EU Parliament Votes To Step Back From The Abyss On Copyright For Now

from the even-against-sir-paul's-support dept

The last few days (and weeks) we’ve had plenty of articles about the EU’s attempt to undermine the fundamental aspects of the internet with its Copyright Directive, including a snippet tax and the requirement of upload filters. Supporters of the Directive have resorted to ever-increasing levels of FUD in trying to get the EU Parliament to move the directive forward without changes — and they did this despite quietly making the directive much, much worse and only revealing those changes at the last minute. It became quite obvious that the intent of this legislative effort was to fundamentally change the internet, to make it much more like TV — with a set of gatekeepers only allowing carefully selected and licensed content online.

As the drumbeat got louder from (quite reasonably) concerned people around the world, supporters of the effort kept trying different strategies in support of this nonsense — including a letter claiming to be written by Sir Paul McCartney.

I have some serious doubts as to whether or not McCartney actually understands these issues. The fact that the letter uses the RIAA’s exact talking points — including the made up phrase “value gap” (not to mention the American English spelling of “jeopardizes” over “jeopardises”) — certainly hints at someone else writing this up and asking McCartney to sign. It certainly reflects pretty poorly on someone as beloved as McCartney (who, in the past, has actually embraced the open internet to more directly connect with fans) that he would weigh in on the wrong side of such an issue.

Either way, the good news is that even with McCartney’s silly letter, the EU Parliament voted against moving the current version forward by a narrow tally of 318 to 278.

As noted in that tweet, this means that these issues will be up for amendments and more specific votes in September — meaning we’ve got at least a few more months of fighting to save the open internet ahead of us. And you can be sure that, despite the weak efforts by those in favor of these changes over the past few weeks, they’ll bulk up their offense as well.

In particular, expect a lot more claims from the recording industry that this is all about “helping artists,” which is the same nonsense they pushed around SOPA/PIPA back in the day. But anyone who’s actually taken the time to understand Article 13 (and Article 11) will understand that this is the opposite of that. It is not designed to help artists. It will seriously harm many of the platforms that those artists rely on. Sites like Bandcamp and Etsy and Redbubble and Kickstarter would be at risk. This effort is little more than a misguided attempt to force Google to give record labels more money — and the proposals’ backers really don’t seem to give a shit if the end result is that smaller internet players are removed from the playing field and Google is put in an even more dominant position. They’re just so focused on the (misguided) idea that Google somehow owes them more money, they’ll take down the rest of the internet in pursuit of that obsession.

Either way, today’s vote is historic. It’s extremely rare for a legislative effort that has left committee to get reopened by the wider EU Parliament. As the good folks at EDRi note, this only happened because so many of you spoke up, contacting Members of the EU Parliament and spreading the news about this online (using many of the platforms that this legislation would harm). But, there’s still a lot to be done:

We’ll continue to report on this and keep people aware, but sites like and EDRi will have lots of news, as (I’m sure) will MEP Julia Reda, who has been leading the charge to help preserve the open internet in the EU.

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Comments on “EU Parliament Votes To Step Back From The Abyss On Copyright For Now”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

In honor of saving memes, I’d like to post a situationally-appropriate meme of the "I’m not dead yet!" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, Techdirt’s markdown flavor doesn’t support images, so…

Pretend this image is here.

Now we’ve got a bit of momentum on our side. We need to keep working on this, keep pushing back, until we can kill it for good.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

it will never die

I don’t believe that. I just think we’re not killing it properly.

You ever garden? Weeds are a fact of life, but you don’t just throw up your hands and say "Weeds. Nothing I can do about them." In fact, there are two ways to deal with them. You can cut off the weed that you see above-ground, or you can uproot it.

If you cut it off above-ground, the root remains alive and viable, and the weed will appear again after not too long. But if you get rid of the roots, then the whole thing is dead and won’t come back.

The root of copyright abuse on the Internet is the DMCA. (Yes, I know we’re talking about Europe here, but even so, this remains true. Having such laws on the books in the US gives other countries something to point to to give their own abuses legitimacy.) The DMCA establishes two basic principles that threaten the long-term viability of the open Internet: notice-and-takedown (content can be "judged" to be illegal on accusation alone, with no involvement of an actual judge and no due process whatsoever) and anti-circumvention of DRM (you don’t actually own what you buy, and attempting to treat your property as your property puts you on the wrong side of the law.)

Everything bad we’ve seen in digital copyright in the last 20 years or so has been based on one or both of those two principles.

Pull up the root and the weed will die for good. We need to push back, and keep pushing back, until we repeal the DMCA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think you fundamentally just do not understand what “Eternal Vigilance” means do you?

How in the world did you arrive at you way off the mark conclusions? In what world does

“Enteral Vigilance” = “just throw up your hands”

“We need to push back, and keep pushing back, until we repeal the DMCA.”

WRONG!!! “Eternal Vigilance means…

“We need to push back, and keep pushing back” hint: there is no end to the pushing back and there is nothing you can do to end the need for that push back. There will always be someone there to try to take advantage and get away with it.

Why are you not able to grasp this overtly simple logic? There is no end to bad actors and any effort that believes it can achieve a permanent end is an ignorant and ineffective effort.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Dude, the insulting language is completely uncalled for. I understand Eternal Vigilance just fine; I simply think that you’re overstating things and being needlessly pessimistic. When all of the problems in a system can be traced back to a single root cause, then going after that one thing makes your work a lot easier. I’m saying “work smarter, not harder.”

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

In reality, his own metaphor suggests this. Because even if you pull up the weeds, you still have to deal with weeds. New weeds are constantly finding their way in. It’s in their nature.

His analogy fails, because while pulling up the weeds makes weeds easier to deal with and stops the individual weed, it does not stop the weeds entirely. A new weed takes its place.

No, what we should be doing is pulling up the weeds (legal principles underpinning copyright abuse), and using per-emergent herbicides (enshrine stronger right for the individual in the law, or repeal copyright either in whole or just in certain industries) to slow weed growth, making weed control easier. But you never stop controlling the weeds. You might stop one weed. But never all of them.

Hence, eternal vigilance.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, we have the Common Horsetail here quite a bit and at a party I asked a horticulturist for how to get rid of it. Because it’s pretty impossible to “pull up the root” since the stem is much weaker than the considerable root.

The recommendation was to remove about two feet of topsoil and replace it.


Not every weed is similar. And DMCA is not even the root.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pirates escape for a few months. -- But BIG NEWS to the GOOD:


Which appeal of course is already going because he has 175 stolen MILLIONS with which to obstruct justice.

It said US authorities had "a clear prima facie case to support the allegations that the appellants conspired to, and did, breach copyright wilfully and on a massive scale for commercial gain".

Dotcom is accused of industrial-scale online piracy via Megaupload, which US authorities shut down when the raid took place.

HA, HA! Your thieving "hero" is going to be JAILED, kids!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You can always tell when things are going the right way for the general public. Some dickhead starts spamming threads off-topic with something that barely affects anything that’s ever said here.

(Hint: as I mentioned to you before, most people here don’t have a problem with Dotcom being held accountable for his actual crimes. It was the “remove all due process and fair trial at the behest of a foreign government while seizing the assets he could use to defend himself” part that people had issues with).

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Pirates escape for a few months. -- But BIG NEWS to the GOOD:

Maybe you should actually read a few stories about DotCom if you honestly believe people see him as a hero.

DotCom long had a reputation as an arrogant asshole before the legal trouble. People are rallying behind him as a victim of two over reaching governments violating his rights constantly (and yes he has won some court cases in his home country that ruled this way), not as a hero.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Pirates escape for a few months. -- But BIG NEWS to the GOOD:

First, he’s not a "hero" to anybody. He’s more a symbol of the overreach and lack of due process from the US.
Nothing more, nothing less.

First, check your definition of "stealing". He didn’t do that, neither literally nor figuratively. He offered a service that was heavily (but far from exclusively) used for sharing copyrighted content without authorization from the copyright owners.

There might be a need for a proper trial regarding some of the uses he made of his own platform (advertising for "piracy", uploading unauthorized content himself or through his employees, etc.), but that requires 1. correctly labeling the facts and 2. following due process. If you advocate for a suspension of due process because you don’t like the guy, you open the door for any other abuse. Including against yourself.
There are very likely a ton of people out there who don’t like you for some reason. Do you think you should be denied due process if they accuse you of anything, simply on the basis that you are unpopular?
(Well, I’m half convinced you will answer "of course I do" because you’re so sure it will never happen to you. Or "of course I don’t" then proceed to tell us how Dotcom is the one and only exception… until the next one.)

This is what is at stake here. Not whether this man will face "justice", but whether we’ll be talking about "justice on a criminal" or "legal harassment from big corporations".

Anonymous Coward says:

BTW: why would I care IF you were right and EC harms self?

Again to the good. There’s really NO downside to this for me and entire US whether you or I are right. — On top of that, it’d mean “politics” works for globalists and control as I believe, so I’d get to say “told ya so”. Nope, can’t see ANY downside to this for me…

But I’m pretty sure that Google is actually against, even though what Masnick asserts makes it a “don’t throw me in that briar patch” win for control and surveillance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: BTW: why would I care IF you were right and EC harms self?

"There’s really NO downside to this for me and entire US whether you or I are right"

Multinational corporations always have a larger game plan than just the specific country or region where they’re trying to push a piece of legislation. Consider it just one move on a global chess board.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Only up, never down

I believe ‘harmonizing the laws’ is the usual excuse.

‘If Country A has one standard, and Country B has a different one, it will be a real pain for interactions involving those two. As such it’s better to harmonize them so that they more closely match.’

Of course when it comes to copyright laws it only ever gets ‘harmonized’ in one direction, that of stricter rules and less exceptions. You never see the ones trying to do an end-run around the legislative process like that argue that looser rules should be adopted rather than stricter ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: BTW: why would I care IF you were right and EC harms self?

We know you would care. Because if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be posting demanding that Article 13 get through.

Nice job shooting your own foot again, dumbass. Does it sound like air whistling out of a balloon when you walk, or do you float along on the tears of babies sued by the RIAA?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“There’s really NO downside to this for me and entire US whether you or I are right”

You probably believe that, too.

“On top of that, it’d mean “politics” works for globalists”

Globalists like… the multinational corporations headquartered in your country who make lots of revenue from EU countries? Or the EU owned employers in the US?

Anonymous Coward says:

Paul McCartney “writing” a statement full of American phrases and spellings is not unlike Barack Obama’s use of the common British phrase “back of the queue” in his 2016 anti-Brexit threat speech, which to no one’s surprise did not originate from Obama or his people, but came straight out of the David Cameron regime.

Anyway, why anyone would value the opinion of an entertainment celebrity on a complicated legal issue is beyond ignorant. Celebrities are among the last people that anyone should ever seek any kind of advice from .

Starving Artist says:

Where's my check?

I post on the Internet every day. That makes me an Artist/Creator and that means these Copyright Societies represent me, the Starving Artist. That’s funny because I don’t remember getting any money from them. How about we audit their ledgers and find out how much these Copyright Societies owe All Users of the Internet and settle any outstanding debts before we allow them to continue collecting more unaccounted-for money. As you know, content is worth whatever amount the creator thinks it’s worth – not what people are willing to pay – a common misconception and one this law will most definitely fix. I’ve been ripped off by Google or whatever for over $50 million dollars and I expect the Copyright Societies to pay me right away.

Anonymous Coward says:

i am hoping that Sir Paul didn’t write this and will have the decency to actually say so AND condemn those who have got him to sign the letter, if indeed he did sign it! i also thought he was in favor of a free and open internet and if he is on the side of the RIAA etc and did sign the letter, he is gonna have disappointed a whole hell of a lot of ‘fans’ who may not be quite such ‘fans’ as before!! i suppose the question is, will he have the courage to openly state one way or the other what he did and why??

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh yes, calling Paul McCartney a liar, excellent strategy guys. That won’t blow back on you…

Just like SOPA, this shines the light on who wants to screw musicians the most- suddenly makes it a subject no one knew about before.

Google spent 36 million dollars on bots, astroturfing, lobbying, having Wikipedia hold its users hostage again, all so YouTube wouldn’t have to pay musicians a fair rate.

Enjoy today, tech douches, you’ll be going down hard next round.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As far as I know Paul McCartney has had more than a fair return for the labor that he has put into his music. Also, the labels have had their investment in Him repaid many times over.

Also, if you think that a levy like the one being proposed will benefit anyone other than musicians who have made it big, then you are living in a dream world.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Your score:

In the most generous reading possible, only one of your paragraphs (the second one) is even remotely close to being truthful.

Because in this case amd with SOPA, it gets made most obvious that it’s the music industry that’s most determined to fuck over the musicians. It doesn’t matter how much more platforms are forced to pay when the worthless middleman steals it all and goves nothing back to the artists.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Enjoy today, tech douches, you’ll be going down hard next round.

I am constantly amazed at why those in support of this effort can’t seem to debate it honestly, and ALWAYS resort to ad hominems and blatantly false statements (Google paid Wikipedia to shut down?!?).

Is it so hard to actually talk about the issues at hand?

Must you make needless ad hominems?

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Re:

Oh yes, calling Paul McCartney a liar, excellent strategy guys. That won’t blow back on you…

Well first, they’re not calling McCartney a liar. They’re saying that it is likely that he signed his name to a letter he didn’t write. That’s not uncommon. Even I often write documents for other people to sign, and I often sign documents other people have written. The important thing is that by signing, you’re endorsing the contents as if you wrote them, and you’re responsible for the contents. What’s actually important is that they suspect McCartney doesn’t fully understand these issues but is signing off on letters anyway. That’s dangerous, and he really ought not to weigh in under such circumstances.

Second, the real Paul McCartney died in 1966, and the current guy has been pretending to be McCartney for over fifty years. So he’s definitely a liar, just not about this issue, where it’s more likely he’s ignorant and being reckless with the long-purloined reputation of the real Paul McCartney.

Anonymous Coward says:

The choice of spelling could come down to whether McCartney’s publicist is an Oxford or Cambridge alumnum.

From The Oxford Guide to English Usage, “-ize should be preferred to –ise as a verbal ending in words in which both are in use.” Checking the OED, there’s only “Jeopardize (dʒe·păɹdəiz), v. 1646 [f. prec. or JEOPARD(Y + -IZE.]”

The Cambridge English Dictionary – that’s with an S (usually).

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:

Identifying the Author

Hmm. I’m sure Mr McCartney supports the letter and Article 13: the legacy system has made him a billionaire and given him a life of unremitting luxury, after all, so he’d be rather hypocritical not to.

Still, there’s no question in my mind that the letter was written by someone other than McCartney: the language used is brutally efficient, packing a huge amount of implicit information into a very few, very easily-understood sentences.

While McCartney may be a very clever man in other ways, his use of written English – seen in various published letters over the years – is much more expansive and lyrical, nowhere near as incredibly precise. It’s also much more English, as opposed to this very American piece. The letter is just not his style at all, not even a little bit.

At the time of writing, a Google search for the unusual phrase

"User Upload Content platform" -McCartney

suggests the only parties using it are the US recording industry: it only seems to have appeared previously in a letter they collectively sent to President Donald Trump, shortly after he took office.

I doubt it matters too much – again, I’m sure Mr McCartney fully supports this insanity – but it is interesting. 🙂

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:

Re: Identifying the Author

Oops! The exact Google phrase I used to find prior references contained the word "platforms", rather than "platform". Sorry for any confusion!

Searching for the phrase in singular yields no useful results on Google, but does produce a single result on DuckDuckGo: a mostly-paywalled, IFPI-sponsored 2016 paper, evidently laying the groundwork for Article 13.

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