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. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Mar 2019 @ 6:48am

    The main target of this law is piracy, and it should remain the primary target. Memes, free speech, and fair use should not "break."

    The entire point of the law is to force upload filters and link taxes upon Internet companies. Only those companies with the money to afford paying for those things could stay open in the EU. The sites that cannot afford to pay those costs would need to either geoblock the EU (thus cutting off a sizeable chunk of potential users), disable UGC altogether (thus destroying the usability of its services), or shut down to avoid bankruptcy. Any one of those outcomes would “break” the Internet.

    Even the companies that can afford to stay open would need to deal with expensive filters and licensing agreements that would take an astounding amount of time and money to properly implement. And those filters and licenses could still generate “false positives” in re: copyright notices — and that would include notices on content that uses copyrighted/“unlicensed” content under the principles of Fair Use.

    “Piracy” (read: large-scale copyright infringement) will not be stopped by this law because “pirates” (read: copyright infringers) already disobey and ignore the law. The only people who will be directly and primarily affected by this law are people who are already participating in what are currently legal activities, including what you believe should not “break”: Fair Use and free speech.


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