If you planned on visiting Wikipedia.org today to look up celebrity discographies or birth dates (like I often do), forget about it; Wikipedia has gone dark for 24 hours to protest Obama's proposed web piracy bill.
The online encyclopedia ranks up there with Google, Yahoo and other high traffic websites as the most visited online. Wikipedia, and other websites, took a stand against 2 bills: the Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act, which are under consideration in the Senate.
The bills, backed by the motion picture and recording industries, intends to put a stop to online piracy and copyright infringement by infringing upon the rights of visitors to popular websites.
If signed into law by President Obama, the PIPA and the SOPA bills would require ISPs to block online access to foreign websites which supply many of the bootleg movies and CDs that are now available for download online.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims the online piracy costs as much as $250 billion per year and costs the industry 750,000 jobs.
But critics of the bill say the SOPA act would infringe upon "free expression while harming the Internet" and "severely inhibit people's access to online information."
Wikipedia says the bills would place "the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites."
Critics say smaller websites (such as Sandrarose.com) "won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves" against a shut down for hosting content that may be considered pirated (such as Beyonce's new album).
Wikipedia went offline at midnight on Jan. 18, and plans to stay dark for 24 hours.