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BREAKING: MEP Pascal Arimont’s all out attack on the right to link

The worst version of the EU copyright plan just got proposed. One MEP is rallying others to a plan for 50 years ownership of links and expansive censorship machines.

A group of MEPs have come up with changes to the EU copyright law so out of touch with every piece of research, the public’s views, and parliamentary debates, that we’re frankly gobsmacked.

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee is one of the key bodies commenting on the copyright proposals. When rapporteur Catherine Stihler came out with her report, we were happy with the common sense recommendations that controversial EU Commission proposals for a “Link Tax” (Article 11) be completely removed from draft legislation, and her statement that Commission plans for mandatory content filtering (Article 13) harms the interests of Internet users.

But committee member MEP Pascal Arimont (Belgium), from the EPP political group, has left all reason behind and is trying to rally support for a version of the law that is a full frontal attack on user rights and citizens. Ironic considering his committee “IMCO” is responsible for consumer rights.

These proposals are the worst we have yet seen in the debate.

He’s calling his proposals an ‘alternative compromise’ — but what he’s really proposing is an insulting lurch in favour of copyright lobbyists that is trying to get around proper parliamentary procedure.

What does he say on the link tax?

  • Article 11, the “link tax” that proposes a new copyright for publishers that will restrict how we share articles and links, should now apply to both online and offline use, for newspapers and even academic publications.

  • These rights would apply to ‘automatically generated texts’. Explicitly that which is generated by news aggregators or search engines. So text that employees and journalists didn’t even write gets to be under publisher protection.

  • The only exception for copyright not to apply is over ‘single words’. Yup, that’s right. Large publishers can claim copyright over two words! Over half a sentence!

  • This is quite clearly contradicts existing law which has a “mandatory exception for ‘press summaries’ under Article 10(1) of the Berne Convention.” Oops?

  • On top of this they intend these rights to last for 50 years, retroactively! This is 50 years of ownership over a few words that quote from an article. Imagine the harm that will do to record keeping, archives, research, museums, and all sorts of future innovation in news. As Julia Reda puts it, “Reciting a headline from the cold war era would suddenly require permission from the original publisher, who may have long since gone out of business.”

What does he say on censorship machines?

If you can believe it, Arimont’s proposal for Article 13 is even worse.

  • It expands the requirement for installing ‘content filtering’ machinery  from large sites that hosts content to every kind of ISP, any service that makes content that we create available. This includes sites where we just share hyperlinks because they, too, can be considered copyright infringement in some circumstances.

  • The costs for installing monitoring technology on sites like Twitch, Reddit, Twitter, Imgur, etc would be immense — not to mention smaller blogs and niche sites — and and would likely see many of them shut down.

  • It “generously” leaves a narrow exception for anyone who has been in business for micro-businesses under five years old. But all that really means is that if you’ve had a blog for more than five years...yup, you’re liable, too.

It could honestly end the Internet as we know it.

This is a laugh in the face of the public who have overwhelmingly spoken out against these plans.

Pascal Arimont is claiming that these new versions are the position of his party. But they are a far cry from what his fellow party member Therese Comodini Cachia has put forward in her committee as the official copyright rapporteur for European Parliament.

This matters. It’s a crucial step in the copyright law process. His committee is one of those jointly responsible for Parliament’s position. The real threat is that they become the committee’s final proposal. And there’s only 8 days until the vote.

Act now: Tweet at Pascal Arimont and tell him to listen to the voice of the public

.@pascal_arimont listen to EU citizens. Stop forcing websites to surveil user-created content & restrict how we can access news. Stand up for consumer protections.

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