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back to article Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout

Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales is contemplating taking "the encyclopedia anyone can edit" down – temporarily – in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently wending its way through Congress. But first he wants to hear your opinion. "My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and …

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The fools

They should have done an ACTA. Had it all agreed behind closed doors, then signed into law before the people have a chance. That is democracy.

Open debate and consensus is, well, communism. And better dead than red!

So bend over and take it for freedom!

Oh, I don't mean your freedom. Not personal freedom. Corporate freedom! That's the freedom that counts. We should do away with this silly idea of people voting, shares should vote. Whoever has the most shares basically calls all the shots.

It'd at least be a bit more honest than the farce we endure now.

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Clueless as usual.

You are clueless. And by "clueless" I mean not just clueless but pathologically so.

Here is a quote from one of the links in the article: "The battle has pitted huge content generators like Disney and the motion picture industry against their online competitors, with each side reportedly spending some $90 million on lobbying efforts." That $90 million spent against SOPA did not come from migrant workers, if you didn't know. And note that the "competitors" include any number of tech companies, ISPs, Google and AOL - hardly the "99%".

And if your idea of "freedom" requires people having their work appropriated by anyone who wants to do so, in order to draw traffic to a website so as to run ads supplied by huge corporations like Google, thereby reducing the value of the stolen work to pretty nearly zero, then do us all a favor and find a different definition of freedom, preferably one in which *you yourself* are deprived of a livelihood, as opposed to other people.

The person here who is supporting "corporate freedom" - the "corporate freedom" of Google, AOL et al, is. . . you. (And, by the way, it's nice to see that your main principle is still intact and operational: support Google no matter what.)

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Coat

A tactical move?

Have a small part of your forces move without trying to hide, being really obvious in fact, and expect them to be countered while the main, and far deadlier, force moves in secret to the target by another route.

SOPA may just be the diversion, full of sound and fury, but intended to fail while something else much worse follows the ACTA route. Another advantage of this tactic is that if something of the dangerous bill does leak out it will be discounted as an anti-COPA rumor by someone trying to stir up some FUD about COPA.

The one with the anti-paranoia meds in the pocket please.

Of course, its only paranoia if someone isn't out to get you.

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Childcatcher

"The farce we endure now"

That farce has been running longer than "The Mousetrap."

It's a lot like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Everybody in the audience knows all the lines and says them along with the current players.

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FAIL

@Turtle

Is everything black-and-white in your world? One is anti-SOPA so one must be pro-Google?

Do you think by being anti-SOPA, I am pro the BBC's actions on orphaned works?

Or that by objecting to Israeli policy I think the Palestinians are a swell bunch of guys who would like flower arranging?

Here is a clue: the world is not black-and-white and SOPA goes way, way too far.

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Facepalm

So to be clear

You're a big supporter of SOPA?

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FAIL

@Turtle

Would you like to buy a new Irony Detector? Yours seems to be broken.

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Anonymous Coward

@Graham

I believe a certain lady named Alanis has one for sale.

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Anonymous Coward

In my experience

Corporate theft of intellectual property vastly outweighs any other form in terms

of dollar value. None of the ideas that the Internet operates on, from IP to search

engines, were invented by corporations, but who profits?

Fubar

(anonymous 'cause I dig the masque)

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This the same wikipedia who ignores other countries copyright laws and places them under US law? Sod em.

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That's slightly inaccurate. You're talking, if I understand correctly, about the case of Derrick Coetzee copying the high-res. images from the U.K. National Portrait Gallery to Wikimedia Commons. In the U.S., it's been established (in Bridgeman v. Corel) that faithful reproductions of public-domain works (like the images of the NPG portraits) are themselves in the public domain. In the U.K., the reverse isn't true—rather, there hasn't been a case testing the legal theory. In this case, Derrick Coetzee and Wikimedia are asserting an opinion on the law, i.e. that reproductions of public-domain works should be considered public domain under U.K. law. Ironically, this is helped by the U.S. Bridgeman v. Corel case, since that case took U.K. law into consideration in its decision. Why not look it up on Wikipedia?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgeman_Art_Library_v._Corel_Corp.#Relevance_to_U.K._law

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)

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Paris Hilton

"In this case, Derrick Coetzee and Wikimedia are asserting an opinion on the law, i.e. that reproductions of public-domain works should be considered public domain under U.K. law"

So you're excusing it on the grounds that it's legal in the US and the perpetrators think it should be legal in the UK too, so that makes it OK?

Steve

Paris, 'cos even she wouldn't think of a justification so weak.

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Well then ...

... instead of thieving the file, do as Corel did and make a copy of the image. The thief Coetzee didn't copy the image he filtched the exact digital representation as made by the NPG.

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Good on em

They're only one country away from escaping that piece of pointlessness!

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@Steve Ives

It sounds to me like he's excusing it on the grounds that a court in the US found it legal after a discussion of US and UK law, and the UK courts have yet to express an opinion. So 'should be legal' is accurate only in the sense that they think it probably is legal but there's no direct authority. It would be inaccurate if you meant 'should' as in isn't but should be.

See e.g. Shuey v US for an occasion where not only has a US court considered an issue of common law that's equally applicable in the UK and US first (contract in that case, but whatever), but has done so sufficiently convincingly that it's often cited here in the UK with a similar authority to genuine legal precedent.

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@John Lilburne

"... instead of thieving the file, do as Corel did and make a copy of the image. The thief Coetzee didn't copy the image he filtched the exact digital representation as made by the NPG."

The NPG controls the physical portraits, and doesn't allow photography, so taking new photos is not an available option. In any event, you've missed my point, because the "exact digital representation" is public domain under U.S. law (where Coetzee is based) and probably also under U.K. law, so it can't be "thieved" or "filtched" [sic]: it's free to take in the first place.

I think it's worthwhile to consider in this case the intent of copyright. Copyright was originally intended to promote creativity by rewarding the creative with sole rights to their creation, for a fairly short period after which the creation would pass into the public domain. If faithful reproductions of public domain works were not themselves in the public domain, all someone would need to do to have *permanent copyright* would be to exert complete control over the original (as the NPG does), and then switch out the available image with an infinitesimally different one every X years, where X is the duration of the copyright on that image.

Would you support indefinite copyright?

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Professional phorographers copyright their images, if the NPG owned the image copyright then that copyright has been breached.

If however they had taken the images themselves, no problem, although you can't actually take photograpghs inside the NPG, or for that matter any art gallery, so far as I remember.

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No they don't

Copyright exists as soon as a work is generated. No-one can copyright their work, there is no authority.

Copyright can be transferred. The copyright label tells you who claims to own the right, so a thief has no excuse.

But critical for any legal action is the measurement of loss. If something is freely available what is lost if it is duplicated for more public benefit ? The answer might be traffic.

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Citation needed

"because the "exact digital representation" is public domain under U.S. law"

You'll be able to show case law for that then! Corel didn't steal image files they scanned slides. They at least employed a degree of skill in colour matching the results. Doetzee just acted like a thief in the night.

The image is PD you can go down to your library, find them in a book and scan them, no problems. Thieving some else's work is not on, but I don't suppose you'd understand that.

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Actually I was being general. Record an episode of Neighbours and stick it on the internet and it's copyright theft, take a photo of an episode of Neighbours and stick it on Wikipedia and claim "fair use".

They stick US based "fair use" policy on any image they desire. They do not respect international copyright laws, they ignore them, stick them on servers in the US and claim it's protected under US laws, so I stand by my initial statement, sod em.

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"They do not respect international copyright laws, they ignore them, stick them on servers in the US and claim it's protected under US laws, so I stand by my initial statement, sod em."

Sod em indeed. The internet is a test for law and in particular copyright law, however claiming that only US law should apply to a website hosted in the US is simply not good enough. If only US law applies to Wikipedia then only English law should apply to McKinnon. In that particular discussion I come down against Wikipedia. They publish worldwide and therefore should have to consider the legal implications of their publishing work in every country.

It's not just Wikipedia either. Take text which may be out of copyright in the US but not in other parts of the world. If a US based site allows you to download to the UK the text of a book which is out of copyright in the US but not the UK then they have published that work in the UK and should pay royalties.

The interesting thing is that the US legal system is right with me on this up to a point. Do something on a site outside the US that they don't like and allow punters in the US to access that site then you could find a US court will find against you even though you've never stepped inside that country. If you should then be foolish enough to step inside the US at a later date you could find yourself being arrested or with hefty and ridiculous damages to pay. If the US believe that their jurisdiction covers the whole of the internet then they need to accept that every other country's jurisdiction extends to cover websites in the US that encourage users outside the US to access them.

Finally are we sure that all of Wikipedia's servers reside on US soil?

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Paris Hilton

copyright violation is NOT theft

> The copyright label tells you who claims to own the right, so a thief has no excuse.

wrong! totally wrong. copyright violation is not theft, despite what satan's little helpers in hollywood say at the start of their dvds. the copyright holder still has their property (the copyright) after someone makes an unauthorised distribution of the copyrighted work. this is usually illegal - it depends on the local laws - and/or a matter for the civil courts.

theft means removal or denial of access to property that someone else owns without their consent.

a copyright label tells you who owns that right and who might sue or prosecute you if you violate their copyright. so you have no excuse if you do distribute or copy that material without the permission of the rights holder.

paris icon because she knows how to protect her assets when she makes them available.

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ALL of Wiki, or only to US IP addresses?

Two thoughts:

1. Jimmy is mistaken if he thinks an action on a global resource against an American law is going to sit well with the rest of the world. He's also suggested he cannot see beyond the American border...

2. So what is this? "Screw impartiality when I say so"? I thought being impartial was an important part of the wiki ideal... What next, picking sides on the election debate?

I can see what he is getting at, but to use Wikipedia as his weapon of choice is every kind of wrong (though on the plus side, for a little while two-bit hacks will have to do some actual research).

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Anonymous Coward

Hm?

"Jimmy is mistaken if he thinks an action on a global resource against an American law is going to sit well with the rest of the world."

*You're* mistaken if you think an American Internet law isn't going to palpably impact the rest of the world.

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Wikipedia as his weapon of choice

SOPA is a big problem for Wikipedia. They don't have many professional editors. As such, it is impossible for Wikipedia to verify quality and legality of all edits. Currently, editors are (rightly or wrongly) accused of plagiarism on a regular basis.

Under the previous DMCA safe harbor rules, they could be requested to remove an article which some party deemed to infringe on existing copyrights. There would be time to assess the validity of a claim and an opportunity to remove the possibly infringing article without legal consequences to Wikipedia.

Under SOPA, Wikipedia would be liable for mistakes by it's editors even if these happened without Wikipeda's knowledge. Furthermore, SOPA allows for seizure of domain names and possibly other assets without first establishing the merits of an accusation of infringement in a trial. The actions of any one editor could expose Wikipedia to risk of having their domain names and property seized. It would make the existance of Wikipedia in the US nearly impossible.

Impartiality? Really? This law is an direct attack on YouTube, Wikipedia and any other site relying on user generated content. You can't be impartial if you're the one under attack. You're kind of party to the conflict by definition.

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The problem is that Godwin's advice ...

... that if you stuck your head in the sand you'd be OK has been found erroneous. WMF's policy has been that no one at WMF was responsible for whatever some 15 yo did on the site. They don't mind cashing the donations and paying themselves but basically they aren't responsible for anything that happens, no way no how.

Godwin's policy of hiding behind the sofa, or looking shifty and saying not me Gov, was never going to fly long term.

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User "generated" content?

My, those YouTube posters can produce some pretty fine Anime, and their Japanese is top notch. Every bit as good as the stuff you see on TV.

Also, I saw an amateur dramatic reconstruction of the entirety Star Trek up there recently - they had everything done so accurately, even down to recreating the start and end credits. Okay, it was obviously user-generated, because it was on YouTube, but really, it was so convincing you'd hardly need to buy that box-set at all..

A site that gives an outlet to people who can do this quality of work needs to be looked after.

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Anonymous Coward

Idiot alert

"This law is an direct attack on YouTube"

No, it's a direct attack on The Pirate Bay.

Eric, Larry and Sergey have done very nicely with 8 private jets between them, getting rich off other people who do the hard work, and who create the demand for their advertising service. That's all Google is.

You're very welcome to your YouTube where Charlie Bit My Finger is the best thing on it. Nobody would pay for an internet with just user generated content. Not even you.

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Unintended consequences

"*You're* mistaken if you think an American Internet law isn't going to palpably impact the rest of the world."

RE this point, if the US brought in too many draconian internet laws, won't it just push internet activity away from the US? (This is a slight repurposing of the old "if you tax the rich too much they'll just move somewhere else" argument). US companies affected which can't move away from the negative effects of any extra laws might become uncompetitive on the global stage. Non-US populations that are affected might start spending some of their own tax dollars on internet infrastructure independent of US control.

Perhaps if the US presses too much on internet freedoms, we might see a flowering of the "independent internet" in other areas? And this may actually benefit us in the UK?

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Go.For.It!

What I always say.

Jump! Jump!

or

There is only one chance in six that the chamber is loaded; risk it.

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Go

I don't care what the reason is, if it means a blackout of Wikipedia then I am all for it.

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Unhappy

Ex post facto?

Last I saw, most were waiting for either a concrete legal opinion demonstrating the direct risk to WP, or were advocating for waiting until SOPA passed, was implemented, directly affected them, and to then show the black screen of censorship.

If one says "but this is obviously bad legislation" then there are always the apologists who will say "no it isn't" or "it's not finished!" or "it'll be clearer in revisions later". Like a lot of our legal morass, it is easier to show actual damages done than prospective damages.

So likely will wait until the legislators have produced bad copy and watch them scramble to edit it back towards sanity. (Have the people who criticise WP articles looked at the crap that is called legislation? Talk about unreliable!)

(Classic: in order to facilitate anonymous reporting of animal abuse, one legislature tried to codify that no tipsters would be ratted out - anonymity would be guaranteed! Only, as *written*, the law granted anonymity to everyone involved in a case, including the horse beaters, dog fighters, cockfighters, etc.)

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Holmes

Free speech = money and ONLY money

To me, the hilarious part is that the original idea of copyright was to ENCOURAGE creativity, not to maximize profits by nuking any form of derivative idea. I certainly agree that creative artists deserve compensation, but at the same time it is clear that copyright is no longer a plausible mechanism because there is no longer any bottleneck at the point of reproduction.

Perhaps the real problem is that English is hopeless confused about "free". Free speech is confused with free beer, but the most important sense of free is "meaningful and unconstrained choice." If you're paying attention, you may notice the fundamental inconsistency with advertising, where the entire idea is to confuse the meaning and convince the suckers that they can't live without this brand of toothpaste (or politician).

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Pint

Advertising is speech

It is the shareholders of the Coca-Cola Schweppes company telling you they think you will like their product, because all the cool kids do.

Of course it is not speech you like, so obviously it doesn't count in your book.

I also like the way you slipped "meaningful" in there as a modifier on "unconstrained choice". We meaning is good, choice is good, meaningful choice must be better, right?

Presumably this is because choices you don't like are not "meaningful" enough for you.

Just give me choice and I will make my own meaning, thanks.

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Stop

I read 'meaningful' as....

not Hobson's choice, not punch-in-the-face-or-kick-in-the-swingers type choice etc... A choice between options that have real (meaningful) differences in outcome. Esp. as it wasn't given as a modifier at all, but rather as an additional, orthogonal property of the choice.

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Happy

Go for it

I would back a permanent blackout of Wikipedia to US IP addresses. It would be interesting to see what evolves in a US-only Internet where content corporations rule. We would still have the Internet to use for shopping and for reading carefully regulated non-infringing official news releases, of course. There will probably even be a US only replacement for Wikipedia that will give more balanced coverage of international topics such as censorship in China. I do love new clothes.

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Wikipedia (US)

Funded by Fox News, all the news that's right for you.

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Yeah Right

But do Americans really deserve that, Tea Party excluded.

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JDX
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The same Jimbo who is begging for my money?

Every wiki page has big fat begging ads right now... so their plan is to take donations and then take the site down fora bit? I hope all those who donated will be allowed special access.

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Anonymous Coward

Not on *my* Wiki there isn't

because I'm a big thieving bastard who uses AdBlock Plus.

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Typical

The US Gov is renown for sneaking unplatable legislation through at this time of year, when many legislators have already departed for sunnier climes than Washington.

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FAIL

Dumb move...

Not even getting into the discussion itself but I wonder: why do bystanders always have to suffer from the ideas or morals of others, even when they have absolutely nothing to do with it ?

Public transportation employee's think they don't earn enough; lets strike. How the public should get to work is their problem. Truck drivers? Lets go over the highway at an incredible slow speed and block whatever we can. How the rest of the public needs to cope with a massive delay is of course not their concern.

Same (IMO /very/ stupid and narrow minded) issue applies here.

The only people who will "suffer" are the people using Wikipedia on a frequent basis.

Could be fun if you believed in the project enough to donate quite a few dollars only to have it turned off in your face. That would be an epic fail in my book.

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Anonymous Coward

@ShelLuser - Quick this man should have a newspaper column

A by location summary of the state of play today:

In the US Constitution 1787: Right to freedom of speech, right of freedom of assembly, right of freedom of association.

In the UK (and EU) 1950: European Human rights act: rights to freedom of expression, rights of freedom of assembly.

In both US and Europe the rights should be balanced with public safety and order.

However there are no clauses to:

- prevent inconvenience to other parties.

- prevent another party being made to feel peeved.

- prevent another party having to suffer the ideas or morals of others (i.e. have to consider someone elses opinion).

I know - shocking isn't it. The idea that people can protest about things and other people may have to take notice. What is the world coming to.

We must stop this madness now!

I can feel a Daily Mail campaign coming on.

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Facepalm

Smart move...

That is the point. The bystanders need to suffer in the short term to make them sit up and take notice and hopefully put pressure on those who can solve the problem the protestors are having - usually politicians.

For that matter, in all the examples you give, in the long run the "bystanders" could quite likely have everything to do with things - commuters getting poor service from under-paid employees, consumers having to pay more for goods because fuel for lorries is so expensive, and Wikipedia users not having Wikipedia at all because it got SOPA-ed. Granted, you could debate whether the consequences would be that severe, but when you do - as the protestors do - the protest is entirely defensible.

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Bystanders sitting up and taking notice?

All you'll really get is "f**king Wikipedia" and then a Google search for the topic at hand somewhere else. There's a lot of hot air on the internet, plenty of viable ways to fix the world, and many more crazy ways to break it further. But the funny thing is, if it means getting up off their fat asses, suddenly enthusiasm evaporates and other stuff looks like being more fun.

Remember this when you see protests on TV. Some big march, ten thousand turned up. Not bad, but if that latest bit of halfwit legislation affects two million workers, that means a massive 0.5% bothered to do something about it. The rest just moan on social networking sites...

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Meh

Good luck

I recall a similar Digital Economy Act getting rammed through our parliament on a fast track...

I don't think turning Wikipedia off for a day is going to make much of a difference. You're not going to change any minds with that action: those supporting the act will think "tch, free-loving hippies" and strengthen their resolve, those against it will think "yeah, stick it to 'em Jimbo" but still be mildly irritated at the outage.

The rest of the population with no strong opinion will probably sway to the "free-loving hippies" response due to their annoyance.

Doesn't seem to be any winning outcome, except for the scientific/education community who will rejoice as their students will have to do research the hard way...

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Wrong site to darken

However, if YouTube were to pull something like that... BOOM. I'd like Google to shut down YouTube and put up a banner saying "closed until SOPA is voted down. If SOPA passes, this closure will be PERMANENT. Call your representative NOW!"

The sheeple might live without Wikipedia, but you'll have to pry their lolcat videos out of their cold, dead hands!

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"The sheeple might live without Wikipedia, but you'll have to pry their lolcat videos out of their cold, dead hands!"

You think? Google are well aware that there are other freevideo hosting sites on the net and they know that if they shut down it wouldn't take long for people to move over to those sites. And you've already stated why this would happen, because people wouldn't be able to do without their lolcatz videos for more than a day.

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Anyone can edit, but only Jimbo can grant access... wtf?

So, if I've contributed articles to Wikipedia, some guy gets to decide whether or not they can be read, depending on whether or not he has a beef about a policy of a particular government.

That's freedom. Or petulance.

Wikipedia could disappear tomorrow and it'd make no real difference to the world. By its own rules, it contains no original works - it's basically a short-cut for information already stored elsewhere on the net.

And as for the Google "protest", I can't be the only one who winces at their cack-handed elevation of the "right" to copy stuff without paying to the same level as the rights of freedom to work, and freedom from physical harm or discrimination, sexual equality and expression of gender identity. "One of these things", as the song goes, "is different..."

I'm willing to bet that only one of the topics in question is really part of the hallowed "Google ideals".

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RE: Anyone can edit, but only Jimbo can grant access... wtf?

So, if I've contributed articles to Wikipedia, some guy gets to decide whether or not they can be read, depending on whether or not he has a beef about a policy of a particular government.

No, wrong, but thanks for playing.

This is a *DISCUSSION* on weather or not to take the proposed action. If you can gather enough support then the close down will not happen.

Any way this will only be for a day if it does happen if you really want something to complain about, go and find out the opening hours of your locale library, if you still have one that is.

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