Update 3:10 p.m. Here’s a video, submitted via Tackable, of MC Hammer speaking out against SOPA at a Civic Center rally in San Francisco.

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If you don’t know what the Stop Online Privacy Act today is yet, you can research it on Wikipedia

But that’s the only thing you’ll find on the the Mother of All online resources today. Wikipedia is down — save for this message:

“For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

The site is just one of thousands on strike today, in protest against SOPA and its compansion bill in the Senate, PIPA. The bill is intended as a remedy for online piracy of digital content like software, music, and movies, and is backed by the entertainment industry, the Chamber of Commerce, and a whole lot by Rupert Murdoch. Opposing it are tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo.

The most controversial parts of the legislation, broadly, would mark sites at which copyrighted material is offered illegally as infringers of intellectual property, and would require Internet service providers and search engines to remove them.

The clamor over the bill may be having an effect. Last week, Rep Lamar Smith (R-Tex), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he would remove the provision that blocks the domain name of an indentified infringer. (So you wouldn’t be able to get to a site by typing in, say, “IllegalMovies.com.”)

And today, in what would seem to be a major blow to the legislation’s backers, two senators, including a co-sponsor of the legislation, have backed away from their support. From the New York Times:

Internet protests on Wednesday quickly cut into Congressional support for anti-Web piracy measures as lawmakers abandoned and rethought their backing for legislation that pitted new media interests against some of the most powerful old-line commercial interests in Washington.

Freshman Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, was first out of the starting gate Wednesday morning with his announcement that he would no longer back anti-Internet piracy legislation he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure that had been set for a test vote next week.

Yesterday, KQED’s Cy Musiker got the scoop on what all the fuss is about from James Temple, technology columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. Listen here or below…

And to read pro and con arguments from the big players, here’s a Jan 6 debate from KQED Radio’s Forum program, with representatives from NBC Universal and Google.

And by the way, if you’re really hard up with a book report due or something, here’s a tip from Gawker:

Even though Wikipedia has picked up its toys and stormed off like a baby, you can still access it. Just drag this bookmark to your browser bookmark bar: Unblock Wikipedia. Then visit any Wikipedia site, like this one, and click the bookmark. Voila.

Also today, Mashable is live-tweeting a protest against SOPA/PIPA in New York City…

Wikipedia, Other Sites Go Dark to Protest Online Piracy Legislation 18 January,2012Jon Brooks

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