Wikipedia to shut down website for 24 hours

London: Popular online encyclopaedia
Wikipedia will voluntarily shut down for 24 hours Wednesday as a protest
against internet piracy laws in the US. Co-founder Jimmy Wales said the
internet “will not tolerate censorship” in response to allegations of
copyright infringement.


Wales said the decision to either enforce a “US-only” blackout versus a global blackout was made after a vote of the community.

“The
community vote on the choice of US-only blackout versus global blackout
was 479 to 591 in favour of going global, so while there was a solid
majority, it wasn’t the overwhelming majority that we had for the whole
concept. It seems to have been somewhat of a tough choice for many
people,” Wales to the Telegraph.


Other American technology companies have refused to support Wikipedia.

“The general sentiment seemed to be that US law, as it impacts the internet, can affect everyone,” Wales told the British daily.

“As
for me, what I am hoping is that people outside the US who have friends
or family who are voters in the US, will ask them to make a call to
their senator or representative, and I hope we send a broad global
message that the internet as a whole will not tolerate censorship in
response to mere allegations of copyright infringement,” he said.


The major targets of the protest are the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

The English version of the website will be inaccessible from 5 a.m. GMT Wednesday till 5 a.m. Thursday, Wales wrote on Twitter.

Instead
of the online database of over 3.8 million articles, internet users
will be greeted by a letter encouraging them to contact the US Congress
in protest.


Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo was asked if the
microblogging website would also shut down its global service o support
the cause


“That’s just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to a single-issue national politics is foolish,” Costolo tweeted.

Wales said around 100 million English-speaking Wikipedia users will be affected by the blackout.

Opponents
of the SOPA and PIPA argue that they “impose unfair responsibilities”
on websites like Wikipedia to check that no material they host infringes
copyright, the daily said.


Under current laws, if websites
remove pirated content when they are notified by the copyright holder
they are not liable for damages.


The proposed laws also make it
easier for American copyright holders to cut off access to foreign
websites hosting unlicensed copies of films, music and TV programmes.

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