This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Wikipedia Ponders Blackout as SOPA Protest

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- In a move that could prove disastrous for college students working on final papers, collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia is pondering the possibility of going dark.

The proposed shutdown has nothing to do with technical problems or money issues, and everything to do with the Stop Online Piracy Act, an anti-piracy bill that has raised the ire of many major technology companies. This past weekend, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales posted a discussion on his Wikipedia user page suggesting that the English-language version of Wikipedia may temporarily go dark to protest the bill, which critics say gives movie studios and other copyright holders unprecedented power to shut down Web sites seen as infringing on their content.
In a move that could prove disastrous for college students working on final papers, Wikipedia is considering going dark.

While Web sites and technology companies have the most to lose from the bill, consumers would clearly be affected if Web sites were forced to restrict the posting of user-generated content. Given that Wikipedia is among the most popular sites to allow such user control, it makes sense to alert its millions of users of the bill's potential impact on its daily operations.

Of course, the most immediate impact of such a blackout would be that English-language users won't get to use Wikipedia for the duration of the protest. Considering that Wikipedia gets 2.7 billion page views a month, that means that a blackout of just one day could mean close to 300 million Wikipedia page views that get blocked. For people who rely on the site for research -- especially students -- a one-day blackout could prove disastrous.

Such a move would be unprecedented for the English Wikipedia, though not for Wikipedia as a whole. In October the Italian Wikipedia temporarily went offline to protest a proposed wiretapping law that would have forced Web sites to take down information upon request from an applicant who sees bias. As Wales notes, "The Italian Parliament backed down immediately," and he suggests that a similar initiative in the U.S. "could be even more powerful in this case."

>>Wallstrip: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales

Wales is considering alternatives to a full-blown blackout, and one Wikipedia user involved in the discussion suggested that pages initially be presented as blank, accompanied by a warning about SOPA. Users would then have the option to either learn more about the bill or proceed to their destination. Wales responded positively to this alternate proposal, which would echo a previous effort by blogging platform Tumblr to temporarily censor user-generated content upon first logging in.

Whether any of the proposed strategies go through will depend on Wikipedia's user community, which responded positively to the initial blackout proposal. Wales has also said that he plans to meet with President Barack Obama's advisers to discuss the bill, though, so the nuclear option may yet be averted. In the meantime, if you have any research to do, we recommend doing it now -- or you might have to dust off your old encyclopedias.

>To submit a news tip, email:

Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.74 -1.15%
FB $117.58 0.73%
GOOG $693.01 0.29%
TSLA $240.76 -2.81%
YHOO $36.60 0.03%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs