Big Copyright in the European Parliament
This time in the European Parliament. They want upload filters and to tax ISSP’s reuse, but you can do something about it.
Last week a committee of MEPs voted 15–10, reported here by one of its members, Julia Reda, the sole Pirate Party MEP, in favour of the EU Copyright Directive’s disastrous Article 13. This misguided measure will introduce upload filters that would change the way that much of the Internet works, from free and creative sharing, to one where anything can be removed without warning, by computers. They also voted in favour of Article 11, which Europeanises a German & Spanish law and places a monetary liability on internet software service providers who use snippets of news articles originally published by for-profit publishers.
Why not have upload filters?
The scheme replaces a “notify & takedown” duty, so internet intermediaries currently have a duty to remove infringing material from their platforms.
It’s prior restraint and exercised by profit maximisers. There’s no longer any public i.e. court supervision. It is in fact the privatisation of justice and its implementation by software. This is democratically unacceptable.
Furthermore, software can’t interpret if a piece of content is permitted due to a legally protected exception, although this is less important since “fair use” is much weaker in Europe than in the USA, however, private companies will be cautious, and this will be to the detriment of fans and authors. No appeal is mandated in the new law; the problems of youtube/google and now even facebook of the unwarranted deletion of content or suspension of access will probably grow.
Last time I looked, 75% of the world’s music was published by three companies. It is clear that the EU is really only concerned about the Datenkraken; this is about two whales fighting. Music distributors want to tax the ISSPs just as they once sought to tax trumpet makers, a fact introduced to me by Jessica Litman, who published a paper, “Real Copyright Reform”, which I attempted to popularise on my blog, in a similarly named article.
two whales fighting, see below for the credit
At its crudest, this is an attempt to transfer the cost of discovering infringing material from the copyright holders, who have an economic interest in doing so to the internet companies. Why should we subsidise them in this way?
The filter technology will be expensive, and the increased legal risk of providing internet platforms will distort IT innovation by inhibiting startups and directing investment into filtering technology and/or obfuscation techniques, although some of the obfuscation techniques are likely to encourage investment in encryption techniques which would be a good thing.
What is bad about the link tax?
News should be freely available. The UN human rights charter, guarantees a right to receive information.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
The UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye recently criticised the proposals as breaking the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
Private sector news organisations exist to make money. In fact, most large news organisations have highly political agendas but their first priority is to ensure that the regulatory environment allows them to make more money.
This scheme has been tried in Spain & Germany and doesn’t work. Google, Europe’s most important news aggregator refuses to pay the fees and removes the snippets, users do not find the news articles they require and traffic i.e. readership sponsored by the search engines declines. It is a problem for the large monopolies, a disaster for smaller concerns.
In both cases, arguments are made that reporters and musicians need to earn a living, but creating a regulatory environment which transfers money from IT monopolists to news or content monopolists is no help and bad pubic policy. There is a problem in that the price of music is declining and everyone needs to answer Simon Indelicate’s question,
Why do you expect more than the market rate?
It should further be noted that the previous proposals from the Council were more moderate and in line with Reda’s amendments to JURI.
All this fails to address the fact that content companies use copyright law to create false scarcity and inhibit competition.
These proposed laws are opposed by the great and the good of the internet.
Tom Watson & Labour’s Manifesto
Unfortunately, a long term ally of the free internet, Tom Watson, Labour’s Shadow Spokesman in Culture has seemingly changed his mind. He now buys into the music industry’s phantom value gap and quotes Labour’s manifesto,
We recognise the serious concern about the ‘value gap’ between producers of creative content and the digital services that profit from its use, and we will work with all sides to review the way that innovators and artists are rewarded for their work in the digital age.
as supporting the position that these laws should be passed. [Two arguments on the Value Gap, for and against]. I say what about innovation in the internet industry? The internet and IT are the driving forces of technology innovation and in the economy as a whole and as argued elsewhere, the reasons most musicians are getting the wrong end of the stick is the bad behaviour of the music distribution monopolies and the collusion via the trickle-down strategies adopted by the creative industry unions.
It’s also another indicator that, as is the case in the UK, Digital might not be best placed in the government department responsible for culture, media and sport.
What you can do
This page at the ORG has a form letter proposal, actually an auto address feature which will be sent a mail to your MEPs, who get to vote on this law next week.
I shall also turn this into a Labour NPF proposal and submit it at https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk
Image Credit: The picture is published at the Alamar Vallarta blog. I have posted a copy to my wordpress store for technical reasons, i.e. caching, performance and availability.
Originally published at davelevy.info on June 29, 2018.