Wikipedia will shut down today in protest of proposed copyright legislation.

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Wikipedia protests legislation

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The lights are going out on Wikipedia -- at least for today.

The online information giant is suspending its English services for 24 hours to protest the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act. The proposed U.S. legislation would block access to sites that provide unauthorized copyrighted material, such as The Pirate Bay which contains illegal torrents.

Wikipedia believes that such a law "would be devastating to the free and open web" according to a blog post by Canadian Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikipedia Foundation. One such infringement could be the regulation of the Domain Name System.

Jimmy Wales, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, explained to CNN what this would mean. "So if you type in the domain of a site that's been accused of being devoted to infringement of copyright you wouldn't get an answer of whether that site exists. That's exactly what China does. They do blocking at the DNS level."

Wales also told CNN that allowing such legislation to pass could infringe on the First Amendment of the American constitution.

However, the bill also has supporters. Many in Hollywood believe that cracking down on pirated material would provide an economic boost by saving money in lost profits and jobs.

Wikipedia supports protecting copyrighted material but claims the act is poorly written, granting the U.S. government too much power to censor the Internet without due process.

Other sites are joining Wikipedia in their protest, including Reddit and BoingBoing.

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