Wikipedia blacked out their English site this morning, urging regular users to tell their congressional representatives to vote against two pieces of legislation known informally as SOPA and PIPA.
At midnight, almost all content was made unavailable for perusal. Remaining on en.wikipedia.org’s main page is a shadowy logo and the following statement:
“Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”
Directly below this text is a field in which people can enter their zip code to find out who their representative is and how to contact them.
The office of U.S. Rep Anna Eshoo, D- Menlo Park, said the response has been a deluge.
“The phones have been ringing off the hook,” said staff at the Congresswoman’s office.
@RepAnnaEshoo tweeted, "I do not support #SOPA! It is overly broad, threatens the Internet, will hinder new jobs & hurt economic opportunities.”
Rep. Eshoo’s Facebook status bears a similar statement: “History is being made by the more than 10,000 websites that have chosen to boycott SOPA by participating in today’s blackout. Members of Congress need to hear about the consequences of SOPA, and when they do, they’ll learn of the serious consequences to the Internet the bill poses. It’s time to pull up the emergency brake on this legislation.”
H.R. 3261, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a bill intended to give U.S. government the ability to remove illegally distributed, copyrighted material from the Internet immediately. It has a sister bill called the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate.
Site administrators for the Wikipedia Foundation and Reddit, which also blacked out their site today, say the legislation is too broad and gives the government the authority to stifle innovation and legitimately distributed user-generated content.
The Motion Picture Association of America says that movie piracy and the resulting loss of revenue for them has forced their hand. They are a major supporter of the bills.
Wikipedia and Reddit are scheduled to return to normal status tonight at midnight.