Have you ever noticed how the Wikipedia logo looks like the Deathstar in the first Star Wars trilogy? However, unlike the Deathstar they are all about freedom and bringing down the Empire. So, at Midnight tonight, in an effort to strike back at the powers-that-be that wish to regulate freedom on the web, Wikipedia will go to the dark side. Meaning they will go off air. This is to protest two Congressional bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act often called SOPA and the Protect IP Act also known as PIPA. Both these bills aim to curtail copyright violations on the Internet. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, confirmed the site’s decision on Monday on Twitter, writing: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!” If you happen upon Wikipedia after pumpkin time you’ll be greeted with a message about anti-piracy bills that are topics of heated debate in the U.S. Congress.
Mr. Wales said that if passed, the bills could censor what information and links that sites like Wikipedia would be permitted to publish.“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.”
Wikipedia is not alone. There are other members of this rebel alliance: Reddit, the social news site; BoingBoing, a technology and culture blog; video game news and review site Destuctroid.com; Red 5 Studios’ online shooter Firefall; Reddit; Tucows Inc’s Downloads site; xda-developers; and all sites owned by Cheezburger Inc., including I Can Has Cheezburger, Fail Blog, and Know Your Meme. The Mozilla Foundation, creators of the Firefox Web browser, may also be planning something for Wednesday, according to a tweet from Tom Lowenthal, a privacy and tech policy analyst for Mozilla. Some sites that are not planning to go offline are still finding ways to participate in the protest. For example, WordPress, a blogging platform, is supplying its users with a widget that will add a banner to their Web sites and blogs showing support for the protest.
It isn’t that these rebels’ rebellion is absolute in their attack on copyright regulations. “Within our community we’re very strong defenders of copyright. We have very strict rules about obeying copyright and we don’t link to materials that we know to be copyright infringement. That isn’t really the issue. The other side will try to paint this as anybody who’s opposed to this must be making money off of piracy or be in favor of piracy. That isn’t true. The issue here is that this law is very badly written, very broadly overreaching and, in at least the Senate version, would include the creation of a DNS (domain name system) blocking regime that’s technically identical to the one that’s used by China. I don’t think that’s the right way the U.S. needs to go in taking a leadership role on the Internet,” says Jimmy Wales.
There is yet another powerful ally this resistance has. The Force or rather the Obama administration on Saturday criticized SOPA and PIPA as currently written in response to two online petitions. The White House released a statement saying the administration would not support any legislation that allows for online censorship, inhibits innovation or disrupts the underlying architecture of the Internet.
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