Some of you may have noticed that the English-language Wikipedia has blocked access to its content today (January 18, 2012). They are protesting legislation that is currently being debated in the US Congress. Wikipedia, Google, and many other information providers are concerned that the legislation as it now stands has the potential for substantially harming a free and open Internet.
How could SOPA and PIPA hurt Wikipedia?
“SOPA and PIPA are a threat to Wikipedia in many ways. For example, in its current form, SOPA would require Wikipedia to actively monitor every site we link to, to ensure it doesn’t host infringing content. Any link to an infringing site could put us in jeopardy of being forced offline.”
Google also opposes this legislation and showing a “censored Google” icon today. You can find out more about their opposition here.
Not everyone opposes SOPA and PIPA. This legislation has bi-partisan support among politicians. You can find a list of supporters here. Supporters include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the United States Chamber of Commerce, Warner Music Group, Disney Publishing Worldwide, ESPN, ABC, CBS, the News Corporation (i.e. Fox), Marvel Entertainment, the NFL, and Major League Baseball.
UPDATE: Check out Professor Clay Shirky’s talk on the importance of linking and sharing on the Internet (and why SOPA/PIPA harms that ability).