The European Union is in the process of revising copyright laws, and many people are alarmed about the impact that passage of the law as it is drafted at this point could have on the sharing of information online. The main focus of attention is Article 13 of the Copyright proposal of the European Commission which would seemingly drastically curtail fair use, which is the doctrine that certain copyrighted material can be used in limited ways without permission from copyright holders. I haven’t had time to dig deeply into all the legal ramifications, but what many observers are saying is that if the law is implemented it could drastically change the way the internet operates.
Here are some comments from Mozilla on the topic.
Despite several failed attempts in countries across Europe (e.g. in Spain and Germany), the Commission has proposed introducing a new pan-European copyright for press publications, sometimes referred to as “ancillary copyright” or a “neighbouring right”, which would create new copyright for snippets of online content. That would mean anyone sharing a link with text, like a news headline or a short blurb about the article, could be charged a license fee from the publisher responsible for the content.
Worst of all, these restrictions would last for 20 years! What’s the last piece of online content that you looked at that was 20 years old?!
This proposal throws the idea of balanced copyright out the window, as it would make all open platforms liable for the actions of their users, enforce a particular type of business model (e.g. licenses), and impose mandatory filters, all with no safeguards to preserve copyright exceptions, or the rights of users.
These measures would in practice require monitoring and filtering of everything that European citizens upload to content-sharing services from social media sites (like Twitter and Facebook), outlets for creative expression (like YouTube, DeviantArt, SoundCloud, and Tumblr), to informational sites (like Wikipedia and the Internet Archives), to open source software repositories (like GitHub). It would be the responsibility of these services to play judge, jury, and executioner for copyright enforcement — businesses large and small could be held liable for the content their users access and share.
There will be a meeting of MEPs on the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament on June 20/21 where they will vote about their opinion on the law. Whatever they agree on will go forward to negotiations with the European Council.
According to EDRi, a Europeian association of civil and human rights organisations, the JURI committee does not yet have enough members against the proposed changes to block their passage, with some members being still undecided.
Here’s a video that has been recently published that discusses the issue.
Sure, this European attempt to cripple or destroy the Internet must be fought.
Just know that this attempt at an immense power-grab is another attempt from hiding the future. A tyrant bureaucracy, flailing about as it dies.
King Canute, commanding the future to stop advancing, for history to stop.