Today James Wells took the decision to take the English language section of Wikipedia offline to mark his protest against the SOPA and PIPA.
The home pages says:
Imagine a World
Without Free Knowledge
For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia. Learn more.
Clicking Learn More takes you through to an active page on Wikipedia that explains why it is taking a stance against these bills / rulings.
SOPA and PIPA are 2 bills, the first in the United States House of Representatives and the second in the United States Senate. They are designed to protect intellectual property rights and stop online piracy, however, there are great concerns that they will be abused in the future by people in positions of power and mark the end of “freedom of speech” online. Apparently Barrack Obama is against the bill.
Examples of possible abuse have been discussed in various forums and social media networks on the Internet, and include shutting down websites and blocking their advertising if a website does so much as link to an infringing website. As all bloggers and forum webmasters know, people “spam” links to their illegal content all the time and every now and then one slips through the net. These can be used against you.
You may think that it is just an American problem, but so many websites are supported and financed by Advertising that is managed by American companies, many sites have their domains registered with US companies and many are hosted in America. The entire network is at threat!
Anyway, I unfortunately do no have time to go into any detail about this, and frankly, I do not fully understand it. There are probably errors in what I have written already. So here are some hand picked links, hand picked by Wikipedia editors, not me, that better explain the whole mess.
Video Explanation of SOPA and PIPA from http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa
Links to site that explain SOPA and PIPA better than I:
- Why is Wikipedia staging a blackout and what is SOPA?, from the National Post
- Wikipedia joins blackout protest at US anti-piracy moves, from the British Broadcasting Corporation
- Wikipedia blackout over US anti-piracy bills and FEATURE: Websites blackout over ‘SOPA censorship’, from Al Jazeera
- Wikipedia, Craigslist, other sites go black in SOPA protest, from the Los Angeles Times
- Wikipedia goes dark on piracy bill protest day, from MSNBC
- Wikipedia blackout a ‘gimmick’, MPAA boss claims, from the Guardian
- Wikipedia 24-hour blackout: a reader and Why we’re taking Wikipedia down for a day, from the New Statesman
- Wikipedia, other websites go dark in anti-piracy bill protest, from CNN
- SOPA, PIPA: What you need to know, from CBS News