- What effect is the blackout having, so far?
- The purpose of the blackout is twofold: to raise awareness of SOPA
and PIPA among the general public, and to encourage people to share
their views with their representatives. It's too early to tell what the
ultimate impact will be, but here are some early indicators, as of 1PM
PT January 18:
- More than 10,000 people have commented on the Wikimedia Foundation's blog post announcing the blackout. We have not done a content analysis, but at-a-glance it looks like the overwhelming majority support the blackout;
- Almost immediately after the blackout launched, it became a trending topic on Twitter, globally, with hashtags including #factswithoutwikipedia, #SOPAstrike and #wikipediablackout. Trendistic says at one point, #wikipediablackout constituted 1% of all tweets, and Hotspots shows that SOPA has accounted for a quarter-million tweets hourly since the blackout began;
- Google News contains 7,200 articles on the blackout;
- More than 90 million people have seen the Wikipedia blackout page
- More than four million people have looked up their elected representatives' contact information via the Wikipedia tool.
- Why is Wikipedia blacked-out?
- Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia. Instead, you will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media.
- What are SOPA and PIPA?
- SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act," and PIPA is an acronym for the "Protect IP Act." ("IP" stands for "intellectual property.") In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the public interest in the digital realm, has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.
- Why is the blackout happening?
- Wikipedians have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the first time ever, because we are concerned that SOPA and PIPA will severely inhibit people's access to online information. This is not a problem that will solely affect people in the United States: it will affect everyone around the world.
- Why? SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won't be effective at their stated goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open Internet. They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.
- Does this mean that Wikipedia itself is violating copyright laws, or hosting pirated content?
- No, not at all. Some supporters of SOPA and PIPA characterize everyone who opposes them as cavalier about copyright, but that is not accurate. Wikipedians are knowledgeable about copyright and vigilant in protecting against violations: Wikipedians spend thousands of hours every week reviewing and removing infringing content. We are careful about it because our mission is to share knowledge freely. To that end, all Wikipedians release their contributions under a free license, and all the material we offer is freely licensed. Free licenses are incompatible with copyright infringement, and so infringement is not tolerated.
- Isn't SOPA dead? Wasn't the bill shelved, and didn't the White House declare that it won't sign anything that resembles the current bill?
- No, neither SOPA nor PIPA is dead. On January 17th, SOPA's sponsor said the bill will be discussed in early February. There are signs PIPA may be debated on the Senate floor next week. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. In many jurisdictions around the world, we're seeing the development of legislation that prioritizes overly-broad copyright enforcement laws, laws promoted by power players, over the preservation of individual civil liberties.
- 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.
- I live in the United States. What's the best way for me to help?
- The most effective action you can take is to call your representatives and tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and any similar legislation. Type your zipcode in the locator box to find your representatives' contact information. Text-based communication is okay, but phone calls have the most impact.
- I don't live in the United States. How can I help?
- Contact your local State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or similar branch of government. Tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and any similar legislation. SOPA and PIPA will affect sites outside of the United States, and actions to sites inside the United States (like Wikipedia) will also affect non-American readers -- like you. Calling your own government will also let them know you don't want them to create their own bad anti-Internet legislation.
- Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?
- I keep hearing that this is a fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Is that true?
- No. Some people are characterizing it that way, probably in an effort to imply all the participants are motivated by commercial self-interest. But it's obviously not that simple. The proof of that is Wikipedia's involvement. Wikipedia has no financial self-interest at play here: we do not benefit from copyright infringement, nor are we trying to monetize traffic or sell ads. We are protesting to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA solely because we think they will hurt the Internet, and your ability to access information online. We are doing this for you, because we're on your side.
- In carrying out this protest, is Wikipedia abandoning neutrality?
- We hope you continue to trust Wikipedia to be a neutral information source. We are staging this blackout because (as Wikimedia Foundation Trustee Kat Walsh said recently), although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. For over a decade, Wikipedians have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia is a tremendously useful resource, and its existence depends upon a free, open and uncensored Internet. SOPA and PIPA (and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States) will hurt you, because they will make it impossible for sites you enjoy, and benefit from, to continue to exist. That's why we're doing this.
- I have a question that isn't answered here, or, I would like to send feedback to Wikipedia.
- You can reach Wikipedia editors at info-en(at)wikimedia(dot)org. If you need a response, please be patient: we may have trouble keeping up with the mail.
- What can I read to get more information?
- Try these links:
- As of 6AM PT, January 18, Google has more than 4,600 articles about the blackout. Here are a few:
- Why is Wikipedia staging a blackout and what is SOPA?, from the National Post
- Wikipedia joins blackout protest at US anti-piracy moves, from the British Broadcasting Corporation
- Wikipedia blackout over US anti-piracy bills and FEATURE: Websites blackout over 'SOPA censorship', from Al Jazeera
- Wikipedia, Craigslist, other sites go black in SOPA protest, from the Los Angeles Times
- Google Rallies Opposition to Murdoch-Backed Anti-Piracy Bill, from BusinessWeek
- SOPA protest: The Net strikes back, from Politico
- Wikipedia blackout a 'gimmick', MPAA boss claims, from the Guardian
- Wikipedia 24-hour blackout: a reader and Why we're taking Wikipedia down for a day, from the New Statesman
- Internet-wide protests against SOPA/PIPA are kicking up a storm, by the Hindustan Times
- SOPA, PIPA: What you need to know, from CBS News
- Protest on Web Uses Shutdown to Take On Two Piracy Bills, from the New York Times
- Protesting SOPA: how to make your voice heard, from Ars Technica
- Why We've Censored Wired.com, from Wired
Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
SOPA: Hollywood Finally Gets A Chance to Break the Internet
- be directed toward the US, and either
- allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” infringement or
- allegedly be taking or have taken steps to “avoid confirming a high probability” of infringement.
Learn more about SOPA
- publicknowledge.org: “This Bill Seriously Screws with the Internet”
- sopaopera.org: The who and why of the Congressional debate on the Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Acts
- Sergey Brin: This is why I signed on to the following open letter with many other founders ...
- John Lilly: What’s bothering me about the SOPA “discussion”
- Steve Blank: Why The Movie Industry Can’t Innovate and the Result is SOPA
- new! Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy
- @feliciaday recruited 1924 people (since Friday, Jan 13)
- @hellogiggles recruited 1259 people
- @Pinterest recruited 375 people
- @webaddict recruited 312 people
- @acedtect recruited 236 people
- @TmarTn recruited 234 people
- @Cysero recruited 223 people
- @bfeld recruited 204 people
- @Evil_Notch recruited 160 people
- @GoldGloveTV recruited 159 people
- @KSIOlajidebt recruited 156 people
- @MediCasos recruited 146 people
Find your representatives
Safeguard the public interest.
New: The latest statements and actions on SOPA/PIPA
Related story: About SOPA Opera
Follow the MoneySee the current tally of all senators and all representatives, including ones whose positions are unknown.
See the tally by state.
About this ProjectSee our methodology.
Additions and Corrections? E-mail Dan Nguyen.
Learn MoreInformation on H.R.3261 - Stop Online Piracy Act at OpenCongress.org
Information on S.968 PROTECT IP Act at OpenCongress.org
Watch this video by American Censorship that explains why SOPA will break the internet.
Read "Don't Break the Internet" by Mark Lemley, David S. Levine & David G. Post.
Watch the CIS panel of legal scholars, entrepreneurs, engineers discuss what's wrong with SOPA.
Read "The 'Stop Online Piracy Act' (SOPA) Violates the First Amendment" by Laurence H. Tribe.
Take ActionStrike against SOPA.
The Super PIPA-SOPA Action/Info Flowchart Reference Guide
List of companies that have expressed concern with SOPA and PIPA.
There are several ways to take action from writing an email to congress to "censoring" your website in protest. Go to americancensorship.org for all the info.
Contact Your Representative with info and a widget to find them by EFF and Wired for Change.
SOPAOpera.org keeps track of where your Congressmembers stand on PROTECT-IP and SOPA.