INTERNET giant Wikipedia is to take its English-language site offline on January 18 as part of a growing online protest against proposed anti-piracy laws in the US.
User-generated news site Reddit and the Cheezburger family of websites are also set to go dark.
The sites' owners and many users are opposed to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa) currently being debated by Congress.
Social networks Twitter and Facebook will be unaffected.
Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, said: “The bill is so over-broad and so badly written that it's going to impact all kinds of things that don't have anything to do with stopping piracy."
Despite the hint of a presidential veto, Wikipedia said that the English site's administrators had decided to stage its first ever public protest because the bills "would be devastating to the free and open web".
However, Sopa's supporters in the House of Representatives say the legislation is designed to stop revenue flowing to "rogue websites".
It would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down sites associated with piracy and possibly force service providers, search engines, payment processors and advertising networks to boycott the sites.
The White House appears unhappy with the legislation as it stands.
A statement issued last weekend read: “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”
But Rupert Murdoch is a big fan. In a Tweet he accused Google of being the world's biggest online pirates.