Wikipedia joins 1 hour shutdown protest to combat US anti-piracy bill

17/01/2012

Wikipedia has become the latest site to announce its plan to go offline Wednesday in protest of the controversial US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA.) The user-generated news site Reddit and the blog Boing Boing have also said they will take part in the "blackout". However, Twitter has declined to take part in the shutdown. The sites' webmasters are opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) being debated by Congress.

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Wkipedia said in a posting that it would be taking its English-language service offline for 24 hours to help raise awareness about both SOPA and the Protect IP Act (PIPA.)

"In late 2011, the United States Congress proposed two legislative bills, SOPA and PIPA, which legal scholars and others have advised have the potential to significantly change the way that information can be shared through the internet," the statement read.

"It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web."

Wikimedia founder and chairman Jimmy Wales also voiced his support for the blackout in a Twitter post.

"I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday," Wales Tweeted.
"Tell everyone you know!"

Sopa's supporters in the House of Representatives say the legislation is designed to stop revenue flowing to "rogue websites".

It would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down sites associated with piracy.

It could also force US-based internet service providers, search engines, payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business or offering links to foreign sites suspected of involvement with the illegal activity.

On Saturday the White House issued a statement that appeared to side with critics of the Acts.

It said: "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet."

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