Wikipedia Blacking Out
January 17, 2012
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Wikipedia plans to black out its entire English website on Wednesday, January 18 to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). The two congressional bills would prevent American Internet sites from sharing or even linking to illegal, copyrighted material, including movies and music.
Many major businesses in the entertainment industry, which are dependent on intellectual property rights, are backing the bills. Any illegal, copyrighted material that is openly shared on the web threatens entertainment companies and the estimated 2.2 million workers employed by them.
However, several equally powerful websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, Wikipedia, are against the legislation, claiming that they would hinder the freedom of the open Internet. The websites fear that the bills grant too much power to federal law enforcement, allowing it to shut down any website it deems guilty of distributing pirated material.
Wikipedia, joining Reddit and WordPress (which runs this newspaper site), stated it will be offline for 24 hours and urges users to rally against the bills. Essentially, the debate boils down to two camps, Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley.
As the legislation continues its way through Congress, only time will tell whether the protests will provide enough influence to prevent them from passing.