The EU's Catastrophic Copyright Directive Can Still Be Stopped, If Governments Of Sweden And Germany Do The Right Thing
from the last-chance-to-save-the-Internet-as-we-know-it dept
Last week, the EU’s Copyright Directive was passed by the European Parliament. Its supporters have wasted no time in dropping the mask, and revealing their true intent: installing upload filters on the Internet. First, France’s Minister of Culture announced a “mission to promote and supervise content recognition technologies”. More recently, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger has confirmed that upload filters will be unavoidable. It’s cold comfort that those who said that Article 13 (now officially Article 17) would inevitably bring in upload filters have now been proved right.
However, it turns out that the situation is not completely hopeless. Even though the vote in the European Parliament was the main hurdle the new copyright law needed to clear, there is one more stamp of approval required before it goes into effect. The little-known EU Council of Ministers must also agree, and it seems that is not a foregone conclusion.
Everything hinges on Sweden. As an article on the Bahnhof site (original in Swedish) explains, Sweden has previously voted in favor of the EU Copyright Directive, but can still change its mind. One way of achieving that is through a special parliamentary committee that helps to formulate Sweden’s EU policy. The Swedish government’s Web page about the committee says:
According to the rules, the Government is not obliged to act in compliance with the Committee on EU Affairs’ opinions. However, the Committee on the Constitution has stated that the Government should act in compliance with the Committee’s advice and opinions. The Committee on the Constitution has also stressed that if the Government does not act in compliance with the mandate it has received from the Committee on EU Affairs, it must have very good reasons for its actions.
If the Government does not follow the mandate given to it by the Committee on EU Affairs, it risks criticism, and ultimately, a vote of no confidence in the Chamber of the Riksdag [Swedish parliament].
Bahnhof’s blog post is encouraging Swedish citizens to contact MPs on the EU Affairs Committee to ask them to instruct the Swedish government to vote against the EU Copyright Directive when it is discussed on April 15 at a meeting of EU agricultural ministers — no, really (pdf). Two leading MPs have already said that they will work towards that goal. Tomas Tobé, Second Vice Chairman of Sweden’s EU Affairs Committee tweeted (in Swedish, translated here by Microsoft): “We will force the government to say no. They did not have the mandate to say yes.” Another key MP, Ilona Waldau, said on the same Twitter thread: “The European Council has not had the opportunity to make a decision, I answer the question how we should be able to get the government to say no. We are working on bringing the issue to the board.”
As that indicates, it’s not clear yet whether Sweden’s EU Council will instruct the Swedish government to vote against the EU Copyright Directive, so nothing is certain. Moreover, as Florian Mueller points out, for the Copyright Directive to be blocked, Germany would also need to vote against it:
Even with Sweden changing its vote from Yes to No, we’re still far short of a blocking minority as I’ll explain further below. But Germany could single-handedly block the deal (as could the UK, by the way, though there’s little hope of that happening). A Swedish reversal would embolden and encourage those who’d like the German government to withdraw its support.
Mueller’s blog post goes on to explain why there are good grounds for believing that Germany might do that. Julia Reda of the Pirate Party says that the German parliament will be debating the issue soon. All-in-all, this means that there is still hope that the EU Copyright Directive can be blocked, although it would require a number of pieces of the political puzzle to fall into place perfectly for that to happen.