Wikipedia Considers Black Out to Protest Anti-Piracy Law

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Editors of the English edition of Wikipedia are engaged in a conversation about whether to block all of the site's content in protest of the anti-piracy legislation now being considered in Congress -- a tactic used earlier this year in Italy. On Saturday, Jimmy Wales, a co-founder of the collaborative encyclopedia posted to the site:

A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of "Stop Online Piracy Act' is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. I may be attending a meeting at the White House on Monday (pending confirmation on a couple of fronts) along with executives from many other top Internet firms, and I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue. My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case.

A straw poll at Wales's request tilts toward support for the proposal, but Wales writes, "To be clear, this is NOT a vote on whether or not to have a strike. This is merely a straw poll to indicate overall interest. If this poll is firmly 'opposed' then I'll know that now. But even if this poll is firmly in 'support' we'd obviously go through a much longer process to get some kind of consensus around parameters, triggers, and timing." To read the wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion from devoted Wikipedians, check it out here.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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