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Thousands of Internet users ask the European Commission to listen to their feedback

Have you ever been kept awake at night worrying about a European Commission policy document? Probably not!*  

They’re not exactly ‘light-the-world-on-fire’ material, even though they discuss important issues affecting all 28 EU countries and those beyond their borders. But that could be about to change: we’ve read the leaked version of the EU Commission’s communication on copyright reform — and though it may look innocuous, it contains a poison pill.

From what experts and fair copyright advocates have said, it could open the door to absurd new rules that would kill our ability to link freely – copyrighting hyperlinks and charging to link to freely accessible content online.

This makes no sense, and we’re not the only ones who think so. In addition to being firmly rejected by the European Parliament in the summer of this year, this ‘link tax’ has been a complete failure in both European nations where it has been implemented. In Germany, the competition authority recently echoed the concerns of open Internet advocates in a decision over whether Google’s removal of snippets accompanying a link violated the antitrust provisions, stating that:

The public has an interest in the search engine business model. Given the billions of existing web pages, the ability to find individual pages is of great importance for ensuring that each user has access to the available information and can use the historically unparalleled knowledge-potential of the Internet...If the concept of universal freedom to link – which necessarily includes the ability to describe the links – would be hampered because search engine operators are forced to enter into business negotiations with certain website operators or their representatives.

In Spain, ancillary copyright — a technical name for the ‘Link Tax’ — has been such a disaster that not only did incumbent aggregator Google News choose to shutter its operations, but recent evidence shows great harm to the ability of users to find the content they are looking for, with the negative effects falling disproportionately on smaller publishers.

This is why we need EU Digital Economy Commissioner Oettinger to hear from us loud and clear that Internet users think this is a terrible idea. We have just days before the Commission is slated to publish their copyright communication, so we need to act fast.

If you need more incentive to send your message today, EU parliamentarian and copyright rapporteur Julia Reda has declared this a “full frontal attack on the hyperlink, and that “each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable."

Does that sound like the Web you want? If not, now is the time to send your message. If enough of us speak out, we can convince the Commission to listen to Internet users instead of to the publishers lobby pushing this plan.

We’ve already seen over 9000 Internet users submit their comments using our tool – now is the time to make sure those in charge can’t ignore them. One example of feedback we’ve been receiving comes from Ben, who says:

When we walk down the street and someone asks us for directions, we are free to write down a set of directions for them and send them on their way happier in the knowledge that someone cared enough to lend them a helping hand. The internet, at the moment, is another place we are free to do this; at the moment. A link tax should absolutely not be brought into force. This would put a price on helping those in need, and effectively block some from such help.

And you can join the thousands of Internet users who have already sent a message to the commissioners leading on the digital agenda. Our best chance to stop this is by creating a loud public outcry

It’s simple: this is nothing more than twisting copyright in knots to justify propping up outdated business models.

So far, this has been the bad idea that Just. Won’t. Die. But with your help, we can put an end to this copyright zombie once and for all.


*(If you have, you should consider volunteering for OpenMedia, because we need people like you!)

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