Advocates warn leaked EU copyright directive is worse than feared
Draft laws confirm unprecedented new powers for large publishers that will stifle online innovation and dissemination of news and information in the European Union
August 31, 2016– Today, a draft of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has leaked and confirms that the EU Commission’s plans are far worse than advocates had previously feared. Contained in the documents are new powers for publishing giants, including the ability to charge fees when snippets of text are used in hyperlinks — a.k.a the Link Tax.
Today’s leak follows hot on the heels of last week’s leaked Impact Assessment, which exposed the Commission’s plans to introduce a Link Tax — despite opposition by nearly 100,000 people supporting the Save the Link campaign. The Directive will face debate and final approval by Members of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union beginning in the second half of September.
“We were bracing for something bad, but this is far worse than we anticipated,” said OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist Ruth Coustick-Deal. “If implemented, these proposals will dramatically restrict how EU citizens can share and access information online. Without links to route us around the web, the content we want to see will be locked away.”
Coustick-Deal continued: “These proposals strike a blow at the very foundations of an open Internet. If they are made law, the EU will fall far behind the rest of the world when it comes to digital innovation, the exact opposite of the intention behind the Commission’s Digital Single Market plan. With MEPs soon to vote on this, they’re sure to get an earful from Internet users who are ready to fight these absurd proposals.”
Key problems with the Commission’s leaked copyright directive include:
In a detailed assessment, experts at IGEL have stated the proposals “read like an answer to the wish list of the publishing industry.” Under the proposals, it won’t just be aggregators or search engines impacted, but “everybody who communicates online.”
The proposals lack any user protections that were campaigned for by civil society, regarding freedom of panorama and ancillary copyright. The Commission has yet to release the results of a consultation on these issues.
Online intermediaries will need to negotiate licences with rights holders, and to filter and monitor user-generated content, in conflict with the Commission’s 2001 InfoSoc Directive that intermediaries are not liable for acts of communication to the public by users.
Experts have also warned the proposed laws are drafted so vaguely, with few of the key terms well-defined, that it’s impossible to ascertain the extent of the long-term damage they could cause.
Civil society groups and Internet users are also demanding that the Commission publish the results from its recent consultation on ancillary copyright and freedom of panorama, both of which are impacted by the leaked proposals without acknowledgement of public feedback.
Citizens across the EU and the world can speak out against these proposals at SaveTheLink.org