European Wikipedia Pages Go Dark to Protest Copyright Changes

By Holly Brockwell on at

Wikipedia seems to stop working more than a train driver with a good union -- the site knows exactly how much we all use it, and has no qualms about pulling the plug when there's something it wants us to pay attention to.

Considering Wikipedia is completely free and responsible for sizable chunks of modern journalism and academia, we can't really complain about that.

As with today's blackout, the causes Wikipedia chooses to back are usually very worthwhile. This time, it's a protest against proposed changes to online copyright laws across Europe.

Specifically, the Wikimedia Foundation is opposed to the EU Copyright Directive, most pressingly article 11:

"Article 11, which is aimed at news aggregators but has a much wider reach, will require licenses for all online uses of news content apart from a few exceptions. This means that websites which aggregate, organize, or make sense of the news will no longer be able to display snippets alongside those articles, making it much harder for users to find and use information online."

And article 13:

"Article 13 will impose liability on platforms for copyright-infringing content uploaded by users unless they meet a number of stringent requirements. The provision requires that websites make “best efforts” to obtain authorization for all content on their websites as well as quickly removing infringing content and preventing its re-upload.
These are tall tasks for any platform that allows a large number of users to upload content, and only the most sophisticated and well-funded websites will be able to develop the technology to enforce these rules themselves. This will dramatically decrease the diversity of content available online."

The blackout is only in effect on some European Wikipedia pages -- currently the Czech, Danish, German and Slovak sites. The site is still working as normal in the UK.

Some other sites are also protesting the legislation, including Reddit, PornHub and Twitch. They still work, but they show a protest notice first in some territories.

You can read more about why the Wikimedia Foundation is opposed to the EU Copyright Directive in this blog post. [The Verge]

Main image: Slovak Wikipedia