Author Ken MacLeod: Please Don't Pass The EU Copyright Directive In My Name

from the keep-the-internet-open dept

As a full-time writer I have an interest in copyright. However arguable its principles and arbitrary its scope, I benefit from it. When I trip over an online pirate version of one of my books, I shamelessly snitch the pirates to my publishers.

But would I want the platforms that enable this piracy to be liable for it? No. Because then the platforms – mostly giant corporations whose names we all know – would have every incentive to screen for any content that might conceivably breach copyright. Given the volumes involved, they would have to attempt to automate their filters. Good luck with designing an algorithm that can distinguish rip-offs from fair dealing!

Far greater than my interest in copyright is my interest in a free and open internet – or, failing that, in keeping the internet as free and open as it is now. The internet is already a long way from the wild wonderland I first stepped into in the mid-1990s. Predictably enough, that early free-for-all has shrunk to a handful of giant corporations, who -- like some fast-forward cartoon version of the last chapter of Marx's Capital: Vol 1 -- usurp and monopolise all the advantages of this process of transformation.

It's tempting to think that the EU is standing up to the corporate behemoths in the interest of creators. But Articles 11 and 13 of the proposed directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market aren't an instance of democracy against capitalism. Drafted with scary imprecision, they at best licence one group of corporate behemoths – the big publishers and creative industries – to harass another, the digital platforms. At worst, they enable the digital platforms to further censor and blinker us, their users.

The European Parliament would do well to ditch the offending articles, leave creators and publishers to deal with egregious rip-offs of their work, and leave the rest of us to meme and link and parody and remix as we please.

Kenneth Macrae MacLeod is a Scottish science fiction writer who’s published books such as The Star Fraction (1995) to The Restoration Game (2010). In 2009 he was a writer in residence at the ESRC genomics policy and research forum at Edinburgh University. He’s won numerous awards including the BSFA award and Prometheus Award, both for Best Novel.

Filed Under: article 11, article 13, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, free speech, intermediary liability, open internet


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 3:51am

    Just a ...

    Thank you for your contribution, Kenneth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 24 Jan 2019 @ 4:01am

    I thought this was Kevin MacLeod for a minute.

    You know, the guy who does all the royalty-free music that half the flash games and videos on the internet use.

    I wonder what he thinks about Article 13?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 4:27am

    Long time fan, utmost respect.

    Ken is someone who has written some of my favourite novels, covering important topics, with brilliant sci-fi takes on political, social, and economic issues.
    And most importantly is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT on this matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 4:32am

    "Anomalies!" screamed out_of_the_blue. John Smith was unavailable for reply owing to the cascade of tears streaming down his face as his mouth pursed shut in trembling outrage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 4:54am

    Even if the eu directive go,s into law it won,t stop pirate websites who are based outside the EU .
    The open internet allows meme,s remix culture ,fair use content and parodys to exist .
    All creators will be effected if all websites in the eu have to be filtered .
    Most authors use the internet to promote their work and communicate with fans .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 5:19am

      Re:

      It'll only harm everyone else. As pretty much any anti piracy measure tends to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      With the directive, authors who directly promote their work and communicate with fans will have fans who have to actually buy that work from the author, who can ship it directly from his or her own website. The directive won't stop this at all b ut will instead allow it to thrive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 24 Jan 2019 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re:

        For that to work the author has to run his/hers own site and keep it updated. The author has to moderate and filter posts on his forum. The author also has to pay for internet, hosting and so on. And no point can services like wordpress, blogspot or the like be used because at that point the author will be impacted by the proposed legislation. Although running your own site doesn't really preclude it either.

        Also, I doubt a handful of fans will be able to sustain him or her financially because without exposure the author will undoubtedly sell very little.

        No matter what, exposure sells. I know of several authors that give away free electronic copies of their books because it drives the sales of the paper variant and keeps them in print.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 5:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Most of these authors have mainstream media exposure and mainstream publishers. Actually, they don't even have to give it away because Amazon Kindle does this for them, and they can even make large portions available as samples.

          The only problem with Amazon is that their royalty structure sets the price at $9.99 for most works (that pays 70 percent while anything above pays 35). Then there's the bigger issue of the market simply being flooded with work, and that's not a copyright problem.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 11:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            $9.99 for most works? I can't recall seeing *anything* on Kindle for that much, and I read Kindle ebooks pretty extensively. The vast majority of them--at least the ones I've seen--are in the $3-$7 range.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        There is a reason that YouTube, BandCamp, Jamendo etc. have a lot of creators using them, in part its is the network effect, and also they are places people know to go and look for new works.

        What would also hit self publishers, is if the social media sites ban all links to avoid accusations of copyright infringement, and liability for link taxes, as that would make promoting their own works even more difficult as the couldn't link to their own works..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 8:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Self-publishers did just fine before all these networks were built. New marketing channels would open up.

          All these walled gardens that went up beginning in the late 1990s qrae what hit them the hardest. I'm also not sure YouTube would just collapse if Article 13 were passed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 2:58am

        Re: Re:

        "With the directive, authors who directly promote their work and communicate with fans will have fans who have to actually buy that work from the author, who can ship it directly from his or her own website."

        Bullshit.

        That option always existed. It still does. And article 13 will do NOTHING to improve or amend that option.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 8:39am

    All these laws the EU trying to pass or have passed is lock these large American companies in place. That is the end results. Because no startup can afford all the huge costs it takes to deal with all this crap. It also has an effect of just not wanting to do business in that country.

    You get to the point where it's just not worth it anymore and so block the country. Which is what many U.S. Newspapers have done. It's not worth it. It costs a lot of money. The ads they put in are for the U.S. So being in the EU and getting nothing out of it to justify the cost makes it easier to just block the EU. Bye, bye!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Gedenken Nichtsogut, 24 Jan 2019 @ 9:56am

    Much of interest in the text seems to have been missed:

    When I trip over an online pirate version of one of my books, I shamelessly snitch the pirates to my publishers.

    So, he's against the piracy advocated here, just as practical matter expects his publisher to deal with it.

    Predictably enough, that early free-for-all has shrunk to a handful of giant corporations, who -- like some fast-forward cartoon version of the last chapter of Marx's Capital: Vol 1 -- usurp and monopolise all the advantages of this process of transformation.

    Gee. looks like this guy opposes Google, Facebook, Twitter, for exactly the reasons that this site's most hated commenter does.

    Run more such pieces that I can agree with, Masnick! Refreshing and startling change from your piratey pro-Google usual!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 12:44pm

    Straw-man argument, since he has a big publisher to both pay him and defend his property rights. He's not an indie who markets his own work on the internet and has to fight mass piracy on his own. He doesn't need copyright protection when he has distribution sending his fans to pay for his work (while the same fans might pirate the indies).

    He is the one who wants big publishers to continue to dominate and profit, while the indies want direct access to the public and the elimination of the middleman that is this man's meal ticket.

    The internet can be rebuilt without the many fatal flaws which have been allowed to fester for twenty years. What seems so difficult now is a lot less difficult than continuing to build on the house of cards that is 1990s internet law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      The internet can be rebuilt without the many fatal flaws which have been allowed to fester for twenty years.

      What fatal flaw would that be, allowing people to self publish, and to use large sites to do so, so that people can easily find their works?

      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 5:06pm

        Re: Re:

        Article 13 doesn't prevent self-publication.

        An author can promote their work and then ship the actual copyrighted work themselves once people buy it. No one will be blocked from sending their own work to someone else.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2019 @ 5:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What a surprise, the anomaly hunters came to take the bait...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 2:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          then ship the actual copyrighted work themselves once people buy it.

          And that requires that they also deal with all the support work of maintaining a web site, payment processing and shipping. That could consume more time than they have available, or cost more to pay somebody else to do the work, than they can make from their sales, and they still have to do all their own marketing.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 3:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            There are free hosts out there and hosting is cheap. Basic websites are easy to build, and ssending files by e-mail is not exaZctly difficult. This is how it was done in the 1990s before the tolltakers took over, and many made good livings with this model.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 11:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, if you are in Europe, and you handle any customer information, you have to comply with the GDPR, and that requires work and expertise. A simple single server web site holding credit card information and customer emails just won't cut it from a security and protection of customer information viewpoint, and the protection requirement extend to any personal machine that you ever copy any of that information onto.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 3:00am

      Re:

      "The internet can be rebuilt without the many fatal flaws which have been allowed to fester for twenty years."

      No it can't. Something everyone who knows the tech is aware of.

      It's a bit like saying that the "spoken language" has fatal flaws and needs to be "fixed" in a way which does not allow undesired information to be spoken or heard.

      The internet can be "fixed" the way you want it to be, only by rendering it inoperable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 3:38am

        Re: Re:

        Of course it can be rebuilt, legislatively. The internet as we know it isn't even that old on a historical timetable.

        It's like our calendar, which *should* be rebuilt, into thirteen months of twenty-eight days each, and one or two New Years' Days. We just don't do it because it would create temporary disruptions.

        Changing copyright or privacy or defamation law is certainly possible, and even inevitable, as it becomes apparent how toxic the status quo is. The big tech companies will have to adapt or simply perished, replaced by new business models which comply with the new legal climate.

        That you may not WANT this to happen doesn't mean it can't or won't.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 8:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Changing copyright or privacy or defamation law is certainly possible, and even inevitable, as it becomes apparent how toxic the status quo is.

          Well, the RIAA finally got an ear out of their ass and haven't pushed for yet another copyright extension. It's a start.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Jan 2019 @ 3:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Of course it can be rebuilt, legislatively." "It's like our calendar, which should be rebuilt, into thirteen months of twenty-eight days each, and one or two New Years' Days. We just don't do it because it would create temporary disruptions."

          As you say. If we don't mind globally upending every calendar and force every country, corporation, and governmental agency to tear up literally everything around which their daily lives operate, for the foreseeable future, then yes, rebuilding the "internet" might be possible. Barring a worldwide dictator bent on tearing up all the infrastructure, everywhere, in order to accommodate copyright law, that's not going to happen, however.

          "The big tech companies will have to adapt or simply perished, replaced by new business models which comply with the new legal climate."

          That's not how it works except in the soviet union and other fascistoid countries where government and corporate power were one and the same, and business had to take a back seat to government ideology.

          What will happen is that every nation trying to impose certain limits on internet technology will find that it has given away competitive capability to other countries. The same way the US, for instance, gained and retained a business edge over europe and asia for so long - and the same way it is slowly losing that edge now.

          "That you may not WANT this to happen doesn't mean it can't or won't."

          It's pretty obvious from your argument that I'm not the one indulging in wishful thinking. Changing the calendar is easy compared to the changes you envision which have, as a starting point effect, rolling back the global economy to the 1960's. And you don't even understand just to what extent changing the calendar is NOT POSSIBLE today this side of a unilateral global dictator capable of telling every government and corporation in the world to comply or die.

          The internet isn't that old, no, on any historical table. It is, however, a paradigm shift more fundamental than the invention of steam power or electricity. You saying that it will be "legislated into control" is laughable to begin with.

          What will happen is a few red flag acts who will try to keep progress back in vain after which copyright will be forced to bend around existing technology the same way it was forced to bend around the self-playing piano, the tape cassette and VHS, the DVD, MP3 and CD-Rom...and so very many other examples.

          when you want to legislate away historical momentum and technological progress you're nothing but an ant holding up a sign saying "STOP IN THE NAME OF THE LAW" at an avalanche.

          Law adapts to societal change. Never the other way around. This has been true for as long as law existed and isn't about to change just because an obsolete business model is about to fail.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 24 Jan 2019 @ 1:47pm

    In the end..

    Most news is aggregated to the smaller news groups..AND is paid for.
    The money garnered is not going to the small agencies. It will goto the international news organizations.. Google just wont Display local news or links to anything except those larger news groups, OUTSIDE of the EU. So the link tax means nothing to anyone except the larger agencies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    outrank (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 6:08am

    outrank

    The Teesside Business Show has become one of the region's largest one day business events and attracts over 500 delegates from every kind of business sector imaginable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Grumpy Old Guy (profile), 25 Jan 2019 @ 7:17am

    Google threats

    Oh please, please pass this legislation, even if all it does is get rid of Google.
    There are literally 1000's of news sights in the world. If Google pulls away from the EU there are plenty of others to take its place, and its advertising, income, perceived power, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Jan 2019 @ 3:47am

      Re: Google threats

      "If Google pulls away from the EU there are plenty of others to take its place, and its advertising, income, perceived power, etc."

      Nope. Right now the only competitors to Google can be listed - Baidu, Yandex, Yahoo and Bing.

      None of them do what Google does as well as google does or they'd BE google. That's how the market works.

      Also, this legislation won't get rid of google. It'll get rid of Google NEWS in the EU, which is akin to forcing Google to remove the set of fuzzy dice they are dangling from the rear-view mirror.

      What it will do as side effect is to screw all the news agencies in europe who will no longer be instantly found through a news search and lose all market visibility.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2019 @ 1:48pm

    U guys know u all make no since i use things because of creative commons because like they hide the fact a view of laws of privacy are being broken and a song is used only promotes artist and not maker sends message out to those watching

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Riendeau, 4 Feb 2019 @ 12:35pm

    The EU is simply being run by evil people who hate us

    Once again, the EU wants to do this because they're sociopathic freaks with black hearts and black minds. Germany was always going to support Article 13 without the SMEs. They have simply been playing mind games with us to trick us into thinking the Democratic System still works, only to stab us in the back in the end. The only thing the media companies have done was give the EU an excuse hide behind so they can carry out their depraved desires. If that fails, they would simply find another excuse, like terrorism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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