Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, has blacked out for 24 hours in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) bills in the US.
The blackout only affects the worldwide English version of Wikipedia, and began at midnight 18 January (Eastern Time).
SOPA was introduced in the US House of Representatives on 26 October 2011 and PIPA was introduced on 12 May 2011.
Wikipedia explains that although SOPA and PIPA are aimed at stopping copyright infringement by foreign websites, the bills do so "in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the internet".
It says that the legislation will put a burden on website owners to govern user-contributed material and result in the needless blocking of entire sites.
According to the website, small sites could suffer from the consequences of the bills because of their limited resources.
The not-for-profit organisation goes on to emphasise that Wikipedia itself is not violating copyright laws or opposing them.
Today Wikipedia readers are redirected to a website that explains what SOPA and PIPA are and are encouraged to share their views with their elected representatives.
On the webpage it states that the SOPA and PIPA bills are still being discussed.
"On January 17th, SOPA's sponsor said the bill will be discussed in early February. There are signs PIPA may be debated on the Senate floor next week."