In protest against new EU copyright reforms, Wikipedia temporarily shuts down in Spain, Italy, and Poland.
The proposed European Union (EU) Copyright Law is designed to enforce the copyright law online more stringently. According to FPSmdedia.it, on the Italian Wikipedia site, If a user looks up an entry, the page will load but then go dark in a few seconds, replaced by a press release.
“Instead of upgrading copyright laws in Europe to promote the participation of all to information society, it threatens online freedom and creates obstacles to access the Web, by imposing new barriers, filters, and restrictions. If the proposal passes, it might become impossible to share an article on social media or to look for it on a search engine. Wikipedia itself would be at risk of closure.”
Other EU countries, including the UK, are urging people to oppose the reforms by erecting a banner at the top of the site. Clicking on the “Contact your MEP” link takes you through an informational website that tells you about the new law and gives you details on how to contact your MEPs.
Wikipedia, which ranked on the fifth spot on the most the world by traffic ranking site Alexa, has called the EU’s proposed directive on copyright “a serious threat to our mission.” A founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales was among dozens of leading technology figures who openly opposed the law, alongside Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.
What is it about this directive that threatens online freedom? Why did the critics call it a “dark day” for the Internet” when the Committee on Legal Affairs voted in favor of articles 13 and 11? Simply putting it, Article 11 is for Link tax and Article 13 is about filtering shared content.
Link tax essentially requires online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content. Critics fear that the “link tax” will hurt smaller start-ups and hand new, broad rights to large publishers. According to Axel Voss, a German MEP and a key figure in creating the proposed law, “creating links “for a private purpose” was explicitly excluded from the law, which would only affect commercial use”.
The most controversial part of this directive is in Article 13, requiring websites to enforce copyright, even on content uploaded by users. This could mean that social media sites and others would have to check every piece of content uploaded. This would require social media companies to install an automated copyright checking system to be put in place. Such systems have a high error rate and have already been controversial on platforms, like YouTube, where they have already been implemented.
About 169 European academics wrote that it was “a bad piece of legislation impeding the free flow of information that is of vital importance to democracy.” The legislation will go to a vote Thursday.