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ICYMI: roundtable on the future of the link

Last Tuesday we held a #SaveTheLink live Q&A and roundtable discussion (minus the table) on the future of the link. Check it out here!

Last Tuesday we held a #SaveTheLink live Q&A and roundtable discussion (minus the table) on the future of the link. We were joined by some of the most influential personalities who are actively contributing to the conversation around Internet governance, and what we want the Web of tomorrow to look like.

In case you missed it, you can watch the video of our event here.

Thank you to all the community members who sent us questions on Facebook and Twitter, and who used our form to ask questions of our three guests: MEP, copyright rapporteur, and advocate for copyright rules that are suited for the digital age, Julia Reda; author, founder of BoingBoing and advocate for fair copyright rules that benefit artists Cory Doctorow; and Iranian-Canadian blogger, and active voice for the power of hyperlinks to connect us online, Hossein Derakhshan.

We’ve tweeted them some love, and you canRT and join us in thanking them.

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Some of the highlights of our hour together include:

  • a run-down from Julia Reda on the function of hyperlinks and the dangers of ancillary copyright:

“‘[the link is] more like an arrow or a signpost telling people: this is what you will see on the other end, so it’s like a guidance to the users and trying to put a price tag on that is just ridiculous and I think it would have a lot of unintended consequences for the way that we conceptualize information on the Internet.’”

  • Cory Doctorow’s blunt indictment of rules that would put restrictions on who can utter facts online (and a brief interruption as his neighbour gets to mowing his lawn in mid-December):

“...The idea that there is any proprietary interest in a link is bananas, because links are factual statements. A link says ‘if you want to know about X, visit webpage Y.’ It’s no different than holding up a sign on a street that says ‘there’s a news agent on the corner and the headquarters of News Corp is over there on Knightsbridge, and Rupert Murdoch comes from Australia. These are facts. And if you want to communicate a fact to the public there should be no impediment to doing so. And it’s a kind of grotesque abuse of the law to do this when creators are asked to stand up for limits on who can utter facts, and in particular when people in the news business are asked to stand up for rules about who is allowed to utter facts, then we are on the wrong side of things.”

  • Hossein Derakshan on existential threats to the link, outside of legislative and legal threats:

“I think, we are observing, basically, the death of the link. At the same time that it’s under attack by legislators and Parliament and lawyers and corporations in a legal sense, we are also observing it dying because of this technological shift from what I call books-Internet - or library-Internet - to something that I call TV-Internet. I think the threat to hyperlinks is bigger than these things that we might be discussing or we might be thinking in terms of legislative and legal aspects. The threat is to its philosophy, to its very existence, to its very function that it used to have.”

If you’ve got a free hour this weekend, the entire segment is well worth a watch – there was too much wisdom to capture it all here. And if you’re keen to take action, listen to Julia’s advice on what users can do to have their voices heard:

“I can only recommend to anybody to fill out the platforms consultation and if one of the questions is just incredibly complicated and doesn’t make any sense to you, it’s perfectly legitimate to write just that into the feedback box because this is something that the people in the European bureaucracy actually need to hear, that they are asking questions that are incomprehensible to normal people that they are supposed to represent.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself! If you only have a few minutes, you can send your message to the Commission with our our easy-to-use tool. And if you’re keen to do more, check out EDRi’s very comprehensive answering guide.


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