Internet

Is chaos on the internet one step closer?

Analysts are suggesting that’s a fair summation after the European Union’s committee on legal affairs voted Wednesday in favor of a new Copyright Directive that, while mostly updating technical language, does include a provision critics consider a virtual ban on web links.

Also, a provision to create massive new levels of liability for websites.

Only a day ago, WND reported on warnings from tech websites regarding the proposals.

While the result of the vote, and its impact in the United States, remains uncertain at this point, it raised alarms from The Next Web over the “extremely controversial Copyright Reform.”

There, contributor Mar Masson Maack warned that the EU demands could include upload filters, ancillary copyright and restrictions on text and data mining.

“It’s not certain how the vote will go as members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are still split on key articles of the reform, but whatever the conclusion will be, it’s certain that it’ll greatly affect the future of the internet in the EU and beyond. The result will form the EU Parliament’s stance on copyright and will have huge implications for the final stage of the law making process,” Mack wrote.

The blog continued, “The most contested parts of the Copyright Reform are – and always have been – articles 11 and 13; the former concerns ancillary copyright and link tax, while the latter deals with uploading filters and censorship machines.”

At the Verge, a report Wednesday said the EU took “the first step in passing new copyright legislation that critics say will tear the internet apart.”

It cited concern over Article 11, “a ‘link tax,’ which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an ‘upload filter,’ which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement.”

The report said, “EU lawmakers critical of the legislation say these articles may have been proposed with good intentions – like protecting copyright owners – but are vaguely worded and ripe for abuse.”

MEP Julie Reda said the fight actually is not over, because the radical ideas have to be approved by the European Parliament later. A vote schedule hasn’t been announced yet.

The Verge reported Joe McNamee, of the digital rights group EDRi, said the result was disappointing, but the opposition is growing.

“I was told that the volume of calls, emails, and texts everyone in the Parliament has been getting has led people not in the [JURI] committee to start getting worried,” he said. “This momentum is pushing down the likely majority [in the European Parliament] every day.”

Concluded the Verge, “If the legislation is passed in its current form, it would have a devastating effect. Article 13, for example, would require the creation of an automatic filter for all online content uploaded in the EU, checking it against a database of copyright licenses. The system would be costly to create, impossible to keep up-to-date, and easily gamed by copyright trolls.”

Matt Drudge, the king of news aggregators, comment several years ago during an interview that should that standard be adopted, it would be all over for his operations.

At the time, he warned it could be that “they’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines.”

Similar legislation already has failed in Spain and Germany, but Raegan MacDonald, EU principal at Mozilla, which has a browser presence online, said there remains a ton of confusion.

“I think there would be a whole lot of confusion. I think there’ll probably be a lot of negative implications that we haven’t even thought of right now because the system is so confusing and so ill thought out. There’s no upside to it. I think we’ll see a lot of damaging effects there,” she said in the Next Web article.

It said, “Article 11 was presented as a way to help publishers fight back against tech giants and news aggregators, basically forcing companies like Google and Facebook to pay publishers for the content that draws people to their platform. This might seem like lofty goals, but MacDonald believes that copyright is being used in a proxy battle over the internet and that European politicians don’t truly understand what copyright is about.”

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