Take action against articles 11 & 13!

About the law

The European Parliament is currently working on a revision of the 2001 Copyright Directive. Within the Parliament this legislation was first discussed in the Juridical Commision, each political group appointing one negotiator. On June 20th this commission voted on their final text, however on July 5th the Parliament rejected using this text to start negotiations.

After the summer break on September 12th a large majority (about 400 to 200) of the Parliament approved an amended version. Although important exceptions have been added for non-commercial purposes such as Wikipedia and for open source platforms such as GitHub or GNU Savannah, the current proposal still contains an upload filter and link tax.

The current situation:

June 20th
July 5th
September 12th
Spring 2019
  1. June 20th JURI commission Vote
  2. July 5th European Parliament Vote on negotiation mandate
  3. September 12th European Parliament Define a new mandate
  4. Autumn European Parliament & Council of Ministers Negotiations on final text
  5. Spring 2019 European Parliament Final vote
The state of affairs for the proposed Copyright Directive.

The proposal accepted by the Juridical Commision on June 20th contains two articles we and many experts and organisations strongly oppose.

Article 13 contains an upload filter for websites where you share content with others, such as Facebook, YouTube or Reddit. Not to check for child porn or terrorist propaganda, but for material that some person holds the copyright for. To do this they must work with the right holders, for example large movie studios. Unfortunately such a filter also often censors legal content, for example parodies. This fundamentally compromises our freedom of speech. A check before publication is just censorship.

Article 11 contains a link tax, a new type of copyright for news articles, requiring an obligatory fee for linking and citing news content on the internet. Comparable laws in Spain and Germany however led to the news sites disappearing, because news aggregators simply stop linking to them.

Article 13

Article 13 states that so-called 'online content sharing service providers', services that facilitate the sharing to the public of content uploaded by users on a large scale, must work with large media companies to keep their copyright protected assets off the site. This presents a couple of problems: the original directive did not define what is a large scale, nor which type of content. So this may even apply to the comment section below a news article. Luckily this problem was solved in the amended version of September 12th, but it may return after negotiations with the Council. Furthermore sites have an obligation to collaborate, which gives rightholders an effective veto on the extent of filtering techniques. But the main problem is that the filtering must happen before publication. Checks before publication are called censorship, and in this way freedom of speech (a fundamental European right) will disappear from the European internet . With current legislation rightholders cannot submit a complaint until after publication, to which sites must react, and already this is being misused in some cases. With the new proposal platforms such as Twitter and Facebook become liable if they do not sufficiently filter content in advance.

How bad will it be? That is difficult to say. Fifty six eminement scholars published an open letter in which they warn for legal uncertainty, because article 13 contains "unbalanced, undefined juridical concepts which make it uncompatible with the existing acquis". In simple language: it's a badly written article. And who will create the filtering technology? Only the largest of companies will be able to afford doing this by themselves, increasing the dependance of smaller companies on a few large ones. Even more so because rightholders get to decide what is a good filter and what isn't. The interest group for European start-ups says that this will chase away start-ups and talent .

More information on article 13 and all who think it is a bad idea can be found at https://saveyourinternet.eu.

Article 11

Article 11 introduces a new type of copyright for news articles, with the goal of requiring a fee when another site links it with a short quote. As you probably know, this is how most of the current internet works. We use links to inform each other, to share trends and to gain new knowledge. Large website such as Twitter, Reddit and Facebook mostly consist of links to (among others) news, and both the news website and the social platform gain from this.

Copyright industry lobbyists are spreading the idea that this gain must be paid out to the authors in some way. The mechanism they propose has a counterproductive effect: in Spain and Germany laws were introduced to require a fee for linking news articles. The result was that news aggregators simply stopped showing articles from these countries, and small and independt media (and, of course, the consumer) suffer from this. Yet despite this they are now proposing the same for the EU as a whole.

A coalition of innovative publishers representing hundreds of news media are fighting this plan, warning that it will "suppress media pluralism" and "have serious negative effects for the quality of the press". And a good press is what we need in a democratic society. In an open letter 169 scientists (including professors of journalism studies) declare that the plan will "benefit producers of fake news", because it will "further reduce the distribution of high-quality news".

More information on article 11 and all who think it is a bad idea can be found among other sites at https://savethelink.org.

You can follow this legislation on the following website of the European Parliament: Copyright in the digital single market on the European Parliament Legislative Observatory
You can also read the text of the amended proposal here (text A8-0245/2018).