SOPA blackouts: Wikipedia, Google and Reddit join protest

Wikipedia blacked out for the day

Expect the Internet to look a little darker on January 18.

Several of the web’s largest sites are shutting down for the day in protest of SOPA and ProtectIP, two proposed American bills that opponents say could fundamentally change the infrastructure of the web.

Sites participating in the blackout include Wikipedia, Boing Boing, WordPress, Reddit, Imgur, Mojang, and Tucows. Other web giants are planning partial blackouts or offering support in other ways. Mozilla will black out some of its websites for part of the day, while Google will link to information about SOPA on its homepage and inform users of its opposition to the bill.

The users of the aggregator site Reddit have largely led the march against these two bills, with Wikipedia’s support drawing attention to the protest. In reference to the blackout Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales tweeted, “This is going to be wow. I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”

A breakdown of the sites participating in the blackout:

Tucows: Tucows, a Canadian domain provider, plans to black out its software download site. Tucows’ Executive VP of product and marketing, Ken Schafer, explained to canada.com that SOPA is trying to give control to copyright owners on sites outside of the US.

“What we have is the US government saying they want to shut down sites in other countries,” Schafer said, adding that this could have major implications for the web in Canada. “That’s essentially creating a firewall between the US and the rest of the world.”

Mozilla: Tom Lowenthal, a member of Mozilla’s privacy team, confirmed Mozilla’s plans on Twitter. Lowenthal tweeted, “On Weds, @mozilla‘s sites are planning to ‘go dark’ for a while, replaced by content talking about how dangerous SOPA would be.”

Imgur: Popular image hosting site Imgur is also participating in the blackout. On its site Imgur stated, “It is important that our users understand the far-reaching and potentially

disastrous repercussions that this legislation could have on the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet.”

Mojang: Minecraft maker Mojang, will shut down its site as well as the sites for Minecraft and Cobalt. It also released one of the harshest statements of any condemning the bills. “No sane person can be for SOPA. I don’t know if we’re sane, but we are strongly, uncompromisingly against SOPA, and any similar laws,” the company wrote in a statement on its site. “Sacrificing freedom of speech for the benefit of corporate profit is abominable and disgusting.”

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