Will Wikipedia's one-day blackout sink SOPA?

Reddit, Wordpress, Mozilla, Google, and dozens of other websites are joining the people's encyclopedia in protesting a controversial anti-piracy bill

Wikipedia will go dark for 24 hours Wednesday, in protest of two anti-piracy bills that might allow big media companies to block access to websites accused of harboring pirated content.
(Image credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Corbis)

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."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us