Hours before a critical EU vote on mass internet censorship, European Wikipedia projects go dark

Tomorrow, July 5, the European Parliament will vote on whether to conduct a debate and review of the new copyright directive that was approved by the legislative committee last month.

The new directive has two controversial (and catastrophic) elements: Article 11 bans linking to news-sites without a paid license (but does not define "link" or "news," leaving it up to 28 member-states to create a patchwork of rules); and Article 13 requires copyright filters that surveil everything posted to the internet and censors anything that partially matches a database of known copyrighted works. These filters have to be designed to allow rightsholders to claim millions of works at a time (like all the photos in Getty Images or all the Disney movies, ever), but have no penalties for people who falsely claim copyright in order to censor works.

This is obviously incredibly bad for Wikipedia. Article 13 tries to exempt "nonprofit online encyclopedias" but only manages to capture a small fraction of what Wikipedia does — for example, it would still require copyright filtering for the massive Wikipedia Commons project, which collects and hosts open-licensed materials.

Article 11 is even worse for Wikipedia, which is absolutely reliant on being able to cite news stories as the factual basis for its articles.

In the runup to the vote, the Italian, Spanish, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, French and Portuguese versions of Wikipedia have blacked out and replaced their pages with notes describing the directives and asking Wikipedia users to write to their MEPs (here's a tool you can use) to ask them to vote for a full debate on Articles 11 and 13. Other Wikipedia projects are running banners asking their readers to do the same.

This is an important moment in this fight. MEPs need to hear from their constituents on this: with EU elections coming up, they're more likely to be responsive than at any other time. The daily activities and cultural lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans are on the line here.

Wikipedia Italy Blocks All Articles in Protest of EU's Ruinous Copyright Proposals [Rhett Jones/Gizmodo]

Wikipedia down in several countries in EU law protest [Physorg]