As many as 7,000 websites are participating today in protests of some form or another against the U.S. House Of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act and the U.S. Senate’s companion Protect IP Act. Some are going dark. Others are calling attention to the issue in less dramatic ways. Among the more prominent are Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, WordPress, TwitPic, Cheezburger, BoingBoing, several gaming companies including Minecraft, and Mozilla, source of the Firefox web browser. Wikipedia, BoingBoing and Minecraft have gone dark. Others, like Google, are displaying home page illustrations or visual statements about censorship and urging visitors to contact their elected representatives.
MPAA CEO Chris Dodd criticized the protesters for “resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), sponsor of SOPA, responded to Wikipedia going black: “It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.” Smith also said the House … Read More »
The online encyclopedia says it will, making it the most prominent participant to date in a planned Wednesday protest over a Hollywood-supported effort to fight online piracy. “We have no indication that SOPA [the House's Stop Online Piracy Act] is fully off the table,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted today. Also, a similar bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, “is still alive and kicking. We need to send Washington a BIG message.” The plan is for Wikipedia’s English-language site to go down for a day beginning Wednesday at midnight ET. “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!” Wales tweeted. He added that “My goal is to melt switchboards!” Last week news aggregator Reddit said it would go dark for 12 hours on Wednesday; Cheezburger Network also will join the protest. The companies, along with most of the tech community, bitterly oppose the proposals that would give the government the right to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. They say the legislation could backfire if the government used its power to close legitimate sites or thwart free speech — or if it dissuades investors from backing innovative new Web businesses. The MPAA says that illegal sales of copyrighted work endanger U.S. jobs by making movies and TV shows less lucrative. The White House said on Saturday that it shares many of the tech community’s concerns. That dampened the likelihood that the bills will … Read More »
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales blogs that he is considering a blackout of pages on the popular site to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. Wales has asked users and editors of Wikipedia to weigh in with their opinions before he makes a decision. The entertainment industry wants the government to take stronger action against “digital theft” and has lobbied heavily in favor of SOPA, while Internet companies, the Consumer Electronics Association and others have argued that the measure is goes too far and is too vague. They fear that SOPA and to a lesser extent its companion Senate measure Protect IP Act would grant U.S. law enforcement sweeping powers to shut down websites and online services accused of facilitating piracy — or even sites media companies simply don’t like — potentially without due process. Google chairman Eric Schmidt says it amounts to a license for corporate censorship. Wales came up with the idea for his protest because “the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately,” he wrote on his personal User Talk page. Wales considers SOPA a much worse law. He believes that blanking out the site might be the best way to get Washington’s attention.