Wikimedia supports American Censorship Day

Today (Wednesday, November 16, 2011) is an important day in Washington, DC.

This morning, hearings take place regarding the “Internet Blacklist Bill” – a bill that, if approved, would overturn laws relating to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor, and would allow any government or corporation to block a website, remove it from a search engine, and/or cut it off from payment processors or advertisers. In response to these hearings, organizations like Wikimedia, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and many more are joining together to declare American Censorship Day.

If approved, this bill would have disastrous effects for Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Why is this bill an issue for a project like Wikipedia?

In a nutshell, Wikipedia relies on Creative Commons licenses and a series of established, community-led open collaboration processes to ensure that its information and media are a part of free culture, and that copyrighted materials (which may inadvertently end up on Wikipedia or its sister projects) can be quickly and effectively removed so we remain in compliance with US copyright law.  Our global, volunteer community understands these laws well – maybe better than any other online community on the net – and they work hard to ensure that everything on Wikipedia and its sister sites complies with the law.

The Internet Blacklist Bill would change all of that.  The bill would allow corporations, organizations, or the government to order an internet service provider to block an entire website simply due to an allegation that the site posted infringing content.  In addition, sites like Wikipedia could be required to monitor for any “banned” links, resulting in delegated proactive censorship of the Web, not to mention significant additional costs to Wikipedia, a site of a non-profit charity.  Useful international sources of knowledge and information – which often serve as a basis for our articles and projects – could be blacklisted if rights owners simply felt that there was some infringing content. Individual contributors could face criminal liability for posting or sharing a copyright work for what we consider to be common fair-use situations.  The DMCA system, which allows Wikimedia and its volunteer community to quickly remove copyright-violating material at the request of the copyright owner, would be overturned.  In short, our users and all of our projects, would be forced to operate in an untenable legislative environment, putting Wikipedia at the beck and call of the rights owners as opposed to the distribution of free knowledge. Simply put, this bill is a reckless and burdensome model in Internet censorship.

The future of Wikipedia, the free knowledge movement, and tens of thousands of open and free projects is at stake, and we must stand up to oppose this bill.  Join us in these efforts by spreading the word.  If you are in the United States, contact your local government representative, and take a stand on American Censorship Day.

Jay Walsh, Communications


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22 Comments on Wikimedia supports American Censorship Day

Jonathon Bodziony 4 years

you really know your stuff. preserve up the excellent things!

Daniel Friesen 4 years

Why is WM only posting this on the Wikimedia blog which isn’t even linked to from Wikipedia and is likely limited noticeable. Instead of just running the fundraising banner why can’t Wikipedia have a banner about this?

Daniel 4 years

I am hugely against internet censorship. I am in full support of free knowledge sites like Wikimedia. Maintaining a non-profit organization with no advertising money from others, especially in a time like this when money is tight, and few people can donate, is not an easy task. This kind of internet censorship (I use that term loosley, this is more like internet control) would cause many problems for Wikimedia and other free knowledge sites. Non-profit organizations don’t have the money, resources, or time, to monitor EVERYTHING that their users post. Wikipedia is a great source of free, easily avlible, and unbias knowledge. This censorship policy would also harm many open-source
software sites. It would take far more money for open-source organizations to monitor what happens to their products. In order to support this, they would have to charge money. Software which was once free and open-source, would become costly and proprietary.

Nobody should have to pay for this kind of knowledge; and the Government should not
control this knowledge, either.

As Shakesphere once said, “Human knowledge belongs to the world.”

Don’t give up Wikimedia! I love you! And all the other websites and organizations dedicated to free, unregulated knowledge and free open-source software!

Silicon Valley 4 years

Wikipedia’s articles on the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act are subject to repeated edits that reintroduce the slanted language of the legislation itself. If you care about this legislation, or about Wikipedia’s reputation for accuracy, please make it your business to go read those pages with a critical eye. Thanks.

Pethual Anonuevo 4 years

After getting of this situation, I am forced out of hidden neutrality to address this pressing matter after reading both bills as closely as my understanding can achieve. Within the two, there are fatal flaws within that can cause disproportionate collateral damage to many people who have internet access. Open source software are likely to be caught in between, as there are features that can be marked to be infringing, and even charged for it. After the damage has been done and later the offense has been cleared after further investigation, it is impossible to sue for the costs incurred, particularly the imposed charges and the imprisonment. As a result, developers can be crippled and falsely stigmatized. Even those who volunteer and helped develop the software can be easily shot down in the process.

I have studied history long enough that history repeats once more in the form of two bills. In the past, lynchings can happen when falsely accused of a crime. In a controversy, books can be burned, losing the very reason why they are being censored, much to the interest of the censors in the very beginning. In people, they are silenced; that alone is dangerous, regardless of the means to that end. Many people have been affected in the process in the past. I strongly recommend not to have this pass; otherwise, we may have to rethink what are our values really are and let people die for their unintended actions… and that has been in history as well. I need not give examples; they are gruesome.

Gran 4 years

Is this in the US Congress? What is the bill number (such as HBxxxx)? Who are the Congressional sponsors?

There is much too little info in this article to be anything but inflammatory.

Teh IP 4 years

I certainly see the practical problem to continuing Wiki if this passes.

That said, Wiki has been living with a legal fiction and not taking responsibility for what it publishes. (E.g. BLP abuse.) Normal publishers, newspapers are legally accountable for what is put out. On wiki, Jimbo can just blame the authors and take no responsibility.

It is a little like Napster’s file sharing. They said they were not abusing music copyright…just providing the swapping place. Well…look what happened to Napster.

I say this not to be critical…and perhaps I even support Wiki in the end. Just that this stuff is not as simple as people think.

Yogesh Khandke 4 years

Anonymous doesn’t just mean those whose are not logged in but it means those whose are hiding behind usernames!

Yogesh Khandke 4 years

Wikipedia should be more careful with what it post, it should not allow anonymous contributors, there could be an internal beta version, which could be checked before any edit goes public. That Wikipedia is non-profit is no excuse. Wikipedia should rise to ensure stringent quality control. Just as one wouldn’t shop lift, Wikipedia editors too shouldn’t steal from copyrighted material. It is as simple as that. Jay Walsh, it is Wikipedia’s noblesse oblige, popularity brings responsibility.

Tom West 4 years

The disturbing part is that material must be removed following “an allegation”, with no proof or court involved. I could allege that Wikipedia was copied wholesale from my website, and demand the entire thing be taken down.

Darkoneko 4 years

That’s an extreme solution, and it’s not really enviable. Especially after the italian wikipedia episode.

FK73 4 years

If you really want to protest, you should stop your services for 24 hours, so people see how life without wikipedia would feel like. That should awake people to action.

Shyc2001 4 years

I think “censoring” the Wikipedia Logo as described would draw much attention. We don’t need to take the whole site down.

Marcio De Assis 4 years

The freedom starts with knowledge.

Sam 4 years

Seconding what Colleen said, the American Censorship Day makes sending a letter to your reps as easy as entering your zip code. There have been various petitions circulated online, and congress has ignored them. Take DIRECT action, call or e-mail your congresspeople with American Censorship Day’s help!

Colleen 4 years

To the people who want an easy way to write to their representatives, just click on the “American Censorship Day” link above and follow the instructions. Every voice helps.

chandra 4 years

Hoodwinking of wikemedia would prove futile; the world will stand united for wike media.

Ville Laaksonen 4 years

Take the whole website down for a day as a celebration to the cencorship day. And attention would be tremendous.

Frank Muraca 4 years

Wikipedia isn’t the only online encyclopedia that would be impacted. Community wiki’s such as Fairfaxpedia ( and Cvillepedia ( would be threatened too. They’re vital for providing information on local issues that otherwise often go unnoticed.

Judith 4 years

Wikipedia is very well known among people as search engine,it contains information that students use for research projects and many others as well as me read these articles to educate themselves.
Its a shame if this site gets blocked, people have the right to be able to find answers and wikipedia has them.

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