Wikipedia joins blackout protest at US anti-piracy moves


In pictures: Sopa protests

Wikipedia Sopa protest

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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. 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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    How Piracy is calculated, a dummies guide:
    There are x Programs on an average Pc,
    Multiply this by the number of Pc in the world,
    Deduct know Licenses sold,
    Multiply the remaining number by a Cash figure,
    The Result is what software companies claim is lost to Piracy.

    If you can't see the flaw in this logic you must be on a different planet, the same scheme is used by the entertainment industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    America on a mission to police force the world!
    If you don't like to web mate then do what China does and censor it at home for your own people. But leave the rest of the world alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    SOPA & PIPA just want to keep the hen that lays golden eggs alive, with pea sized brains it's understandable that pirates don't see the need to feed the hen, who likes to pay taxes? The same way they are needed to keep the state alive, we need to keep creators breathing.
    Pirates steal culture because they enjoy it, does anyone foresee pirates producing culture when today's creators stop?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    Talking about the legitimacy of piracy and copyright infringement here fundamentally misses the point.

    The problem with SOPA is not that it is an effort to curtail piracy it is that the lengths it goes too and the powers it invests in private hands are very dangerous and contravene the freedom of speech with characterizes the net.

    Don't be distracted by people saying 'oh Google are pro piracy.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    You can still use Wikipedia, just search or open any article you want to read and press ESC button before the page is loaded 100%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    Support Wiki for raising awareness. The internet is bigger than any single govt./business empire. The fools proposing this censorship will be aghast when their govt./business websites are shut down because of a single rogue link to a “suspect site” – oh hang on, I forgot, there are “special” loopholes for money and power!

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    The Wiki blackout is purely meant to bring this legislation to peoples attention & given the breath of views given on here I would say it had achieved this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    Piracy has always been and will continue to be a thorny issue that elicits a wide range of views. I've always asked myself however 'if I record songs or publish books would I like people to be able to get them without paying for them at all?' I think I would like it to be my decision who gets my material for free and who doesn't. That said, I think some middle ground can be found..

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    @swerdna - you need to read the proposals I think as these bills are not just about piracy; they have the potential to go A LOT deeper than that. The piracy issue will be the tip of the iceberg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    If Murdoch is in favour of these knee-jerk bills, that's reason enough to oppose them. Nobody in their right mind supports piracy and copyright infringement but freedom of speech and information is not a privilege to be given away freely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    If the USA touches the internet, it will be no better than repressive dictatorships who like to control people's minds. In this case, it is to deprive US citizens of their rights to theoretically line the pockets of squealing mega-rich bigmouths. Know one says how much it will cost the US taxpayers to police an enormous communications amoebae to materially aid squealing piggys. This is a joke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    325.nieuw divil

    Copyright infringement is no different to the looting that occurred this summer. If anything it is even more cowardly and it funds organised crime & terrorism. That is a proven fact!
    Not sure how you come to the conclusion that getting something without paying for it somehow funds terrorism? And it is a proven fact! No money is changing hands, that's kind of why it's illegal

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    This is a brilliant example of political 'spin' by internet companies who don't want the expense of having to run their business properly. They have used media 'muscle' to make their audience believe that this is all about 'free speech'. Any normal shop or business has a legal obligation not to handle or facilitate to handling of stolen goods - why not these massively profitable net companies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    @ 966. deena001 your right,I lived in china recently its a big place,its wrong to say it is same everywhere,just like it is wrong to say Uk is same as Poland,all i know is what i have seen with my eyes,north china is getting better,no idea about southern part of china never lived there,but i think your right there maybe a point,where our freedoms become so less,that freedoms of PRC become more ?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    An industry that can aford to pay a single artist $3 billion per month is NOT a struggling industry. An industry that can pay a leading actor millions for a cameo role in a film or someone $2 million dollars per episode is not struggling. In this age of file-sharing and piracy, CD sales are higher than ever; where is the lost revenue?

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    Wikipedia is a load of rubbish so I'm not worried about it being taken off.
    For instance my address is Lancashire but Wikid will not agree with me and say it is just in Greater Manchester. The county borders have never been changed. Greater Manchester is just an area within Lancashire for local Government use. If I am sent a letter it says Lancashire !

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.

    Simply put if this law is passed you could be a criminal for covering a lady gaga song on youtube.

    This is not acceptable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    Right wing reactionary legislation that limits personal and press freedom.

    If the Chinese/Korean/Iranian Government proposed this Republicans in the US and Tories in the UK would be calling for resolutions for sanctions at the UN

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    It all seems a bit pointless when all you have to do is disable javascript to view or use the English site.


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