English Wikipedians go on strike to protest national laws, motivate change

English Wikipedia was the most prominent site to join a day-long Internet blackout to protest two bills that are being considered by the U.S. Congress: SOPA and PIPA.  These bills, if passed into law, would increase the liability of ISPs and websites hosting community-generated content, and would make it possible for complaints against content on those sites to cause them to be shut down entirely, or to have their funding cut off, without any court decision being made.

The blackout led to over 15 million people taking action - signing a petition, getting contact information for their congressmen, or sending email requesting opposition to these and similar bills.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation ran an email-writing campaign, Google ran a banner/petition campaign, and Wikimedia ran a campaign to contact congressmen's offices directly.

Support for the blackout was widespread.  Wikipedia's blacked-out main page page received 4x its normal traffic.  A number of other Wikimedia projects expressed their support for the en:wp blackout.  The mainstream media covered the blackout extensively.

And the day produced some brilliant quotes - on Twitter, in articles, and on the Wikimedia blog, where Sue's related essay drew 12,000 comments.  Even the critical comments were often charming.  Some of the quotable love:

  • Key lesson for SOPA/PIPA sponsors: Wikipedia lets everyone legally copy its content. Millions still mourn its absence when it's down. - Anil Dash.
  • “Imagine a world without free knowledge.” I just did and I didn’t like it, now can I have my Wikipedia back? - David Carr
  • Unintended consequences of the proposed legislation [include] breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights - Senator Charles Grassley (R-AL), explaining why he recommends further review of PIPA
  • These measures, if enacted, would place unacceptable limitations on the accessibility of online information and content, impose undue burdens on small and innovative websites and applications, and would not be the most effective way to curtail overseas illegal piracy and theft of intellectual property. - Adam Smith (D-WA)
  • I was at first very irritated when I saw that Wikipedia was taking a political stand on any issue, I actually had no knowledge of these bills and after reading these bills, not only am I too very opposed to them but I also understand the threat these bills pose to Wikipedia itself. - Donald Langhorne
  • The issues go far beyond the US. -FT2
  • dis is retarded -____- im 13 and i NEED wikipedia!!!!!How else do u think i get good grades on my essays?!? -LLAMAZRULE
  • Good. Great. Fantastic. Amazing. I love it. Public figures, be they people or webpages, never take a bold stance on anything important. Thank you for doing so. - Quarex
  • Not only is Wikipedia the easiest, quickest and most hassle-free place to check up on facts, but now it also has the courage to take a stand against restrictions of our freedom online as well! - Jennifer Fricker
  • Black it out for a week if you have to. GO WIKIPEDIA!
  • i don’t really know about this man. I know it’s got to be a hard decision but i don’t think it’s a good thing. what if somethin’ happens because someone hacked the government lately so please don’t do this. -rhedeosi
  • blindness seems so easy..while vision is so hard to bear…
  • Just learned of your blackout in support of intellectual property thievery. I disagree with your position. I have for several years sent a year-end contribution to Wikipedia. Since you have thrown your support to brigands, thieves, miscreants and malefactors, I will send no further contributions. This is NOT a free speech issue as you claim. This is about appropriating work of others without compensation. We call this theft. It is a crime. You can look it up in Britannica. -tcement
  • It is the movie companies etc who are the pirates. The films they produce are mainly rubbish these days and actors are paid way too much.
  • I kinda hate you for shutting down my favorite recreational website for 24 hours, but not only do I agree with why and what you’re doing, I’m also glad such a large user website is taking their time to shut down and bring awareness to this nasty piece of legislation. -Joey

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