Two weeks ago, Dr. James Heilman discovered something strange. The Canadian emergency room physician and avid Wikipedia contributor noticed that DrugBank, an online database for drug information, was copying text directly from Wikipedia. Although Heilman considers Wikipedia’s medical content to be of surprisingly good quality, he was concerned—because he didn’t just find DrugBank copying and citing Wikipedia; he had also found several examples of Wikipedia likewisecopying and citing DrugBank.
The battle over the proposed European Union Copyright Directive is heating up — and technology companies have returned to their usual playbook. That means mobilizing nonprofit groups and academics they support, warning that policies will “break the internet,” and trying to get some creators and media companies on their side.
The latest example: An email from Google to news publications in its Digital News Initiative, a program the company established to help journalism online, asking them to lobby against parts of the Copyright Directive that are intended to help them. The email, from Google director of strategic relations Madhav Chinnappa, argues that giving publications an ancillary right to articles that they need to license content and requiring platforms to takes some responsibility to minimize the amount of copyrighted material uploaded by users would harm publications, as well as the internet. The email, obtained by Billboard, urges recipients to contact members of European Parliament to prevent the directive from passing parliament’s legal affairs committee with these provisions intact — which happened last week.
In layman’s terms, Google is asking a group of partners who have come to depend on its largesse to take action that will make them even more dependent.