The internet is a crucial part of everyday life: with it, you can find the answer to any question you have; reach out to friends and family from afar; and it is the reason you are reading this.
Unfortunately, the internet as we know and love it is under threat. The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs voted on 20th June in favour of the European Commission’s proposed Copyright Directive, which will tighten copyright laws and restrict our freedoms, In particular two amendments are the most dangerous.
But we can still stop them! Everything is coming to a crucial vote in the European Parliament on 5 July.
What is this vote about?
First, the European Commission has proposed the so-called ‘Link Tax’ for news publishers : which gives publishers the right to charge a fee for using even the smallest excerpts of text, such as the headlines used in links to their articles. This ‘Link Tax’ means others will have to pay to link to the otherwise free content. Similar laws have already backfired in Germany and Spain: It turned out that if websites cannot gain views and hits through links, they lose money.
Another major issue is the proposed upload filter. In other words, in order for copyright infringements to be prevented before they even happen, websites that allow user uploads will have to ensure that everything will be pre-filtered, and blocked if a possible infringement is spotted. Consequently, automated systems will decide on what we’ll be allowed to say online. Of course, these filters will not be able to distinguish actual copyright infringements from legal uses such as quotations, parodies or criticism, which are legal exceptions to copyright law in many countries. So you can say goodbye to memes, reaction gifs or other types of creativity that build upon the works of others, thus reducing our freedoms, as everything will be monitored Orwellian-style. On websites that already use copyright filters voluntarily, such as YouTube’s ContentID, they have proven ineffective, resulting in things being mistakenly removed.
Our internet could end up looking like this:
This could change everything for the worse - instead of being able to share what we find interesting with our friends; we are instead left with an empty online wasteland.
Save Your internet!
On 5 July, MEPs will be able to say no to these conditions. The Committee of Legal Affairs has voted on the Report but the Plenary can still vote for the text to be changed to eliminate its most problematic elements. Of course, we want authors to be protected online, but we fear that these misguided proposals will make their situation worse, while much more sensible alternative proposals are on the table that would help authors get paid, without damaging the free Internet.
For example, our group in the European Parliament has fought hard to include a proposal that would give authors and performers a legal right to get paid for their work that cannot simply be waived by contract. The only exception to this rule of fair payment would be if an author gives a work away for free to the general public, for example under a Creative Commons license. This way, free culture would be promoted, but whenever a company, including Internet companies, wants to use an author's creation, they would be forced to pay fairly for it and could not pressure the author into an unfair contract. This proposal, which would help both authors who are using copyright to make a living as well as those relying on Creative Commons, was rejected in the committee vote by precisely those groups who want to impose automated online censorship, while claiming to have the authors' best interests at heart. If we manage to reject the outcome of the committee vote, we will have the chance to re-introduce this progressive proposal into the copyright reform.
An email can be deleted with the swipe of a finger, but a phone call from you cannot go ignored.
Click here to Call your MEP to make sure they do not vote for these amendments.
You can say:
I am calling about the reform of copyright law in the digital internal market, in particular Articles 11 and 13 of the Copyright Directive from the European Commission. I disagree with these proposals, so please, vote against the text adopted by the legal affairs committee, to make sure we can prevent those proposals that will restrict our rights and freedom on the internet.
To find out more about saving the internet, click here.