Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Take action

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This page is for taking action against SOPA/PIPA and for background information. Read more about the blackout in the community announcement and in Sue Gardner's blog post.

If you're in the US: Take action and tell your elected officials you oppose SOPA/PIPA[edit]


The Wikipedia community has decided to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours in protest of proposed legislation — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECTIP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate — that, if passed, will harm the free and open Internet. These bills endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, potentially setting a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world.

But you don't have to wait until the 18th to voice your concerns!

Take action now by calling your US Representative and Senators

(If you have any problems with the link above, click here)


For maximum impact, please consider calling your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and explaining that you are a constituent and that you oppose these bills and similar future legislation. If you'd like to get more informed on SOPA/PIPA, please click here and here.


"As one of your concerned constituents, I urge you to oppose SOPA and PIPA or any future bill that would censor free speech and damage the security of the Internet."

Regarding censorship

“The Internet has become an important communications tool allowing the free flow of ideas. As introduced in the House and the Senate, SOPA and PIPA would give the Justice Department and courts tremendous power to shut down entire sites. These bills ignore the principles of the First Amendment that require tailored solutions in lieu of across-the-board censorship. Unfortunately, these bills represent terrible precedents for the United States and the world.”

If you're not in the US:[edit]

If you live outside the United States, contact your State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs or similar branch of government. Tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and want the internet to remain open and free.

The decision for a global blackout was made in view of concerns about similar legislation in other nations.

Black out your own website on January 18[edit]

Visit to get JavaScript code and a WordPress plugin that you can use to stage a blackout protest on your own site.

Spread the word on social networks[edit]

We strongly encourage you to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Digg,, Diaspora, Google Plus, and other social media. We recommend using the hashtag #wikipediablackout. If you want to replace a profile image in order to make a more visual protest, here is a web-friendly image.

For more information, click on the links below[edit]

Blog post from Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, Sue Gardner:

Official Wikimedia Foundation Press Release:

Statement From the Community Affirming Blackout

Electronic Frontier Foundation blog post on the lingering faults in SOPA/PIPA

Pro Publica Has Detailed SOPA Supporters and Opponents

Questions and answers[edit]

Talking points

  • On January 18, 2012 (this Wednesday) the English Wikipedia will be protesting SOPA/PIPA with a global Wikipedia blackout. Readers who come to Wikipedia will see a message from Wikipedia about SOPA/PIPA and urging them to contact their Representatives or Senators to act. This protest will last 24hrs - from midnight to midnight EST (05:00 UTC Wed to 05:00 UTC Thu).
  • This decision was made by Wikipedia’s global community. Although the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, opposes SOPA and PIPA, the decision was made by the community and that decision is now being implemented.
  • SOPA/PIPA are still real threats to the free, open, and secure web. Although recent media reports have suggested that the bills are losing support, some of the public statements actually seem to only indicate a tactical retreat on SOPA. PIPA remains extremely active. There’s no indication that the bills have been completely withdrawn. In any case, there is a need to send a strong message that bills like SOPA and PIPA should not be allowed. Legislatures must understand that they must involve the internet industry in the law-making process to ensure innovation and protection of free expression.
  • Although the bills have changed, they are still a real threat to the free, open, and secure web. Among other serious problems in the current draft of the bills, the requirement exists for US-based sites to actively police links to purported infringing sites. These kinds of self-policing activities are non-sustainable for large, global projects - possibly including projects like Wikipedia. The legislative language is ambiguous and overly broad, even though it touches on protected speech. Our community is incredibly vigilant and proactive in keeping Wikipedia free of links or content that may infringe copyright.

What exactly is Wikipedia doing?[edit]

On January 18, 2012 the English Wikipedia community will be protesting SOPA/PIPA with a global English Wikipedia blackout. U.S. readers who come to English Wikipedia will see a message from Wikipedia about SOPA/PIPA that tells them to contact their Representatives or Senators to act. This protest will last 24 hours - from midnight to midnight EST.

Why is this happening?[edit]

The English Wikipedia community is opposed to SOPA/PIPA. 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 PROTECTIP Act (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.

Wikipedia can only exist in an open and uncensored Internet. SOPA, PIPA, or any future legislation that censors free speech, damages Internet security, or inhibits innovation will hurt and undermine the Internet and the work of our community.

Isn't SOPA dead? Wasn't the bill shelved and didn't the White House declare that it won't sign anything that resembles the current bill?[edit]

We have no information that SOPA/PIPA are actually dead. In fact, there are strong signs that PIPA may be debated before the Senate floor next week. SOPA appears to be only in a tactical retreat. As long as we see the threat of SOPA/PIPA on the horizon, we're going to carry out this protest and send a message that any proposed legislation of this kind that attacks the free and open web isn't welcome.

Aren’t SOPA/PIPA as they stand not even really a threat to Wikipedia? Won't the DNS provisions be removed?[edit]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great post about this here. SOPA/PIPA are still alive, and they’re still a threat to the free and open web. Even with the DNS provisions removed, the bill would give the U.S. government extraordinary and loosely-defined powers to take control over content and information on the free web. In its current form the bill would also require U.S. websites to take on the duty of actively policing links for infringing content. There's more to it than that - taking one provision out doesn't make the bill okay - it's still terrible for the free and open web.

What about OPEN?[edit]

The OPEN Act is another piece of legislation that is different from SOPA, and we're monitoring it, but SOPA/PIPA are the current focus.

Why is the Wikipedia mobile site still available?[edit]

In its blackout decision, the community has asked us to preserve emergency access options to Wikipedia. We've preserved access via the mobile site, and via a small number of backdoors to the main site.

Did the Italian Wikipedia’s protest action last year achieve its goal of stopping the Italian law in question?[edit]

It seems likely that the efforts of the Italian Wikipedia community around a similar Internet censorship bill compelled the Italian Parliament to announce that it would modify the proposed law to include only large online news sites -- meaning that any information outlets that don't fall into that category, Wikipedia among them, would be excluded from the law's reach.

Do you think U.S. users will respond to this action?[edit]

The focus of the message on the Wikipedia blackout page is likely to be action-oriented, with strong encouragement that U.S. citizens reading the message get in touch with their representatives and voice their displeasure over SOPA and PIPA. This effort is newsworthy to the U.S. and global press, and it’s very significant because it will expand the story beyond tech and media insiders to a wider public audience. Many up to this point have not heard much about the issue.

What is the significance of acting in concert with other major sites? Will this really produce a politically effective message beyond acting in isolation?[edit]

The Wikipedia community has selected January 18th because that was the date the U.S. House of Representatives had contemplated hearings and other actions around SOPA. Although those hearings are not occurring today as planned, they will likely be rescheduled to a later date to avoid the increased public opposition to the legislation that we see today. Further, it appears PIPA is moving forward in the U.S. Senate. The community feels this is the right time to act.

When many organizations and projects align and protest like this, there’s clearly a big net effect. There’s no question this makes the story bigger than if one site, say Wikipedia, protested alone. Ultimately though it doesn’t look like we’re just following in the steps of others. Our community has strong views about this - and has from the beginning. It doesn’t simply look like they’re viewing activism in terms of how other sites are responding. Conversely, a lot of those other sites are very much looking to Wikipedia to see how our community is responding.