The European Union has approved the passage of Article 13 and Article 11. These new rules will apply new copyright rules for the Internet. This is a hugely controversial move that has many copyright experts saying it will impact free speech and ruin the open Internet as we know it.
Directive on Copyright
Article 13 requires any site that allows its users to post videos, text, or sounds for public consumption must have a copyright filter. This filter will check to see if what the user posted matches known copyrighted material.
As a result, sites and services would be responsible for copyright infringements. The purpose of this is to reroute revenue from the technology giants and give it back to the content creators. Advocates for this law state its needed because people are consuming copyrighted material without the creators being adequately compensated for it.
There isn’t a clear way to implement filters that will comply with the law. YouTube currently has a Content ID system in place to help protect content creators from copyright infringement. This system cost YouTube approximately $100 million. The system is plagued with abuses. As a result, the legitimate content is removed with little recourse by the uploader.
The system flaws are so apparent that even public domain recordings are being flagged and removed for copyright violations. A German music professor Ulrick Kaiser tested the system. He uploaded some of these public domain recordings so his students could easily access them on YouTube. The videos were taken down due to copyright violations, even though there were none.
Another portion of the Directive that is a cause for concern is Article 11 or the ‘link tax’. This rule would require news sites to pay journalists or publications for using pieces of their articles. The Directive states that press publications “may obtain fair and proportionate remuneration for the digital use of their press publications by information society service provides”. Similar to Article 13, there is no clear way on how to implement this moving forward. The biggest question is what the threshold on usage will there be before the law applies. Google has already threatened to pull Google News out of the EU entirely.
What Happens Now?
Now that the EU has approved these new measures, the individual member states will have to interpret and enact them. The member states may choose different filters to put in place. Just before the passage, more than 200,000 people took to the streets in protest. There is also an online petition that has over 5 million signatures protesting parts of the proposal. It could take years for countries to work out the details for the new rules. Ultimately, it will be up to individual citizens to rally against the effort.
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