EU Puts An End To The Open Internet: Link Taxes And Filters Approved By Just 5 Votes

from the a-sad-day-for-the-open-internet dept

Well, it was a nice run while it lasted, but the EU Parliament has just put an end to the open internet. By the incredibly thin margin of just five votes, the Parliament voted against any amendments to the proposal -- which was a necessary step to fixing or deleting Articles 11 and 13. After that, they voted to approve the EU Copyright Directive, including the terrible versions of both Article 11 and 13. This is an inauspicious day and one that the EU will almost certainly come to regret. While we now need to see how each of the member states will implement the actual laws put forth in the Directive (meaning the damage in some states may be more mitigatable than in others), on the whole the EU Copyright Directive requires laws that effectively end the open internet as an open communications medium. Sites that previously allowed content creators to freely publish content will now be forced to make impossible choices: license all content (which is literally impossible), filter all content (expensive and failure-prone), or shut down. Sites that used to send traffic to news sources may now need to reconsider, as doing so will inexplicably require payment.

At best, the EU--for all its complaints about Google and Facebook--has just locked both companies into a dominant position. They can afford this. Others cannot. And, the legacy gatekeepers in the media and entertainment business will quickly pivot to seeking to export this model elsewhere.

The MEPs who voted for this are up for election in two months, and hopefully the EU shows them the door, but in the meantime, today is a sad day for the open internet. I am sure that some will be celebrating on the false belief that this will magically "help artists." It will not. You just handed more power to giant companies, and took it away from creators. In time, one hopes, those who mocked the protesters and activists and actual experts will come to realize just how much they destroyed today.

Filed Under: article 11, article 13, censorship, closed internet, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, eu parliament, filters, free speech, link tax, open internet

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Richard Bennett (profile), 26 Mar 2019 @ 3:26pm

    The end of the Internet as we know it...or not.

    As expected, Article 13 passed by a huge margin - 348 for, 274 against - and Techdirt promptly declares the vote kills the "open" Internet. This is a predictable consequence of the lobbying that Silicon Valley firms did for net neutrality laws in Europe in 2015 and 2016.

    If you repeatedly go the government seeking favors for one economic sector and it grants your wish, you can't really be surprised when another economic sector seeks to rebalance the scales. Consumers got their redress with GDPR, and now artists have won a victory.

    The "open" Internet has always been a bit of a scam; open means operators of web services are free to do whatever they want without meaningful restrictions. This is the system we have in the US for Big Tech, but not for telecom or for artists. And even in the US, the data brokering practices of Big Tech firms are under the microscope.

    Just like the last minute horse-trading that helped secure the 74 vote margin of victory, over the long term lawmakers tend to balance favors for intersecting business sectors. Silicon Valley now has a losing streak going in Europe so who knows, maybe it will win the next fight.

    But I suspect we're going to see some US action against Big Tech before we see the EP doing it any favors. The sociopathy of the "open" Internet has become annoying.

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