Why did Wikipedia go ‘dark’?

(Written for WIMPS.tv)

They are protesting about a law being debated in the US congress to outlaw internet piracy.

Wikipedia is only one of  many interert companies worried about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). If it becomes law it will mean that website owners will be liable for links to sources of “illegal” music and movie downloading. Wikipedia and others think this will have a bad effect on freedom of speech.

 

People visiting the English language version of the site saw this notice “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

Other sites that also took part in the blackout included Reddit and WordPress.

Reddit – one of the thousands of ‘dark’ websites

The US news website Politico has claimed that thousands of sites were involved by early Wednesday morning.

The Motion Picture Association of America said that the blackout was “irresponsible” and a “stunt”. Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America said “Some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.”

Those for and against the bill are claiming very different things in this argument that has been boiling in the US for months. People and businesses supporting SOPA are saying that it is aimed at websites linking to pirated content (music and videos for example).

People opposed to the bill are saying that even if your own personal website points to content then your site can be taken down without “due process” and you will have to appeal to the Federal government.

One person opposed to the bill said, “It’s like being guilty until proved innocent.”

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