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Web Blackout: Wikipedia closes for 24 hours, protests anti-piracy law

Web Blackout: Wikipedia closes for 24 hours, protests anti-piracy law

Wikipedia joins other websites in protesting against the proposed legislations in the US called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECTIP (PIPA)

January 17, 2012 2:08 by

Wikipedia is shutting down the English version of its website on January 18, for 24 hours in protest of anti-piracy bills under consideration in the US Congress.

The online encyclopedia said that if the legislations are passed it would be “destructive” and will “endanger” free speech, according to an article on IBNlive.

The proposed legislations in the United States are the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives, and PROTECTIP (PIPA) in the US Senate.

The legislation will “harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites in the US,” said Wikimedia Foundation’s Head of Communications Jay Walsh in a statement.

“While we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world.”

Newssite Reddit and technology blog BoinBoing also plan blackouts tomorrow. But other companies are more critical of the method. On the other hand, while Twitter signed an open letter in the New York Times in November 2011 criticising the measures carried by the bills SOPA and PIPA, the company’s head Dick Costolo said that “closing a business world in response to an issue of national policy is stupid.”

The decision to shut down the site for a day came after three days of discussions by 1800 Wikipedians over proposed actions that the community could take against SOPA and PIPA, illustrating the “level of concern” Wikipedians feel about the proposed legislation, according to the IBN article.

During the black out, Wikipedia visitors will see information about the legislation and how they can convey to their political representatives to stop the bills from being passed, instead of the usual Wikipedia homepage.

According to reports, the two legislations are intended to curtail copyright violations on the internet. However, both proposals have received criticism and strong protests from the technology industry.

The SOPA Bill, currently under discussion in the House of Representatives, aims to curb illegal downloading by requiring such a third party site to block access to other sites whose offerings violate US laws on copyright. But critics are many and some denounce a “filtering” or censorship of the Internet, according to a report on French news site, Lemonde. The text was quickly opposed by Google, which considers that the text goes too far, as well as Facebook, while the major labels and Hollywood studios support it.

California-based Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation that operates Wikipedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 474 million unique visitors per month.

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