Wikipedia and other sites to go dark for 24 hrs on Wed. 1/18/12
On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, (US time) the English language Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours in protest against the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act; the Senate version is called PIPA, the Protect IP Act)) in the US. Other language versions should stay available. The action is in protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that is working its way through the House. Other sites are planning protests as well, including going dark.In brief, SOPA advocates stopping piracy by making it possible to “blacklist” or shut down any website that may host pirated content. Critics of the act, which include some major website operators, argue that this will cripple Internet sites as well as censor access to information given the broad nature of the act.To learn more about SOPA and RWA, another act that could affect scholars and library researchers, here are some helpful links:
- This is the Wikimedia Foundation's Press Release. Wikimedia runs Wikipedia: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/English_Wikipedia_to_go_dark.
- Here is a helpful article by Bob Sullivan from MSNBC on the topic, http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/13/10151672-sopa-opponents-gaining-momentum-wikipedia-to-join-blackout.
- Here is a more scholarly article from the Stanford Law Review: http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/dont-break-internet.
- An interesting angle here, Eric Hellman on how even foreign sites could become infringing sites http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/2012/01/foreign-libraries-will-be-infringing.html.
- And if you wish to take action, such as contacting your legislators, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a resource page: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/12/fight-blacklist-toolkit-anti-sopa-activists.
On a related note, the RWA (Research Works Act) is another act making its way through Congress as well. This one should be of interest to our faculty as well as students and other scholars. Deborah Fitchett, writing for the University of Canterbury Library, explains that the act "would make open access mandates like the NIH mandate illegal - meaning more research would be locked behind publisher paywalls instead of being in institutional or subject discipline repositories." She offers links to "a thorough roundup of blogposts on this, including discussions of which publishers are behind it and supporting it, and what researchers can do about it."As of this writing, here is a small summary of where the legislation stands, via Mashable.As always, if you have other questions or would like to learn more, you can also visit your library where one of the librarians will be happy to help answer all your questions. Or, you can visit our website for other ways to contact us.A big tip of the hat to Laura Crossett for post idea and language use.