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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “The EU's Catastrophic Copyright Directive Can Still Be Stopped, If Governments Of Sweden And Germany Do The Right Thing”

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66 Comments
David says:

One important reason to block this procedurally:

It was passed by procedural error rather than the expressed intent of the parliament: the vote order was changed in the last minute and several MPs voted differently than they thought they were voting. While they can change the record of their individual vote, they cannot change the outcome.

That is an excellent reason to stop its further progress using whatever unrelated procedural steps are yet to be performed, even if there is no procedure for stopping it for the correct reason.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: One important reason to block this procedurally:

"It was passed by procedural error rather than the expressed intent of the parliament…"

Correct, but I have few hopes we will find anyone with a moral compass or a spine in swedish government.
Germany I’m less clear about. They were instrumental in overturning the data retention directive so there are at least a few german politicians still caring about the opinion of their citizenry.

A citizenry which has recent and ample experience of GEMA censoring half of youtube and are still pretty miffed about that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: One important reason to block this procedurally:

I predict your bubble being bursted. You may be right about the citizenry and our residual miffedness. And you may be right about some of the politicans’ moral compasses regarding this matter.

But these ‘at least a few’ will neither turn out to be ‘many’ nor will they be ‘enough’.

For hope to spring eternal, hope needs to exist in the first place.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: One important reason to block this procedurally:

"For hope to spring eternal, hope needs to exist in the first place."

Well, you said it yourself:

"You may be right about the citizenry and our residual miffedness. And you may be right about some of the politicans’ moral compasses regarding this matter."

The data retention directive was overturned because a very large amount of german politicians delivered a case to the german constitutional courts – which promptly investigated the data retention directive, found it to be in conflict with the german constitution, and kicked the ball to the EU court of justice which then dropped the hammer on the directive as a whole.

We may or may not see enough active will to block article 13 in either sweden or germany right now…but I predict by when article 13 and 11 take effect there will be plenty of such will to actually reform the whole of copyright, let alone the directive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Democracy is dead in the world.

Stop acting like Europe is any more Democratic than America is. The EU aspires to be just like China and North Korea by establishing mass censorship and surveillance all while a few companies get to profit from it. I have less than zero reasons to believe the EU would ever want to turn away from this path…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Democracy is dead in the world.

"Stop acting like Europe is any more Democratic than America is. The EU aspires to be just like China and North Korea by establishing mass censorship and surveillance all while a few companies get to profit from it."

No and Yes.

The european member states, flawed as they are, have a working moral compass on many of the relevant issues…
…the EU leadership, though, closely resembles the worst possible hybrid of Prussian autocracy and French napoleonic "everything is forbidden" code, with a few dozen dabs of ultra-nationalism and xenophobic bigotry thrown in.

The EU must be abolished, and will be. The question is just how far we’ll have to go before we realize, yet again why the cause of European unification has always been the epic failure acting as the primary cause for large-scale conflict.

morganwick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Democracy is dead in the world.

The problem is not necessarily the concept of the EU, but the structure where the democratic institutions serve no other purpose but to rubber-stamp the will of unelected bureaucrats in the pocket of big corporations. The people of the EU must demand: real democracy or break it all up.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Democracy is dead in the world.

"The problem is not necessarily the concept of the EU"

The "four freedoms" were nice. Free movement across borders, common market, joint rules for workers moving across countries, etc…

Any expansion beyond that, however, was where the rot set in. Bear in mind we have NO historical precedence, anywhere, where this type of federation survived beyond the strongman empire builder to cobble it together with force.

Hell, the US could only do that by being populated exclusively by immigrants who chose to abandon their homelands – and even then had to beat down the Opposing View in an extremely cruel and long-lasting civil war.

In europe it’s pretty telling that every major war (or set of wars back when transportation didn’t allow for country-wide fronts) can be traced back to a unification attempt failing miserably.

ryuugami says:

Re: Re:

Weird, eh? Because if there’s one thing democracies hinge on, it’s that leadership traits (e.g., a tendency towards dictatorship) are hereditary. Not to mention that the social democracies of Europe are infamous for their harsh stance towards criminals, believing they can never reform. "By Rights, Nothing is Ever Forgotten", we call it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Apart from the false equivalence that "Google" is the only one protesting against this, when it was criticized by almost every expert that was instrumental in building the Internet in the first place, by a petition with more than 5 million signatures and by more than 200.000 people in the streets, by the same token where is the money that middlemen and gatekeepers from the music industry have kept for themselves instead of paying musicians? Where is the money that labels have "forgotten" to pay to the creators of the things they sell?

Even if I am not a fanboy of Google by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m pretty sure they took many incredibly dumb and shortsighted decisions over the years, at least they actually pay musicians, while the same can’t absolutely be said of labels, collection societies and all those kinds of human middlemen and parasites, that seem to have a vested interest in scamming artists at all costs

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Musicians like David Guetta? LOL yeah sure…

Look, I am a musician myself who even sold in top charts and it’s exactly labels, publishers and collection societies which didn’t pay squat to me. Not only that, they censored me and all the others who were speaking against them and their scammy contracts and behavior. We even wanted to band together to put a class action against them.

This situation is more common than anyone thinks.

Those musicians you speak of are probably deluded and they don’t know the shenanigans of the system (there is a sucker born every minute it seems) or they are those few ones at the top who are the only ones able to make something out of their music in this corrupted state of things, often through underhand schemes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sorry, but this flies in the face of everyone else’s experience- that’s why musicians banded together to fight Google, instead of fighting labels, publishers and collection societies.

But I’m curious, what is you and your friend’s names? I’d like to look up what you’re are talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

http://www.musicweek.com/talent/read/hundreds-of-cultural-bodies-lead-final-push-for-copyright-directive/075668

http://www.musicweek.com/talent/read/the-value-gap-jeopardises-the-music-ecosystem-paul-mccartney-leads-last-ditch-appeal-on-eu-vote/073049

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/22/musician-shocked-opposition-eu-copyright-law-youtube-debbie-harry-blondie

And of course this was about Google. Being misinformed will do you no favors, so I suggest reading all of the above.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Let’s see…

Laughable strawman in claiming that it’s meant to ‘stand up to tech giants’ when in fact it will entrench them…

Repeating the bullshit ‘value gap’ argument…

More ‘value gap’ garbage from self-entitled musicians talking about how the platform offered to them for free should pay them more while running with the laughably wrong idea that Google/Youtube are the main opposition

Oh yeah, really convincing evidence there, but at least now I have an idea of who was stupid enough to shoot themselves in the back in their greed, and therefore aren’t people I want to be giving any of my money to.

As for the ‘it was all about Google’ bit, repeating a lie does not make it true, no matter how many times you do it. Google(and similarly sized companies) can afford the required filters, smaller companies and platforms can not. If you meant that it was all about making sure that Google was the only game in town, then that would be accurate, but ignoring the massive collateral damage that will hit basically everyone but Google does not an honest argument make, whether you or the politicians involved did it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Anyone objecting to it is doing so based on Google’s bullshit talking points.

https://www.eff.org/files/2018/06/13/article13letter.pdf

How’s this for Google’s bullshit talking points? Impressive, right?

Even the Inventor of the World Wide Web himself is objecting to it. He must be surely on the payroll of Google.

The primary developer of the Apache Web Server, which serves most of the web and also this very website that you seem so keen to be posting on, is objecting to it.

The founder of the Internet Archive is also objecting to it, a website that could save your important logical fallacies and spurious arguments to be read for future generations, were it not for Article 13.

Cryptography experts are also objecting to it, and they developed systems so that you could avoid being a target of hackers and being spied on. But of course only hackers and pirates are against Article 13.

Developers of some of the most popular software programming languages, software solutions and the inventors of the hardware technologies that run underneath them are objecting to it. Languages and technologies that run the backbone of the Internet by the way, an Internet that you seem so keen to destroy.

Wikipedia is objecting to it, but with Article 13 of course we will get our information only from "approved" sources.

Mozilla is objecting to it, so that eventually the only real competitor browser to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, can go to hell… but that’s what Google wants no? Yet Google is objecting to it. Hmm, doesn’t compute? Brain meltdown from you I guess.

The Production Engineer of Facebook is objecting to it. But Facebook must be on the payroll of Google, right? 😀

The Bill Gates & Melinda Gates Chair is objecting to it. But Microsoft is paid by Google, yes.

The lead designer and programmer of worldwide-famous games such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake is objecting to it. But he must be just spouting Google’s bullshit talking points, right.

The creator of Ghostscript is objecting to it, which enables to print your important logical fallacies and spurious arguments on paper. Come to think of it, that might come in handy, after the Internet has been fully destroyed.

The head of product and founder of GarageBand.com, a very popular website and community which enabled independent musicians and music fans to come together, is objecting to it. But surely we must believe the supporters of Article 13 and the music industry when they say they are not against websites like this one. Yeah.

And so on…

But the real litmus test on Article 13 is this: would you trust the creators of the technologies that you use and enjoy everyday to mandate and dictate on the Internet, or do you prefer that those who are hell-bent on destroying it will do that job?

The choice has been made it seems, and it surely ain’t pretty if it can’t be reversed.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

"But the real litmus test on Article 13 is this: would you trust the creators of the technologies that you use and enjoy everyday to mandate and dictate on the Internet, or do you prefer that those who are hell-bent on destroying it will do that job?"

"The choice has been made it seems, and it surely ain’t pretty if it can’t be reversed."

After we’ve rolled the internet back to 1990 in the eurozone and the only way left for the legal actors will be to use pirate-style circumvention what happens will be simple – the european internet will grow once again, the same way it grew in the 90’s…only that this time around it will be, by default, impossible to utilize the open venues, and so the european internet will be entirely underground where law can’t reach unless the plug is pulled on the net as a whole.

Perhaps that will be the time governments discover, again, that regulating human communication is only possible to a certain point and when you go beyond it, all control is lost.

It seems we have to go through this process at least once every time a technological paradigm shift in communication rolls around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

The problem is that I see no viable solutions for the Internet to be fully underground. Do you? Things like TOR are slow as hell and peer-to-peer is useless if the content is not popular, so back to square one. And they are starting to crack down on VPNs and the like.

But the thing I don’t understand is why the population of an entire continent and the "legal actors" should be censored with spurious reasons, and should therefore use the means of darkness and be lumped together with the mostly unsavory people who scour them, just to communicate, create, share, have fun, and make this existence a little less bleak than it currently is. And all of this for the idiotic whims of some legislators who probably have never done anything creative with their own lives, while the real MAFIAA behind them salivates and almost can’t believe what it has been served, on a silver platter.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

"The problem is that I see no viable solutions for the Internet to be fully underground. Do you?"

Fully? No.

Sufficiently? Hell, yes.

They can "start" to crack down on VPN’s as much as they like but by the time a VPN won’t allow a citizen full and untrammeled use, the economy online is dead.

"But the thing I don’t understand is why the population of an entire continent and the "legal actors" should be censored with spurious reasons, and should therefore use the means of darkness and be lumped together with the mostly unsavory people who scour them, just to communicate, create, share, have fun, and make this existence a little less bleak than it currently is."

Google the "Red Flag Act". This shit has happened before.
Hell, google the "protestant reformation" for a wider view.

We are talking about a small industry with deep pockets and a leverage into the hearts and minds of politicians which, like the catholic church before them, will defend their equivalent of "indulgence sales" until it is no longer profitable.
This is a generational issue which will go away as soon as the young generation having to deal with what copyright does to THEIR internet today rolls into maturity tomorrow.

Until then progress will be guided by the inept and the corrupt. And society will adapt to circumvent those clowns by default. As usual.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Can you make a practical example? Like, an average Joe connecting from Europe could use a VPN that will present an IP address from the US, and hope that this will be enough for the services he wants to use, but when this shitty law gets exported to US too, then what will the average Joe do? Seems like a continuous game of whack-a-mole to me.

Or if we are talking about the "special access" parts of the net, so-called deep web, how will the average Joe partake in them?

Also, as I said, dark web solutions like TOR are too slow to make any real sense at the moment. Plus, who wants to be lumped together with drug-dealers, pedophiles and terrorists?

Didn’t know of the red flag act by the way. Will check that out, thanks.

John the Plagiarist (user link) says:

Re: Re:

artists rights are very important to me. That’s because I am a successful writer myself, with many important mailing lists.

here is some of my completely original writing, that I, John the Plagiarist, wrote myself, and definitely did not get from another source and then copy and paste without attribution:

WHEN I WROTE the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained. I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer some of these questions in this book. In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me. Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

I would fain say something, not so much concerning the Chinese and Sandwich Islanders as you who read these pages, who are said to live in New England; something about your condition, especially your outward condition or circumstances in this world, in this town, what it is, whether it is necessary that it be as bad as it is, whether it cannot be improved as well as not. I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways. What I have heard of Bramins sitting exposed to four fires and looking in the face of the sun; or hanging suspended, with their heads downward, over flames; or looking at the heavens over their shoulders "until it becomes impossible for them to resume their natural position, while from the twist of the neck nothing but liquids can pass into the stomach"; or dwelling, chained for life, at the foot of a tree; or measuring with their bodies, like caterpillars, the breadth of vast empires; or standing on one leg on the tops of pillars- even these forms of conscious penance are hardly more incredible and astonishing than the scenes which I daily witness. The twelve labors of Hercules were trifling in comparison with those which my neighbors have undertaken; for they were only twelve, and had an end; but I could never see that these men slew or captured any monster or finished any labor. They have no friend Iolaus to burn with a hot iron the root of the hydra’s head, but as soon as one head is crushed, two spring up.

brilliant right? I know. It is brilliant because I am a true artist, who cares about artists rights. Not like Google, who disrespects artists. Google should be more like me, John the Plagiarist, and respect creators and give them their due.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"You Aspies are next. I hope you brought lube."

I’d say this was the work of someone trying to impersonate old Baghdad Bob/Bobmail/Blue/Jhon/sock puppet #5…but he’s been a bit too persistent about this, so I’m guessing this must be the real McCoy.

Why am I not surprised to find, once again, the the most telling characteristics about the most persistent pro-copyright tool on Techdirt and Torrentfreak both is that he’s both the first to complain about people being mean and the first to drop a promise to sexually assault people with a functional disability?

Does he wear a white sheet and dance around a burning cross in his spare time as well, or does he just like to pretend at being the lowest grade of white trailer-park trash?

Anonymous Coward says:

The voting order was changed,
10 eu mps said they did not know what they were voting for.
It would help if some websites went black for a day
as a protest,
if Youtube in the eu for a day just showed videos
from the bbc, fox, cbs, etc large media companys ,
and had a banner on the front page,
saying if this law is in force,
we will have to block millions of users uploads ,
it would help.
Contact your euro mp to say you are against article 13 .
This law is about handing control of the eu web
to old media companys ,
its not about piracy,
Gatekeepers and filters will rule the eu internet .
This law is a direct attack on fair use and free speech
in the EU .

Anonymous Coward says:

i doubt if Germany will change tack as it was coerced by France into changing from ‘NO’ to ‘YES’ just before the vote, so as to secure gas supplies. as for Sweden, it is so far up the entertainment industries ring, it can be seen in the mirror when the industries have mouths open (look at how it stitched up TPB trial), it daren’t change it’s mind for fear of doing what the people that are supposed to be represented want!
the whole vote was been done in a completely underhanded way and before very long i think there are going to be a lot of changes in MEPs, simply because of those who ignored the people and voted how told by the industries!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Apparently I need to say it AGAIN...

Fight and you might lose.

Give up and you will lose.

The odds may be low but giving up and treating it as a waste of time to fight because ‘it’s impossible to change’ ensures a loss, even if there was a chance, albeit small, for a win if people did fight.

Those pushing the trainwreck had to stack the deck by changing vote order mid-session, so they certainly didn’t think it was a done deal, and with the ‘no filters required’ lie exposed as a lie now there’s an extra angle to go with to protest, in addition to the everything else.

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