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Why has Wikipedia blacked out today?



For very good reason. 


It is in protest against proposed legislation in the US to stop online piracy of media content. While stopping piracy is a laudable aim, the way that the bill proposes to enforce the legislation would "set a frightening precedent of internet censorship" according to Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.


The issue is that not only individuals could be jailed, but any website facilitating piracy could be shut down too. 


As it says in the Wikipedia article:
The proposed legislation seeks to take down sites entirely, because courts and others simply don't have time to worry about the nuances of copyright law and free expression. That is what is troubling. When the remedies are bludgeons, when entire sites are taken down, when everyone assumes that all content is infringing because some is, we lose something important. 
We lose the nuances of copyright about which our community cares, we lose our values based on protecting free speech, we lose what we represent. The Internet cannot turn into a world where free expression is ignored to accomodate overly simple solutions that gratify powerful rightowners who spend lots of money to promote the regulation of expression. 
There are better ways, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to find the right approach to legitimate copyright enforcement without trampling on free expression. SOPA and PIPA don't represent these values, and for that reason we ask you to oppose these bills.