My favorite research starting point Wikipedia has plans to black out its English language site for 24 hours in an effort to seek support against the proposed U.S anti-piracy legislation that will threaten the future of the Internet.

Wikipedia is the highest profile name to join an ever growing protest starting midnight January 18 to black out its page and visitors will see only information about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Wikipedia readers will be asked to contact their local member of Congress to vote against the bills.

Cofounder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales stated in an interview “This is a quite clumsily drafted legislation which is dangerous for an open Internet.”

The English language version of Wikipedia has more than 25 million average daily visitors from around the world. (That’s a Wow!) The bills pit technology companies like Google Inc and Facebook against the bill’s supporters, including Hollywood studios and music labels, with the goal of cracking down on online sales of pirated American movies and other goods.

U.S. advertising networks could also be required to stop online ads, and search engines would be barred from directly linking to websites found to be distributing pirated goods.

Google has repeatedly said the bill goes too far and could hurt investment. Along with other Internet companies such as Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and eBay, it has run advertisements in major newspapers urging Washington lawmakers to rethink their approach.

You see where this is going—it probably means that the innocent business will be punished. They will likely be vulnerable to unjust litigation while the offenders will not be touched because their activities are fluid.

What seems simple at first glance is actually a very complicated issue. Now that the White House is commenting on the situation, News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch who supports the bill slammed the Obama administration.

“So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery,” he posted on his personal Twitter account Saturday. News Corp owns a vast array of media properties from Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal to Twentieth Century Fox studios.

Wales said the bill in its current form was too broad and could make it difficult for a site like Wikipedia, which he said relies on open exchange of information. He said the bill also places the burden of proof on the distributor of content in the case of any dispute over copyright ownership.

“I do think copyright holders have legitimate issues, but there are ways of approaching the issue that don’t involve censorship,” Wales said.”

Senate leader Harry Reid stated on Sunday’s Meet the Press that he plans to bring the online piracy legislation to a vote next week. I hope they understand all the vagaries of the situation better than I do.

Click on the links below to read all the source documentation:

The Telegraph

The Washington Post

LA  Times

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