Latest EU Copyright Plan Would Ban Copyright Holders From Using Creative Commons
from the because-that's-how-stupid-things-have-gotten dept
We recently noted that the latest version of the EU’s copyright directive, being pushed by MEP Axel Voss (though the metadata showed that it actually came from the EU Commission), would bring back horrible censorial ideas like mandatory filtering. As we noted, such a plan would likely kill important sites like Github, which would have trouble functioning as a repository for sharing code if it had to block… sharing of code. But the plan keeps getting worse. As MEP Julia Reda recently explained, with each new version that Voss puts out, the end results are more and more ridiculous. Under the latest, it includes:
- News sites should not be able to give out free licenses (an ?inalienable right to remuneration?)
- Press agencies should also be granted this right ? effectively giving them control over the spreading of facts
- Money publishers make from the law should be shared with journalists in some cases
- There should be an exception for individuals who share news content for ?legitimate private and non-commercial uses?
- A newly added justification of the law is to supposedly fight fake news
Many of these ideas are similar to what Spain implemented back in 2014, as a form of a “link tax” with the goal of forcing Google to pay any publication that it sent traffic to (which, you know, sounds kind of backwards, especially given how much emphasis sites put on search engine optimization). In response to that, Google News pulled out of Spain entirely, and a study a year later found that the law ended up doing quite a lot of harm to Spanish publications — especially smaller ones.
However, as Creative Commons noted in response to this latest proposal, the most ridiculous part of all of this is that it doesn’t allow sites that want to share their content to do so:
This press publisher?s right (also commonly known as the ?Link Tax?) already poses a significant threat to an informed and literate society. But Voss wants to amplify its worst features by asserting that press publishers will receive?whether they like it or not?an ?inalienable right to obtain an [sic] fair and proportionate remuneration for such uses.? This means that publishers will be required to demand payment from news aggregators.
This inalienable right directly conflicts with publishers who wish to share freely and openly using Creative Commons licenses. As we?ve warned before, an unwaivable right to compensation would interfere with the operation of open licensing by reserving a special and separate economic right above and beyond the intention of some publishers. For example, the Spanish news site eldiario.es releases all of their content online for free under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. By doing so, they are granting to the public a worldwide, royalty-free license to use the work under certain terms. Other news publishers in Europe using CC licenses that could also find themselves swept up under this new provision include La Stampa, 20 Minutos, and openDemocracy.
Forcing publishers who use CC to accept additional inalienable rights to be remunerated violates the letter and spirit of Creative Commons licensing and denies publishers the freedom to conduct business and share content as they wish. The proposal would pose an existential threat to the over 1.3 billion CC-licensed works online, shared freely by hundreds of millions of creators from around the world.
Once again this appears to be copyright policy driven solely by the interests of a single party: big publishers who are annoyed at Google for aggregating news and are demanding payment. It doesn’t take into account (1) whether or not this is necessary (2) whether or not this makes sense (3) what will be the impact on other aggregators (4) what will be the impact on tons of other publications and (5) what will be in the best interest of the public.
It’s a pretty bad way to make policy, though it’s all too common when it comes to copyright.