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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Wikipedia To Go Dark January 18 in Opposition to SOPA


On January 18, 2012 the Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours, in protest against proposed legislation in the United States - the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PROTECTIP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate.

During the blackout, the Wikipedia page will only offer visitors information about the controversial SOPA and the PIPA proposed anti-piracy legislations. The information will urge Wikipedia readers to contact their local congressman to vote against the bills. Other smaller sites leading the campaign include Reddit.com and Cheezeburger.

"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the Wikipedia administrators said.

"Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation," said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. "This is an extraordinary action for our community to take - and 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."

The SOPA legislation under consideration in the House of Representatives aims to crack down on online sales of pirated American movies, music or other goods by forcing Internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates U.S. copyright laws. U.S. advertising networks could also be required to stop online ads, and search engines would be barred from directly linking to websites found to be distributing pirated goods.

White House officials raised also concerns on Saturday about SOPA saying they believe it could make businesses on the Internet vulnerable to litigation and harm legal activity and free speech.

Lawmakers have already been coming around to the realization they would have to hold back on the DNS-blocking provisions.

On Thursday, Senator Patrick Leahy, who is sponsoring the Senate bill, said he planned to propose amending it so that the ramifications of blocking access to a site be studied before implementation.

On Friday, Representative Lamar Smith, who is sponsoring the House bill, said he planned to remove altogether the provision that would require service providers to block access to infringing foreign websites.

The debate seems likely to intensify in the coming weeks.


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