The 2012 Web Blackout Helped Stop SOPA/PIPA And Then ACTA; Here Comes The 2019 Version To Stop Article 13

from the how-to-make-bad-ideas-politically-toxic dept

Remember SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act)? Back in 2012, they threatened to cause widespread damage to the online world by bringing in yet more extreme and unbalanced measures against alleged copyright infringement. Things looked pretty bad until a day of massive online protest was organized on January 18, 2012, with thousands of sites partially or totally blacked out. Politicians were taken aback by the unexpected scale of the anger, and their support for SOPA and PIPA crumbled quickly. That success fuelled protests in Europe against ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which also sought to bring in harsh measures against online infringement. After tens of thousands of people took part in street demonstrations across Europe, many politicians wanted nothing to do with the by-now toxic proposal, and it was voted down in the European Parliament in July 2012.

As Techdirt pointed out last year, the proposed EU Copyright Directive is even worse than ACTA. As such it clearly merits serious, large-scale action of the kind that stopped SOPA/PIPA and ACTA. And it's happening. The German-language version of Wikipedia, the second-largest by number of articles, has announced the following (original in German):

On Thursday, March 21, the German-language edition of the online encyclopedia will be shut down completely for 24 hours. In this way, Wikipedia activists want to send a signal, in particular against the introduction of the controversial Articles 11 and 13 in the [EU's] copyright reform.

It is expected that a number of other major sites will be joining in the protest. Meanwhile, another German organization is campaigning against Article 13. In an open letter to MEPs, its supporters write:

We are the operators and administrators of more than 400 German-language discussion forums with more than 18 million members. We are united by the great concern that the EU Copyright Directive will endanger the existence of our forums and thus the discussion culture on the Internet.

The public discussion on the EU Copyright Directive revolves almost exclusively around YouTube and other large US platforms. In doing so, we lose sight of the fact that discussion forums of all sizes will also be affected by the new directive.

That's an important point. Supporters of Article 13 try to give the impression that only deep-pocketed companies like Google will be hit by the new law. As the discussion forum operators point out, their organizations will not be exempt from the requirements of the EU Copyright Directive. Its effects will be devastating:

Because of these uncertainties and the legal and financial liability risk, many discussion forums will close, as small associations or voluntary operators cannot bear this situation. Commercial operators are also endangered in their existence if they have to conclude fee-based licenses and are obliged to install expensive upload filters.

Uncertain regulations for us means years of legal uncertainty, legal risk and potential legal costs, which no operator can afford in the long run as forums usually do not generate a large amount of revenue.

As a result, the discussion culture on the European Internet will be severely impaired, and many citizens will lose their digital home in discussion forums.

Internet startups in the EU will face the same insurmountable problems thanks to Article 13's impossible demands. Many will be forced to shut down. It's an irony that many have already pointed out. A law that supporters claim is designed to tackle the disproportionate power of companies like Google and Facebook will end up entrenching them more deeply, and wiping out much of the EU's own digital ecosystem. Let's hope 2019's big blackout grabs people's attention as the one in 2012 did, and that MEPs drop Article 13 just as they dropped ACTA.

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

Filed Under: article 11, article 13, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, eu parliament, europe, germany, march 21, protests
Companies: wikimedia, wikipedia


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  1. identicon
    Natalie Hill, 16 Mar 2019 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Re: Article 13.

    John, when pro-label rats like you start talking about how "music is dying" because of piracy and streaming rates, I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.

    "In the last 5 years the number of working musicians has dropped to less than 50%. Over half the major studios have closed, to be torn down for condos." Well, there's hundreds of thousands of artists on BandCamp, YouTube, and SoundCloud who self-release their work.

    Not only that, you used to only see strong music scenes in places traditionally known for music. However, since technology has made it possible to record and release music from anywhere, you can now see thriving indie music scenes in non-traditional music towns like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis, where I live. In the Circle City, at the start of the decade, we only had 4 local music venues, no festivals, 1 label, 1 local record store, and the small scene we did have was very centered around punk rock (not that punk is bad). However, we now have 17 venues, 6 festivals, 3 labels, 7 record stores, and a ton of artists of all genres. So clearly music is not "dying" because of piracy.

    Sure, most of us are so-called "hobbyists" (I despise that word, as it often implies the musician is unserious), but that was the case with 99.9999% of all musicians who have ever lived, just because there are so many talented musicians in the world, yet the average person only needs so much new music. The only differences now are that recording is much simpler and a day job is no longer mutually exclusive with playing/writing music.

    And if you're one of those people who thinks all "hobbyist" music is "low-quality", Eric Pedigo, The Trees, Ross Hollow, and tons of others I could mention prove that claim to be nothing more than an extremely dehumanizing overgeneralization towards us "hobbyists" and our great art.

    However, the only reason we can distribute our work is because of such websites accepting submissions from anyone. Websites like YouTube and Bandcamp receive way too many submissions to monitor for infringement, so the only way they could possibly comply with Article 13 would be if they stopped accepting everyone's submissions completely, and limited their platforms to large companies.

    If you understand that more music is being released than ever before, and it is NOT all "low-quality", but want laws like Article 13 anyway "because those poor people are losing their jobs!", you sound no different than a Trump-supporting coal miner or auto plant worker. There are a lot of jobs you can learn to do instead.

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