This past week, on Thursday, July 5, the European Union Parliament (MEP) voted on an incredibly controversial bill, called “Copyright Directive”, and, if it had passed or if it passes in the future, the web as we know it will change considerably. The Directive was put forward for a full vote in June after it was approved by the EU’s legal Affairs Committee (JURI) The legislation seeks to change how copyright works on the Internet. Article 11 and Article 13 are the most contentious parts to it, even though that are a lot of parts to it. The wording to both is vague, but here goes a try by me to explain:
Article 11, as I understand it, requires stricter checks on links within articles so that if a website hyperlinks to another website in an article, it would require websites to pay for a license to do so. So, in this blog, if I hyperlink a restaurant’s website to my article in my blog post on my WordPress.com website, I would have to pay for a license to do so. Or WordPress would be required to pay for a license, if its users use hyperlinks. OUCH!! That might be fine for large media companies, but for smaller ones, such a fee may be beyond their means. They just wouldn’t do it, so that would be the end to their/my ability to hyperlink possibly useful information. For those of you who are not familiar with the word “hyperlink”, that is the word that describes when you can click on a word, and it automatically connects you to another website, like the Negresco Hotel. Click on it to see what I mean. It should take to to the Negresco Hotel’s website. That is called a “hyperlink”. Not the greatest explanation, but hopefully you now know what a hyperlink is.
AND, U.S. sites that operate in the EU would have to adhere to these rules.
Article 13 would make publishers responsible for all content that’s posted on their site, even in comments from users. So, if you were commenting on an article and posted a link to or picture of copyrighted material in your comment, the website would be liable. Thus, this Article would require all sites to monitor copyright on their sites themselves, including anything posted by users. OUCH!
As you can see, this legislation, if passed, would change the future of the free and open INTERNET. It probably will change anyway; it is just a matter of when, especially with the US recently repealing its Net Neutrality laws. Say what??? What were the U.S. Net Neutrality laws? The net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2015 amid an outpouring of online support. The intention was to keep the internet open and fair. Under the rules, internet service providers were required to treat all online content the same. They couldn’t deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor could they put their own content at an advantage over rivals. The repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections officially took effect on Monday, June 11, 2018, nearly six months after the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back the rules. In a press release Monday, the FCC said the repeal does away with “unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations” and replaces them with “common-sense regulations that will promote investment and broadband deployment.”
Problems Regarding the EU Copyright Directive:
1) Both Article 11 and Article 13 make demands on anyone operating a popular website to monitor copyrighted material and to pay fees when linking out to their articles;
2) Both articles are vague. Enforcing them would be difficult, if not impossible, transforming the Internet into a tool for surveillance and control of users (Big Brother!!);
3) The entire Directive covers people who talk to each other online.
The good news is that this Directive was rejected (rejected by a margin of 318-278) on July 5, even though a slew of high-profile music stars had backed it – such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Placido Domingo and David Guetta – arguing that users illegally uploaded their music. MEP decided the changes needed more debate; and sent the proposals back to the drawing board, to the Commission. The two sides will undoubtedly step up their campaigns in the meantime. I read somewhere that the next vote will be sometime in September 2018.
Which begs the question: Why it this happening at all? Because the EU Commission wants more modern copyright law that takes account of the features and potential uses of digital technology and widens the degree of European cross-border access to protected works online. It wants a broad reform of EU copyright laws. And, not that I know, but when a legislative drive like this begins to manifest, it is only a matter of time before things change. So, enjoy the last few weeks or months of internet freedom. The Internet, just when I am beginning to know how to use it- like most things, is changing with the times. The rules will stifle internet freedom and creativity. However, copyrighted works online DO need to be protected. SO…….
Those of you who don’t spend a lot of time on the Internet, this won’t matter anyway. To those of us who are interested in International Copyright law and look up caselaw online, and google just about everything from “sore throats”, good cat food, Thai Food Restaurants, to knee replacements, and orthopedic surgeons, etc., brace yourself! It is not “IF”; it is “WHEN” and “HOW MUCH.”
More than you ever wanted to know,