Monday 10th December 2018

Wikipedia Italy launches site-wide protest against the EU’s proposed copyright reforms

Users accessing the online encyclopedia are being redirected to a statement from Wikimedia on the proposed reforms.
Jason Smith
by on 3rd July 2018

Wikipedia Italy has launched a site-wide protest over the EU’s proposed copyright directive.

The proposal has met fierce criticism from online commentators in recent weeks and the criticism has largely been reserved for Articles 11 and 13, which some commentators believe amount to a “link tax” and a demand that online platforms filter uploaded content for copyright infringement.

In response to the commentary Axel Voss MEP, the rapporteur for the proposal, has accused tech platforms of spreading “fake news.”

Users attempting to search the online encyclopedia are currently being redirected back to a page that contains a statement outlining Wikimedia’s concerns about the proposal.

The statement references the plenary vote on the 5th June in the European Parliament on whether to proceed with the proposal in its current form. In particular, it argues that the proposal “threatens online freedom” and “creates obstacles to accessing the web.” It also states that if the proposal is approved it could become “impossible to share a news article on social networks, or find it through a search engine.”

It also draws attention to open letters sent to EU officials, including the President of the European Parliament, by a group of 70 self-proclaimed “internet pioneers” as well as 145 organizations working in fields ranging from human rights to scientific research.

Meanwhile the CEO of UK Music, Michael Dugher, spoke out on the reforms late last week, accusing critics, including Google, of writing “absolute rubbish” and making ludicrous suggestions about the end of memes and user-generated content.

He accused critics of being “desperate and dishonest” and “cynically pedalling…propaganda.”

Overall, he points to what he deems is an imbalance between creators and streamers of music. He argues that video sharing platforms attracted 1.3 billion “music-using” users in 2017, while audio streaming services only attracted 272 million.

The primary focus of the self-proclaimed “internet pioneers” who sent an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tanjani, was less on the need to enforce copyright reforms and more on the subjective nature of the proposal and the impact they believe it will have on European startups and SMEs.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how long Wikipedia’s protest will endure. In a statement published on Wikimedia.org, Eileen B Hershenov, Wikimedia’s General Counsel, highlighted “upload filters” and “restricting the use of news snippets” as two of Wikimedia’s bigger concerns.