The 18th of January 2012: Wikipedia is down for 24hrs. The site’s servers have not crashed, there are no technical problems. Instead, Wikipedia has shut down in order to protest the United States government, more specifically the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’that lies before the United States Congress, waiting to be passed.
The bill is designed to curb illegal downloading and protect the pockets of major Hollywood media companies that have seen their profits threatened by the internet in recent years. The argument goes that piracy, or rather free, unlimited access to information, destroys jobs because it deprives content creators of income. Free information means content creators do not get proper compensation for their labour. With free media, or piracy, supply of content is abundant, driving prices down to nothing, or next to nothing. The legislation in the United States is designed to protect people and, supposedly, create jobs. Unfortunately what the bill amounts to, in my humble opinion, is censorship. Petition the State Department by signing HERE.
We support the bills’ stated goals. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities (and) mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.
The United States government, and the proponents of this bill want to stop piracy but they do not understand how to do it. Wikipedia shutting down raises awareness about the issue and includes the whole world in the struggle for free access to information. Wikipedia is down globally, not just in the United States. The struggle against free flow of and access to information by profit minded media will continue on many fronts. The United States Congress will not be the only battlefield, and neither will the internet—I don’t think.