Why you can’t see Wikipedia images

Ahead of the vote on European copyright regulation, Wikipedia is blacking out photos to raise awareness about freedom of panorama

Wikipedia's protest against the copyright reform under discussion at the European Parliament continues. Yesterday and today, the famous online encyclopedia has blacked out all images within its platform ahead of the European vote on copyright, which is held own today, September 12, 2018.

In a banner posted above each Wikipedia page, it reads, "We need your help. Every day Wikipedia volunteers face obstacles in their mission to make knowledge accessible to everyone This Wednesday we will black out images to remind you that today, September 12, the European Parliament may decide whether to approve the #FreedomOfPanorama and allow us to add now-banned photos of recent buildings and monuments. Make your voice heard to support culture and creativity in the EU and around the world. Thank you". In practice, in order to better spread the knowledge of places, works of art or monuments made in modern times, Wikipedia asks for the right to publish photos currently banned by the European Union. And to raise awareness among its readers, it has decided to black out all the photos in its archive for two days.

Wikipedia and the fight with the European Union over copyright

The new Wikipedia battle for Panorama Freedom is only the latest of the controversies between the famous online encyclopaedia and Europe. Not many months ago, in fact, there was a similar situation: in order to oppose the approval of the new EU law on copyright (the same law that is being discussed today), Wikipedia had decided to shut down its site in many EU countries, so as to make Internet users aware of what was happening. On that occasion, the managers of the free encyclopedia protested against Article 13 of the European copyright law, which imposes a mechanism of preventive control over the content published on the platform. Today, however, the free encyclopedia is against the rule that could prohibit the freedom of Panorama.

But what is meant by Freedom of Panorama? It is the possibility to take and share on popular and information sites works of art, buildings and public monuments without infringing the copyright of the work itself. In practice, if we share a photo of a recently built building on our information portal, we will be violating the copyright of the person who built that specific building. In some countries such as Spain and the United Kingdom this limitation does not exist, but in many European nations, including Italy, this limitation is still provided for in the copyright regulation. Moreover, they let Wikimedia know that they carried out a survey with architects and creatives working in countries where the limitation on the Freedom of Panorama is in force, and 2/3 of the respondents were in favour of putting a picture of their work on Wikipedia for free, for a more complete description of the building they created.