Wikipedia begins blackout in protest against US anti-piracy laws

Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Wed, 2012-01-18 11:34

"English version of website goes offline for 24 hours as part of 'day of darkness' in protest at US anti-piracy laws."

It's true I just tried it. Is it the right thing to do? Is it a justified protest?

Wikipedia begins blackout in protest against US anti-piracy laws

"Wikipedia has taken its English-language content offline as part of a "day of darkness" in protest at US anti-piracy laws that it says could "fatally damage the free and open internet" and "severely limit people's access to online information".

As of 5am on Wednesday, anyone trying to access the online encyclopedia will have been greeted with a blackened screen and a message exhorting them to "imagine a world without free knowledge".

"For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history," reads the message, adding that the website will still be available on smartphones and mobile devices. "Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."

The legislation that has prompted Wikipedia - along with other sites such as the blog Boing Boing and user-generated news site Reddit, which will go down at 8am EST – to take such drastic action is the House of Representatives bill to stop online piracy - known as Sopa - and its Senate equivalent, the protect intellectual property act known as Pipa.

The bills, which have been hailed by the media, film and music industries as a big step towards helping the fight against piracy, have been denounced by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, as "destructive legislation" that would "set a frightening precedent of internet censorship".

The message on the blacked-out Wikipedia site continues: "Wikipedians have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the first time ever, because we are concerned that Sopa and Pipa will severely inhibit people's access to online information. This is not a problem that will solely affect people in the United States: it will affect everyone around the world."

Boing Boing is even more direct, warning the proposed legislation "would certainly kill us forever". Google, which is functioning as usual, carries a message reading "please don't censor the web!" and links to a site warning the bills will do just that, as well as "impose harmful regulations on American business"...

On its site, Wikipedia says the bills will not be effective tools for fighting copyright infringement.

"They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed.

'Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. And, Sopa and Pipa build a framework for future restrictions and suppression."


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Daily Reckoning

gregster's picture

"If government gets its way with this legislation and these overall trends, the costs will be immense and tragically unseen. Digital media and information freedom is directly and indirectly responsible for most of the economic growth we’ve experienced over the last 20 years. Without it, government controls, taxes, regulations and wars would have instituted a new dark age by now.

"For government to attack Internet freedom today would be akin to burning the seventh-century manuscripts of St. Isidore of Seville, who produced, in the hardest times, the book that summarized all the knowledge of the ancient world (a Wikipedia of his time) and remains a primary source today.

"It would be like murdering Venerable Bede in the eighth century, so that he could not have written his history of England that passed on knowledge and wisdom in the darkest of times.

"It would be like smashing the 15th-century Gutenberg presses so that printing could have never gotten off the ground.

"Historians constantly remind us that all great leaps in human history are inspired by the sharing and spreading of information. This is the precondition. When the first crusaders returned with new manuscripts from the ancient world, we began to see the first signs of the birth of modernity in the West. When populations moved to cities where they could leave behind their isolation and collaborate with others, economic growth followed. And when the Internet blasted down the barriers around the world and allowed anyone to discover new ideas, we saw a new dawn of technology and efficiency."

Blackout Wednesday: The Time Has Come

Perhaps someone involved with IP law can explain what this means? I don't know of the "fundamental corruption" or "fraudulent notion":

“No new laws are even necessary; government possesses the power now to crush the information age on a bureaucratic whim.

In fact, this goes on every day. That’s because governments everywhere, in all times and places, want to control information and will use all their power to do it. It is also because the legal framework that rules how information is produced and distributed is fundamentally corrupted by the fraudulent notion of “intellectual property,” which, if consistently enforced, would put an end to the Internet as we know it…”

Edit: Oh, I worked it out by looking at the author's information. He's an intrinsicist libertarian and therefore full of shit on IP matters.

A maxim to live by:

Robert's picture

Chris Dodd is a is the political equivalent of the black plague. Any bill he touches should be doused in Lysol, sealed in plastic and then cremated - container and all.

Automatically assume that if this swindler and crook has had anything to do with writing this bill, then you can bet that it's consequences will be terrible and act accordingly.

Piracy is bad. But Dodd's political parasitism is worse.

"Last month, Dodd argued that

Callum McPetrie's picture

"Last month, Dodd argued that if the Chinese government was able block websites then it should be possible in the US too.'

So anything that the Chinese government does, the US government should also be able to do?

The Chinese government imposes censorship on a far greater range of media than the US. Should it also be possible that, without justification, the US government should have the power to shut down any film production on the most arbitrary grounds?

Murdoch the modern pre Wynand

seymourblogger's picture

taken after Hearst by Rand. Shits. She acknowledged their right to do what they do/did, but she deconstructed Hearst in her Journal research for Fountainhead. Making the news instead of reporting the news. Manufacturing the news. Besides Murdoch knows the days of print media are numbered and wants to tighten the strings on the internet to give him more time - money - before he loses power/control.

wiki stopped me today

seymourblogger's picture

and do I miss it. I had to read fast on my window before it went black.

Google and Craigslist are among the websites joining protest

Marcus's picture

"Chris Dodd, the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement: "A so-called 'blackout' is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals."

Last month, Dodd argued that if the Chinese government was able block websites then it should be possible in the US too.

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp, which backs Sopa and Pipa, equated copying a film with publishing pornography and hate speech."

Wikipedia and Google join anti-piracy bill protest

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