The Washington Post

SOPA: Getting around the blackout

Web users woke up this morning to find that, as promised, several prominent Web sites had gone dark or put up messages asking visitors to contact their members of Congress to vote against two online piracy measures: the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.

Most notably, Wikipedia has gone dark. Any visitor to that site sees a shadowy “W” and a message saying, “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.”

The blackout makes an impact, that’s for sure. But if you just have to access Wikipedia today, there are a few ways you can get around the protest message.

Two are built into the protest itself. The 1,800 Wikipedia users who voted on starting the protest in the first place wanted to have the articles describing the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act open. They did so on the condition that mobile access to the Web site would stay up.

Jay Walsh, the head of communications for Wikimedia, said in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post that users wanted to keep mobile access to the site open for a couple of reasons, including that they believed the blackout message would have lost its impact on a smaller screen.

So getting to Wikipedia is business as usual on your smartphone or smartphone app, making the blackout more symbolic than practical. Users are also reporting across the Web that hitting the Escape button or stopping a page from loading on Wikipedia will let you circumvent the blackout if you desperately need access to the content.

For other sites, you can check out the cached versions of the pages to get to online content , though it obviously won’t be the most current content.

Related stories:

How site blackouts will affect your daily search

SOPA protests shut down Web sites

On Small Business: As support for SOPA wanes, copyright issues persist

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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