…be prepared to work harder for it. Some of the top search sites are going dark for the day.
Surely you know about this. If you don’t, chances are it won’t affect you much. But I do searches every day for research, so this will be an interesting exercise. We’ve heard of the ‘democracy of the Internet’, certainly of ‘Wikipedia.’ Here it is in action.
With a Web-wide protest on Wednesday that includes a 24-hour shutdown of the English-language Wikipedia, the legislative battle over two Internet piracy bills has reached an extraordinary moment — a political coming of age for a relatively young and disorganized industry that has largely steered clear of lobbying and other political games in Washington.
The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate, are backed by major media companies and are mostly intended to curtail the illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies online. But the tech industry fears that, among other things, they will give media companies too much power to shut down sites that they say are abusing copyrights.
The legislation has jolted technology leaders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, who are not accustomed to having their free-wheeling online world come under attack.
One response is Wednesday’s protest, which will direct anyone visiting Google and many other Web sites to pages detailing the tech industry’s opposition to the bills. Wikipedia, run by a nonprofit organization, is going further than most sites by actually taking material offline — no doubt causing panic among countless students who have a paper due.
And discomfort for journalists and radio show hosts gathering research, especially as deadline approaches.
Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that the technology industry, which has birthed large businesses like Google, Facebook and eBay, is much more powerful than it used to be.
“This is the first real test of the political strength of the Web, and regardless of how things go, they are no longer a pushover,” said Professor Wu, who is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.” He added, “The Web taking a stand against one of the most powerful lobbyers and seeming to get somewhere is definitely a first.”
And hopefully last. At least I subscribe to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Economist, several online newsletters…and get press releases by the hour.
That should be good for a day.