments.

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