German Wikipedia Protests EU Copyright Law by Going Dark with ‘Last Chance’ Warning

German Wikipedia Protests EU Copyright Law by Going Dark with ‘Last Chance’ Warning

The controversial copyright law amendments are expected to be adopted by the European Parliament next Tuesday.

Wikipedia in German went offline on Thursday showing an address to its visitors in protest against the reform of EU copyright law that many activists worry would deal a blow to free speech.

The entire day on Thursday was a day of protest for the German-language Wikipedia, which is the second largest version of the free encyclopedia after the English-language Wikipedia.

The statement from the German Wikipedia staff alarmed the site’s visitors that was their last chance to prevent the planned changes to the EU’s copyright law.

Last year, the Italian-language Wikipedia also carried out a similar day of protest against the EU’s draft copyright directive.

The European Union is expected to adopt the controversial copyright legislation amendments next Tuesday.

“[The changes] could lead to a considerable restriction of the free internet [and could] considerably impair freedom of expression, artistic freedom and freedom of the press,” the statement said.

“It’s the most drastic means that we have available to in order to draw awareness to something,” John Weitzmann, the legal head at the Wikimedia association, told German radio station Bayern 2, as cited by DW.

He defended the decision to temporarily shut down the German Wikipedia site, with hopes that would raise awareness and spur change.

In his words, the planned EU copyright law reforms could create serious difficulties for Wikipedia and other non-commercial websites.

The most criticized parts of the newly drafted EU copyright law have been article Article 11 that would force Google and other platforms to pay media publishers for displaying snippets of news, and Article 13 that would make platforms liable for copyrighted material uploaded by users.

The EU has defended the changes as a means of rewarding fairly producers of content such as the news, music and film industries.

Criticism for the planned EU copyright amendments has come from different sides – from Internet tech giants such as Google and Facebook to journalists and librarians.

A protest rally against the EU copyright law reform attracted 3,000 participants in Berlin in early March.

(Banner image: Wikipedia in German)

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