Continued from page 1

Since Wikimedia depends on a small army of volunteers who create and update articles, it’s particularly concerned about a lack of exemptions in the bills for sites where users might contribute copyrighted content. Today, it has no obligation under U.S. law except removing that content if a copyright holder complains. But under the House version of the bill, it could be shut down unless it polices its own pages.

The plans for the protest were moving forward even though the bill’s prospects appeared to be dimming. On Saturday, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the bill would not move to the House floor for a vote unless consensus is reached. However, Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said work on the bill would resume next month.

The White House raised concerns over the weekend, pledging to work with Congress to battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy and innovation in the Internet. The administration signaled it might use its veto power, if necessary.

That the bill seems unlikely to pass is another reason Lawton opposes the blackout.

“I think there are far more important things for the organization to focus aside from legislation that isn’t likely to pass anyway,” he said. He’s been contributing to Wikipedia for eight years.

Danny Chia, another contributor to the site, said he had mixed feelings about the blackout. The neutrality applies to the content, but a lot of people interpret it as being about the site as a whole, said the Los Altos, Calif., software engineer.

In an online discussion, others raised the same point about the blackout: Appearances matter, and if the audience sees Wikipedia taking a stand, it might not believe the articles are objective, either.

Wikipedia has seen a small decline in participation, from a peak of 100,000 active editors a year ago to about 90,000 now. Wikimedia Foundation blames this mainly on outdated editing tools, and believes it can get the number growing again with software upgrades.

___

AP Technology Writer Mike Liedtke contributed to this report.