Wikipedia to shut down for 24 hours

2012-01-17 21:19

San Francisco - Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia will shut down its English language site on Wednesday for 24 hours to protest at proposed anti-piracy legislation in the US.

The unprecedented move comes in reaction to two bills making their way through the US houses of Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Critics of the legislation maintain that they would limit free speech and give content owners draconian powers to shut down websites implicated in piracy, even if they merely provide links to copyrighted content.

"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take," Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Tuesday.

"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."

With over 25 million unique visitors per day Wikipedia's US site is the largest web property taking part in the online blackout. Other participants include news site Reddit, the left-wing advocacy group MoveOn, Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, and the popular blog Boing Boing.

The proposed legislation is strongly supported by US movie and music industries who say web sites should do more to curb the distribution of pirated material.

Those opposing the proposed legislation include Google and Twitter though both have declined to join the blackout. "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said.

Google said it plans to place a link on its home page to highlight its opposition to the anti-piracy measures.

The White House has indicated it opposes the legislation.

"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," it said in a blog posting last week.

  • Denise - 2012-01-17 21:43

    One of the sites I visit is also going offline tomorrow at 8am US time. I will miss the site, but I do understand why they are doing it.

  • duncan.cramer - 2012-01-18 07:08

    shame on google and twitter for not joining in and showing what public force can achieve.

      mauritzswanepoel - 2012-01-18 10:11

      shame on for not joining in and showing what public force can achieve.

  • kseyffert - 2012-01-18 09:19

    I say that it is time to stop relying on the US. setup backup DNS servers outside the US and the legislation loses it's power.

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-01-18 10:01

    A balance will have to be reached as the music and film industry especially in the independent field take enormous losses. If the current wave of intellectual piracy continues then soon there will be no artist, writers musicians. Freedom of information and it's sharing are all important. However the work of artists that create material content needs to be paid for and people who download this creative work should pay for it. To create art, music, films cost time, and money and for people to think that it is their 'human right' to steal that content, enjoy it without paying a dime is ridiculous. There is a difference between freedom of information and free information. There is a difference between public information e.g. information that belongs to the public, this is daily news, government policies, public companies that are paid for by tax payers. and Information, art, concepts, music and films, entertainment put into the public domain sourced from the imagination of a author, photographer, film maker, musician, designer and so on, and this should be paid for by the public that want to enjoy and be entertained by this material, unless offered for free by the creators. Artists must be paid! Large internet companies at present enjoy the present scenario because it drives traffic to their sites, it creates business for them, telecommunications companies love large downloads, it all adds to large revenues for them. The only one's out of pocket are the creative artists.

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