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Wikipedia to shut down in censorship row

Jan. 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The Web site Wikipedia says it will show solidarity with the protest against an anti-piracy bill before the U.S. Congress by shutting down for a day.

Calling it a "decision of the Wikipedia community," founder Jimmy Wales said the Internet encyclopedia plans to join other Web sites in a "blackout" Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, a controversial anti-piracy bill being debated in Congress, CNET reported Monday.

It joins several sites saying they'll shut down in protest of the House legislation and its Senate equivalent, the Protect IP Act, or PIPA (IP stands for Intellectual Property.)

The bills are supported by copyright owners, including record companies and Hollywood film studios, but are slammed by critics as a threat to free speech on the Internet.

On Friday, Rep. Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, one of SOPA's biggest backers, said he plans to remove SOPA's requirement of DNS (Domain Name System) blocking, which would have allowed the Justice Department to obtain a court order to shut down Web sites suspected of carrying or linking to pirated material.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the PIPA Senate version, had already said he would delete similar DNS requirements.

The moves were not enough to silence critics.

"We have no indication that SOPA is fully off the table," Wales said in a Twitter post Monday. "PIPA is still alive and kicking. We need to send Washington a BIG message."

Wales said the Wikipedia "blackout" would last 24 hours and affect only the English language version of the site.

"I'm proud to be able in some small way to have a leadership role against censorship," Wales said. "But the community gets the credit here."

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