In protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), a number of websites are turning themselves off on Wednesday. The two bills, which are meant to stop copyright infringement of media on the internet, are strongly supported by the film, television, and music industries. But the legislation, which gives the U.S. Government the power to censor entire websites, has been widely criticized as infringing upon freedom of speech – an issue a little closer to our hearts than Hollywood’s bottom line.
Several major internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Tumblr, AOL, Twitter and Yahoo have all come out against the legislation. But it is Wikipedia’s decision to go dark for a whole day that has drawn the most attention to the issue. The “Wikipedia blackout” has been widely reported by the media, and is currently trending on Google and Twitter.
The English-language Wikipedia will go dark for a 24-hour period, beginning midnight, Eastern time for all of Wednesday, January 18. Reddit, Boing Boing, Imgur, and MoveOn will be joining Wikipedia’s protest by temporarily shutting down tomorrow.