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Together for a free Internet: In 2018, we joined forces with partners from the Internet industry and civil society to campaign against upload filters.
Christian Schneider No-Upload-Filter Verteilaktion (6) , cutout by Atelier Disko for WMDE, CC BY-SA 4.0

From Niche Topic to Social Debate: 15 Organizations against Upload Filters

As part of the European reform of copyright law, which will also bring some important improvements for the free access to knowledge, the introduction of upload filters to prevent copyright infringements was propagated for the first time in 2016. No matter whether text, picture or video contribution – all contents of individual users on larger Internet platforms are to be examined for alleged copyright infringements before the actual upload even takes place. Those that are automatically detected as potentially infringing should be blocked. Sophisticated judgements about what is legally permitted or not – be it criticism, satire or art – cannot, however, be achieved by these filters. That is why they are a threat to freedom of expression and diversity on the Internet.

Conditions 15 organizations from the Internet industry and civil society united in 2018 in an open letter against the controversial upload filters.

In 2018, we joined forces with numerous partners in an open letter to fight against the introduction of upload filters. In addition to Wikimedia Deutschland, 14 other organizations from civil society and the Internet industry (including Bitkom, Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband and the Open Knowledge Foundation) have addressed their concerns to the German government and EU parliamentarians, thereby sending a public signal. Wikipedia was ultimately exempted from the filter requirement, but we continued to work with the Wikipedia volunteers to lobby for a reform that provides better conditions for Free Knowledge.

Together with numerous Internet organizations, we have repeatedly provided information about the problematic aspects of the reform and alternative proposals. By 2019 at the latest, a complex "niche issue" has turned into a broad social debate about freedom and regulation of the Internet. Before the vote in the EU Parliament, thousands of mainly young people took to the streets all over Germany to protest against upload filters. The filters have nevertheless received the support of the Parliament, but the implementation of the directive is now taking place under the critical eye of an interested and informed public.

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