Wikipedia shuts down for 24 hours to protest against SOPA

Reuters announces that the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours to protest against SOPA. The campaign against the controversial piracy act will start at midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday and will see the participation of many other big companies.

Jimmy Wales declared that the anti-piracy legislation that the U.S. government wants to adopt in the following days threatens the future of the Internet. The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act are the most powerful bills that America plans to adopt in order to prevent overseas websites like the Pirate Bay from promoting pirated materials.

The owner of the online encyclopedia hopes that the 24-hour protest will urge people to contact their local congressman and vote against the bills. There are other sites that are involved in the campaign such as, and Cheezeburger. Wales declared in a recent interview that the text of the legislation is “clumsily drafted” and this makes it dangerous for an open Internet.

Only the English page of the online encyclopedia will be shut down for 24 hours. The company did not say whether the rest of the Wikipedia pages will be affected in any way by the upcoming protest. The writers and the editors of the community were the ones who have decided to adopt this measure against the legislation, added Wales. The measure is rather drastic considering that Wikipedia is accessed by more than 25 million average daily visitors from around the world.

Even technology companies like Google and Facebook have pitted against the supporters of the bill because they realize the consequences of the new legislation will be devastating for them, too. Hollywood studios and music labels are the strongest supporters of the bill because they need further protection for their intellectual property and jobs.

According to the SOPA bill, Internet companies are forced to block access to foreign sites offering materials that violate U.S. copyright laws. In addition, U.S. advertising networks could also be required to stop online ads, whereas search engines might be prevented from showing websites that distribute pirated links.

The White House realizes that the censorship imposed by the bill might affect online business. This statement raised a lot of dissatisfaction among some supporters of the bill like Rupert Murdoch who accused Obama of being the “Silicon Valley paymaster”.

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