Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wikipedia Blackout...Why it's Happening and how to work around it

Wikipedia has blacked out its English-language website today to protest pending legislation before the US Congress. In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in the opinion of some, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet.

The legislation could hold liable sites which direct to pirated content. In other words, sites like Google and Wikipedia (and the small Encyclopedia of Matt) could be sued simply for carrying a link to a site which has pirated content.  Personally, I say go after the pirates, not the sites that have made themselves successful with open and free-flowing information.

Google remains "open for business" but has blacked-out their logo as you see above.

If you REALLY need Wikipedia today, pages show briefly before being replaced by the notice explaining the blackout action. Pressing the Escape key on your keyboard prevents this from happening, although it must be done for each individual page, and you need a pretty quick finger too.

So use the tools if you need to, but at least un-black after you examine their noble reasons for the blackout.