Wikipedia Italy Slams Draft EU Copyright Bill, Goes Dark in Protest

Wikipedia Italy Slams Draft EU Copyright Bill, Goes Dark in Protest

The Italian Wikipedia went dark on Tuesday in protest against the controversial draft EU Copyright Directive which has been highly criticized by the Wikimedia Foundation, the body behind the global free online encyclopedia.

Users trying to access Wikipedia in Italian on Tuesday were directed to a statement on the EU’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, The Local Italy reports.

“If the proposal were approved, it could become impossible to share a newspaper article on social networks or find it via a search engine,” Wikipedia Italy’s statement said.

“Wikipedia itself could be forced to shut dow,” it added, making it clear that the Italian Wikipedia community had decided to black out its content to protest the new EU copyright legislation.

The Wikimedia Foundation itself has already become part of the campaign of international Internet freedom activists slamming the draft EU directive.

It is urging EU residents to ask their Members of the European Parliament to vote against proposed new Copyright Directive.

The draft EU legislation, which was recently approved by the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (known as JURI), would allow publishers to demand copyright compensations even on snippets of news articles appearing in search results as well as other minor extracts of reproduced material.

This provision has been dubbed by critics a “Link Tax” since it would oblige Facebook, Google, and other platforms to purchase licenses from publishers before linking to their stories.

What is more, the new EU Copyright Directive would make it mandatory for online platforms such as YouTube to scan the content users attempt to upload, and block it in case of any suspicion of copyright violations.

While the state purpose of this provision is to ensure that authors, artists and journalists are “paid fairly” for the content they create, critics fear it will cause substantial damage to the freedom to share on the Internet.

Memes, for example, are pointed out as a very likely victim to the proposed EU legislation.

The protest of the Italian Wikipedia community began on Tuesday morning, and it remains unknown when it will end. The Members of the European Parliament are supposed to vote on the proposed new EU Copyright Directive on Thursday, July 5.

(Banner image: Snapshot from Wikipedia Italy)

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