A 24-hour blackout of the English Wikipedia website has been hailed a success by its founders.
The blackout, which started at 5am yesterday, was organised as a protest against two Bills aimed at stopping copyright infringement currently working their way through the US government.
Campaigners say the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa), aimed at stopping copyright infringement by foreign websites, would actually disrupt free expression and harm the internet.
The English Wikipedia was blacked out for 24 hours. Readers who came to it could not read the free editable encyclopaedia, but instead were shown messages about Sopa and Pipa and encouraged to contact their representatives to speak out against the Bills.
And today the website sported a "thank you" banner at the top of its page, with organisers claiming more than 162 million people had seen the blackout.
A message on the site said: "The Wikipedia blackout is over - and you have spoken.
"More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers.
"From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defence of a free and open Internet.
"For us, this is not about money. It's about knowledge. As a community of authors, editors, photographers, and programmers, we invite everyone to share and build upon our work.
"Our mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity. We care passionately about the rights of authors, because we are authors.
"Sopa and Pipa are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows. What's happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary. The internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you've directed your energy to protecting it.
"We're turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly."
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