Wikipedia to go Dark Tomorrow Over SOPA and PIPA
There’s a bill working its way through Congress that has the potential to ruin the Internet as you know it. Maybe. It’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act, and it will ruin everything you ever knew—and loved—about Internet memes. And video. And embedding stuff. Basically, it could change everything that makes the Web a great place to waste a few minutes, and eventually an afternoon and, before you know it, your life.
SOPA allows businesses to point out offending “rogue sites” stealing copyrighted material, regardless of those sites’ country of origin, and have them shut down. In addition, those businesses can point out any site they think maybe, possibly, have facilitated copyright theft. SOPA’s – and it’s fun counterpart in the Senate, PIPA – gives movie studios and media companies the ability to essentially delete any website they deem a threat. As noted in some areas of the web, this basically means any website that’s ever existed, since what is the Internet besides a bunch of people wasting time and stealing each other’s shit?
The White House weighed in on the bills weekend, saying it will “not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.” Although they released a similarly vagued-outrage statement before the Defense Authorization bill, and look how that went.
So companies are putting forth their own protest with regard to the bill. Wikipedia English is going dark at midnight, tonight. (British dude goes: What the hell did I do?) Reddit and Boing Boing will join in.
Wikipedia has posted this message (in part) to its English front page:
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.
The main problem with the legislation is the problem with all of Washington’s literary atrocities, generally speaking: It’s really, really vague and was written by lobbyists. Therefore, there’s no telling who’ll be able to extract what from the bill or “interpret” it to allow whatever to happen.