Jerry Yang leaves Yahoo as Wikipedia blacks out

John Moe Jan 18, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Two big tech stories this morning: the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has gone dark as a show of protest over the Stop Online Piracy Act — which is being considered in Congress; and Yahoo’s Jerry Yang is severing ties with the company after 17 years.

For more on both of these stories, let’s bring in the host of Marketplace Tech Report, John Moe. He is with us live. Good morning, John.

John Moe: Hey Jeremy.

Hobson: Let’s start with the Yahoo story. Give me the big picture here. Why is Yang’s departure such a big deal?

Moe: It’s more of a historical passing, than a seismic shift. He did co-found the company and he ran it as CEO as recently as 2009. He’s been on the board of directors recently. But it is the end of an era. I mean, Yahoo, for many of us, was our first homepage on the Internet. It was the jumping off point into this mysterious world of cyber space.

In recent years, stock has fallen. Yahoo hasn’t been as innovative as Google or Facebook, but it gets a lot of traffic. And the question now is: can they find a new focus over at yahoo headquarters? They’ve kind of been searching around for several years, haven’t found one — and that’s the challenge going forward that company.  Maybe they need to replace the exclamation mark with a question mark — Yahoo?

Hobson: There you go, that’s a good idea. Now John, let’s get to the other big tech story, the Wikipedia story. They’re shutting down today to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act — what exactly would this legislation do that Wikipedia is so upset about?

Moe: Well, you use the word “exactly” and that that’s one of the things that makes a lot of people nervous. There’s a lot ambiguity in the language of the bill. It mentions that it would be illegal to facilitate the distribution of unlicensed content. Well what is “facilitating”? If you link to Youtube and it has unlicensed content on it, are you facilitating?

And a lot of companies are afraid that, they will then have to verify everything they put online or even link to online. It’s a huge burden and they don’t want to get sued something shows up that isn’t copyrighted, so they fear it will create a chilling effect on the internet as a whole.

Hobson: Quickly, John, any chance this thing is going to pass?

Moe: In its current form, no. But it’s being marked up and we’ll probably see some form of legislation down the road after it gets tinkered with.

Hobson: John Moe, host of Marketplace Tech Report. Thanks so much.

Moe: Thanks, Jeremy.

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