Wikipedia Blackout

Wikimedia Deutschland successfully contributed its own article

to the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

For the first time in the history of the German Wikipedia, access to Free Knowledge remained blocked. For 24 hours, the online encyclopedia was completely shut down. The blackout happened on 21 March 2019.

With this sensational action, Wikipedia volunteers protested against the reform of copyright law, which was passed by the European Parliament on 26 March. In particular, the protest focused on Article 13 (now: Article 17) of the new directive, which obliges platforms to conclude licenses with the rights holders of protected content. In order to prevent the danger of possible copyright infringements, the platforms must use so-called upload filters – software that directly checks whether there are any violations. Opponents of the reform complain that these filters must be purchased from large American IT companies.

The initiator of the blackout – Wikipedia editor EH⁴² – had previously initiated a “strike” vote (“opinion poll”) in the community. A large majority was in favour of the switch-off. In a guest article EH⁴² wrote:

“At least the encyclopedia Wikipedia itself is explicitly excluded from article 13 and we could ‘sit back and relax’. But it is not our goal to be an oasis of Free Knowledge in an unfree desert of the Internet.