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Wikipedia and Other Sites Shut Down in Protest of SOPA and PIPA
For those trying to access the English-language Wikipedia today, you will only be able to find directions for reaching members of Congress to protest the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Privacy ACT (SOPA), legislation that critics argue could diminish Internet and free speech and would allow the US government to shut down websites that contain content or links to unauthorized copyrighted content. Wikipedia's protest will coincide with today's Congressional hearing on the matter.
Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales explains, “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."
Boing Boing is also dark today explaining that “We could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal orWordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we'd have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages”.
Reddit is blacked out today from 8am to 8pm while the site's co-founder Alexis Ohanian will be testifying against the proposed legislation before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Google, I Can Has Cheezburger?, WordPress.org and many more sites are also taking part in the protest.
How You Can Take Action:
Mark Lemley, David S. Levine, and David G. Post explain the severity of the issue in Stanford Law Review: "These bills, and the enforcement philosophy that underlies them, represent a dramatic retreat from this country's tradition of leadership in supporting the free exchange of information and ideas on the Internet. At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, these bills would incorporate into U.S. law a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law."