The EU is mooting a new copyright regime for the largest market in the world, and the Commissioners who are drafting the new rules are completely captured by the entertainment industry, to the extent that they have ignored their own experts and produced a farcical Big Content wishlist that includes the most extensive internet censorship regime the world has ever seen, perpetual monopolies for the biggest players, and a ban on European creators using Creative Commons licenses to share their works.
Under the new rules, anyone who allows the public to post material will have to maintain vast databases of copyrighted works claimed by rightsholders (https://boingboing.net/2017/09/28/robots-suck-at-copyright.html), and any public communications that matches anything in these databases has to be blocked. These databases have been tried on much more modest scales — Youtube’s Content ID is a prominent example — and they’re a mess. Because rightsholders are free to upload anything and claim ownership of it, Content ID is a font of garbagey, sloppy, fraudulent copyright abuse: five different companies claim to own the rights to white noise (https://boingboing.net/2018/01/08/a-youtube-video-of-white-noise.html); Samsung claims to own any drawing of its phones (https://boingboing.net/2016/10/26/samsung-abuses-the-dmca-to-cen.html); Nintendo claims it owns gamers’ animated mashups (https://boingboing.net/2016/05/20/nintendo-claims-ownership-over-2.html) ; Sony claims it owns stock footage it stole from a filmmaker (https://boingboing.net/2015/10/26/sony-licensed-stock-footage-t.html) whose work it had censored; the biggest music companies in the world all claim to own the rights to “Silent Night” (https://boingboing.net/2013/12/25/music-publishers-claim-to-own.html), a rogues’ gallery of sleazy copyfraudsters claim to own NASA’s spacecraft landing footage (https://boingboing.net/2012/08/08/curiosity-landing-is-a-bonanza.html) — all in all, these systems benefit the large and the unethical (https://boingboing.net/2014/02/23/how-youtubes-automated-copyr.html) at the cost of small and nimble.
That’s just for starters.
Since these filter systems are incredibly expensive to create and operate, anyone who wants to get into business competing with the companies that grew large without having to create systems like these will have to source hundreds of millions in capital before they can even enter the market. Youtube 2018 can easily afford Content ID; Youtube 2005 would have been bankrupted if they’d had to build it.
And then there’s the matter of banning Creative Commons licenses.
In order to bail out the largest newspapers in the EU, the Commission is proposing a Link Tax — a fee that search engines and sites like Boing Boing will have to pay just for the right to link to news stories on the web. This idea has been tried before in Spain and Germany and the newspapers who’d called for it quickly admitted it wasn’t working and stopped using it.
But the new, worse-than-ever Link Tax contains a new wrinkle: rightsholders will not be able to waive the right to be compensated under the Link Tax. That means that European creators — who’ve released hundreds of millions of works under Creative Commons licenses that allow for free sharing without fee or permission — will no longer be able to choose the terms of a Creative Commons license; the inalienable, unwaivable right to collect rent any time someone links to your creations will invalidate the core clause in these licenses.
Europeans can write to their MEPs and the European Commission using this joint Action Centre (https://changecopyright.org/en-US/); please act before it’s too late.
The European Copyright Directive was enacted in 2001 and is now woefully out of date. Thanks in large part to the work of Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, many good ideas for updating European copyright law were put forward in a report of the European Parliament in July 2015. The European Commission threw out most of these ideas, and instead released a legislative proposal in October 2016 that focused on giving new powers to publishers. That proposal was referred to several of the committees of the European Parliament, with the Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee taking the lead.
As the final text must also be accepted by the Council of the European Union (which can be considered as the second part of the EU’s bicameral legislature), the Council Presidency has recently been weighing in with its own “compromise” proposals (although this is something of a misnomer, as they do little to improve the Commission’s original text, and in some respects make it worse). Not to be outdone, German MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Axel Voss last month introduced a new set of his own proposals [PDF] for “compromise,” which are somehow worse still. Since Voss leads the JURI committee, this is a big problem.
European Copyright Law Isn’t Great. It Could Soon Get a Lot Worse. [Jeremy Malcolm/EFF]
BoingBoing, 7:17 am Wed Apr 11, 2018
Can I get a decision maker’s summary? Julia Reda could probably provide one…
Wow. This could annihilate the EU’s content market, never mind what it would do to the larger economy.
I remember predicting (probably along with a thousand other people) that one day they would try to outlaw “free” and require anything of value to be exchanged at a “fair market value” so as to not undermine or compete with the markets that belong to the wealthy. They’ve been heading this way for decades now with the copyright lawsuits over hypothetical lost sales, among other things.
The biggest problem is that the Commission is historically filled with politicians who failed up. The guy from Germany, Günter Oettinger, is a perfect example of the sort of shitty fuckups who get shunted to the commission in a Dilbert Principle manner.
The EU is still dysfunctional in that way, that the Commission makes incredibly shitty proposals, which the Parliament then is forced to shoot down. But with all the other higher-priority problems, reforming this is going to be punted down the road for a while.
Does a lot of draft legislation start out as unusually terribad?
This is great news, alongside Facebook and all that. As they fit us all for the yoke, I was afraid they’d be smart about it, and set it all up nice and quietly and with a human face painted on. But, nope. Not clever enough and altogether too evil.
This way, we’ve a chance as the mundane get driven into fully-encrypted-can’t-be-censored-even-in-principle technologies alongside the cypherpunks and the weirdos.
Just a reminder this is not being pushed by the EU Commission as a whole but by a MEP called Axel Voss.
Oh dear gods, Axel Voss is behind it? He’s nearly as putrid as Oettinger! What the fuck is wrong with the CDU?
Sorry, I forgot.