The European Union proposed one of the worst copyright laws in the world .
European copyright law dates from 2001 (before the smartphones, the social media explosion, youtube…) so yes, it urgently needs to be updated.
Yet, the proposal put forward by the European Commission is not even close to be focused on update the law to the Internet, the new ways of communicating and sharing information and the economical and innovative potential of the digital age. Instead, it creates unprecedented new powers for publishing giants, as well as requirements for websites to monitor and filter content upload by the users, attacking our right to access and distribute information and content on the Internet.
# The snipped Levy or LinkTax
Article 11 of the proposal creates a new 20 years copyright for publishers. The so-called #LinkTax would create unprecedented new monopolies for publishing giants to charge fees for snippets of text that automatically accompany hyperlinks. ¿Sounds familiar? Yes, it is like a pan-European Canon AEDE.
In Spain, we know well which can be the disastrous consequences for freedom of expression and information, innovation and the Internet ecosystem of this kind of measures. Apart from the closing of Google News and many other smaller sites, according to this report issued for the Spanish Publishing Association (AEEPP) itself, the so-called canon AEDE:
“Has turned out to be detrimental for all the agents involved: the press publishers, the consumers, the online news readers, the advertisers and also the news aggregators.”
This measure harms medium and small websites and aggregators the most since they do not have the resources to afford the licensing fees or negotiate contracts with the publishers. These sites might be forced to carve out the sources they link to, to reduce costs, damaging press diversity and small publishers left out. Only major websites will be able to pay these fees and only major news sites will get linked to.
# Content filtering or CensorshipMachine
Article 13 includes requirements for monitoring Internet users, demanding that tech companies produce filtering robots to detect the copyright status of user-generated content.
This filtering would not be done on the basis on what is legal, but on whether uploads contain content that has been “identified” by rights holders. This would overturn existing rights for quotation, parody, education and other public-interest copyright exceptions. It is censorship in the hands of copyright trolls.
Spanish citizens recently flooded social networks with indignation and the message #SinMemesNoHayDemocacia (no memes, no democracy) in response to an infamous proposal by the conservative party which threatened to remove memes under claims of honor. Well, with this automatic filtering, any meme which contains an image “identified” by a copyright holder would be blocked automatically.
It is also an economic disaster. Any website that allows user uploaded content would be forced to invest in or license expensive robot filtering software. Giants like Facebook or Google have the sources to face this task, but every other smaller website, forum, etc.c could be hold liable and would be facing legal uncertainty, or might decide to just close.
Watch out to defend the Internet, free culture and the rights of the users
Brace yourselves, days of fights and citizen lobby for our digital rights, the free circulation of knowledge and culture and freedom of expression are coming. The European Parliament, our elected representatives, has the power to overturn these atrocities and achieve a positive copyright reform, starting by the mandatory upward homogenization of all the exception in the EU.