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Save the Link supporters: You’re being heard

Highlighting our key concerns with the European Commission’s analysis of your feedback, and the upcoming proposals on the Digital Single Market plan.

Late last year we asked you to respond to the European Commission’s (EC) consultation on ‘platforms,’ an important public questionnaire asking for your input on how websites should be governed.

There were questions on the link tax (charging fees for sharing snippets of content), on geoblocking (losing access to content based on where you live), and on intermediary liability (requiring website owners to monitor and censor comments).

More than 10,000 people used our tool at to give their views on these critical issues that could change the way the Internet works. We recently delivered these comments you made to top MEPs, urging the Commission to respond.

And now for today’s news!

Yesterday the European Commission published a long-awaited analysis of all the feedback they received for the platforms consultation, revealing exactly what they heard from the world on these issues.

On the link tax, the feedback was clear:

The overall sentiment is that there should be no payment for the use of snippets on websites.

Thanks to you, the Commission had no choice but to admit that the link tax is unpopular and undemocratic.

And on intermediary liability they said:

More than two thirds of the respondents consider that different categories of illegal content require different policy approaches as regards notice-and-action procedures.

This is really important as the majority of people are against using the same policies used to combat hate speech to address unauthorized uses of copyrighted content. We’re watching closely to see exactly what they decide to do next here, and will be paying close attention to whether the Commission will move toward a ‘voluntary measures’ framework, where websites have their own internal rules around what kind of content they would remove, which could lead to arbitrary takedowns of legal speech and content, without any judicial oversight.

Your voice counted

In January, to the dismay of civil society groups, the Commission’s initial assessment excluded over 10,000 individual responses collected at, and were dismissive of your input. At the time we sprung into action and launched a quick campaign that saw hundreds of Internet users tweeting directly at Commissioners, asking for them to take your voices into consideration. And it worked!

Your input now sits front and centre in this Commission synopsis. Not only that, the Save the Link campaign is given a substantial amount of space in their report. We’re really pleased to see them listening and counting you.

So the link is saved then?

Well, not quite. They heard you, but we’re not convinced that they really listened.

Despite hearing this feedback, the Commission seems resolute in their decision to continue to advance policies that would open the door to the link tax.

At the same time as releasing the synopsis, the Commission released a swarm of documents about their upcoming plans for laws governing the Internet. In a separate document your OpenMedia team analysed, the Commission slyly admitted they plan to push forward the link tax, saying that in the upcoming law for this September:

The Commission will aim to achieve a fairer allocation of value generated by the online distribution of copyright protected content by online platforms providing access to such content.

They might struggle with straight talk but we’ve put a lot of skill points in consultation-speak lately: the above quote is referring to the link tax, suggesting that there should be some remuneration simply for ‘providing access’ to content.

What about other threats to the Internet?

On intermediary liability we can celebrate a small victory in that they are not announcing huge changes. But the ‘voluntary measures’ are still very concerning. We will continue to keep you informed on this issue.

Still time to take action

It’s also a little odd to lay out a legislative intention on the link tax before they have concluded their own consultation on this very issue. As you may know, there’s one happening right now, which doesn’t end until 15 June! Saying they intend to address this issue in the September legislative proposal presumes a response that they have not yet received. We’re disappointed that they seem determined to undermine trust in their own processes.

But we’ve got them listening, so now is the time to pile the pressure on!

You can still take action: Put the idea of extra copyright on links to rest and sign our statement to say No Link Tax Laws here:

Last but not least, a special notice:

After I delivered your comments to top MEPs in Strasbourg a couple of weeks ago, MEP Julia Reda asked me to pass on a personal message for all of you:

I would like to personally thank you for joining us on the #SaveTheLink campaign to protect the freedom of expression online. On May 12th, we received 10.599 signatures at the European Parliament from all those who joined the campaign and who refuse the idea of an "ancillary copyright' which would grant further control to publishers on how people consume and share content online, but which would mean a restriction on one of the internet basic principles: the freedom to link.

We really appreciate your effort and I encourage you to spread the word and also fill out the European Commission final public consultationon "ancillary copyright" and Freedom of Panorama to make sure your voice is heard. The moment to act is now. Speak out!

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