On January 18 or today, Wikipedia will go dark, or disappear from view for 24 hours in protest to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) Bills currently in a committee stage in the United States Congress. The Internet Archive and Reddit will also disappear for 12 hours and Google will use its homepage to provide information on the two bills, which will force Internet Service Providers to block non-US websites if they display pirated content, or content which infringes copyright. When you consider all the clips on Youtube, Facebook, links on Twitter, pictures on Pinterest and Tumblr, it’s a lot of content that television networks, movie studios, media outlets and the music industry want to have under their control.
It’s not just content- it’s information and the right to interact with this information that is under threat with this legislation. It’s yet another attempt by a national government to try and censor global information at the behest of a group who are fearful of losing traditional revenue sources.
Mashable has suggested other alternatives to Wikipedia, to allay the concerns of students and trivia nerds everywhere (cough), and libraries have been keen to emphasise their resources.
So for the next 24 hours, if you have a question and you can’t ask Wikipedia, ask a librarian. Or me :).