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Occupy the web?

Not only has the word “Wikipedia” entered into everyday language but the online encyclopaedia’s blackout of its service on 18 January 2012 has certainly prevented many of us from looking up a quick fact. (Particularly many students!)

The online encyclopaedia’s blackout is in protest against two anti-piracy laws currently being debated in the US.  Google has also joined the protest by adding a statement on its homepage: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) were designed to tackle online piracy, with emphasis being placed on illegal copies of songs and other forms of media.  If the copyright holder were to discover that a foreign site is offering illegal copies of songs or movies, it could seek a court order that would require search engines, for example, to remove links to the site and also require advertising companies to cut off payments to it.  The copyright holders would have a right to seek court orders against any site accused of “enabling or facilitating” piracy, which could potentially involve an entire website being shut down because it contained a link to an offending site.  This may have implications on numerous websites that depend on customers uploading media content.  More…