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International network mobilizes widget campaign against EU ‘Link Tax’ that threatens to chill free expression and force top websites to disappear

Old Media lobbyists are backing tomorrow’s EU Parliament vote on costly new ‘Link Tax’ that threatens future of popular websites including reddit and Google News

June 15, 2015A costly new EU ‘link tax’ could be on the way, threatening the future of popular websites including reddit and Google News. A similar Link Tax already exists in Germany, and in Spain, and is being considered in Austria right now. Tomorrow, the EU Parliament will vote on a draft report on the harmonization of copyright, prepared by German MEP Julia Reda.

This report includes a provision that would encourage the implementation of ancillary copyright for press publishers–a ‘link tax’ that requires aggregators and search engines to pay for snippets of text to link to news articles. The Save The Link network is calling upon MEPs on the Legal Affairs committee, in particular Vice-Chair Jean-Marie Cavada, to reject this proposal, and any others that would restrict the right to link, or implement fees simply for linking.

“It won’t be long before our favourite websites start disappearing if this reckless proposal goes through,” said Meghan Sali, OpenMedia’s Free Expression campaigner. “This idea has already been an absolute disaster in Spain and Germany. It makes no sense to roll it out EU-wide, where it will impact even more Internet users all over the world. By forcing key news sources out of business, the Link Tax will make it far more difficult for people to access information, while also stifling their ability to express themselves freely online.”

Sali continued: “The Link Tax will also hurt small publishers and place a wider global chill on linking for everybody. It’s a great example of what happens when we let important Internet rules get written by powerful and unaccountable Old Media giants, instead of by Internet users. That’s why we need to tell the EU Parliament to send a clear message that this Link Tax is unacceptable to the European people and to Internet users everywhere.”

Tomorrow’s crucial EU Parliament vote would encourage the implementation of this ‘link lax’  across the European Union - which is why a huge global network of Internet experts, advocates, and organizations are mobilizing to stop it. Groups like Thunderclap, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Creative Commons have joined the campaign by hosting OpenMedia’s Save The Link widget on their websites, to encourage everyone to join a petition targeting Jean-Marie Cavada, Vice-Chair of the EU’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

The vote on the Link Tax will take place at 10:00AM CET (4AM Eastern Standard Time) tomorrow. Thousands of people are speaking out against the new tax at https://SaveTheLink.org/Europe.

About the Save the Link network

  • The Save the Link network is an international campaign aimed at pushing back against efforts by powerful media conglomerates to censor links and stifle free expression on the Internet.

  • More than 75 organizations from 26 countries spanning civil society, online businesses, news organizations and digital rights groups have signed on to support the Save the Link network

  • Over 55,000 individual Internet users have signed on to oppose link censorship schemes like the one currently being advanced at the EU Parliament


The Right to Link is under threat around the world:

  • In Germany, influential press publishers forced legislators to implement an ‘ancillary copyright for press publishers’ that limits how others can link to their news websites. The legislation pushes search engines and news aggregators to acquire licenses for links that include snippets, resulting in lost and inaccessible content.

  • That same approach was then copied in Spain, where Google News was forced to shut down due to new copyright rules forcing web publishers to pay a fee in order to link out to external content.

  • In Canada, a provincial court passed a ruling ordering Google to block website search results, not just from its Canadian service, but from its worldwide index.

  • In the U.S., media conglomerates are trying to exploit obscure trade rules to block access to foreign websites they disapprove of

About OpenMedia

OpenMedia is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.





Meghan Sali

Free Expression Campaigner, OpenMedia

+1 (604) 363 7607

[email protected]


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