A tech website is warning that a vote in the European Union on copyright law happening this week could be a catastrophe for any web outlet that links to another source, or allows readers to post comments or content.
The result of the vote, and its impact in the United States, remains uncertain at this point, but it is The Next Web that is warning of the EU’s “extremely controversial Copyright Reform.”
The website was launched to promote a conference, then became a blog, now addressing all types of tech issues.
On the site, contributor Mar Masson Maack warns 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.”
Maack explained Article 11 “would force anyone using snippets of journalistic online content to get a license from the publisher first – essentially outlawing current business models of most aggregators and news apps.”
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.”
MacDonald explained copyright is to stimulate creators, not “to be for a narrow part of an industry to control a handful of platforms.”
Article 13, the blog reported, “will make platforms responsible for monitoring user behavior to stop copyright infringements, but basically means only huge platforms will have the resources to let users comment or share content.”
MacDonald said in the report it is the “biggest threat” right now.
That’s because, the blog reported, it “will hold platforms responsible for any content that their users upload, meaning that the platform is liable if there’s copyright infringement. For MacDonald, this threatens the continuation of a healthy and open internet, partly because how broad the definition is in the proposal.”
MacDonald explained all platforms would face liability issues, which would require in-depth filters to address “all types and forms of copyright.”
She warned of the potential for the censorship of legitimate speech, since it’s unclear even now about how any fair use clause would be addressed.
The posting explained there still is a lot of disagreement in the EU over the suggestions.
The report explained, “Obviously, it is impossible to predict what copyrighted material users will upload in the future, and the proposal is in no way limited to particular types of copyrighted content. That means that in order to comply with the law, platforms would have to obtain a license for each of billions of copyright-protected works in the world, because they might be uploaded in the future and the platform would be liable for copyright infringement as soon as the material would become available.”