High school students better finish their term papers before Wednesday, because Wikipedia is planning a 24-hour blackout to protest the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). The two anti-piracy measures are intended to curb illegal music and movie downloading, and are supported by Hollywood studios and other content creators. Opponents, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, worry that the bills, if passed, would stymie free speech by giving companies like News Corp. and NBC Universal too much power to block access to any website accused of featuring questionable content. Wednesday's Wikipedia blackout is part of a massive effort from internet players including Reddit, Wordpress, Mozilla, and Boing Boing. (Google, though it won't go dark, will feature a banner on its homepage opposing the bill.) But is inconveniencing a bunch of internet cruisers really the best way to move the needle in Washington?
No. The blackout is ridiculous: "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish," says Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on his site. Sure, our microblogging service opposes these bills, but we're not gonna close shop just to push our agenda. "Not shutting down a service doesn't equal not taking the proper stance on an issue. We've been very clear about [Twitter's] stance." While online piracy is a serious threat, participating in an international blackout is just plain "silly."
"More sites going dark over SOPA and PIPA, but not Twitter"
Yes. Washington needs to listen to internet users: It's time to step up, says Wikipedia's Wales on Twitter. Our users have been calling for a blackout to fight the proposed measures for weeks now, and the 24-hour period starting at midnight will be the "call to action" people need — complete with a banner imploring Wikipedia visitors to call their congressmen. With over 25 million visitors per day, Wikipedia is "larger than the largest newspaper" in "any particular country." With our massive audience alerted, I'm confident that our stand "will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday."
"Wikipedia's anti-SOPA blackout will go ahead on Wednesday"
But Obama already came out against SOPA... kind of: We're not quite at "Game Over" yet, says Paul Tassi at Forbes. But we're close. Our tech-savvy president has said he won't pass anti-piracy legislation that would "kill the entire internet." Indeed, the "White House appears to be dismissing SOPA and PIPA in their current forms." But these bills "can't just be slowed or changed. They must be crushed." So "we're almost there." We just need to hold our leaders' feet to the fire a bit longer.
"The White House comes out against SOPA"