5ctInternetPolitics

[Comment] Does the EU destroy the www?

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Copyright law and the internet

Instead of modernising copyright law, the EU Parliament is taking failed and harmful projects out of the moth box.

Last Wednesday (06/20/2018) the EU parliamentarian Axel Voss (CDU) had every reason to celebrate. As currently responsible for the EU copyright reform, he was allowed to announce that his compromise proposal had received a majority in the Legal Affairs Committee.

Operators of online platforms with user-generated content should therefore be obliged to conclude “fair and appropriate licensing agreements” with rights holders.

Without these contracts, the companies themselves would have to ensure that illegal works disappear from the net or point the platforms to it so that they become aware of it and delete the contents.

Automatic control

Since platforms like Youtube, Google etc upload posts by users every second, they cannot avoid using automatic filters. As a rule, these filters will delete too much rather than too little to comply with applicable law and protect site owners from legal action. What I mean is that, in case of doubt, legal content could also fall victim to these filters.

Text snippets

Legal politicians in the Committee on Justice have also advocated a broad, five-year performance protection law for press publishers on the Internet. The aim is to enable news agencies to benefit from remuneration even for small quotations of their works. Individual users and bloggers should be excluded, but this is not likely to work since most of them are financed by ads and therefore this exception does not apply.
Also, the excerpts should not be extended to speaking links, which also does not work as headlines of press articles already contain some headlines. Unfortunately, the EU did not listen to alternative solutions.

I see these new laws as considerably thinning out the Internet and suppressing freedom of expression in favour of right-holders. This went wrong a few years ago when it came to getting payment from Google for snippets in Spain and France and Google then announced that they were not willing to pay for them. And in case of doubt then exclude all press publishers and newspapers from their index. Why should Google pay to bring visitors to press publishers and newspapers? Shortly thereafter, all publishers granted Google permission to quote contributions without compensation.
The situation will probably be similar with ancillary copyright law, which will certainly hurt the press very much and will also severely restrict search results in case of doubt, at least if they are carried out in the EU.
I may also remind you of the dispute between GEMA and Youtube, the same will happen again in the future when this law takes effect. Many of the content available in the rest of the world will no longer be available in the EU because in case of doubt Youtube and Co will not publish it.
It is by no means only about videos of Madonna and Co. but also contributions where e.g. in the background in the radio a song of Madonna etc. runs.
I see this law thus more than critical and I hope nevertheless strongly that people find themselves this law either prevent or at least accordingly adapt.