EU Internet Companies Warn EU Parliament Not To Vote For Articles 11 & 13; Say They'll Hand The Internet To Google
from the don't-do-it dept
Just as so many sites are protesting today, and people plan to be protesting this weekend, 130 EU-based internet companies have signed a powerful letter to the EU Parliament explaining why it must reject Articles 11 and 13. It goes through many of the same explanations many of us have made over the past few months, but also (importantly) highlights that passing this legislation will basically hand the internet to Google, one of only a very tiny number of companies who can actually deal with the consequences and requirements of such heavy-handed, poorly drafted laws:
The companies signing this letter to the European Parliament are urging you to vote against Articles 11 and 13 of the proposed copyright directive. The text of the trilogue agreement would harm the European economy and seriously undermine the ability of European businesses to compete with big Internet giants like Google.
We support the goal of the legislation to protect the rights of creators and publishers, but the proposed measures are inadequate to reap these benefits and also fail to strike a fair balance between creators and all other parts of society. The success of our business enterprises will be seriously jeopardized by these heavy-handed EU regulations.
The letter — written and signed by people who have helped build key components of the internet, explain just how Article 13 will undermine the internet ecosystem, and Article 11 will ruin a bunch of important businesses:
Especially Article 13 is dangerously experimenting with the core foundation of the Internet?s ecosystem. Making companies directly liable for the content of their users forces these businesses to make billions of legal decisions about the legality of content. Most companies are neither equipped nor capable of implementing the automatic content filtering mechanisms this requires, which are expensive and prone to error.
Article 11 is creating a completely new intellectual property right for press publishers. The experience with similar laws in Germany and Spain raises serious doubts about the expected benefits, while the negative impact would be very real. An additional layer of exclusive rights would make it harder to clear the necessary legal hurdles to start new projects. It will make entrepreneurs more hesitant to just launch new projects. Europe would lose any chance to play a significant role on the world stage. Startups that build services based on aggregated online information would go out of business, and every company that publishes press summaries of their appearance in the media would be in violation of this law.
And then it highlights (again, because some of us have been pointing this out), that for all the talk of how Articles 11 and 13 were needed to push back on the big American internet companies, all they will really do is lock them in, and harm all of the EU internet companies who signed the letter:
Although the purpose of these regulations is to limit the powers of big US Internet companies like Google or Facebook, the proposed legislation would end up having the opposite effect. Article 13 requires filtering of massive amounts of data, requiring technology only the Internet giants have the resources to build. European companies will be thus forced to hand over their data to them, jeopardizing the independence of the European tech industry as well as the privacy of our users. European companies like ours will be hindered in their ability to compete or will have to abandon certain markets completely.
Given all of these issues it is noteworthy that the final trilogue agreement lacks meaningful safeguards for small and medium enterprises. The broad scope of this law would most likely lead to less new companies being founded in Europe and existing companies moving their headquarters out of Europe. For all those reasons we urge every pro-Startup politician to vote against Article 11 and Article 13.
One hopes that the EU Parliament will actually listen — though I can’t wait to hear Axel Voss and friends explain how this letter from Google’s competitors who are warning about how the bill will entrench Google and limit competition is really “Google shilling.”
It remains truly disappointing to me how few Article 13 supporters have actually been willing to engage on the specific concerns and criticisms of the bill. No matter what anyone says — even those who explain how it will lock Google into a dominant position are dismissed as promoting Google’s message. The lack of intellectual honesty displayed by supporters of Article 13 is truly a shame.