The Wikipeda community has announced that it will join the growing list of sites that, in protest of the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP ACT) legislation, will temporarily shut down. The English-language Wikipeda site will stage a worldwide “blackout” beginning at 05:00 UTC on January 18, 2012 and continue for 24 hours. This will mark the first time the English Wikipeda has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and in doing so hope to call attention to the controversial measures and their potential impact to online freedoms.
Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, issued a statement stating, “My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it.”
She went on to state that despite Wikipedia’s reputation for neutrality and bipartisanship, they feel strongly enough about the circumstances to make a statement. “In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them. But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not.”
Normally I strive not to discuss politics in an open forum due to the inherent sensitivity that accompanies the topic. However, rarely situations do arise where I feel the ends justify the means in trying to inform the community on large scale topics that will affect them, even indirectly. While not exclusively an issue for the videogame industry, the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation stands to have a profound impact on all forms of online media and interaction. If you’re not familiar with either piece of legislation, please take the time to review the information and come to a conclusion, either way, for yourself. For more information visit the link here for a very informative and neutral-ish synopsis by Alexander Howard of the Huffington Post.