Silicon Valley 'Blacks Out' over Anti-Piracy Bill

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Wikipedia, along with several other major websites, will be inaccessible for 24 hours Wednesday in protest of anti-piracy legislation being considered in Congress.

The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act are designed to crack down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas.

Those in the entertainment industry who support the measure say they need the legislation to protect intellectual property and jobs.

Their big concern is bootleg movies and music hosted on "foreign" websites.

"These rogue sites are hurting American jobs, stealing American jobs," one critic said. "They're harming American consumers and they have no business being on the Internet."

Critics: Bill Restricts Speech

But critics say the bill could hurt the technology industry and restrict free speech rights.

One prominent legal scholar said a site with thousands of pages could be shut down simply because one page is accused of violating a copyright.

"It is detrimental to the free and open Web. It is detrimental to Wikipedia," said Jay Walsh, head of communications at Wikimedia Foundation.

It's why Wikipedia is shutting down access to its English-language website from midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday.

Other online communities such as Reddit and Boing Boing have announced plans to go dark as well. They're hoping that consumers will notice and that Congress will kill the bill.

"If something like this does get passed, it creates a dynamic, a power that really does cut to the fabric of the Internet, which is a free sort of explosive area where innovation happens in a very organic way," John Abell, Wired Magazine's New York bureau chief, said.

"We just don't know the consequences of saying 'you have to block sites,'" he added.

In what may prove to be a deal breaker, the White House is also voicing concerns about the bill and threatening to use its veto power.

"We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Related Links:

S. 968

H.R. 3261

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