Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says English-language site will shut down Wednesday in protest
The global online encyclopedia Wikipedia will shut down on Wednesday for 24 hours in protest of federal legislation intended to curb online piracy, according to its founder Jimmy Wales.
(UPDATE: A fellow Times staffer points out that it has always been possible to download a copy of Wikipedia's pages. The database without user pages and talk pages with current revisions only is 7.3 GB compressed, so desperate users could download a copy for Wednesday usage. Click here for more information.)
Wales, who ran Wikipedia from an office in St. Petersburg for years, talked up the news on his Twitter feed Monday, passing along a quote from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. during the holiday. "'Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,'" Wales messaged. "On Wednesday, Wikipedia demands."
According to his Twitter messages, the English-language version of the service will shut down starting at midnight Wednesday for 24 hours. Click here to see the debate within Wikipedia editors and contributors over the action.
There's some indication Wikipedia's protest may already be working. News outlets across the globe carried news of the impending blackout and organizers say more than 7,000 sites have agreed to take part in the Wednesday blackout.
Some of the legislation may also have stalled in Congress, particularly since the White House issued a statement Friday opposing parts of the most prominent bill.
Advocates for open Internet access have opposed proposed legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act, forcing U.S. websites to shut off access to foreign platforms offering access to copyrighted material such as movies or music.
"This is a quite clumsily drafted legislation which is dangerous for an open Internet," said Wales in an interview with Reuters news agency. He also retweeted a statistic saying the U.S. Wikipedia site gets 25-million users per day, and told followers he was not dissuaded by indications legislators are backing off initial plans.
"Student warning!" Wales wrote in a Twitter post after announcing the black out. "Do your homework early."
That might be good advice for all of us surfing the information superhighway for a living.