Changes To Internet Copyright Laws

The European Parliament has voted in favour of new copyright laws that contain sections strenuously opposed by some creators. This important story is impeccably told in an article by Zachary Small at Hyperallergic.

“Two weeks ago, thousands of protesters marched across Germany in staunch opposition to the Copyright Directive and its controversial section called Article 13, which makes online platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter liable for user-generated content that may violate existing copyrights. Another portion of the law, called Article 11, could make sites like Google News responsible for paying publishers for using snippets of their content.  Critics have characterized the bill as far overreaching …

Tech companies have warned that Article 13 will force the implementation of expensive “upload filters” on user-generated content … [I]nternet activists say these measures would turn large social media companies into censors and damage freedom of expression …

“The European Union’s fair dealing laws are [already] much more restrictive than America’s fair use laws. Things like parody and satire are still accepted, but nothing is foolproof.”

But the proposed legislation does have its supporters.

“Record labels, artists, and some media companies have also come to the law’s defense, saying that the updated copyright protections will ensure that they are fairly paid for their content …

“It provides artists with more data, more opportunities for remuneration, and more chances that their work will not be misappropriated or used without their knowledge,” [Columbia Law School’s Philippa] Loengard said.

Personally, I am with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia:

“The free and open internet is being quickly handed over to corporate giants at the expense of ordinary people. This is not about helping artists, it is about empowering monopolistic practices.”

This battle is being fought in Europe, but business practices make it likely that the repercussions will be global.

““If you are a large ISP and you have branches in Europe and the United States, it may be wise to implement changes worldwide,” explained Loengard.

This might all seem to some like a parochial business confrontation, but given the dominance that the internet and its myriad associated services has become in our lives, such a potentially significant lessening of available competitive content is sure to affect everyone sooner rather than later.

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