In an unprecedented move, Wikipedia blacked out their website Wednesday to protest the anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act are currently pending in Congress and are designed to crack down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas. But opponents say the laws are a threat to the technology industry and infringe on free-speech rights.
Founder Jimmy Wales used Twitter on Monday to announce the news that the popular web-based encyclopedia will shut down its English versions for 24 hours in protest.
So here’s a warning to all you students trying to finish up important essays – do all your Wikipedia research Tuesday because it’s going offline at 9 p.m. PST.
The website held a discussion with nearly 2,000 Wikipedians to discuss the prospect of the blackout and other options to express their disagreement with the legislation. Wales said:
“Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation. This is an extraordinary action for our community to take – and while we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world.”
Wales, a fervent opponent of the proposed legislation, has been using his Twitter as a public forum to voice his concern:[blackbirdpie id=”158960549105909761″] [blackbirdpie id=”159208717739503616″]
Although Wikipedia is the largest website to go black, other websites shutting their virtual doors on Wednesday include Reddit and Boing Boing.