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
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

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: tips@thestreet.com.

Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

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
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

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

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, 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
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,919.59 +80.85 0.48%
S&P 500 1,981.60 +9.86 0.50%
NASDAQ 4,527.5140 +19.2020 0.43%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs