Thursday, June 21, 2018

Europe’s New Copyright Rules

Karl Bode:

The EU proposal in question is an attempt to shore up existing problems with EU copyright law. But the poorly crafted nature of the effort could have a profoundly negative impact on everything from your ability to share hot memes to the survival of new startups.

For example, Article 13 of the plan declares that any website that lets users upload text, sounds, images, code, or other copyrighted works for public consumption will need to employ automated systems that filter these submissions against a database of copyrighted works.


“This law does not anticipate the difficult practical questions of how companies can know what is an infringement of copyright,” Reddit said in a statement. “As a result of this big flaw, the law’s most likely result would be the effective shutdown of user-generated content platforms in Europe, since unless companies know what is infringing, we would need to review and remove all sorts of potentially legitimate content if we believe the company may have liability.”

Cory Doctorow:

If the proposal is adopted, a service that publishes a link to a story on a news website with a headline or a short snippet would have to get a license before linking. News sites could charge whatever they want for these licenses, and shut down critics by refusing to license to people with whom they disagreed. And the new rule would apply to any service where a link to a news story can appear, including social media platforms, search engines, blogging platforms, and even nonprofits like Wikipedia.


However you feel about the battles between these giant media companies and giant tech companies, you should be worried about this new link tax. For one thing, ironically enough it will help ensure that the tech giants of today can continue to rule the internet. Facebook and Google and Twitter will figure out how to deal with the link tax. Maybe they’ll share some of their profits with the big media companies, or maybe they’ll boycott the media companies until they agree to a “free license” (this is what happened when Germany tried this a few years ago.) Either way, they can afford to manage the cost.

But if you are hoping that someday there will be alternatives to these giants—European alternatives, say, that are responsive to the needs of European citizens, or just platforms that offer something different, maybe no surveillance of their users, or different rules on cyberbullying and harassment—then the link tax dashes your hopes.

James Vincent:

The European Union has taken the first step in passing new copyright legislation that critics say will tear the internet apart.

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