Wikipedia blackout 311.
(photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two new anti-online piracy bills being debated by the US Congress pose a threat
to the very nature of the Internet itself, a representative from Wikimedia
Israel said on Wednesday.
RELATED:Wikipedia plans 24-hour blackout as protest
Itzik Edri, Wikimedia Israel spokesman, said
Wednesday “the laws will change the Internet as we know it,” and that the Stop
Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) will give “legitimacy to
censorship in the States and elsewhere. When people see that this major power
makes these sorts of laws other people will too, so it’s dangerous.”
user-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the 5th most-visited website in
America, suspended its English- language services on Wednesday, running instead
a black screen that read “for over a decade we have spent millions of hours
building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now the US Congress is
considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open
Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out
The US Department of Justice would be able to pursue court
orders against websites located outside of US jurisdiction accused of committing
or abetting copyright infringement.
Once the court order is issued, US
Internet service providers could be ordered to stop doing business with sites
that are believed to infringe on federal copyright laws.
The bills would
allow the Attorney General to require search engines to remove links to the
offending sites and for online service providers to stop financial transactions
with the site.
The bill would also increase penalties for unauthorized
streaming of copyrighted content.
The bills have drawn criticism because
it is unclear how they would determine what an offending site is. Critics say
they could potentially include legitimate websites like YouTube, Twitter, and
In addition, there is concern that the law could be used for
censorship purposes, if for instance, the US government ruled that a site like
WikiLeaks was publishing copyrighted material they could seek an injunction that
would block them from appearing in search-engine results.
how film studios and record companies, “the main sponsors of the bill", will be
able to have a site taken down until the end of court proceedings, and that
since launching a legal defense is so expensive, websites will be driven to
remove all content that could be seen as breaking copyright laws.
said that while steps need to be taken to protect artistic licensing online,
this law would create a bigger problem by allowing for many legitimate sites to
be punished for hosting content.
“There is no other country in the world
where you can say to Google they can do this or that, only China,” he
Edri added that if the 160 or so Wikipedia Hebrew editors came to
the decision that a piece of local legislation posed a threat to online freedom
they would consider such a boycott, but that at the time they did not decide to
take part in the boycott.
Edri described Wikipedia Hebrew as having a
very large amount of influence in Israel, with an estimated 66 million page
views per month. He said the site is around the 5th most visited in the country
and that most Israelis visit the it once a day.
He said that the high
number of articles in the Hebrew language on Wikipedia – around 130,000 – is out
of proportion for the low number of Hebrew speakers in the world.