The European Parliament has backed disgraceful copyright laws which will change the nature of the net.
The new rules include holding technology companies responsible for material posted without proper copyright permission. This will destroy the
livelihoods of European people making their living from generating content.
The Copyright Directive was backed by 348 MEPs, with 278 against.
It is now up to member states to approve the decision. If they do, they will have two years to
implement it once it is officially published.
The two clauses causing the most controversy are known as Article 11 and Article 13.
Article 11 states that websites will either have to pay to use links from news websites or else be banned
from linking to or quoting news services.
Article 13 holds larger technology companies responsible for material posted without a copyright licence.
It means they would need to pre-censor content before it is uploaded. Only the biggest US
internet companies will have the technology to achieve this automatically, even then technical difficulties in recognising content will results in inevitable over censorship from having to err on the side f caution.
The campaign group Open
Knowledge International described it as a massive blow for the internet.
We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge
creates power for the many, not the few, said chief executive Catherine Stihler. Skip Twitter post by @Senficon
Dark day for internet freedom: The @Europarl_EN has rubber-stamped copyright reform including #Article13 and
#Article11. MEPs refused to even consider amendments. The results of the final vote: 348 in favor, 274 against #SaveYourInternet pic.twitter.com/8bHaPEEUk3 204 Julia Reda (@Senficon) March 26, 2019.
Europe's efforts to curb the internet giants only make them stronger
Websites and businesses across Europe went dark yesterday in protest of disgraceful changes to copyright law being introduced by the European Union.
Ahead of a final vote on the legislation next Tuesday, March 26th, a number of European Wikipedia
sites are going dark for the day, blocking all access and directing users to contact their local EU representative to protest the laws. Other major sites, such as Twitch and PornHub, are showing protest banners on their homepages and social media.
Meanwhile, any users uploading content to Reddit will be shown this notice: Critics of the Copyright Directive say it could lead to messages like this.
The law in question is the EU Copyright Directive, a long-awaited update to copyright law. Two
provisions have been singled out by critics as dangerous to European people's freedom and livehoods.
These are Article 11, which lets publishers charge platforms if they link to their stories (the link tax'), and Article 13, which makes platforms
legally responsible for users uploading copyrighted material (the so-called 'upload filter').
Article 13 is particularly dangerous, say critics. It will make all platforms hosting user-generated content legally responsible for users uploading
copyrighted content. The only way to stop these uploads, say critics, will be to scan content before its uploaded, leading to the creation of filters that will err on the side of censorship and will be abused by copyright trolls.
the rules would be a "net loss for free knowledge." Volunteer editors for the German, Czech, Danish, and Slovak Wikipedias have all blacked out their sites for the day.
As well as the website blackouts , more than five million internet
users have signed a petition protesting Article 13 . Marches and demonstrations are also planned in European cities across the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday before the final vote.
Our efforts to defeat
#Article13 just got a huge boost! Polish @Platforma_org will vote AGAINST the #copyright directive unless #Article13 is deleted! They're the second largest single political party in EPP after @CDU. Thanks @MichalBoni
At a press conference in Berlin, @AxelVossMdEP
confirmed rumours that some press publishers have threatened parliamentarians with bad election coverage if they vote against the #copyright reform. Voss does not consider this problematic. #Article11 #Article13 #SaveYourInternet
Pornhub posted a banner at the top of the European version of its site on Thursday, as seen in the image at the top of this page. The discussion forum Reddit204the self-described front page of the internet204and the sprawling online encyclopedia Wikipedia also protested the planned new law, according to a Business Insider report .
The new EU Copyright Directive will be up for its final vote in the week of Mar 25, and like any piece of major EU policy, it has been under discussion for many years and had all its areas of controversy resolved a year ago -- but then German MEP
Axel Voss took over as the "rapporteur" (steward) of the Directive and reintroduced the long-abandoned idea of forcing all online services to use filters to block users from posting anything that anyone, anywhere claimed was their copyrighted
There are so many obvious deficiencies with adding filters to every message-board, online community, and big platform that the idea became political death, as small- and medium-sized companies pointed out that you can't fix the
EU's internet by imposing costs that only US Big Tech firms could afford to pay, thus wiping out all European competition.
So Voss switched tactics, and purged all mention of filters from the Directive, and began to argue that he
didn't care how online services guaranteed that their users didn't infringe anyone's copyrights, even copyrights in works that had only been created a few moments before and that no one had ever seen before, ever. Voss said that it didn't matter how
billions of user posts were checked, just so long as it all got filtered.
(It's like saying, "I expect you to deliver a large, four-legged African land-mammal with a trunk, tusk and a tail, but it doesn't have to be an
elephant -- any animal that fits those criteria will do).
Now, in a refreshingly frank interview, Voss has come clean: the only way to comply with Article 13 will be for every company to install filters.
When asked whether filters will be sufficient to keep Youtube users from infringing copyright, Voss said, "If the platform's intention is to give people access to copyrighted works, then we have to think about whether that kind of business should exist." That is, if Article 13 makes it impossible to have an online platform where the public is allowed to make work available without first having to submit it to legal review, maybe there should just no longer be anywhere for the public to make works available.
Here's what Europeans can do about this:
* Pledge 2019 : make your MEP promise to vote against Article 13. The vote comes just before
elections, so MEPs are extremely interested in the issues on voters' minds.
* Save Your Internet : contact your MEP and ask them to protect the internet
from this terrible idea.
* Turn out and protest on March 23 , two days ahead of the vote. Protests are planned in cities and towns in every EU
German Data Privacy Commissioner Ulrich Kelber is also a computer scientist, which makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive. The Directive will be voted on at the end of this month,
and its Article 13 requires that online communities, platforms, and services prevent their users
from committing copyright infringement, rather than ensuring that infringing materials are speedily removed.
In a new
official statement on the Directive (
English translation ), Kelber warns that Article 13 will inevitably lead to the use of automated filters, because there is
no imaginable way for the organisations that run online services to examine everything their users post and determine whether each message, photo, video, or audio clip is a copyright violation.
Kelber goes on to warn that this
will exacerbate the already dire problem of market concentration in the tech sector, and expose Europeans to particular risk of online surveillance and manipulation.
That's because under Article 13, Europe's online companies will
be required to block all infringement , even if they are very small and specialised (the
Directive gives an online community three years' grace period before it acquires this obligation, less time if the service grosses over ?5m/year). These small- and medium-sized European services (SMEs) will not be able to afford to license the catalogues
of the big movie, music, and book publishers, so they'll have to rely on filters to block the unlicensed material.
But if a company is too small to afford licenses, it's also too small to build filters. Google's Content ID for
YouTube cost a reported ?100 million to build and run, and it only does a fraction of the blocking required under Article 13. That means that they'll have to buy filter services from someone else. The most likely filter vendors are the US Big Tech
companies like Google and Facebook, who will have to build and run filters anyway, and could recoup their costs by renting access to these filters to smaller competitors.
As Kelber explains, this means that Europeans who use European services in the EU will
nevertheless likely have every public communication they make channeled into offshore tech companies' servers for analysis. These European services will then have to channel much of their revenues to the big US tech companies or specialist filter
So Article 13 guarantees America's giant companies a permanent share of all small EU companies' revenues and access to an incredibly valuable data-stream generated by all European discourse, conversation, and
expression. These companies have a long track record of capitalising on users' personal data to their advantage, and between that advantage and the revenues they siphon off of their small European competitors, they are likely to gain permanent dominance
over Europe's Internet.
Kelber says that this is the inevitable consequence of filters, and has challenged the EU to explain how Article 13's requirements could be satisfied without filters. He's called for "a thoughtful
overhaul" of the bill based on "data privacy considerations," describing the market concentration as a "clear and present danger."
We agree, and so do millions of Europeans. In fact,
the petition against Article 13 has attracted more signatures than any other petition in European history and is on
track to be the most popular petition in the history of the human race within a matter of days.
With less than a month to go before the final vote in the European Parliament on the new Copyright Directive, Kelber's remarks
couldn't be more urgent. Subjecting Europeans' communications to mass commercial surveillance and arbitrary censorship is bad for human rights and free expression, but as Kelber so ably argues, it's also a disaster for competition.
In the evening of February 13, negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council concluded the trilogue negotiations with a final text for the new EU Copyright Directive.
For two years we've debated different drafts
and versions of the controversial Articles 11 and 13. Now, there is no more ambiguity: This law will fundamentally change the internet as we know it -- if it is adopted in the upcoming final vote. But we can still prevent that!
Commercial sites and apps where users can post material must make "best efforts" to preemptively buy licences for anything that users may possibly upload -- that is: all copyrighted content in the world. An
In addition, all but very few sites (those both tiny and very new) will need to do everything in their power to prevent anything from ever going online that may be an unauthorised copy of a work that a
rightsholder has registered with the platform. They will have no choice but to deploy upload filters , which are by their nature both expensive and error-prone
Should a court ever find their licensing or filtering efforts not fierce enough, sites are directly liable for infringements as if they had committed them themselves. This massive threat will lead platforms to
over-comply with these rules to stay on the safe side, further worsening the impact on our freedom of speech.
Reproducing more than "single words or very short extracts" of news stories will require a licence. That will likely cover many of the snippets commonly shown alongside links today in order to give you an idea of
what they lead to. We will have to wait and see how courts interpret what "very short" means in practice -- until then, hyperlinking (with snippets) will be mired in legal uncertainty.
No exceptions are made
even for services run by individuals, small companies or non-profits, which probably includes any monetised blogs or websites.
The project to allow Europeans to conduct Text and Data Mining , crucial for modern research and the development of artificial intelligence, has been obstructed with too many
caveats and requirements. Rightholders can opt out of having their works datamined by anyone except research organisations.
Authors' rights: The Parliament's proposal that authors should have a right to proportionate
remuneration has been severely watered down: Total buy-out contracts will continue to be the norm.
Minor improvements for access to cultural heritage : Libraries will be able to publish out-of-commerce works online and
museums will no longer be able to claim copyright on photographs of centuries-old paintings.
How we got here Former digital Commissioner Oettinger proposed the law
The history of this law is a
shameful one. From the very beginning , the purpose of Articles 11 and 13 was never to solve clearly-defined issues in copyright law with
well-assessed measures, but to serve powerful special interests , with hardly any concern for the collateral damage caused.
In his conservative EPP group, the driving force behind this law, dissenters were marginalised . The work of
their initially-appointed representative was thrown out after the conclusions she reached were too
sensible. Mr Voss then voted so blindly in favour of any and all restrictive measures that he was caught by surprise
by some of the nonsense he had gotten approved. His party, the German CDU/CSU, nonchalantly violated the coalition agreement they had signed (which rejected upload filters), paying no mind to their own
minister for digital issues .
It took efforts equally herculean and sisyphean
across party lines to prevent the text from turning out even worse than it now is.
In the end, a closed-door horse trade between France
and Germany was enough to outweigh the objections... so far.
What's important to note, though: It's not "the EU" in general that is to blame -- but those who put special interests above fundamental rights who
currently hold considerable power. You can change that at the polls! The anti-EU far right is trying to seize this opportunity to promote their narrow-minded nationalist agenda -- when in fact without the persistent support of the far-right ENF Group
(dominated by the Rassemblement/Front National ) the law could have been stopped in the crucial Legal Affairs Committee and in general would not be as
extreme as it is today.
We can still stop this law
Our best chance to stop the EU copyright law: The upcoming Parliament vote.
and Council negotiators who agreed on the final text now return to their institutions seeking approval of the result. If it passes both votes unchanged, it becomes EU law , which member states are forced to implement into national law.
In both bodies, there is resistance.
The Parliament's process starts with the approval by the Legal Affairs Committee -- which is likely to be given on Monday, February 18.
at a date to be announced, the EU member state governments will vote in the Council. The law can be stopped here either by 13 member state governments or by any number of governments who together represent 35% of the EU population (
calculator ). Last time, 8 countries representing 27% of the population were opposed. Either a large country like Germany or
several small ones would need to change their minds: This is the less likely way to stop it.
Our best bet: The final vote in the plenary of the European Parliament , when all 751 MEPs, directly elected to represent
the people, have a vote. This will take place either between March 25 and 28, on April 4 or between April 15 and 18. We've already
demonstrated last July that a majority against a bad copyright proposal is achievable .
The plenary can vote to kill the bill -- or to make changes , like removing Articles 11 and 13. In the latter case, it's up to the Council to decide whether to accept these changes (the Directive then becomes law without these
articles) or to shelve the project until after the EU elections in May, which will reshuffle all the cards.
This is where you come in
The final Parliament vote will happen mere weeks before the EU
elections . Most MEPs -- and certainly all parties -- are going to be seeking reelection. Articles 11 and 13 will be defeated if enough voters make these issues relevant to the campaigns. (
Here's how to vote in the EU elections -- change the language to one of your country's official ones for specific information)
It is up to you to make
clear to your representatives: Their vote on whether to break the internet with Articles 11 and 13 will make or break your vote in the EU elections. Be insistent -- but please always stay polite.
Article 13 is the on-again /
off-again controversial proposal to make virtually every online community, service, and
platform legally liable for any infringing material posted by their users, even very briefly, even if there was no conceivable way for the online service provider to know that a copyright infringement had taken place.
require unimaginable sums of money to even attempt, and the attempt will fail. The outcome of Article 13 will be a radical contraction of alternatives to the U.S. Big Tech platforms and the giant media conglomerates. That means that media
companies will be able to pay creators less for their work, because creators will have no alternative to the multinational entertainment giants.
Throwing Creators Under the Bus
companies lured creators' groups into supporting Article 13 by arguing that media companies and the creators they distribute have the same interests. But in the endgame of Article 13, the media companies
threw their creator colleagues under the bus , calling for the deletion of clauses that protect artists' rights to fair compensation from media
companies, prompting entirely justifiable howls of outrage from those betrayed artists' rights
But the reality is that Article 13 was always going to be bad for creators. At best, all Article 13 could hope for was to move a few euros from Big Tech's balance-sheet to Big Content's balance-sheet (and that would
likely be a temporary situation). Because Article 13 would reduce the options for creators by crushing independent media and tech companies, any windfalls that media companies made would go to their executives and shareholders, not to the artists who
would have no alternative but to suck it up and take what they're offered.
After all: when was the last time a media company celebrated a particularly profitable year by increasing their royalty rates?
It Was Always Going to Be Filters
The initial versions of Article 13 required companies to build copyright filters, modeled after YouTube's "Content ID" system: YouTube invites a select group of trusted rightsholders to upload samples of works they
claim as their copyright, and then blocks (or diverts revenue from) any user's video that seems to match these copyright claims.
There are many problems with this system. On the one hand,
giant media companies complain that they are far too easy for dedicated infringers to defeat; and on the other hand,
Content ID ensnares all kinds of legitimate forms of expression, including silence ,
birdsong , and
music uploaded by the actual artist for distribution on
YouTube . Sometimes, this is because a rightsholder has falsely claimed copyrights that don't belong to them; sometimes, it's because Content ID generated a "false positive" (that is, made a mistake); and sometimes it's because software
just can't tell the difference between an infringing use of a copyrighted work and a use that falls under "fair dealing," like criticism, commentary, parody, etc. No one has trained an algorithm to recognise parody, and no one is likely to do
so any time soon (it would be great if we could train humans to reliably recognise parody!).
Copyright filters are a terrible idea. Google has spent a reported $100 million (and counting) to build a very limited copyright
filter that only looks at videos and only blocks submissions from a select group of pre-vetted rightsholders. Article 13 covers all possible copyrighted works: text, audio, video, still photographs, software, translations. And some versions of
Article 13 have required platforms to block infringing publications of every copyrighted work, even those that no one has told them about: somehow, your community message-board for dog-fanciers is going to have to block its users from plagiarising
50-year-old newspaper articles, posts from other message-boards, photos downloaded from social media, etc. Even the milder "compromise" versions of Article 13 required online services to block publication of anything they'd been informed
about, with dire penalties for failing to honour a claim, and no penalties for bogus claims.
But even as filters block things that aren't copyright infringement, they still allow dedicated infringers to operate with few
hindrances. That's because filters use relatively simple, static techniques to inspect user uploads, and infringers can probe the filters' blind-spots for free, trying different techniques until they hit on ways to get around them. For example, some
image filters can be bypassed by flipping the picture from left to right , or rendering it in black-and-white instead of color. Filters are "black
boxes" that can be repeatedly tested by dedicated infringers to see what gets through.
For non-infringers -- the dolphins caught in copyright's tuna-nets -- there is no underground of tipsters who will share defeat-techniques
to help get your content unstuck. If you're an AIDS researcher whose videos have been falsely claimed by AIDS deniers in order to censor
them, or police brutality activists whose bodycam videos have been blocked by police departments looking to evade criticism, you are already operating at the limit of your abilities, just pursuing your own cause. You can try to become a filter-busting
expert in addition to your research, activism, or communications, but there are only so many hours in a day, and the overlap between people with something to say and people who can figure out how to evade overzealous (or corrupted) copyright filters just
isn't very large.
All of this put filters into such bad odor that mention of them was purged from Article 13, but
despite obfuscation , it was clear that Article 13's purpose was to mandate filters: there's just no way to imagine that
every tweet, Facebook update, message-board comment, social media photo, and other piece of user-generated content could be evaluated for copyright compliance without an automated system. And once you make online forums liable for their users'
infringement, they have to find some way to evaluate everything their users post.
Just Because Artists Support Media Companies, It Doesn't Mean Media Companies Support Artists
Spending hundreds of
millions of euros to build filters that don't stop infringers but do improperly censor legitimate materials (whether due to malice, incompetence, or sloppiness) will not put any money in artists' pockets.
Which is not to
say that these won't tilt the balance towards media companies (at least for a while). Because filters will always fail at least some of the time, and because Article 13 doesn't exempt companies from liability when this happens, Big Tech will have to come
to some kind of accommodation with the biggest media companies -- Get Out Of Jail cards, along with back-channels that media companies can use to get their own material unstuck when it is mistakenly blocked by a filter. (It's amazing how often one part
of a large media conglomerate will take down its own content, uploaded by another part of the same sprawling giant.)
But it's pretty naive to imagine that transferring money from Big Tech to Big Content will enrich artists.
Indeed, since there's no way that smaller European tech companies can afford to comply with Article 13, artists will have no alternative but to sign up with the major media companies, even if they don't like the deal they're offered.
Smaller companies play an important role today in the EU tech ecosystem. There are national alternatives to Instagram, Google, and Facebook that outperform U.S. Big Tech in their countries of origin. These will not survive contact
with Article 13. Article 13's tiny exemptions for smaller tech companies were always mere ornaments, and the latest version of Article 13
renders them useless .
companies -- often run by independent artists to market their own creations, or those of a few friends -- will likewise find themselves without a seat at the table with Big Tech, whose focus will be entirely on keeping the media giants from using Article
13's provisions to put them out of business altogether.
Meanwhile, "filters for everything" will be a bonanza for fraudsters and crooks who prey on artists. Article 13 will force these systems to err on the side of
over-blocking potential copyright violations, and that's a godsend for blackmailers , who can use bogus copyright claims to shut down artists' feeds,
and demand money to rescind the claims. In theory, artists victimised in this way can try to get the platforms to recognise the scam, but without the shelter of a big media company with its back-channels into the big tech companies, these artists will
have to get in line behind millions of other people who have been unjustly filtered to plead their case.
If You Think Big Tech Is Bad Now...
In the short term, Article 13 tilts the field toward media
companies, but that advantage will quickly evaporate.
Without the need to buy or crush upstart competitors in Europe, the American tech giants will only grow bigger and harder to tame. Even the aggressive antitrust work of the
European Commission will do little to encourage competition if competing against Big Tech requires hundreds of millions for copyright compliance as part of doing business -- costs that Big Tech never had to bear while it was growing, and that would have
crushed the tech companies before they could grow.
Ten years after Article 13 passes, Big Tech will be bigger than ever and more crucial to the operation of media companies. The Big Tech companies will not treat this power as a
public trust to be equitably managed for all: they will treat it as a commercial advantage to be exploited in every imaginable way. When the day comes that FIFA or Universal or Sky needs Google or Facebook or Apple much more than the tech
companies need the media companies, the tech companies will squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze.
This will, of course, harm the media companies' bottom line. But you know who else it will hurt? Artists.
Because media giants, like other companies who have a buyer's market for their raw materials -- that is, art and other creative works -- do not share their windfalls with their suppliers, but they absolutely expect their suppliers to share their pain.
When media companies starve, they take artists with them. When artists have no other option, the media companies squeeze them even harder .
What Is To Be Done?
media giants nor tech giants have artists' interests at heart.
Both kinds of company are full of people who care about artists, but institutionally, they act for their shareholders, and every cent they give to an artist is
a cent they can't return to those investors.
One important check on this dynamic is competition. Antitrust regulators have many tools at their disposal, and those tools have been largely idle for more than a generation. Companies
have been allowed to grow by merger, or by acquiring nascent competitors, leaving artists with fewer media companies and fewer tech companies, which means more chokepoints where they are shaken down for their share of the money from their work.
Another important mechanism could be genuine copyright reform, such as re-organizing the existing regulatory framework for copyright, or encouraging new revenue-sharing schemes such as voluntary blanket licenses, which could allow
artists to opt into a pool of copyrights in exchange for royalties.
Any such scheme must be designed to fight historic forms of corruption, such as collecting societies that unfairly share out license payments, or media companies
that claim these. That's the sort of future-proof reform that the Copyright Directive could have explored, before it got hijacked by vested interests.
In the absence of these policies, we may end up enriching the media companies,
but not the artists whose works they sell. In an unfair marketplace, simply handing more copyrights to artists is like giving your bullied kid extra lunch-money: the bullies will just take the extra money, too, and your kid will still go hungry.
Artists Should Be On the Side of Free Expression
It's easy to focus on media and art when thinking about Article 13, but that's not where its primary effect will be felt.
platforms that Article 13 targets aren't primarily entertainment systems: they are used for everything, from romance to family life, employment to entertainment, health to leisure, politics and civics, and more besides.
filters will impact all of these activities, because they will all face the same problems of false-positives, censorship, fraud and more.
The arts has always championed free expression for all , not just for artists.
Big Tech and Big Media already exert enormous control over our public and civic lives. Dialing that control up is bad for all of us, not just those of us in the arts.
Artists and audiences share an interest in promoting the
fortunes of artists: people don't buy books or music or movies because they want to support media companies, they do it to support creators. As always, the right side for artists to be on is the side of the public: the side of free expression, without
corporate gatekeepers of any kind.
Thankfully, Europeans aren't taking this lying down. With the final vote expected to come during the March 25-28 session, mere
weeks before European elections, European activists are pouring the pressure onto their Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), letting them know that their vote on this dreadful mess will be on everyone's mind during the election campaigns.
The epicenter of the uprising is Germany, which is only fitting, given that German MEP Axel Voss is almost singlehandedly responsible for poisoning the Directive with rules that will lead to mass surveillance and mass censorship, not
to mention undermining much of Europe's tech sector.
The German Consumer Association were swift to condemn the Directive,
stating : "The reform of copyright law in this form does not benefit anyone, let alone consumers. MEPs are now obliged to do so.
Since the outcome of the trilogue falls short of the EU Parliament's positions at key points, they should refuse to give their consent."
A viral video
of Axel Voss being confronted by activists has been picked up by politicians campaigning against Voss's Christian Democratic Party in the upcoming elections, spreading to Germany's top TV personalities, like Jan Böhmermann.
Apart from the name Donald, and securing a place in hell, both put American corporate interests above European livelihoods. The Council of the EU approves copyright law that will suffocate European businesses and livelihoods
While Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg
maintained their opposition to the text and were newly joined by Malta and Slovakia, Germany's support of the "compromise" secretly negotiated with
France over the last weeks has broken the previous deadlock .
This new Council position is actually more extreme than previous versions, requiring all platforms older than 3 years to automatically censor all their users' uploads,
and putting unreasonable burdens even on the newest companies.
The German Conservative--Social Democrat government is now in blatant violation of its own coalition agreement , which rejects upload filters against copyright
infringement as disproportionate. This breach of coalition promises will not go down well with many young voters just ahead of the European elections in May. Meanwhile, prominent members of both German government parties have joined the protests against
The deal in Council paves the way for a final round of negotiations with the Parliament over the course of next week, before the entire European Parliament and the Council vote on the final agreement. It is now
up to you to contact your MEPs, call their offices in their constituencies and visit as many of their election campaign events as you can! Ask them to reject a copyright deal that will violate your rights to share legal creations like parodies and
reviews online, and includes measures like the link tax that will limit your access to the news and drive small online newspapers out of business.
Right before the European elections, your voices cannot be ignored! Join the over
4.6 million signatories to the largest European petition ever and tell your representatives: If you break the
Internet and accept Article 13, we won't reelect you!
Contrary to some reports A rticle 13 was not shelved solely because EU governments listened to the unprecedented
public opposition and understood that upload filters are costly,
error-prone and threaten fundamental rights.
Without doubt, the consistent public opposition contributed to 11 member state governments
voting against the mandate, instead of just 6 last year, but ultimately the reform hinges on agreement between France and Germany , who due to their size can make or break blocking minorities. The deadlock is the direct result of their disagreement,
which was not about whether to have upload filters at all; they just couldn't agree on exactly who should be forced to install those faulty filters :
The deadlock hinged on a disagreement between France and Germany
France's position: Article 13 is great and must apply to all platforms, regardless of size . They must demonstrate that they have done all they possibly could to prevent uploads of copyrighted material. In the case of small
businesses, that may or may not mean using upload filters -- ultimately, a court would have to make that call . (This was previously the majority
position among EU governments , supported by France, before Italy's newly elected government retracted their support for Article 13 altogether.)
Germany's position: Article 13 is great, but it should not apply to everyone. Companies with a turnover below ?20 million per year should be excluded outright, so as not to harm European internet startups and SMEs. (This was
closer to the European Parliament's current position , which calls for the exclusion of companies with a turnover below ?10 million and fewer than 50 employees.)
What brought France and Germany together:
Making Article 13 even worse In the Franco-German deal
, which leaked today, Article 13 does apply to all for-profit platforms. Upload filters must be installed by everyone except those services which fit all three of the following extremely narrow criteria:
Available to the public for less than 3 years
Annual turnover below ? 10 million
Fewer than 5 million unique monthly users
Countless apps and sites that do not meet all these criteria would need to install upload filters, burdening their users and operators, even when copyright infringement is not at all currently a problem for them. Some examples:
Discussion boards on for-profit sites, such as the Ars Technica or Heise.de forums (older than 3 years)
Patreon , a platform with the sole purpose of helping authors get paid (fails to meet any of the three criteria)
Niche social networks like GetReeled , a platform for anglers (well below 5 million users, but older than 3 years)
Small European competitors to larger US brands like wykop, a Polish news
sharing platform similar to reddit (well below ? 10 million turnover, bur may be above 5 million users depending on the calculation method)
On top of that, even the smallest and newest platforms, which do meet all three criteria , must still demonstrate they have undertaken " best efforts " to obtain licenses from rightholders such as record labels, book
publishers and stock photo databases for anything their users might possibly upload -- an impossible task . In practice, all sites and apps where users may upload material will likely be forced to accept any license a rightholder offers them , no matter
how bad the terms, and no matter whether the y actually want their copyrighted material to be available on the platform or not , to avoid the massive legal risk of coming in conflict with Article 13. In summary: France's and Germany's compromise on
Article 13 still calls for nearly everything we post or share online to require prior permission by "censorship machines" , algorithms that are fundamentally unable to distinguish between copyright infringement and legal works such as parody
and critique. It would change the web from a place where we can all freely express ourselves into one where big corporate rightholders are the gatekeepers of what can and can't be published. It would allow these rightholders to bully any for-profit site
or app that includes an upload function. European innovation on the web would be discouraged by the new costs and legal risks for startups -- even if they only apply when platforms become successful, or turn 3 years old. Foreign sites and apps
would be incentivised to just geoblock all EU users to be on the safe side.
Now everything hinges on the European Parliament
With this road block out of the way, the trilogue negotiations to finish
the new EU copyright law are back on. With no time to lose, there will be massive pressure to reach an overall agreement within the next few days and pass the law in March or April. The most likely next steps will be a rubber-stamping of the new Council
position cooked up by Germany and France on Friday, 8 February, and a final trilogue on Monday, 11 February. MEPs, most of whom are fighting for re-election, will get one final say. Last September, a narrow majority for Article 13 could only be found
in the Parliament after a small business exception was included that was much stronger than the foul deal France and Germany are now proposing -- but I don't have high hopes that Parliament negotiator Axel Voss will insist on this point. Whether MEPs
will reject this harmful version of Article 13 (like they initially did last July) or bow to the pressure will depend on whether all of us make clear to them: If you break the internet and enact Article 13, we won't re-elect you.
Under the proposal, online platforms would have to spend hundreds of millions of euros on
algorithmic copyright filters that would compare everything users tried to post with a database of supposedly copyrighted works, which anyone could add anything to, and block any suspected matches. This would snuff out all the small EU competitors to
America's Big Tech giants, and put all Europeans' communications under threat of arbitrary censorship by balky, unaccountable, easily abused algorithms.
The proposal also lets newspapers decide who can link to their sites, and
charge for the right to do so, in order to transfer some trifling sums from Big Tech to giant news conglomerates, while crushing smaller tech companies and marginalising smaller news providers.
With EU elections looming, every day
that passes without resumed negotiations puts the Directive further and further away from any hope of being voted on in this Parliament (and the next Parliament is likely to have a very different composition, making things even more uncertain). Already,
it would take heroic measures to take any finalised agreement into legislation: just the deadlines for translation, expert review, etc, make it a near impossibility. Within a couple of weeks, there will be no conceivable way to get the Directive voted on
before the elections.
That's why it's so important that opposition is continuing to mount for the Directive, and it certainly is.
This week, the Association of
European Research Libraries came out against the Directive, saying that the "premises both Articles are built on are fundamentally wrong" and calling on negotiators to "delete Articles 11 and 13 from the proposal."
Update: 89 organisations call for the scrpping of the link tax and censorship machines
Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador, Dear European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip Dear MEPs Voss, Adinolfi, Boutonnet, Cavada, Dzhambazki, Geringer de Oedenberg, Joulaud, Mastálka, Reda, Stihler,
We are writing you on behalf of business organisations, civil society organisations, creators, academics, universities, public libraries, research organisations and libraries, startups, software developers, EU online platforms,
and Internet Service Providers.
Taking note of the failure of the Council to find a majority for a revised negotiation mandate on Friday 18 January, we want to reiterate our position that the manifest flaws in Articles 11 and 13
of the proposal for a Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market constitute insurmountable stumbling blocks to finding a balanced compromise on the future of Copyright in the European Union. Despite more than two years of negotiations, it has not
been possible for EU policy makers to take the serious concerns of industry, civil society, academics, and international observers such as the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression into account, as the premises both Articles are built on are
In light of the deadlock of the negotiations on Articles 11 and 13, as well as taking into consideration the cautious stance of large parts of the creative industries, we ask you to delete Articles 11 and 13
from the proposal. This would allow for a swift continuation of the negotiations, while the issues that were originally intended to be addressed by Articles 11 and 13 could be tackled in more appropriate legal frameworks than this Copyright Directive.
We hope that you will take our suggestion on board when finalising the negotiations and put forward a balanced copyright review that benefits from wide stakeholder support in the European Union.
Europe 1. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 2. Allied for Startups 3. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) 4. Copyright for Creativity (C4C) 5. Create.Refresh 6. European Bureau of Library, Information and
Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) 7. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) 8. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES) 9. European University Association (EUA) 10. Ligue des Bibliothèques
Européennes de Recherche -- Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) 11. Open State Foundation 12. Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe (SPARC Europe) Austria 13. epicenter.works -- for digital rights 14. Digital Society
15. Initiative für Netzfreiheit (IfNf) 16. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria) Belgium 17. FusionDirectory 18. Opensides 19. SA&S -- Samenwerkingsverband Auteursrecht & Samenleving (Partnership Copyright & Society) Bulgaria 20.
BlueLink Foundation Czech Republic 21. Iuridicum Remedium (IuRe) 22. Seznam.cz Denmark 23. IT-Political Association of Denmark Estonia 24. Wikimedia Eesti Finland 25. Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI) 26. Finnish Federation for Communications and
Teleinformatics (FiCom) France 27. April 28. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL) 29. NeoDiffusion 30. Renaissance Numérique 31. Uni-Deal 32. Wikimédia France Germany 33. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups 34. Chaos Computer Club 35. Deutscher
Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv) 36. Digitalcourage e.V. 37. Digitale Gesellschaft e.V. 38. eco -- Association of the Internet Industry 39. Factory Berlin 40. Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft (FITUG e.V.) 41. Initiative gegen ein
Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL) 42. Silicon Allee 43. Wikimedia Deutschland Greece 44. Open Technologies Alliance -- GFOSS (Greek Free Open Source Software Society) 45. Homo Digitalis Italy 46. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights 47. Roma
Startup 48. Associazione per la Libertà nella Comunicazione Elettronica Interattiva (ALCEI) Luxembourg 49. Frënn vun der Ënn Netherlands 50. Bits of Freedom (BoF) 51. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB) 52. Vrijschrift Poland 53. Centrum Cyfrowe
Foundation 54. ePanstwo Foundation 55. Startup Poland 56. ZIPSEE Digital Poland Portugal 57. Associação D3 -- Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D³) 58. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) Romania 59. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee) 60.
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) Slovakia 61. Sapie.sk Slovenia 62. Digitas Institute 63. Forum za digitalno druzbo (Digital Society Forum) Spain 64. Asociación de Internautas 65. Grupo 17 de Marzo 66. MaadiX 67. Rights International Spain
68. Xnet Sweden 69. Dataskydd.net 70. Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter (DFRI) United Kingdom 71. Coalition for a Digital Economy (COADEC) 72. Open Rights Group (ORG) International 73. Alternatif Bilisim Dernegi (Alternatif Bilisim) (Turkey)
74. ARTICLE 19 75. Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 76. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) 77. COMMUNIA Association 78. Derechos Digitales (Latin America) 79. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 80. Electronic Information for
Libraries (EIFL) 81. Index on Censorship 82. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) 83. Israel Growth Forum (Israel) 84. My Private Network 85. Open Knowledge International 86. OpenMedia 87. SHARE Foundation (Serbia) 88.
SumOfUs 89. World Wide Web Foundation
The European Council has firmly rejected the negotiating mandate that was supposed to set out Member States' position ahead of what was supposed to be the final negotiation round with the European Parliament. National governments failed to agree on a
common position on the two most controversial articles, Article 11, also known as the Link Tax, and Article 13, which would require online platforms to use upload filters in an attempt to prevent copyright infringement before it happens.
A total of 11 countries voted against the compromise text proposed by the Romanian Council presidency earlier this week: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia, who already opposed a previous version of the directive,
as well as Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal. With the exception of Portugal and Croatia, all of these governments are known for thinking that either Article 11 or Article 13, respectively, are insufficiently protective of users'
rights. At the same time, some rightsholder groups who are supposed to benefit from the Directive are also turning their backs on Article 13.
This surprising turn of events does not mean the end of Link Tax or censorship machines,
but it does make an adoption of the copyright directive before the European elections in May less likely. The Romanian Council presidency will have the chance to come up with a new text to try to find a qualified majority, but with opposition mounting on
both sides of the debate, this is going to be a difficult task indeed.
The outcome of today's Council vote also shows that public attention to the copyright reform is having an effect. Keeping up the pressure in the coming weeks
will be more important than ever to make sure that the most dangerous elements of the new copyright proposal will be rejected.
The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition But You Could Still Tip The Balance. By Cory Doctorow
The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate. This week, the EU is asking its
member-states to approve new negotiating positions for the final language. Once they get it, they're planning to hold a final vote before pushing this drastic, radical new law into 28 countries and 500,000,000 people.
majority of the rules in the new Directive are inoffensive updates to European copyright law, two parts of the Directive represent pose a dire threat to the global Internet:
Article 11: A proposal to make platforms pay for linking to news sites by creating a non-waivable right to license any links from for-profit services (where those links include more than a word or two from the story or its
headline). Article 11 fails to define "news sites," "commercial platforms" and "links," which invites 28 European nations to create 28 mutually exclusive, contradictory licensing regimes. Additionally, the fact that the
"linking right" can't be waived means that open-access, public-interest, nonprofit and Creative Commons news sites can't opt out of the system.
Article 13: A proposal to end the appearance of unlicensed copyrighted
works on big user-generated content platforms, even for an instant. Initially, this included an explicit mandate to develop "filters" that would examine every social media posting by everyone in the world and check whether it matched entries in
an open, crowdsourced database of supposedly copyrighted materials. In its current form, the rule says that filters "should be avoided" but does not explain how billions of social media posts, videos, audio files, and blog posts should be
monitored for infringement without automated filtering systems.
Taken together, these two rules will subject huge swaths of online expression to interception and arbitrary censorship, and give the largest news companies in Europe the power to decide who can discuss and criticise their reporting,
and undermining public-interest, open-access journalism.
The Directive is now in the hands of the European member-states. National ministers are going to decide whether or not Europe becomes a global exporter of censorship and
surveillance. Your voice counts : when you contact your ministers, you are speaking as one citizen to another, in a national context, about issues of import to you and your neighbours. Your national government depends on your goodwill to win the
votes to continue its mandate. This is a rare moment in European lawmaking when local connections from citizens matter more than well-funded, international corporations.
If you live in Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, or Poland:
Please contact your ministers to convey your concern about Article 13 and 11.
We've set up action pages to reach the right people, but you should tailor your message to describe who you are, and your worries. Your country has previously expressed concerns about Article 13 and 11, and may still oppose it.
The official Kodi project Twitter account pointed out Sony's policy a couple of days ago, but reports on the Kodi forums of issues installing and running the app from the Play Store go even further back to last year. A
handful of affected enthusiasts believe they have discovered the cause of the problem: Sony seems to be blocking the package ID for the app from being installed/run. Supporting this theory is the fact that recompiling the app from scratch with a
different ID allows it to work.