Press releases/Wikipedia blackout supports free and open internet

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Wikipedia blackout affirms overwhelming support for free and open Internet

Millions “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge” and act to oppose SOPA/PIPA

San Francisco, CA - January 19, 2012 -- Over the course of 24 hours on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 162 million people experienced the Wikipedia blackout landing page -- an unprecedented, historic shuttering of the largest repository of free knowledge in the world. More than 8 million U.S. readers looked up their Congressional representatives through Wikipedia to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) -- proposed U.S. legislation that, if passed, will harm the free and open Internet.

The protest drew worldwide attention to SOPA and PIPA, legislation that had previously been cast as a battle between powerful corporate interests. Before the blackout, the bills were poised to sail through Congress with bi-partisan support. But after the public joined the debate on Wednesday, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle declared their opposition and made passage of the current bills much less likely.

“The Wikipedia blackout is over and the public has spoken,” said Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director. “162 million of you saw our blackout page asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down the Congressional switchboards, and you melted their servers. Your voice was loud and strong.”

Immediately after the blackout started, #factswithoutwikipedia, #sopastrike, and “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge” trended worldwide on Twitter. In the first hour of the blackout, #wikipediablackout constituted 1% of all tweets. More than 12,000 people posted comments of support on the Wikimedia Foundation’s blog post announcing the blackout.

For Wikipedia, this fight has never been about money, but about knowledge. As a community of authors, editors, photographers, and programmers, Wikipedians invite everyone to share and build upon the work already begun.

In a little over a decade, Wikipedians have built the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia’s mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity.

The Internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine. As Wikipedia and other websites went dark, readers directed their energy to protecting the free and open Internet.

We thank our readers for their support.

About the Wikimedia Foundation
http://wikimediafoundation.org
http://blog.wikimedia.org

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 474 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property world-wide (comScore, November 2011). Available in 282 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 20 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100,000 people. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.

Media Contact:

Jay Walsh
Head of Communications
Wikimedia Foundation
Tel. +1 415 839 6885 x 6609
jwalsh@wikimedia.org