As you might have heard, the English-language version of Wikipedia is one of many websites (including the Internet Archive) going dark on Wednesday, January 18th, to protest bills in congress that many internet users feel threaten the web. SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act - H.R. 6231) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act, S. 968) are supported by associations representing the the film, television, book publishing, and music industries. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the New York Times the legislation is unconstitutional.
“The government could tell us that we could write an entry about the history of the Pirate Bay but not allow us to link to it,” he said, referring to the popular file-sharing site. “That’s a First Amendment issue.”According to Wikipedia's statement
- It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.
- Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a “blackout” of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.
- On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.
Or - if your favorite websites are down and you're stuck for something to do - drop by and pick up a free mystery. Barbara Fister, who reviews crime fiction, has brought in two grocery bags of advance reader copies. Feel free to take one home with you.