By Bankole Oluwafemi, @MrBankole on Twitter
Wikipedia, or that site where you dub all your assignments from verbatim, will not be available from midnight of 12:00am Wednesday. Wikimedia, the company that runs Wikipedia, has announced that the english version of the sixth most popular destination on the internet with 25 million daily visits is going dark to protest against the Stop OnlinePiracy Act (Sopa).
While this might not really interest you, SOPA is a United States Bill that its backers say will stop online piracy by blacklisting renegade sites like Pirate Bay that share copy-righted music and videos online. However, there is huge opposition for the Bill in the tech and internet community where SOPA is regarded like smallpox. SOPA’s critics say that the Bill’s provisions have the potential to engender unfair internet censorship and even stifle free speech by giving copyright holders monstrously wide powers of action against infringement. For those who want to be spared the legalese, one of the many consequences of SOPA is that uploading your favourite Rihanna video to YouTube, or even doing a Rihanna cover might become a criminal offence, 5 whole years in jail for uploading a five minute clip.
Already Many corporate online entities have declared their opposition to the Bill among them Facebook, Google and Wikipedia which are not only likely to be affected but have built their businesses around the concept of a free internet where information can be shared seamlessly and without impediment…a concept that faces a real threat should the Bill be passed. Wikipedia is however the first to embark on this sort of protest, and along with it in the going-dark campaign are Reddit, Cheezburger and Boing-Boing, also popular websites in their own right. So if you’ve got homework that needs to be turned in soon, now might be a good time to do it, because throughout wednesday all you might get from Wikipedia could be a huge placard.
As I was writing this, I had sort of a brainwave. If you absolutely have to use Wikipedia on Wednesday, you could use google to navigate to another language version of the site, say like the spanish one, just type in ‘spanish wikipedia’ and select it from the search results. Google will detect the language and then ask you if you want to translate the page to english. Click yes, and If your connection is fast enough, it should make the page perfectly legible. This might or might not work for you, so no guarantees.