This is a special edition of the Raymond Tec News podcast because I have some important information I wanted to share ahead of the weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday January 19, 2019 across 15 of the 28-member European Union protests are organized to stop the finalization of the European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. That’s a mouthful, but it’s important enough that I’m dedicating a special episode to it.
The directive, as I will call it, is a wide-ranging bill that will effectively change the way all Europeans use the internet. No, this isn’t an exaggeration. The entire directive is a mess, but three of the articles, 11, 12a, and 13, are the primary issue.
Article 11 was crafted by news conglomerates. It allows news sites to charge what many are calling a link tax when other websites link to their content. In theory, it’s supposed to level the playing field for news sites that don’t get enough money from advertising. In reality, the broad definition of article 11 means that news sites can charge everyone for sharing their stories. This even means sharing a story to your timeline on Facebook.
Language was added to exempt the actual hyperlink to articles, but not the titles. Changes have also been made saying that individual words can’t be taxed. But snippets, like what you see in search results can be. There is no clarity about what constitutes or who decides what are individual words or snippets.
In response to the potential of Article 11s adoption, Google posted screenshots yesterday of what their news results will look like. It’s bleak. There’s a link in the show notes, but, basically, your results will return a link to the article, with no title, the name of the publication, and no information or images about the article.
Besides lacking focus for who can be charged and when, the article also lacks definitions when it refers to news sites. Does it mean publishers with revenues of more than 20 million dollars a year? Does it mean blogs which support their writers financially? Nobody knows because it’s not defined.
Article 12a will give sports even organizers copyright over recordings of their events. But, not just recordings, photos in the stadiums, even before the event has begun.
Article 13, known colloquially as the upload filter, was crafted by the music recording industry. It will require platforms to scan everything that is uploaded against a database of copyrighted works to check for violations. While this sounds like it might benefit artists, it doesn’t. It means that you won’t be able to share a song or music video on your Facebook profile which will drastically decrease their exposure.
Let me just be clear about how this upload filter will work. It won’t be people sitting at a computer checking each of your uploads, it will be left to flawed programs. This will render sharing or uploading prohibitively difficult.
I know it sounds like I’m being alarmist, but the reality is, the EU Copyright Directive is so vague it will allow each of the 28-member countries to write their own definitions for much of the articles. Freedom of speech on the worldwide internet is under attack by a small group of legislators in the European Union. This action must be stopped.
If you’re in Europe, visit stopacta2.org, sign the petition, and join in the protests planned in 24 cities tomorrow. If you’re outside the EU, support our brothers and sisters who are protesting; reach out via Social Media and show your solidarity for an open internet.