Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Just a Stunt

In case you haven’t heard, Wikipedia is planning to follow-through on its promise to shut itself down for a day in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act.

On January 18, 2012, in an unprecedented decision, the Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours, in protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PROTECT IP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States.

For a site with roughly 80 hojillion unique visitors, this will cause some disruption tomorrow. And it’s actually already caused a commotion! For instance, the MPAA is mighty upset (PDF link). Here’s their rebuttal:

“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

Translation: we spent millions of dollars lobbying for a draconian copyright policy, and now that we’ve been even vaguely rebuked, we’re very sad that you nerds keep rubbing it in.

The best part is where the MPAA complains that Wikipedia has a responsibility to its users to provide its service free from the influence of corporate interests. That would almost sting if the MPAA didn’t spend so much energy coming up with inventive new ways to treat its customers like criminals. I mean, at least Wikipedia talks to its users; the MPAA just throws money at Congress and makes the ads on DVDs unskippable.

I’ll take the ones that talk to me like adults, please.