Sponsor of online piracy bill calls Wikipedia blackout a 'publicity stunt'

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The protest will apply only to the English version of the popular online encyclopedia and will last for 24 hours.


Wikipedia is the sixth most-visited website in the world, according to Web information company Alexa.

Discussion forum reddit will also blackout on Wednesday to protest the bill, and Google will display a message opposing the legislation.

SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act, are designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity. The legislation would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say the measures are necessary to crack down on online copyright infringement, which is hurting businesses and destroying jobs.

But Web companies say the legislation would require them to police user-generated content, and argue the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech. 

“It’s disappointing that some SOPA critics appear not to have read the bill," Smith said. “This bill will not censor the Internet. But it will protect American workers, inventors and job creators from foreign thieves who steal our products, technology and intellectual property.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who opposes the legislation, said early Saturday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not move forward with SOPA unless there is a consensus.

But Smith said on Tuesday that his Judiciary Committee will vote on the measure next month.