Popular Sites Black Out Protesting Against Legislation

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A handful of popular sites, including Wikipedia, black out on Wednesday to protest against proposed federal legislation aimed at anti-piracy.

"Everyone uses it for papers, projects, and stuff. It's no secret," said Justin Minette, student at Wichita State University.

It is no surprise that the popular community-edited site, Wikipedia, is visited often by those wanting instant information.

"It's just a place to go if you're bored or if you have something you want to know more about. So, I'm going to be awfully bored tomorrow if I don't get to use it," said Minette.

On Wednesday, the English version of Wikipedia will blackout for 24 hours to protest against proposed federal legislation. Some students were disappointed about the decision.

"I was in absolute shock. I depend on Wikipedia so much. I use it almost daily and sometimes several times daily. Sometimes, it's my main source of information on things that are relevant to me," said Jacquelyn Fuller, student.

Although students were disappointed to find out Wikipedia would go down for a day, they were happy to know the reason behind the blackout.

"It's about figuring out a way to protect intellectual property while still making the internet as free as possible, and it's tough," said Lou Heldman, interim director of the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State.

Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, said in a statement that the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and PROTECTIP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate, endanger free speech.

"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take - and while we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."

Students like Kyle Whiteside agree.

"This SOPA bill actually reminds me of the kind of internet laws that we see in Iran and China. It's very vague and the policy would allow for the take down of any website," said Whiteside.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who supports SOPA, said on his website, "The Stop Online Piracy Act stops foreign rogue websites from taking jobs and profits away from America’s innovators. The bill’s broad bipartisan support shows Congress’s commitment to combating rogue sites and ensuring that profits go to American innovators, not criminals who steal our products and damage our economy.”

"People think nothing of stealing content, that is the intellectual property of others, who have invested either years of effort in it or millions of dollars and that's what this is about," said Heldman.

Other sites like reddit.com will black out for 12 hours starting at 8 a.m.

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