Our write your MEP tool is making an impact
We’ve been having a huge impact in the EU with thousands of people writing to their MEPs, asking them to #savethelink.
This year we’ve been fighting proposals for a new law in the EU that, if passed, will grant huge publishing companies the power to charge fees to link to content, AKA the link tax. This law will also force major sites like YouTube and Tumblr to control and restrict what we can create online by introducing mandatory filters which block content as it is uploaded — using ‘bots’ to decide if our content is copyright infringing.
These uncompromising restrictions would disrupt the fundamental, interconnected nature of the Internet. It’s why we’ve called it ‘one of the worst copyright rules in the world’.
The law, ‘the Digital Single Market Directive’ was released in September and taken out of the hands of the European Commission — specifically Commissioner Oettinger, the man who has been central to this push for a restrictions on links, without understanding how they work— and has landed squarely in the lap of Members of the European Parliament.
This autumn we launched a new toolto help you connect with your representative in Europe, wherever you are. We are really proud of this project because there are very few campaign tools that work in multiple countries, and ours was unique in that it works for every constituency across Europe. When we launched it, we had hoped that it would allow us to have a massive impact on the EU copyright legislation that was proposing sweeping censorship measures. And it looks like we were right.
MEPs have been hearing from you in the thousands — in total 5400 people from across Europe have written letters to their MEP about the link tax, and censorship machinery.
Too often politicians act like making legislation is about listening to whose money allows them to speak the loudest. Together we’re reminding them they have the responsibility to do what is right by their constituents — it’s people who come first.
We know that when backwards copyright policies were suggested last year in the EU by way of amendments to a report by copyright rapporteur Julia Reda, it was MEPs who shut them down. But now they’ve got more pressure on them than ever before. They are facing heavy lobbying, and industry representatives telling them every week that this is what is necessary to save the news industry.
But we know that our voices are shifting the story in a major way. When they hear from you, they know that their voters are paying attention.
Many of you shared with us the responses you received from your MEPs so we could see who was committed to saving the link. The replies varied from a quick ‘thanks so much’ from their team for providing useful information in briefs, to strong agreement, and even suggestions for further reading on the topic. In the beginning we celebrated MEPs who had committed to saving the link. Since then, that list has just kept on growing.
Here are some excerpts from MEP replies to you:
UK Labour meps Paul Brennan and Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and Catherine Stihler MEP let us know that they “will make sure to amend this Article to word it in such a way that it is abundantly clear that linking, sharing, posting snippets and summaries of press articles and so on for non-commercial use should not fall under this Article.”
Dr Syed Kamall, of the UK Conservatives was prompted to ask a question on your behalf to the European Commission about the effects this would have on SMEs.
Just like you, we are concerned about the planned special copyright for news sites as it would curtail freedom of expression on the internet and harm both small publishers and innovative startups. We believe that this proposal will benefit nobody: Internet platforms and users alike will stop linking to EU news with the preview images and teaser snippets that drive traffic, but would now require licenses. Erecting toll booths on the way users arrive at EU news today won’t make up for declining newspaper revenues, but instead doom even their digital properties. The news industry’s troubles cannot be solved with copyright law.
What this really told us is that our tool works. MEPs want to hear from you. All of these replies are important positive steps that we hope will result finally removing both the link tax and content filtering proposals from the draft law. And it’s not over yet — next year MEPs will be proposing the changes we asked them to, and then voting on them. We have to keep the pressure on to make sure that it stops here.
To finish off the year, we were on Reddit last week, answering questions about the campaign.We were joined byJoe McNamee at EDRi and Lisette Kalshoven and Natalia Mileszyk from Communia who are experts on this law — and members of the Save the Link network. You can read the final Q&A here.
If you haven’t done so already, let your MEP know that the link tax is a flawed policy with a bad track record that will damage digital democracy.
Thanks for working with us this year to save the link!