Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda: EU Preparing 'Frontal Attack On The Hyperlink'

from the propping-up-publishing-dinosaurs dept

Back in January of this year, we wrote about a remarkable report proposing a number of major changes to EU copyright law. Part of an extremely long-drawn out process that aims to update the current 2001 copyright directive, the document was written by the sole Pirate Party MEP in the European Parliament, Julia Reda. In the short time she’s been an MEP — she was only elected in 2014 — she’s emerged as the European Parliament’s leading expert on copyright, which means it’s always worth taking her warnings in this area very seriously. Earlier this year, Techdirt noted that Reda was worried about moves to restrict outdoor photography in the EU. Now she’s picked up something even more disturbing after studying a draft version of the European Commission’s imminent communication on copyright reform, which was leaked to the IPKat blog. According to her interpretation of this document:

the Commission is considering putting the simple act of linking to content under copyright protection. This idea flies in the face of both existing interpretation and spirit of the law as well as common sense. Each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable.


the Commission bemoans a lack of clarity about which actions on the Internet need a permission and which ones do not: in legal terms, they put forward the question when something is an ‘act of communication to the public’.

This is a reference to a ruling of the European Court of Justice in the Svensson case. While on one hand the judges established that the simple act of linking to publicly available content is no copyright infringement, because it does not reach a new public, a few questions were left open by this ruling, however: For example when exactly content can be seen as accessible by the public and how e.g. links surpassing paywalls are to be treated.

What worries Reda is that the European Commission may try to introduce ancillary copyright — aka a “Google tax” — in the EU under the guise of “clearing up” the questions left unanswered by the Svensson case. As she notes, and Techdirt has tracked for some time, every attempt to bring in ancillary copyright in Europe has been an abysmal failure. Bringing in an EU-wide Google tax in a misguided attempt to prop up publishers that still haven’t figured out how to work with, rather than against, the Internet, would be disastrous. Maybe Reda is reading more into the leaked document than is warranted, but it’s certainly worth being alert to this possibility when the European Commission releases its official version of the document on 9 December, and making it quite clear before then that the idea is a complete non-starter.

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Comments on “Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda: EU Preparing 'Frontal Attack On The Hyperlink'”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And how many times have we seen members of the EU demand something to save the publishers, then given exactly what they demanded, and then complaining that it isn’t doing what they wanted?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the a different result, at some point cooler heads need to be listened to and prevail against this tone deaf clinging to how things were 100 years ago.

The world is constantly changing and we need to stop saving those who refuse to adapt. This isn’t an overnight change, they have squandered decades fighting a battle they can never really win without destroying the things they need to survive. Expanding liability in this way will only serve to make more people ignore the stupid law, and think about replacing those who put stupid demands into law at the expense of the public.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ah, but that’s where the trick comes in.

Previous times, Google(because let’s be honest, this is aimed directly at them, that other companies would be affected is nothing but a side-effect to those pushing the idea) just pulled service from whatever country was playing ‘Let’s shake down Google and make them pay us for giving us more traffic’ that month, at which point they’d flip out over getting what they claimed to want, go crying to the courts to try and force Google to pay, and when that didn’t work, go crying to Google to beg to be re-listed. At most Google had to deal with losing any revenue from one country at a time while the idiots learned their lesson.

By instead making it an EU-wide law, unless Google wants to pull out of the EU entirely, which would be just a titch costly, they believe that the can force Google to cave this time, because it won’t really have any other choice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unless I am mistaken, the law here is already interpreting linking to “obviously illegal content” as infringement.

While some countries are insane enough to sue Google to hell if this pops, the effect here is more in the absurdity of how far reaching an interpretation you can get for fourth party liability (First party: Popcorn Time, Second Party: Users of Popcorn Time, Third Pary: Linker to Popcorn Time, Fourth Party: Facilitating and encouraging third party behaviour!).

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Google and the citizens vs. the European Commission

Google deserves the hardships it witnessed other indexing services endure, without making a stand. First they came comes to mind. If their homes get doors kicked in, pets killed, and family members violently dragged out from their beds by aggressive armed strangers, they were “next in line”.

They don’t even have to be extradited to the US, they’re already there!

Still, if the European Commission do this stunt against Google they might get an awakening they didn’t expect. The Commission might be decommissioned, and that would be a good thing for citizens in the EU (and the rest of the world).

And for your information, Martin Niemöllers poem at wikipedia and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is faked. And that is a sad ironic point in its own right considering what the poem is all about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is not just an attack on Google, but a direct attack by those who think their role is as gatekeepers to what the public get to see on the core mechanism of the Internet. Turn hyperlinks into landmines blogs, social media and content sharing sites disappear, as they all rely on hyperlinks to spread news and gossip. It would also heavily impact self publishing, as it would be risky for anyone to promote a work by passing on a link to the work.
These are proposals by those who believe their role in society is as gatekeepers to what the public see, and they see the Internet as something to be destroyed as it bypasses that control. If this becomes law, then the publishers are back in control of all content, as they would be the only way of getting something published on the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

That’s not the only issue brought up by that draft document (read it whole, you will be interested in the pages 11 and 12 too).

There is also this interesting consultation about the role of online platforms regarding illegal content (they seem to include all sorts in that definition: terrorism, hate speech, IPR infringement…, in a similar way to “political laundering”, maybe we could call it “content laundering”?):


That brings to the table whether any of the initiatives is some sort of trial balloon for the other.

That is, you keep busy with protecting links and you find a EU SOPA2.0 implemented at your doors. Or the reverse, you focus on that EU SOPA2.0 (“notice and stay down” scheme, for those asking) and you find yourself with copyright on linking.

Or you might end up having both, or having neither. This isn’t the first time that such matters are brought up, and I think it’s the 2nd or 3rd time that EU Commission has brought up something similar to the table.

Just bringing this up as nobody has talked about it, while such matter has been brought up before in TD.

People might be interested in answering that consultation too. It’s open up to 30th December 2015.

idontlistentopoliticians (profile) says:

Ignore their BS Copyright laws

The internet belongs to the people and we have all the Power!

Firstly i don’t listen to support applause or respect politicians i dont vote for them i cannot tolerate the cowardice lowlifes, Politics is show Business for the ugliest cowardice and weakest of our species and i despise them..
secondly i dont bow or respect or listen to royal pedophiles who believe they have ownership over mankind and what we do, think say believe we build worlds, royalty destroy them. a family of gutless old vile inbred cowards have no power in my eyes. Hell and misery is their life, and it will be their end.

Thirdly, F**k their BS copyright laws, f**k what they believe, F**k their cowardice bloodlines, F**k everything they stand or because the time is coming when mankind wipes these pathetic POS from this planet once and for all

Their Copyright BS will fail because of 1 simple reason, Mankind will ignore them while telling them to go F**k themselves! these Draconian criminal cowardice pos are facing their own extinction.

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