Wikipedia’s community calls for anti-SOPA blackout January 18

Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States —the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECTIP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate— that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.

This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. Here’s how it’s been described by the three Wikipedia administrators who formally facilitated the community’s discussion. From the public statement, signed by User:NuclearWarfare, User:Risker and User:billinghurst:

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.

On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.

In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them.

But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. As Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh wrote on one of our mailing lists recently,

We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make sense of it.

But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or, if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.

The decision to shut down the English Wikipedia wasn’t made by me — it was made by editors, through a consensus decision-making process. But I support it.

Like Kat and the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation Board, I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public. Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.

That’s less true of other sites. Most are commercialy motivated: their purpose is to make money. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to make the world a better place –many do!– but it does mean that their positions and actions need to be understood in the context of conflicting interests.

My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA –and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States– don’t advance the interests of the general public. You can read a very good list of reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA here, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Why is this a global action, rather than US-only? And why now, if some American legislators appear to be in tactical retreat on SOPA?

The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.

On January 18, we hope you’ll agree with us, and will do what you can to make your own voice heard.

Sue Gardner,
Executive Director

Take action: If you’re a US citizen, contact your representative to let them know you oppose SOPA and PIPA.

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12944 Comments on Wikipedia’s community calls for anti-SOPA blackout January 18

Worried 4 years

What about ACTA? it is even worse than SOPA i PIPA.

Domain 4 years

SOPA and PIPA was pro and contra but here i am pro with you…

Annie 4 years

We love Free Internet. You CAN Stop it ACTA!

Chris 4 years

Congratulations! Do not stop to fight against these insane SOPA, PIPA and ACTA – we are much stronger than them!

Richard 4 years

This was a great read and I am in full support of you guys!

Ali 4 years

that means no good source left now ???

Ali 4 years

that means i can not search good content through wiki media what the hell is this

Johannes Dolecek 4 years

Thumbs up! for free Internet
RESPEKT for Wikipedia!
Johannes Dolecek, Germany

Joanne B. 4 years

Cannot believe you are actually doing. I don’t know if it is a good move or a bad move! Good Luck!

fabjona 4 years

I concur totally

Jenny 4 years

So glad that the blackout worked. This goes to say that when enough people get together to work against something, usually great things will happen. Teamwork means everything!

Zelimir 4 years

SOPA that the worstest act in a History of internet is allready exist. Some uploading servicrs like, are unlegaly Shut Down. EU will bring The Law against europians uploaders in June This Year. (PIPA). Let’s us unite against SOPA and PIPA, because they are unfair, and they don’t allowed freedom of informations on internet!!!!!

feriel.doo 4 years

ne smije se dozvoliti zatvaranje ove odlične društvene mreže po cijenu likvidiranja 2 % bespavno obogaćenih sa ovim istim sredstvom koje žele samo za sebe da im to u budućnosti samo njima služi.1946.

feriel.doo 4 years

nwž e smije se dozvoliti zatvaranje ove odlične društvene mreže po cijenu likvidiranja 2 % bespavno obogaćenih sa ovim istim sredstvom koje žele samo za sebe da im to u budućnosti samo njima služi.1946.

Obavjestajac 4 years

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Zelka 4 years

I complitly agree with this action and I wish you good luck. I hope it will success.

sercan 4 years

I support this act as a person who cannot enter to YouTube over 2 years…

pinkfloyd 4 years

Smart move. Thank you.

Indonesian People's 4 years

Kami sangat setuju dengan apa yang wikipedia dan situs lain lakukan, untuk menentang ini. ini adalah suatu hal yang sangat berbahaya, dimanapun peraturan seperti SOPA dan PIPA berada didunia.
kami ingin internet menjadi tempat untuk kami berbagi, tanpa dibatasi.
kami ingin internet menjadi tempat untuk kebebasan setiap orang gunakan didunia.

ini merupakan suara rakyat dunia untuk suatu hal yang dapat merugikan rakyat dunia.

dan, melalui surat ini. kami juga mengutuk keras atas Rancangan Undang-Undang Sejenis diberbagai Negara didunia.

Kebebasan merupakan Hak Patent Manusia dimuka Bumi !!

Berikan suara anda, untuk internet tetap hidup..

биско 4 years

мисля, че подобни действия само ще затруднят бързото информиране на хората.
може би западния свят е забравил как си разпространявахме в миналото музика и софтуер – от ръка на ръка.разбира се качеството беше отвратително, поради многократния презапис, но тогава бяхме готови на всякакви компромиси.в крайна сметка поради липсата на финансови средства не купувахме лицензирани продукти, както ще стане и в бъдеще. така, че в крайна сметка ще загуби само потребителя, а производителя няма да спечели!

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