4,000,000 Europeans have signed a petition opposing Article 13 of the new Copyright in the Single Market Directive. They oppose it for two main reasons: because it will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that
only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable
algorithmic errors and abuse.
On Monday, a delegation from the signatories officially presented the Trilogue negotiators with the names of 4,000,000+ Europeans who oppose Article 13. These 4,000,000 are in esteemed company: Article 13 is also opposed by the father of the
Internet, Vint Cerf, and the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee and more than 70 of the Internet's top technical experts, not to mention Europe's largest sports leagues and film studios. Burgeoning movements opposing the measure have sprung up
in Italy and Poland.
But no matter how much damage the EU proposed law will do to European businesses and creators, it does not go far enough for the large corporates. This leaves a tricky negation for the EU power brokers of the EU Commission and EU Council of
Ministers. The law is widely opposed by European people but now the US corporates are whingeing that they don't like a few concessions made to get get the bill through the European Parliament. They want the full horror of censorship machines
resurrected. The EFF reports on a delay to proceedings:
This week EU negotiators in Strasbourg struggled to craft the final language of the Copyright in the Single Digital Market Directive, in their last possible meeting for 2019. They failed, thanks in large part to the Directive's two most
controversial clauses: Article 11, which requires paid licenses for linking to news stories while including more than a word or two; and Article 13, which will lead to the creation of error-prone copyright censorship algorithms that will block
users from posting anything that has been identified as a copyrighted work -- even if that posting is lawful. This means that the Directive will not be completed, as was expected, under Austria's presidency of the European Union. The negotiations
between the European Parliament, representatives of the member states, and the European Commission (called "trilogues") will continue under the Romanian presidency, in late January.
The controversy over Article 13 and Article 11 has not diminished since millions of Europeans voiced their opposition to the proposals and their effect on the Internet earlier this year. Even supporters and notional beneficiaries have now grown
critical of the proposals. An open letter signed by major rightsholder groups, including movie companies and sports leagues,
asks the EU to exempt their products from Article 13 altogether , and suggest it should only apply to the music industry's works. Meanwhile, the music industry wrote their own open letter, saying that he latest proposed text on Article 13
won't solve their problems. These rightsholders join the world's most eminent computer scientists, including the inventors of the Internet and the Web,
who denounced the whole approach and warned of the irreparable harm it will do to free expression and the hope of a fair, open Internet.
The collective opposition is unsurprising. Months of closed-door negotiations and corporate lobbying
have actually made the proposals worse : even less coherent, and more riddled with irreconcilable contradictions. The way that the system apportions liability (with stiff penalties for allowing a user to post something that infringes
copyright, and no consequences for censoring legitimate materials)
leads inexorably to filters . And as recent experiences
with Tumblr's attempt to filter adult material have shown, algorithms are simply not very good at figuring out when a user has broken a rule, let alone a rule as technical and fact-intensive as copyright.
What is worse, the Directive will only reinforce the power of US Big Tech companies by inhibiting the emergence of European competitors. That's because only the biggest tech companies have the millions of euros it will cost to deploy the filters
Article 13 requires. Proponents of Article 13 stress that the dominance of platforms like Google and Facebook leaves them with insufficient bargaining leverage and say this leads to a systematic undervaluing of their products. But Article 13 will
actually reduce that leverage even further by preventing the emergence of alternative platforms.
Compromises suggested by the negotiators to limit the damage are proving unlikely to help. Prior to the Trilogue, Article 13 was imposed on all online platforms save those businesses with less than 10 million euros in annual turnover. Some
parties, realising that this will limit the EU tech sector, have suggested changing the figure, but doubling that figure to 20 million doesn't help. If you own a European tech company that you hope will compete with Google someday, you will have
to do something Google never had to face: the day you make the leap from 20 million euros in annual turnover to 20,000,001 euros, you will have to find hundreds of millions of euros to implement an Article 13 copyright filter.
Others have proposed a "notice-and-staydown" system to reassure rightsholders that they will not have to invest their own resources in maintaining the copyright filters. But creating this model for copyright complaints extinguishes any
hope of moderating the harms Article 13 will do to small European companies. Earlier drafts of Article 13 spoke of case-by-case assessments for mid-sized platforms, which would exempt them from implementing filters if they were judged to be
engaged in good faith attempts to limit infringement. But notice-and-staydown (the idea that once a platform has been notified of a user's copyright violation, it must prevent every other user from making such a violation, ever) necessarily
requires filters. Others in the negotiation are now arguing that microenterprises should have to pay the burden, and are pressing for even these small and mid-sized business exemptions to be deleted from the text.
With European internet users, small business people, legal experts, technical experts, human rights and free speech experts all opposed to these proposals, we had hoped that they would be struck from the Trilogue's final draft. Now, they are
blocking the passage of other important copyright reforms. Even Article 13 and 11's original advocates are realising how much they depend on a working Internet, and a remuneration system that might have a chance of working.
Still, the lobbying will continue over the holiday break. Some of the world's biggest entertainment and Internet companies will be throwing their weight around the EU to find a "compromise" that will keep no-one happy, and will exclude
the needs and rights of individual Internet users, and European innovators.
Read more about the Directive, and contact your MEPs and national governments at
Save Your Internet .
As the controversy over the EU's Article 13 censorship machines continue, Twitter appears to be the communications weapon of choice for parties on both sides.
As one of the main opponents of Article 13 and in particular its requirement for upload filtering, Julia Reda MEP has been a frequent target for proponents. Accused of being a YouTube/Google shill (despite speaking out loudly against YouTube's
maneuvering), Reda has endured a lot of criticism. As an MEP, she's probably used to that.
However, a recent response to one of her tweets from music giant IFPI opens up a somewhat ironic can of worms that deserves a closer look.
Since kids will be affected by Article 13, largely due to their obsessiveness with YouTube, Reda recently suggested that they should lobby their parents to read up on the legislation. In tandem with pop-ups from YouTube advising users to oppose
Article 13, that seemed to irritate some supporters of the proposed law.
As the response from IFPI's official account shows, Reda's advice went down like a lead balloon with the music group, a key defender of Article 13. The IFPI tweeted:.
Shame on you: Do you really approve of minors being manipulated by big tech companies to deliver their commercial agenda?
It's pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of big tech companies. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims
for at least ten years and probably more.
Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how big media has directly targeted kids with their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young
as five on anti-piracy issues.
Poland stands up to the EU to champion the livelihoods of thosands of Europeans against the disgraceful EU that wants to grant large, mostly American companies, dictatorial copyright control of the internet
In 2011, Europeans rose up over ACTA , the misleadingly named "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," which created broad surveillance and censorship regimes for the internet. They were successful in large part thanks to the Polish
activists who thronged the streets to reject the plan, which had been hatched and exported by the US Trade Representative.
The Poles aren't having any of it:
a broad coalition of Poles from the left and the right have come together to oppose the new Directive, dubbing it "ACTA2," which should give you an idea of how they feel about the matter.
There are now enough national governments opposed to the Directive to constitute a "blocking minority" that could stop it dead. Alas, the opposition is divided on whether to reform the offending parts of the Directive, or eliminate them
outright (this division is why the Directive squeaked through the last vote, in September), and unless they can work together, the Directive still may proceed.
A massive coalition of 15,000 Polish creators whose videos, photos and text are enjoyed by over 20,000,000 Poles have signed an open letter supporting the idea of a strong, creator-focused copyright and rejecting the new Copyright Directive as a
direct path to censoring filters that will deprive them of their livelihoods.
The coalition points out that online media is critical to the lives of everyday Poles for purposes that have nothing to do with the entertainment industry: education, the continuation of Polish culture, and connections to the global Polish
Polish civil society and its ruling political party are united in opposing ACTA2; Polish President Andrzej Duda vowed to oppose it.
Early next month, the Polish Internet Governance Forum will host a roundtable on the question; they have invited proponents of the Directive to attend and publicly debate the issue.
Defending equal access to the free and open internet is core to Reddit's ideals, and something that redditors have told us time and again they hold dear too, from the SOPA/PIPA battle to the fight for Net Neutrality. This is why even though
we are an American company with a user base primarily in the United States, we've nevertheless spent a lot of time this year
warning about how an overbroad EU Copyright Directive could restrict Europeans' equal access to the open Internet--and to Reddit.
Despite these warnings, it seems that EU lawmakers still don't fully appreciate the law's potential impact, especially on small and medium-sized companies like Reddit. So we're stepping things up to draw attention to the problem. Users in the EU
will notice that when they access Reddit via desktop, they are greeted by a modal informing them about the Copyright Directive and referring them to
detailed resources on proposed fixes .
The problem with the Directive lies in Articles 11 (link licensing fees) and 13 (copyright filter requirements), which set sweeping, vague requirements that create enormous liability for platforms like ours. These requirements eliminate the
previous safe harbors that allowed us the leeway to give users the benefit of the doubt when they shared content. But under the new Directive, activity that is core to Reddit, like sharing links to news articles, or the use of existing content
for creative new purposes (r/photoshopbattles, anyone?) would suddenly become questionable under the law, and it is not clear right now that there are feasible mitigating actions that we could take while preserving core site functionality. Even
worse, smaller but similar attempts in various countries in Europe in the past have shown that
such efforts have actually harmed publishers and creators .
Accordingly, we hope that today's action will drive the point home that there are grave problems with Articles 11 and 13, and that the current trilogue negotiations will choose to remove both entirely. Barring that, however, we have a number of
suggestions for ways to improve both proposals. Engine and the Copia Institute have compiled them
https://dontwreckthe.net/ . We hope you will read them and consider calling your Member of European Parliament (
look yours up here ). We also hope that EU lawmakers will listen to those who use and understand the internet the most, and reconsider these problematic articles. Protecting rights holders need not come at the cost of silencing European
When the EU started planning its new Copyright Directive (the "Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive"), a group of powerful entertainment industry lobbyists pushed a terrible idea: a mandate that all online platforms
would have to create crowdsourced databases of "copyrighted materials" and then block users from posting anything that matched the contents of those databases.
At the time, we, along with academics and technologists explained why this would undermine the Internet, even as it would prove unworkable. The filters would be incredibly expensive to create, would erroneously block whole libraries' worth of
legitimate materials, allow libraries' more worth of infringing materials to slip through, and would not be capable of sorting out "fair dealing" uses of copyrighted works from infringing ones.
The Commission nonetheless included it in their original draft. Two years later, after the European Parliament went back and forth on whether to keep the loosely-described filters, with German MEP Axel Voss finally squeezing a narrow victory in
his own committee, and an emergency vote of the whole Parliament. Now, after a lot of politicking and lobbying, Article 13 is potentially only a few weeks away from becoming officially an EU directive, controlling the internet access of more than
The proponents of Article 13 have a problem, though: filters don't work, they cost a lot, they underblock, they overblock, they are ripe for abuse (basically, all the objections the Commission's experts raised the first time around). So to keep
Article 13 alive, they've spun, distorted and obfuscated its intention, and now they can be found in the halls of power, proclaiming to the politicians who'll get the final vote that "Article 13 does not mean copyright filters."
But it does.
Here's a list of Frequently Obfuscated Questions and our answers. We think that after you've read them, you'll agree: Article 13 is about filters, can only be about filters, and will result in filters.
Article 13 is about filtering, not "just" liability
Today, most of the world (including the EU) handles copyright infringement with some sort of takedown process. If you provide the public with a place to publish their thoughts, photos, videos, songs, code, and other copyrightable works, you
don't have to review everything they post (for example, no lawyer has to watch 300 hours of video every minute at YouTube before it goes live). Instead, you allow rightsholders to notify you when they believe their copyrights have been violated
and then you are expected to speedily remove the infringement. If you don't, you might still not be liable for your users' infringement, but you lose access to the quick and easy 'safe harbor' provided by law in the event that you are named as
part of any copyright lawsuit (and since the average internet company has a lot more money than the average internet user, chances are you will be named in that suit). What you're not expected to be is the copyright police. And in
fact, the EU has a specific Europe-wide law that stops member states from forcing Internet services from having to play this role: the same rule that defines the limits of their liability, the E-Commerce Directive, in the very next article,
prohibits a "general obligation to monitor." That's to stop countries from saying "you should know that your users are going to break some law, some time, so you should actively be checking on them all the time -- and if
you don't, you're an accomplice to their crimes." The original version of Article tried to break this deal, by re-writing that second part. Instead of a prohibition on monitoring, it required it, in the form of a mandatory filter.
When the European Parliament rebelled against that language, it was because millions of Europeans had warned them of the dangers of copyright filters. To bypass this outrage, Axel Voss proposed an amendment to the Article that replaced an
explicit mention of filters, but rewrote the other part of the E-Commerce directive. By claiming this "removed the filters", he got his amendment passed -- including by gaining votes by MEPs who thought they were striking down
Article 13.Voss's rewrite says that sharing sites are liable unless they take steps to stop that content before it goes online.
So yes, this is about liability, but it's also about filtering. What happens if you strip liability protections from the Internet? It means that services are now legally responsible for everything on their site. Consider a photo-sharing
site where millions of photos are posted every hour. There are not enough lawyers -- let alone copyright lawyers -- let alone copyright lawyers who specialise in photography -- alive today to review all those photos before they are permitted to
Add to that all the specialists who'd have to review every tweet, every video, every Facebook post, every blog post, every game mod and livestream. It takes a fraction of a second to take a photograph, but it might take hours or even days to
ensure that everything the photo captures is either in the public domain, properly licensed, or fair dealing. Every photo represents as little as an instant's work, but making it comply with Article 13 represents as much as several weeks' work.
There is no way that Article 13's purpose can be satisfied with human labour.
It's strictly true that Axel Voss's version of Article 13 doesn't mandate filters -- but it does create a liability system that can only be satisfied with filters.
But there's more: Voss's stripping of liability protections has Big Tech like YouTube scared, because if the filters aren't perfect, they will be potentially liable for any infringement that gets past them -- and given their billions, that
means anyone and everyone might want to get a piece of them. So now, YouTube has started lobbying for the original text, copyright filters and all. That text is still on the table, because the trilogue uses both Voss' text (liability to get
filters) and member states' proposal (all filters, all the time) as the basis for the negotiation.
Most online platforms cannot have lawyers review all the content they make available
The only online services that can have lawyers review their content are services for delivering relatively small libraries of entertainment content, not the general-purpose speech platforms that make the Internet unique. The Internet isn't
primarily used for entertainment (though if you're in the entertainment industry, it might seem that way): it is a digital nervous system that stitches together the whole world of 21st Century human endeavor. As the UK Champion for Digital
Inclusion discovered when she commissioned a study of the impact of Internet access on personal life, people use the Internet to do everything, and people with Internet access experience positive changes across their lives : in education,
political and civic engagement, health, connections with family, employment, etc.
The job we ask, say, iTunes and Netflix to do is a much smaller job than we ask the online companies to do. Users of online platforms do sometimes post and seek out entertainment experiences on them, but as a subset of doing everything else:
falling in love, getting and keeping a job, attaining an education, treating chronic illnesses, staying in touch with their families, and more. iTunes and Netflix can pay lawyers to check all the entertainment products they make available
because that's a fraction of a slice of a crumb of all the material that passes through the online platforms. That system would collapse the instant you tried to scale it up to manage all the things that the world's Internet users say to each
other in public.
It's impractical for users to indemnify the platforms
Some Article 13 proponents say that online companies could substitute click-through agreements for filters, getting users to pay them back for any damages the platform has to pay out in lawsuits. They're wrong. Here's why.
Imagine that every time you sent a tweet, you had to click a box that said, "I promise that this doesn't infringe copyright and I will pay Twitter back if they get sued for this." First of all, this assumes a legal regime that lets
ordinary Internet users take on serious liability in a click-through agreement, which would be very dangerous given that people do not have enough hours in the day to read all of the supposed 'agreements' we are subjected to by our technology.
Some of us might take these agreements seriously and double-triple check everything we posted to Twitter but millions more wouldn't, and they would generate billions of tweets, and every one of those tweets would represent a potential lawsuit.
For Twitter to survive those lawsuits, it would have to ensure that it knew the true identity of every Twitter user (and how to reach that person) so that it could sue them to recover the copyright damages they'd agreed to pay. Twitter would
then have to sue those users to get its money back. Assuming that the user had enough money to pay for Twitter's legal fees and the fines it had already paid, Twitter might be made whole... eventually. But for this to work, Twitter would have
to hire every contract lawyer alive today to chase its users and collect from them. This is no more sustainable than hiring every copyright lawyer alive today to check every tweet before it is published.
Small tech companies would be harmed even more than large ones
It's true that the Directive exempts "Microenterprises and small-sized enterprises" from Article 13, but that doesn't mean that they're safe. The instant a company crosses the threshold from "small" to "not-small"
(which is still a lot smaller than Google or Facebook), it has to implement Article 13's filters. That's a multi-hundred-million-dollar tax on growth, all but ensuring that the small Made-in-the-EU competitors to American Big Tech firms will
never grow to challenge them. Plus, those exceptions are controversial in the Trilogue, and may disappear after yet more rightsholder lobbying.
Existing filter technologies are a disaster for speech and innovation
ContentID is YouTube's proprietary copyright filter. It works by allowing a small, trusted cadre of rightsholders to claim works as their own copyright, and limits users' ability to post those works according to the rightsholders' wishes, which
are more restrictive than what the law's user protections would allow. ContentID then compares the soundtrack (but not the video component) of any user uploads to the database to see whether it is a match.
Everyone hates ContentID. Universal and the other big rightsholders complain loudly and frequently that ContentID is too easy for infringers to bypass. YouTube users point out that ContentID blocks all kind of legit material, including silence
, birdsong , and music uploaded by the actual artist for distribution on YouTube . In many cases, this isn't a 'mistake,' in the sense that Google has agreed to let the big rightsholders block or monetize videos that do not infringe any
copyright, but instead make a fair use of copyrighted material.
ContentID does a small job, poorly: filtering the soundtracks of videos to check for matches with a database populated by a small, trusted group. No one (who understands technology) seriously believes that it will scale up to blocking
everything that anyone claims as a copyrighted work (without having to show any proof of that claim or even identify themselves!), including videos, stills, text, and more.
Online platforms aren't in the entertainment business
The online companies most impacted by Article 13 are platforms for general-purpose communications in every realm of human endeavor, and if we try to regulate them like a cable operator or a music store, that's what they will become.
The Directive does not adequately protect fair dealing and due process
Some drafts of the Directive do say that EU nations should have "effective and expeditious complaints and redress mechanisms that are available to users" for "unjustified removals of their content. Any complaint filed under such
mechanisms shall be processed without undue delay and be subject to human review. Right holders shall reasonably justify their decisions to avoid arbitrary dismissal of complaints."
What's more, "Member States shall also ensure that users have access to an independent body for the resolution of disputes as well as to a court or another relevant judicial authority to assert the use of an exception or limitation to
On their face, these look like very good news! But again, it's hard (impossible) to see how these could work at Internet scale. One of EFF's clients had to spend ten years in court when a major record label insisted -- after human review,
albeit a cursory one-- that the few seconds' worth of tinny background music in a video of her toddler dancing in her kitchen infringed copyright. But with Article 13's filters, there are no humans in the loop: the filters will result in
millions of takedowns, and each one of these will have to receive an "expeditious" review. Once again, we're back to hiring all the lawyers now alive -- or possibly, all the lawyers that have ever lived and ever will live -- to check
the judgments of an unaccountable black box descended from a system that thinks that birdsong and silence are copyright infringements.
It's pretty clear the Directive's authors are not thinking this stuff through. For example, some proposals include privacy rules: "the cooperation shall not lead to any identification of individual users nor the processing of their
personal data." Which is great: but how are you supposed to prove that you created the copyrighted work you just posted without disclosing your identity? This could not be more nonsensical if it said, "All tables should weigh at least
five tonnes and also be easy to lift with one hand."
The speech of ordinary Internet users matters
Eventually, arguments about Article 13 end up here: "Article 13 means filters, sure. Yeah, I guess the checks and balances won't scale. OK, I guess filters will catch a lot of legit material. But so what? Why should I have to tolerate
copyright infringement just because you can't do the impossible? Why are the world's cat videos more important than my creative labour?"
One thing about this argument: at least it's honest. Article 13 pits the free speech rights of every Internet user against a speculative theory of income maximisation for creators and the entertainment companies they ally themselves with: that
filters will create revenue for them.
It's a pretty speculative bet. If we really want Google and the rest to send more money to creators, we should create a Directive that fixes a higher price through collective licensing.
But let's take a moment here and reflect on what "cat videos" really stand in for here. The personal conversations of 500 million Europeans and 2 billion global Internet users matter : they are the social, familial, political
and educational discourse of a planet and a species. They have worth, and thankfully it's not a matter of choosing between the entertainment industry and all of that -- both can peacefully co-exist, but it's not a good look for arts groups to
advocate that everyone else shut up and passively consume entertainment product as a way of maximising their profits.
A Spanish comedian has been hauled in front of a judge for blowing his nose on the national flag on TV.
Dani Mateo could be prosecuted for offence of public affront to the symbols of Spain, which comes with a fine, or for carrying out a hate crime, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail.
The complaint was brought by a trade union representing police officers. They protested over a sketch on satirical news show El Intermedio, broadcast on the La Sexta channel last month, in which Mateo joked that he was going to read the only text
that genuinely creates consensus in Spain: the patient guidelines in a packet of Frenadol. But as he read the instructions on the cold remedy, he pretended to sneeze, and blew his nose on the Spanish flag. He joked:
Christ, sorry! I didn't want to offend anyone. I didn't want to offend Spaniards, nor the king, nor the Chinese who sell these rags. Not rags, I didn't mean rags.
France's parliament has passed a new law empowering judges to order the immediate censorahip of 'fake news' during election campaigns.
The law, conceived by President Emmanuel Macron, was rejected twice by the senate before being passed by the parliament on Tuesday. It is considered western Europe's first attempt to officially ban material claimed to be fake.
Candidates and political parties will now be able to appeal to a judge to censor information claimed to be false during the three months before an election.
The law also allows the CSA, the French national TV censor, to suspend television channels controlled by a foreign state or under the influence of that state if they deliberately disseminate false information claimed likely to affect the ballot.
The law also states that users must be provided with information that is fair, clear and transparent on how their personal data is being used.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron has announced a plan to effectively embed French state censors with Facebook to learn more about how to better censor the platform. He announced a six-month partnership with Facebook aimed at figuring out how
the European country should police hate speech on the social network.
As part of the cooperation both sides plan to meet regularly between now and May, when the European election is due to be held. They will focus on how the French government and Facebook can work together to censor content deemed 'harmful'.
It's a pilot program of a more structured engagement with the French government so that both sides can better understand the other's challenges in dealing with the issue of hate speech online. The program will allow a team of regulators, chosen
by the Elysee, to familiarize [itself] with the tools and processes set up by Facebook to fight against hate speech. The working group will not be based in one location but will travel to different Facebook facilities around the world, with
likely visits to Dublin and California. The purpose of this program is to enable regulators to better understand Facebook's tools and policies to combat hate speech and, for Facebook, to better understand the needs of regulators.
Once states totalling 35% of the EU's population oppose the new Copyright Directive, they can form a "blocking minority" and kill it or cause it to be substantially refactored. With the Italians opposing the Directive because of its
draconian new internet rules (rules introduced at the last moment, which have been hugely controversial), the reputed opponents of the Directive have now crossed the 35% threshold, thanks to Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium
Unfortunately, the opponents of Article 11 (the "link tax") and Article 13 (the copyright filters) are not united on their opposition -- they have different ideas about what they would like to see done with these provisions. If they
pull together, that could be the end of these provisions.
If you're a European
this form will let you contact your MEP quickly and painlessly and let them know how you feel about the proposals.
That's where matters stand now: a growing set of countries who think copyright filters and link taxes go too far, but no agreement yet on rejecting or fixing them.
The trilogues are not a process designed to resolve such large rifts when both the EU states and the parliament are so deeply divided.
What happens now depends entirely on how the members states decide to go forward: and how hard they push for real reform of Articles 13 and 11. The balance in that discussion has changed, because Italy changed its position. Italy changed its
position because Italians spoke up. If you reach out to your countries' ministry in charge of copyright, and tell them that these Articles are a concern to you, they'll start paying attention too. And we'll have a chance to stop this terrible
directive from becoming terrible law across Europe.
Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people -- from creators like you to everyday users -- to upload content to platforms like YouTube. And it threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is
already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube's incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to's.
This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world. And, if implemented as proposed, Article 13 threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European creators, businesses, artists and everyone
they employ. The proposal could force platforms, like YouTube, to allow only content from a small number of large companies. It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would
now be directly liable for that content. We realize the importance of all rights holders being fairly compensated, which is why we built Content ID and a platform to pay out all types of content owners. But the unintended consequences of article
13 will put this ecosystem at risk. We are committed to working with the industry to find a better way. This language could be finalized by the end of the year, so it's important to speak up now.
Please take a moment to
learn more about how it could affect your channel and take action immediately. Tell the world through social media (#SaveYourInternet) and your channel why the creator economy is important and how this legislation will impact you
As the EU
advances the new Copyright Directive towards becoming law in its 28 member-states, it's important to realise that the EU's plan will end up censoring the Internet for everyone , not just Europeans.
A quick refresher: Under Article 13 of the new Copyright Directive, anyone who operates a (sufficiently large) platform where people can post works that might be copyrighted (like text, pictures, videos, code, games, audio etc) will have to
crowdsource a database of "copyrighted works" that users aren't allowed to post, and block anything that seems to match one of the database entries.
These blacklist databases will be open to all comers (after all, anyone can create a copyrighted work): that means that billions of people around the world will be able to submit anything to the blacklists, without having to prove that
they hold the copyright to their submissions (or, for that matter, that their submissions are copyrighted). The Directive does not specify any punishment for making false claims to a copyright, and a platform that decided to block someone for
making repeated fake claims would run the risk of being liable to the abuser if a user posts a work to which the abuser does own the rights .
The major targets of this censorship plan are the social media platforms, and it's the "social" that should give us all pause.
That's because the currency of social media is social interaction between users . I post something, you reply, a third person chimes in, I reply again, and so on.
Now, let's take a hypothetical Twitter discussion between three users: Alice (an American), Bob (a Bulgarian) and Carol (a Canadian).
Alice posts a picture of a political march: thousands of protesters and counterprotesters, waving signs. As is
world , these signs include copyrighted images, whose use is permitted under US "fair use" rules that permit parody. Because Twitter enables users to communicate significant amounts of user-generated content, they'll fall within
the ambit of Article 13.
Bob lives in Bulgaria, an EU member-state whose copyright law
does not permit parody . He might want to reply to Alice with a quote from the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov , whose works were translated into English in the late 1970s and are still in copyright.
Carol, a Canadian who met Bob and Alice through their shared love of Doctor Who, decides to post a witty meme from " The Mark of the Rani ," a 1985 episode in which Colin Baker travels back to witness the Luddite protests of the 19th
Alice, Bob and Carol are all expressing themselves through use of copyrighted cultural works, in ways that might not be lawful in the EU's most speech-restrictive copyright jurisdictions. But because (under today's system) the platform typically
is only required to to respond to copyright complaints when a rightsholder objects to the use, everyone can see everyone else's posts and carry on a discussion using tools and modes that have become the norm in all our modern, digital discourse.
But once Article 13 is in effect, Twitter faces an impossible conundrum. The Article 13 filter will be tripped by Alice's lulzy protest signs, by Bob's political quotes, and by Carol's Doctor Who meme, but suppose that Twitter is only required to
block Bob from seeing these infringing materials.
Should Twitter hide Alice and Carol's messages from Bob? If Bob's quote is censored in Bulgaria, should Twitter go ahead and show it to Alice and Carol (but hide it from Bob, who posted it?). What about when Bob travels outside of the EU and
looks back on his timeline? Or when Alice goes to visit Bob in Bulgaria for a Doctor Who convention and tries to call up the thread? Bear in mind that there's no way to be certain where a user is visiting from, either.
The dangerous but simple option is to subject all Twitter messages to European copyright censorship, a disaster for online speech.
And it's not just Twitter, of course: any platform with EU users will have to solve this problem. Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Tiktok, Snapchat, Flickr, Tumblr -- every network will have to contend with this.
With Article 13, the EU would create a system where copyright complainants get a huge stick to beat the internet with, where people who abuse this power face no penalties, and where platforms that err on the side of free speech will get that
stick right in the face.
As the EU's censorship plan
works its way through the next steps on the way to becoming binding across the EU, the whole world has a stake -- but only a handful of appointed negotiators get a say.
If you are a European, the rest of the world would be very grateful indeed if you would take a moment to
contact your MEP and urge them to protect us all in the new Copyright Directive.
New rules on audiovisual media services will apply to broadcasters, and also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms
MEPs voted on updated rules on audiovisual media services covering children protection, stricter rules on advertising, and a requirement 30% European content in video-on-demand.
Following the final vote on this agreement, the revised legislation will apply to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing
The updated rules will ensure:
Enhanced protection of minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising
Audiovisual media services providers should have appropriate measures to combat content inciting violence, hatred and terrorism, while gratuitous violence and pornography will be subject to the strictest rules. Video-sharing platforms will now be
responsible for reacting quickly when content is reported or flagged by users as harmful.
The legislation does not include any automatic filtering of uploaded content, but, at the request of the Parliament, platforms need to create a transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content.
The new law includes strict rules on advertising, product placement in children's TV programmes and content available on video-on-demand platforms. EP negotiators also secured a personal data protection mechanism for children, imposing measures
to ensure that data collected by audiovisual media providers are not processed for commercial use, including for profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.
Redefined limits of advertising
Under the new rules, advertising can take up a maximum of 20% of the daily broadcasting period between 6.00 and 18.00, giving the broadcaster the flexibility to adjust their advertising periods. A prime-time window between 18:00 and 0:00 was also
set out, during which advertising will only be allowed to take up a maximum of 20% of broadcasting time.
30% of European content on the video-on-demand platforms' catalogues
In order to support the cultural diversity of the European audiovisual sector, MEPs ensured that 30% of content in the video-on-demand platforms' catalogues should be European.
Video-on-demand platforms are also asked to contribute to the development of European audiovisual productions, either by investing directly in content or by contributing to national funds. The level of contribution in each country should be
proportional to their on-demand revenues in that country (member states where they are established or member states where they target the audience wholly or mostly).
The legislation also includes provisions regarding accessibility, integrity of a broadcaster's signal, strengthening regulatory authorities and promoting media competences.
The deal still needs to be formally approved by the Council of EU ministers before the revised law can enter into force. Member States have 21 months after its entry into force to transpose the new rules into national legislation.
The text was adopted by 452 votes against 132, with 65 abstentions.
A new section has been added to the AVMS rules re censorship
Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction which may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available
in such a way as to ensure that minors will not normally hear or see them. Such measures may include selecting the time of the broadcast, age verification tools or other technical measures. They shall be proportionate to the potential harm of
the programme. The most harmful content, such as gratuitous violence and pornography, shall be subject to the strictest measures.
Personal data of minors collected or otherwise generated by media service providers pursuant to paragraph 1 shall not be processed for commercial purposes, such as direct marketing, profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.
Member States shall ensure that media service providers provide sufficient information to viewers about content which may impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors. For this purpose, media service providers shall use a system
describing the potentially harmful nature of the content of an audiovisual media service. For the implementation of this paragraph, Member States shall encourage the use of co - regulation as provided for in Article 4a(1).
The Commission shall encourage media service providers to exchange best practices on co - regulatory codes of conduct . Member States and the Commission may foster self - regulation, for the purposes of this Article, through Union codes of
conduct as referred to in Article 4a(2).
Article 4a suggests possible organisation of the censors assigned to the task, eg state censors, state controlled organisations eg Ofcom, or nominally state controlled co-regulators like the defunct ATVOD.
Article 4a(3). notes that censorial countries like the UK are free to add further censorship rules of their own:
Member States shall remain free to require media service providers under their jurisdiction to comply with more detailed or stricter rules in compliance with this Directive and Union law, including where their national independent regulatory
authorities or bodies conclude that any code of conduct or parts thereof h ave proven not to be sufficiently effective. Member States shall report such rules to the Commission without undue delay. ;