Wikipedia joins blackout protest at US anti-piracy moves

 

In pictures: Sopa protests

Wikipedia Sopa protest

Related Stories

Wikipedia has taken its English-language site offline as part of protests against proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.

Users attempting to access the site see a black screen and a political statement: "Imagine a world without free knowledge."

The user-generated news site Reddit and the blog Boing Boing are also taking part in the "blackout".

However, Twitter has declined to join the shutdown.

Wikipedia, which attracts millions of hits every day, is opposed to the US Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa) being debated by Congress.

The legislation would allow the Justice Department and content owners to seek court orders requiring search engines to block results associated with piracy.

The site's founder, Jimmy Wales, told the BBC: "Proponents of Sopa have characterised the opposition as being people who want to enable piracy or defend piracy".

"But that's not really the point. The point is the bill is so over broad and so badly written that it's going to impact all kinds of things that, you know, don't have anything to do with stopping piracy."

The message replacing the normal Wikipedia front page on the internet says: "For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopaedia in human history. 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."

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: ''These bills are very badly written''

The site was still available on mobile phones, however.

Google.com also joined the protest, blacking out its logo and linking to an online petition urging Congress to not censor the web.

Veto hint

It is an unprecedented protest, says the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington. Analysts say it is the first major test for the young and disorganised internet industry against powerful media interests with many lobbyists in Washington.

Sopa's supporters in the House of Representatives say the legislation is designed to stop revenue flowing to "rogue websites". A similar bill, Pipa, is making its way through the US Senate.

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

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."

Sopa and Pipa explained

The US bills are designed to block access to sites containing unauthorised copyright material.

Content owners and the US government would be given the power to request court orders to shut down sites associated with piracy.

Advertisers, payment processors and internet service providers would be forbidden from doing business with infringers based overseas.

Sopa also requires search engines to remove foreign infringing sites from their results, a provision absent in Pipa.

Despite the hint of a presidential veto, Wikipedia said that the English site's administrators had decided to stage its first ever public protest because the bills "would be devastating to the free and open web".

It added: "We don't think Sopa is going away, and Pipa is still quite active. Moreover, Sopa and Pipa are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we're seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms."

However, when asked whether Twitter would join the blackout, its chief executive, Dick Costolo, tweeted: "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."

In a Twitter conversation with Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales, Mr Costolo later clarified that his comment was not meant to be read as a "value judgement" about other organisations involvement in the action.

The anti-piracy legislation still has high-profile supporters including News Corporation's chairman, Rupert Murdoch.

Twitter chief executive's tweet A message by Twitter's chief executive sparked off a conversation with Wikipedia's founder

Over the weekend he tweeted: "So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery."

He later added: "Seems like universal anger with Potus [President of the United States] from all sorts of normal supporters... Whole entertainment industry employs 2.2 million [on] average salary $65,000. Good jobs and expanding foreign earnings. Made in America, too!"

Sites taking part in the shutdown went offline for 24 hours from midnight Eastern Standard Time (05:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 1171.

    Ever wondered what copyright laws are for?

    To protect the interests of creative people, and make their output worth their while.

    SOPA is much needed.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 1057.

    Oh and if it wasnt for people hearing some of these unknown/lost songs on the net.some of these artists would have starved by now. Its only through people sifting through and finding something they like ect. We have brought albums puely through finding songs on utube and listening. As for movies, im sick of the shops ripping me off ive wasted £s buying dvds that are so poor, & cant return them.

  • rate this
    +30

    Comment number 1017.

    It's a quaint myth non-creative types hold that author's/ musician's bread and butter comes from on-line sales, and, "piracy" eats into those sales. It's a false argument. Rupert Murdoch makes his living selling other people's work on-line. 99% of struggling artists can't. No one willingly gives up a monopoly. What we're seeing is the death cries of those who've gotten rich on other's hard work.

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 1011.

    Copyright laws have had their days. They are a money grab, and thanks to the internet, they're as unenforcable as were the laws of the prohibition period in the USA. For thousands of years artists have created art for the purpose of sharing it with others. Some phenomenal pieces of art were created, without copyright laws... and they will continue to be created when copyright laws are gone.

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 998.

    Sometimes I download music, films or TV programs illegally. If they're any good I will buy a copy, and if not I won't. The fact is that if I weren't able to do this, I wouldn't buy ANY music or films, because they're just too expensive to "take a chance" on. So in my case (and I can't be the only one) piracy helps the rights holders make MORE money than they otherwise would.

 

Comments 5 of 15

 

More Technology stories

RSS

Features

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Peter MatthiessenPeter and Paddy

    Remembering two of the greatest travel writers


  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.