Wikipedia Shutting Down to Protest Anti-Piracy Bills in Congress
Despite the fact that SOPA looks dead in the House, PIPA, the Senate’s version of anti-piracy legislation, hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s true that six Republicans wrote to Harry Reid asking for a postponement of the bill. And Ben Cardin, a Democratic co-sponsor, announced his opposition to PIPA, even though he will remain on as a co-sponsor of the bill. This came about entirely from constituent action:
“I have heard from many constituents in person, online, and through calls and correspondence regarding the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Individuals and groups continue to meet with my staff and provide detailed information that is helpful as we seek to find a better path forward […] As the remaining portions of PIPA progress, I will continue to seek out meaningful amendments and alternative proposals to address the bill’s current flaws. Since I am no longer a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remaining a cosponsor of the bill provides me the opportunity to be an active participant in the process of addressing the most serious concerns raised by my constituents. I would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written, on the Senate floor.
But even with all that, and even with Mark Udall’s opposition, Chris Bowers is right to say that only 14 Senators have officially opposed the bill. And Senate Democratic leaders still have a roll call on a motion to proceed on PIPA scheduled for January 24 at 2:15pm ET. Nothing has changed.
While this may not result in legislation on the President’s desk this year, a bill like PIPA passing the Senate would give momentum to the business conglomerates who want the ability to crush competitors. And that’s why Wikipedia will join the online blackout in opposition to the anti-piracy legislation on Wednesday.
Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, founder Jimmy Wales announced on Monday.
In doing so, Wikipedia joins a long list of web companies such as Reddit and Mozilla that are taking similar measures against the proposed legislation.
Wales used his Twitter account to spread the news, writing “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa”
In place of Wikipedia, users will see instructions for how to reach local members of Congress, which Wales hopes “will melt phone systems in Washington.”
You can see a full list of those websites shutting down on Wednesday at SOPA Strike. Obviously having a Google or a Facebook involved would give the protest critical mass, but Wikipedia is a pretty big player in its own right. The grassroots coalition is right to continue to agitate, because the lobbyists working on SOPA and PIPA could easily reanimate the debate and bring the bills back to life this year.