Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia to Blackout English Language Version Tomorrow

Yesterday, Wikipedia announced that it would blackout the English language version of its famous website for 24 hours in protest to pending anti-piracy legislation in both houses of Congress.  The legislation is comprised of two pending bills.  The House version is entitled the Stop Online Piracy Act while the Senate version is entitled the Protect IP Act.

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia press release was shy on details that might have promoted Wikipedia's cause.  Specifically, it would have been nice if the press release included the reasons why Wikipedia objects to the pending legislation in its current form.  In fairness, the press release did quote Wikimedia Foundation board member suggesting that Wikipedia's primary objections were based on concerns of censorship.  The press release also provided a link to an article published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticizing the legislation.

Wikipedia's move is the latest in a swirl of controversy surrounding the legislation.  Both bills have alleged corporate supporters (e.g., ABC, Revlon, NFL) and opponents (e.g., Yahoo!, eBay, American Express, Google) of substantial note.  The White House has also joined in the action with a press release which appears to call for a balanced approach which would have the legislation focused on criminal activity of foreign-based websites.  In a further nod to critics of the legislation, the White House statement went further to say that the legislation must be "transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing." 

Where this ends up is anybody's guess.

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