The European Union Commission has been paying quite a bit of attention to the online space recently. The recent implementation of the GDPR law and the scramble by sites that suddenly needed our consent to ensure that we were both of age and also wanted to receive their communications (no KittensWithClaws.com, I have unsubscribed from this newsletter 27,642 times for a reason!) saw a lot of alternatively solicitous and haughty emails filling our inboxes just a few months ago. Whilst the GDPR was received well, it seems that the EU’s newest proposed legislation has rubbed Wikipedia up the wrong way.
In Italy, Poland, and Spain, Wikipedia is currently dark in protest of the EU Copyright Directive, a new legislation which the European Parliament will vote on today, 5 July. The legislation comprises many parts, but the two which have been of particular concern to free speech proponents such as Open Rights Group and the Electronic Frontier Foundation include Article 11, which would mandate that any website using a snippet from, or even linking to a news publication would have to pay a fee to the publication to do so, and Article 13 which would require websites to check any submissions made to them against copyrighted works.
Understandably, these kinds of rules met with some backlash, leading to revision in the Directive to create exceptions for encyclopedias. However, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales joined a myriad of other voices in pointing out that the revisions were far from clear, or sufficient.
In short: sharing news or even dank memes would become incredibly difficult if the EU Copyright Directive in its current form passes.