Update: The EU Parliament has voted against the controversial reform which will now be reopened to debates. A 318-278 majority of MEPs in the European Parliament voted to reopen debate around the digital copyright reform proposal — meaning it will now face further debate and scrutiny, rather than be fast-tracked towards becoming law via the standard EU negotiation process. This is a major victory for internet platforms in the EU.
The protest is against the vote by EU parliament’s legal affairs committee which supported the reforms to the copyright laws. The reforms consist of two major hiccups that pose a threat to free online expression and open internet.
Article 11 ‘Neighbouring Rights’, under which websites producing journalistic content can charge other websites to use snippets of their content. This attacks online news aggregators which includes a lot of startups. The reform also fails to explain what exactly is a snippet. Google was really upset with this reform after already having to shut down Google news service in Spain due to a similar law. Google wrote in a blog post:
It would hurt anyone who writes, reads or shares the news—including the many European startups working with the news sector to build sustainable business models online.
Article 13, under which websites hosting user-generated content have to monitor the content for any kind of copyright or other infringements. Post this, websites have to spend a lot of resources to monitor content.
Though the EU Commission claims that the amendments don’t affect Wikipedia directly but Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia tweeted that the commision is trying to mislead people.
Precisely. And the Wikipedia community is not so narrow minded as to let the rest of the Internet suffer just because we are big enough that they try to throw us a bone. Justice matters.
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) July 3, 2018
Apart from the dismissal of service, Wikipedia is also featuring a banner urging the visitors to defend open internet in many parts of EU. The banner asks people to go to https://saveyourinternet.eu/es/ and contact respective MEPs to convince them to vote against the reform.
Explaining the rationale behind the temporary shutdown, the Spanish Wikipedia community writes that:
“If the proposal were approved in its current version, actions such as sharing a news item on social networks or accessing it through a search engine would become more complicated on the Internet; Wikipedia itself would be at risk.”