This week is decisive for the anti-piracy bill, which goes before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. We’ve talked a little about what it means for the future of the Internet–the end of free services like YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr.
The European Commission has tried to help, filing a resolution to halt domain seizures by U.S. authorities; but in the end, the EU won’t be able to stop the changes U.S. authorities want to make.
The most recent pushback comes from Wikipedia. Its founder, Jimmy Wales, plans to black out all Wikipedia pages to protest SOPA. His move is inspired by a campaign Italy’s Wikipedia community ran this year, ultimately stopping a controversial new wiretap law.
By shutting down Wikipedia for a few days, Wales says he aims to capture Americans’ attention ahead of the SOPA vote. On a poll on his personal Wikipedia page, a majority of voters agreed with the protest. Wikipedia is one of the most accessed websites on the Internet, ranking sixth according to Alexa’s traffic rankings.
Here’s Wales’ post from his Wikipedia blog (user talk) page:
A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of “Stop Online Piracy Act‘ is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. I may be attending a meeting at the White House on Monday (pending confirmation on a couple of fronts) along with executives from many other top Internet firms, and I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue. My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case. There are obviously many questions about whether the strike should be geotargetted (U.S.-only), etc. (One possible view is that because the law would seriously impact the functioning of Wikipedia for everyone, a global strike of at least the English Wikipedia would put the maximum pressure on the U.S. government.) At the same time, it’s of course a very very big deal to do something like this, it is unprecedented for English Wikipedia.